The Bad Tempered Gardener

An embarrassingly long time ago, Mercy left a book on my desk, with a note saying that I might be interested in reading it.  James Alexander Sinclair’s comment on the cover was ‘At once entertaining, opinionated and deliciously annoying.’  Who could resist such a tease?

Well me, for a long time.  It wasn’t the kind of book that you read from cover to cover – it’s a dip into and savour type.  Now that I have finished it and will red-facedly return it to its owner I thought that it was worth making more people aware of it.

Author Anne Wareham created a garden at the Veddw in Monmouthshire with her husband Charles Hawes – the link will take you to pictures which will thrill or not.  But it’s her outspoken comments on plants and gardens that make her remarkable.  She’s not of the ‘everything in the garden is lovely’ brigade, calls a spade a spade and says that she hates gardening.

“People describe themselves as plantaholics without any of the shame you’d think such a term should provoke and ‘plantsman’ – a kind of cultivar of a plantaholic – is a term of praise!”

Of garden stories in magazines and newspapers;

“it’s as if the garden section is intended to be handed out … the mentally challenged ‘woman of the house'”

On labelling plants in a garden

“nothing is uglier or demonstrates more clearly the lack of interest in effect”

But it’s a realistic record of creating a contemporary garden from nothing and learning the hard way, by trial and error.  There are chapters on some of her favourite plants, descriptions of the creation of particular areas in the garden and some debunking of percieved wisdom.  Anne also edits the thinkingardens website which she hopes “brings really good and interesting garden writing to the garden interested”.

The Bad Tempered Gardener by Anne Wareham, photographs by Charles Hawes.  The Veddw is also featured in the December 2012 issue of The Garden.