Vita Sackville-West had a far from conventional life. An acclaimed poet and renowned for her association with the Bloomsbury Group, who would have guessed that her greatest achievement was to be the magnificent garden she created with her husband Harold Nicolson at Sissinghurst Castle? From 1946 until 1961, she shared her gardening experiences in a column for the Observer and, through an irresistible combination of lyrical prose and practical advice, inspired a generation of expert, amateur and armchair gardeners. This Folio compendium includes the first two volumes of her anthologised articles, In Your Garden and In Your Garden Again, together with two longer essays and an excerpt from her book Some Flowers.
Whether singing the praises of the humble autumn-flowering cherry or giving instructions on how best to cultivate the Algerian Iris, Sackville-West conveys the inherent joy of creating and maintaining a garden, no matter how grand or modest. She peppers her prose with evocative descriptions of what she loves (‘great wild shrubby roses flinging themselves about’) and what she hates (hybrid tea roses are described as ‘neat little, hard little, tight little scrimpy dwarfs’). She reveals her ambitions for Sissinghurst’s famous white garden, and infects the reader with her enthusiasm (‘I think that one should look at flowers in an imaginative way, to squeeze the fullest enjoyment from them’).
For her biographer Victoria Glendinning it was Sackville-West’s personal approach (‘seeking advice as well as giving it’) that made her column so popular and brought her greater fame than any of her poems or novels. She remains so persuasive that, reading this, even the least green-fingered may be tempted into the garden.
Review by Ekaterina Holm-Jensen on 3rd Jul 2012
Review by BetsyJune on 14th Jun 2012
"Absolutely loved this book! Felt like I was listening to Ms. Sackville-West on the radio instead of reading her. The only improvement would be to add more pics of gardens. Thanks so much!!"