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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish this was my garden!
A winsome account of one man's realization of his rustic ideal. Woodward aimed to overcome altitude and ineptitude and create a garden good enough to impress the "National Garden Scheme". His account is a perfect balance of humour, poignancy and interesting nuggets of information on beekeeping, gates and wood-chopping. It is the spectacular landscape however, and...
Published on 25 Jun 2010 by kit

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice book
Good fun and informative and interesting but maybe a bit journalistic and perhaps a bit scatty. The photos in black and white are not that good. It has funny bits and bits that are very well written, such as the descriptions of the locals and their dialect. Depth is attempted at with some very serious descriptions of the authors mother's illness and death, which has been...
Published 12 months ago by E. Tombs


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish this was my garden!, 25 Jun 2010
By 
This review is from: The Garden in the Clouds (Hardcover)
A winsome account of one man's realization of his rustic ideal. Woodward aimed to overcome altitude and ineptitude and create a garden good enough to impress the "National Garden Scheme". His account is a perfect balance of humour, poignancy and interesting nuggets of information on beekeeping, gates and wood-chopping. It is the spectacular landscape however, and Woodward's sheer delight in it, that leave a lasting impression on the reader.

I read a few grudging reviews elsewhere (The author can't even speak Welsh! Insensitive to the smallholding's history!). Interesting points but the author doesn't seem totally blind to them. He acknowledges the idealized nature of his plan (inspiration from a childhood ladybird book) and muses on why he wants to mow a meadow or build a wall in a traditional way. A little local history may have gone a long way, but as it stands, "The Garden in The Clouds" is warm account of a labour of love. And looking at Woodward's photos throughout, it's easy to see why he's so enthralled by that landscape!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Garden in the Clouds - a masterpiece, 21 Mar 2011
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This review is from: The Garden in the Clouds (Hardcover)
A superb, captivating, addictive book, `The Garden in The Clouds' begins with the author as a seven-year-old sitting in the family car (`Austin 1300 Countryman, cream, wood-effect trim'). With him are his redoubtable mother, his older brother (an instinctive genius with machines and motors) and father (kind, precise, professorial, profoundly suspicious of anything `rural') who, many years later, realises that the younger of his two sons wants to live `a chain sawey kind of life'.
Woodward's quest leads him to Wales: more precisely, up a mountain in Monmouthshire. The wind soon `frog-marches him across the yard' (`it clawed at our mouths and eyelids, messed with our balance and made it hard to breathe'). It's the sort of elemental challenge that he has yearned for. Soon he's tackling dry-stone walling, hedge-planting, bee-keeping (and more) in vigorous if occasionally haphazard fashion. Along the way there is a diversionary odyssey to acquire an authentic five-bar gate, one with the necessary `extravagant cricket club whiff of linseed oil'. There is also the small matter of resurrecting a wreck of a farmhouse, built in impressively permeable local stone (`walls appeared to have been gnawed by rats'), and creating a garden which can plausibly be opened to the public. Flawlessly written, joyously self-deprecating, The Garden in The Clouds is gently yet richly instructive, not least about how the younger generation of a family can emerge to establish its own identity distinct from the previous one. A masterpiece - a modern classic.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cloud Gardening, 19 May 2010
This review is from: The Garden in the Clouds (Hardcover)
A breath of fresh Black Mountain air. . . it made me chuckle on the inside and laugh and laugh again on the outside. A heartfelt, gloriously humorous account of chasing rainbows. Woodward believes in the seemingly impossible being possible, a complete and utter delight, read it and you will find yourself wearing a smile for weeks. . .
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and poignant - my book of the year, 10 Aug 2010
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Katherine Bond "KB" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Garden in the Clouds (Hardcover)
I completely loved this book. It's the kind of autobiography that I like best - funny and poignant and full of people I wish I knew. Supposedly about creating a garden on a mountaintop without having a clue of how to go about it (a great premise in itself) but actually about how our parents and childhood places and dreams have shaped us. The portraits of the author's parents, particularly his mother, are so honest and real they're heartbreaking. And all this alongside the nitty gritty of making hay, hedging, creating an orchard, keeping bees and trying to defend a mountaintop garden from ravenous Welsh sheep. I'm buying this book for my mother (a keen gardener) for her birthday but I'll also give it to all my urban friends who dream of an idyllic rural life.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 24 July 2010
This review is from: The Garden in the Clouds (Hardcover)
"The Garden in The Clouds" is a delight to read. It will appeal to anyone with a plot of land who has ever grappled with the unfamiliar and wants to "do it right". Determination and perspiration really do work. It seems a most unlikely quest to get the garden in the Yellow Book. Filled with brilliant moments, a personal favourite being the delivery of the railway carriage up impossibly steep and windy lanes. Charming.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph against all the odds, 4 Aug 2010
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Wiltshire Bookworm (Chippenham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Garden in the Clouds (Hardcover)
We often like to dream of our ideal place, usually far from the madding crowd with enough land to be self sufficient or to have a magnificent garden. Antony Woodward not only had that dream, he dared to make it reality.

