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Thoughtful Gardening: Great Plants, Great Gardens, Great Gardeners [Hardcover]

Robin Lane Fox
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Sep 2010

Thoughtful Gardening is Robin Lane Fox's first gardening book in twenty-five years, and marks the fortieth year of his weekly columns on gardening for the Financial Times. It is based on his own selection from these widely admired pieces, which he has rewritten and amplified with new chapters to take readers on a highly enjoyable journey through each season of the gardening year. It draws on his lifetime of practical gardening, including his years as Garden Master of New College, Oxford, and contains many memories of fellow gardeners, from Christopher Lloyd to Nancy Lancaster.

The book is essential reading for anyone setting out on a new garden or taking stock of one. It takes a critical look at fashions of the moment and is full of advice, ranging from problems with badgers to how to take root-cuttings or choose flowering trees, as well as examples of gardens at home and abroad which Robin Lane Fox has visited over many years. Thoughtful Gardening combines a principled view of the craft of gardening with dozens of new ideas for planting and visiting, and touching reminders of the power of literature and art to deepen what we see and realize in gardens of our own.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Particular Books (2 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184614289X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846142895
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Robin Lane Fox's weekly gardening column in the Financial Times began in 1970 and is the longest running in print today. He has published two bestselling books on the subject, Better Gardening (Penguin, 1982) and Variations on A Garden (revised ed.,1986). He began his career in the great Botanical Garden in Munich and since 1979 has been Garden Master of the gardens at New College, Oxford where he is also Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History. He is the prize-winning author of many books on classical history, including most recently: Travelling Heroes: Greek and their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer (Allen Lane, 2009).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Review :) 12 Sep 2010
By Emteq VINE VOICE
Verified Purchase
I'm not a regular reader of the FT, so none of the material here is familiar. If you've been a regular follower of the author, there may be a sense of deja-vu from his newspaper column.

Organised, broadly speaking, around the seasons the book is a compendium of light, readable cuttings of advice, reminiscences, commentaries, biographies and travelogues. As such, it can be dipped-into at will or read for seasonal advice or cover to cover. No cutting will detain for more than 5 minutes.

Apparently drawn from decades of material, none of the cuttings are dated as such. Some, I'd suggest the less successful, can be dated by context of discussing a death from years back.

Given the readership of the FT, it's no surprise that the author assumes that visiting gardens in France, Italy or America could very well be on the reader's itinerary.

For me, the most successful aspects of the book are the out and out advice on plants, nurseries, preferred cultivators, planting schemes etc. The author is unabashed in advocating Miracle Grow over organic methods and dislike of prairie planting.

There is just enough photographs of plants and gardens to be helpful, though more would be welcome.

Given it's organising structure, I couldn't help but to compare with Stuart Thomas' Cuttings from Garden Notebook from 1997. If obliged to choose, I would still favour this as a compendium of practical advice to the more thoughtful gardener, while accepting that Lane Fox is painting on a broader canvas.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect stocking filler 4 Oct 2010
As a regular reader of the FT, I always look forward to RLF's gardening articles for their irreverent, politically incorrect (in gardening circles anyway)and downright funny take on life. RLF is a true polymath who would appear to be able to turn his hand to anything he chooses. I particularly enjoyed his account of his battles with Christopher Lloyd, the former doyen of garden writers and who else would have thought of giving prozac to badgers!

As for the organic vs inorganic debate, I would never presume to condemn someone else's garden choices, particularly if they are trying to manage two careers and run two significant gardens. As the previous reviewer said, this is a great book for dipping into on a regular basis, but you will not find a boring or predictable article in this wonderful book.

In particular, I was pleased to discover that so much of the material is new. If I had one small quibble, I would like the publishers to have included an index but all in all this book is essential reading for all keen gardeners.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read at bedtime 10 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase
What a wonderful book, its great to read just before nodding off each night.
My copy has an index!
Well recommended to all gardeners. Great read can find no faults, infact I find it a superb book for a Christmas gift. Dont hestitate buy it today.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Writer about Gardens 19 Dec 2010
For many years Robin Lane Fox's articles about gardening did much to boost the sales of the financial Times on Saturday. His writing has been a welcome change from the faddish designer-celebrity garden correspondents who know all to little about the plants that they recommend. This book sums up his long career in gardening to date and would be a welcome present for both the experienced gardener and those who, like me are married to one and wish to find out what it is that attracts people to the garden.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY A FIRST EDITION WHILST YOU CAN ! 19 Oct 2011
By Jeff Walmsley TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Verified Purchase
For once, I agree with everybody ! This book is in the classic genre of the gardening essay, which almost invariably has more to offer the keen gardener, thoughtful or thoughtless, than the formulaic "how to do it" books. This genre shouldn't need illustrations -- when it does, it's usually a failure -- and this book doesn't need them either but it's none the worse for having a few.

A glance through the copious index (the reviewer whose copy didn't have one should ask for his money back) reveals the breadth of the writing; what other gardening book contains mentions of Lauren Bacall, Sophie Click-Portal, the Emperor Tiberius and Alexander the Great (the last two had to come in, of course), alongside the usual gardening worthies, various princesses, lords and ladies, and, the most intriguing entry of all, "Stoat, and Nicholas Ridley"...

In return for the privilege of at last reading the truth about weed killers from a garden writer, one can forgive a few errors; nobody knows everything. Robin rightly praises the former head gardener of Powis Castle, James Hancock, whose wife and I once belonged to the same painting group, but places Powis Castle in Shropshire. In rural terms Powis Castle and I are neighbours, being separated by only a few fields, and I can assure him that we are both firmly in Wales -- understandably, you might think, in the County of Powys (but note the different spelling). I believe he may also be unjustifiably denigrating (and drugging !) his badgers; dig up his lawns they may, as they do mine, but it is the squirrels, voles and mice which dine prodigiously off the crocus corms.

The most effective education is that which simultaneously entertains. You can't go wrong here. Get the first edition whilst you can; it's an investment as well as an entertaining education.
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