Book Review – The Secret Gardeners

Book Review – The Secret Gardeners

Britain’s creatives reveal their private sanctuaries

By Victoria Summerley and Photographs by Hugo Rittson Thomas

I was contacted by the publishers Frances Lincoln to see if I would like to take a look at their new book The Secret Gardeners, I said, yes, of course, and thank-you….. but I was not sure if this type of book would appeal to me. You see I’m not really bothered  by ‘celeb watching’, but I was to discover, although this book is about each garden’s owners it was very much about the gardens themselves.

The book contains the private gardens of 25 the UK’s principal Artists, Actors, Designers, Composers, Playwrights, Producers, Musicians and Sculptors.

There were people featured in this book that I had heard of, but the majority of people highlighted were new to me.

As Victoria Summerley points out, “Admittedly, the gardeners in this book may have a bit more cash than the rest of us, and yes, they might be able to afford a bigger garden – thanks to decades of hard work, it should also be pointed out – but its all relative, if you walk down any road, anywhere in the UK, whether is a council estate, or in an affluent suburb, a remote village or a bustling city, you will see gardens that are well-tended and you will see gardens that have been a bit neglected. Of the gardens well cared for, some will look wonderful whilst some will look nothing special.”

You soon realise creating a good garden has nothing to do with money.”

I agree with that sentiment, I’ve seen some gardens with massive budgets available and they left me cold.

This book is certainly in the ‘Coffee Table book’ style.

Those featured in the book include  Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh, oligarch Evgeny Lebedev; entrepreneur Richard Branson; architect Anish Kapoor; actors Jeremy Irons, Rupert Everett, Griff Rhys Jones and Terry Gilliam; chef Prue Leith; musicians Ozzy Osbourne, Nick Mason and Sting; playwright Julian Fellowes; film directors Eric Fellner and Paul Weiland; and designers Kirstie Allsopp and Cath Kidston.

It is a hefty book with 270 pages, covering many different styles of garden in varying parts of the country, but each garden is a fascinating reflection of its owners.

I’ve struggled to decide which garden is my favorite, each time I pick one I then change my mind, but if pushed I’m going for the garden that Sting and his wife Trudy have created, a mixture of formal and informal areas, Streams, Lakes and interesting story about a Skeleton.

But this area of formal planting in the picture below is quite striking, situated at the back of the house, where Sting and Trudies initials are intertwined into a parterre, all of which is designed to be viewed from an upstairs window.

The book is published by Frances Lincoln and is available from a variety of outlets.


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