Book Review: The Magic of Seeds by Clare Gogerty

“Seeds are magical. Every little one has the potential to become a new plant and give you more seeds – connecting us to the circle of life and nature’s endless ability to surprise and delight.”

We’re over halfway through March (how the heck did that happen?) and with the Spring Equinox nearly upon us, Clare Gogerty’s gorgeous new book, The Magic of Seeds, is a timely guide to growing flowers and herbs from seed as well as a joyful celebration of plant magic.

A former London magazine editor who decamped to a smallholding in Herefordshire to write books, grow vegetables and keep chickens while immersing herself in the mystery and magic of the countryside, Clare’s knowledge and appreciation of the plant world reaches way beyond the horticultural. Although the book does contain helpful guidance on how and when to sow, plant out and harvest the seeds of 100 different garden plants and flowers, it also touches upon the culinary and magical properties of plants and is sprinkled with fascinating snippets of folklore. There are tips for making your own compost, an introduction to gardening by the moon, instructions for natural remedies and beauty treatments, and recipes for homemade incense and potpourri. A diverse mix of plants are profiled from garden favourites, such as Poppy and Lavender, to the more unusual Woad and Joe Pye Weed, and there are some intriguing recipes that I can’t wait to try out myself.

For some gardeners, there can be a tendency to rush the process of sowing seeds, to be too preoccupied by the plants they will one day become and the harvests they’ll provide, but Clare invites us all to slow down and appreciate the seed for its own sake, along with the act of sowing it. For even if a seed doesn’t germinate, the gardener might have learned something in the process and will have deepened their connection to nature along the way.

A delight to read and beautifully-illustrated by Prudence Rogers, The Magic of Seeds is a wonderful compendium for those who love plants, magic or who simply want to embrace their spiritual connection to nature. Published by David & Charles on 28th March, you can pre-order a copy here.

We’ll be giving away a free copy of the book on Instagram this week (UK followers only) so do keep an eye out!

The Magic of Seeds’ by Clare Gogerty was gifted to us for the purposes of review.


Book Review: Secret Gardens of the South East by Barbara Segall

Anyone with more than a passing interest in plants or gardens has to admit to being a little bit nosy, don’t they? Look, I’m very happy to hold my hand up here. I mean, who hasn’t stopped in front of someone’s gate to admire their flowers? Or peered over the fence to inspect their neighbours’ borders? Who hasn’t had their interest piqued by an ivy-clad wall that hints at some elusive Eden beyond?

Writer Barbara Segall elevates this kind of horticultural curiosity to a whole new level. Not content with a surreptitious peek into other people’s gardens, she’ll seize you by the hand and pull you through the hedge to have a proper explore, and because she’s Barbara, she’ll have befriended the head gardener and pocketed some cuttings before you’ve even finished fishing the twigs out of your hair.

Following on from her previous book ‘Secret Gardens of East Anglia’, a fascinating tour around the private gardens of her own adopted region of the UK, Barbara’s latest book ‘Secret Gardens of the South East’ takes her further afield, to the hidden wonderlands of Kent, Sussex and Surrey, the counties that typify ‘The Garden of England’.

Each chapter focuses on a specific garden, examining the roles history and geography have played in its inception, and exploring its evolution through the imagination of those who have lived there and the efforts of those who have worked there. There are stories of the people brave enough to take on the stewardship of gardens once belonging to horticultural heavyweights such as Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville-West, along with those of modern visionaries who have created something remarkable out of more modest spaces. How refreshing it is to see compact, urban gardens, like those at 87 Albert Street in Whitstable, celebrated alongside more majestic estates, such as Arundel Castle.

While Clive Boursnell’s splendid photographs provide plenty of eye-candy for readers simply wishing to daydream during these dark winter days, this is also a book for gardeners hungry for ideas. Those gardening on a shoestring can take heart from the extraordinary grounds at Balmoral Cottage in Kent which were largely created using free seedlings and cuttings gifted to the owners, and eco-conscious gardeners can be inspired by the drought-resistant planting scheme at the Sussex Prairie Garden. The twenty chapters are packed with plant references and design details, and visitor information is included at the back.

With spring on the way and open garden season ahead of us, ‘Secret Gardens of the South East’ by Barbara Segall is the perfect read for those seeking inspiration, motivation or who are simply after a jolly good nose into some of the most glorious private gardens of South East England. It’s well worth a read.

‘Secret Gardens of the South East’ by Barbara Segall was gifted to us for the purposes of review.

Book Review: Attracting Garden Pollinators by Jean Vernon

Ade and I were delighted when Pen & Sword Books recently sent us a copy of Attracting Garden Pollinators, the new book from the award-winning writer and bee expert, Jean Vernon. A champion of the “exploited, underpaid and generally under-appreciated” creatures upon whose crucial efforts our fragile existence depends, Jean’s latest book shines a spotlight on our unsung garden heroes, offering valuable suggestions on how we can all make our gardens more pollinator-friendly.

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