Friday, 16 November 2012

The Curious Gardener, By Anna Pavord - A Review


The Curious Gardener is a collection of Anna Pavord's articles from her column in The Independent. It is set out by month with a few relevant articles and then a "what to do now" section.

This is the first time I'd come across her work, and I really enjoyed it. Her descriptions of her earlier life where her parents gardened, but she had no interest, and then suddenly discovered a passion for it really touched a chord with me, as this is very similar to my own situation. I also found myself very much amused by her descriptions of situations where she has fizzed enthusiastically at a family member about some plant or other and has been met with the response of someone who couldn't care less what she was whittering about. Very familiar, and I would guess this will only increase as that baby gets older... She talks about plants and gardening with real enthusiasm, but is also self deprecating when talking about subjects that border on obsession. Her writing style is easy and enjoyable, and just a little irreverent. All very entertaining.

The content of the articles is very variable. Some will talk about a particular plant in depth and go into its merits and required care. There are several that talk about travelling she's done, or gardens that she's visited. She also seems to have a thing for growing fruit, and in particular pears, so there are a couple of different articles that talk about things like espaliering and varieties. I'm always interested to read different people's takes on gardening "basics", things like soil preparation and planting as there is often something new to take away and incorporate into your own technique, so these sections were very interesting. Some of my favourite articles were ones where she talks about garden styles and layouts, and comments on things like landscaping and architectural planting.

This was a good book, which kept me turning the pages. It contains just the right blend of useful, factual information that you can keep referring back to, and personal anecdotes to entertain and lighten the reading. I shall be keeping my eyes open for more of her writing, be it books or newspaper articles.

Definitely worth a read.