Lloyd and Chatto, two of Britain's best known and loved gardeners, share their extraordinary passion and experience of gardening as well as life in general through their regular letter writing to each other during the final decade of the 20th Century. They are also clearly a great source of encouragement and support to each other.
Their correspondence represents many aspects of their lives, often sharing their recommendations to one another of plant varieties, their successes (and failures) in the vegetable garden and the different recipes they'd enjoyed experimenting with when using their home grown produce. It is difficult to list all the extensive range of topics of their exchanges, but it certainly makes for insightful reading!
This book goes way beyond most normal gardening books In that you really feel a part of their lives in the broadest sense. One subject that is never absent in a "garden-centred" book is that of the British weather which comes up time and time again - never enough rain when you need it and too much at other times - nothing much changes does it!?
It was funny to read Lloyd's early reference to the then-unknown Sarah Raven: "Sarah is keen on plants and gardens and intends doing some volunteer work here quite soon" - looking at how her career as a gardener has developed since then is amazing. There is also a great description early on in the book of the six day trip taken by Lloyd and Pip, his student gardener at the time to visit gardens and nurseries. One of their experiences was taking in the discovery of Snakeshead Fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) in their native habitat in the exotic location of.... just south of Reading, Berkshire! They really are stunning plants but a real bonus I'm sure when seen growing in the wild.
This book is an absolute delight as well as a mine of information offering a small window into the lives of these two inspiring people. And of course as emails have replaced letter-writing in the years since, one wonders whether such books will continue to exist in the future! It is also a book that can easily be read in small bite-sized chunks which is ideal for most of us with ever-hectic lives. This new illustrated hardback edition also contains an introduction by Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter. If you're looking for an inspirational read or a gift for a gardening friend, you should look no further.
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