As you sit by the fire enjoying your glass of mulled wine and a mince pie, now’s a good time to start planning your garden for next year – and there are plenty of ideas out there in books.
One of this autumn’s most talked-about botanical books is The Cabaret Of Plants: Botany And The Imagination by Richard Mabey (Profile, £20), which draws on plants in history, art and literature. Mabey, author of Flora Britannica, explores plants that have awoken our sense of wonder and changed our ideas about science and beauty. Picked from every walk of life, the self-contained chapters feature everything from weeds to water lilies, featuring high-quality prints and drawings.
Find out the intricacies of how flowers communicate with their pollinators in award-winning wildlife photographer Heather Angel’s dazzling tome, Pollination Power (Kew, £25). Through her stunning photography, see how plants use colour, shape and guiding lines to attract insects and birds, which gather nectar in most unusual ways.
The Private Gardens Of England, edited by Tania Compton, (Constable, £75) is a glorious celebration of the art of gardening through some of the country’s hidden horticultural jewels. Some 35 English private gardens, thoughtfully selected by the writer and designer Tania Compton, are vividly described in the words of their owners, who bring an astonishing sense of intimacy to their own creations, as well as their collaborations with some of the leading garden designers of today.
Grow your own
If you’re thinking of getting an allotment, or wondering what to grow on an existing plot, the RHS Allotment Handbook & Planner (Octopus, £12.99) is an invaluable guide. Experts from the Royal Horticultural Society take all abilities through the different stages, and the book includes a planner setting out seasons, what should be sown and grown – and when.
Anyone looking for inspirational design will welcome The Art Of Gardening by R William Thomas (Timber, £25), which focuses on Chanticleer, a 37-acre public garden in Pennsylvania, renowned for encouraging experimentation in design and many areas including a fantasy garden, formal borders and woodland shades. Readers will learn how to make the most of a landscape’s natural features, integrating structures and creating themes to tie areas together, as well as tips on the right plants for specific purposes.
If you’ve never grown plants of any sort, edible or otherwise, Frances Tophill’s First-Time Gardener: How To Plan, Plant And Enjoy Your Garden (Kyle, £16.99) will help. Whether you’ve bought your first home, are new to renting or just feel that you should do something about the jungle outside your door, Tophill will help you to create an original garden, from the initial site survey through to the design, planting and aftercare.
If you want to dig out some fascinating facts about gardening, look no further than The Sceptical Gardener (Icon, £12.99) by the Telegraph’s columnist Ken Thompson. He asks – and answers – questions like, ‘How can a gardener improve the flavour of their veg?’ and ‘What do bees do that improves strawberries?’ It’s a dip-in miscellany of gardening titbits, perfect if you want to spout unusual green-fingered facts at the relatives over Christmas dinner. n