Review: Helen Dillon’s Garden Book
Being a readaholic I often get gardening books out of my local libary as I couldnt afford to finance my habit! I am getting to the point where I have read most of them and may need to find another library but recently I have come across a couple of gems.
The first is Helen Dillon’s Garden Book. I have only recently discovered the author through her monthly articles for The English Garden and have found her writing style very refreshing, so I was curious to see what her book was like. Helen Dillon is an author, broadcaster and garden consultant and lectures in the US and New Zealand. She lives in Dublin, Ireland where she has been opening her garden to the public for the last 20 years.
I would liken her style to that of Christopher Lloyd – very chatty and familiar whilst imparting lots of information. It is also humourous “‘I’ve got shade,’ said this woman, in a low voice, as if she was announcing an attack of diarrhoea”and occasionally slightly forthright.
This book is divided into three sections: Beginners Stuff, The Middle Ground and Fancy Stuff. Within each section there are what I suppose you would call essays on a variety of subjects. At first I thought they might be articles that Helen had written for a newspaper etc compiled into one book as they have that feel about them but this doesnt appear to be the case. The ‘essays’ range in length and subject. Whilst plants are referred to by their latin names it is not in a style that would put off a new gardener. There is a lovely ‘essay’ extolling the virtues of the builders bucket and another about losing tools.
But you do learn things from advice on growing plants from seeds, to suggestions for trees for small gardens to growing hardy orchids. There is definately something for everyone. The book is also full of gorgeous photos and I understand that many of these are Helen’s own. I suppose to sum up the book I would discribe it as having a friend/relative who is a very good gardener talking to you – you not only learn about gardening but about the author as well. Jane Powers of The Irish Times says that “it’s not just about plants and gardening but also about human nature, acquisitiveness, vanity, impatience and patience, despair and hope” and I think this is a very apt description.
The second book I am enjoying at the moment is Virgins, Weeders and Queens by Twigs Way – it is all about the history of women in the garden and is truely fascinating. More to come in a later post.