So he uproots his family from London and relocates to a derelict smallholding up a picturesque mountainside in the Brecon Beacons without much of a clue of how to make his dream come true. Not only that he decides to open his 'garden' for charity under the NGS scheme.

By now most of us would be sniggering at one man's folly, but the last laugh is really on us as this tale is of British eccentricity at its best. What follows is a story of triumph against all reason and the odds. It's told with a warmth, sense of humour and attention to detail which left me with a warm glow and well exercised chuckle muscles long after the last page was turned.

This is a great holiday read or one to save as a treat for when the nights draw in again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really great read, 30 Jun 2010
This review is from: The Garden in the Clouds (Hardcover)
The Garden in the Clouds: From Derelict Smallholding to Mountain ParadiseJust finished your wonderful book - a great read and very inspirational. This book is now 'dog eared' having been passed round the family - its hilarious,inspirational and its a true story - what more could you want! Look forward to the next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diverting, 7 Aug 2012
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Antony Woodward wrote one of my favourite ever books, "Propellerhead", and the easy-going, likeable and near eccentric style encountered in that book continues into this one. Ostensibly about gardening, it's more a story about that the writer buying a holiday home in an alien environment - up a mountain in Wales - and then trying to get the garden into shape. So far, so cliched, but Woodward has a way fo telling his tale that draws you into it on his side. You can believe the stories he tells are true, and you can also believe that the account is incidental to the ambition of buying the house in the first place. In other words, he didn't buy the house to write the book, which I sometimes suspect some authors have done! I'm not, and wasn't, all that interested in the trials of him sculpting his garden, with the goal of getting it featured in some guide book whose name I've already forgotten. But the book kept my interest to the end, and was worth reading. Maybe it was a bit lightweight, and I might well have forgotten all about it in six months, but I don't regret passing the time with it one bit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars unfullfilled wishes!, 20 Oct 2011
I wish that I had had the money and the initiative to do what Anthony did. The book tells of a wonderful place to live and the problems in setting it up for 'Opening it' to the public. Very amusing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and life-affirming, 13 Oct 2011
I bought this book in the NT shop on a whim and was very glad that I did. It's about so much more than a family's efforts to create a new home, and that garden, in a setting that seems to fight back all the time. There's a huge swathe of humanity running through the book - there in the understanding of what brings and binds people together; in the touching exploration of family life, and in the thoughts on how we process our memories and the ways they affect us without us realising it.

At the end of the book I felt that the garden had been got on its feet, but a lot more had been achieved and learned in the process. The writer 'comes home' to many things he hadn't quite known were missing before.

If all this makes it sound a heavy read,it's not - it's really funny and I liked the way the person who was most often the butt of the humour was the writer himself. I also liked the way other people in the community were shown neither on a pedestal or patronised.

I've since bought a couple of copies for friends as it's a definite 'reaffirming the important things in life' read.
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The Garden in the Clouds
The Garden in the Clouds by Antony Woodward (Hardcover - 29 April 2010)
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