I loved this book. As a horticulturist myself I can appreciate Tom's obsession. He is a modern day intrepid plant hunter.
This book is not just for plant nuts like Tom and me, it's very entertaining and will appeal to many readers.
Tom gives an open review of his life, from the beginning of his interest, through his struggle at school and into his adult life.
He came to the attention of the world when he and his traveling companion, Paul Winder, were kidnapped in South America while exploring and hunting for wild orchids back in 2000. They were held for 9 months then mysteriously let go. Read 'The Cloud Garden' by Tom Hart Dyke and Paul Winder for the terrifying details. The Cloud Garden: A True Story of Adventure, Survival, and Extreme Horticulture After a period of rest and recovery, Tom started on his mission to build a magnificent garden which had come to mind during his capture.
Tom's hilarious accounts had me laughing out loud with tears in my eyes. I couldn't put it down. I think it was brilliantly written and a must for anyone who likes farcical adventures. This is a bit like Mr Been but it's all true.
I'm sure the beautiful photos in this book will encourage the reader to visit Lullingstone Castle to see for themselves what Tom has achieved. I've been and I was greatly impressed.
An Englishman's Home concludes Tom Hart Dyke's autobiography of how he was kidnapped in the Columbian rainforest where the germ of an idea about creating a world garden was formed. Released from captivity and returned to the cold shores of England's North Kent, he sets about this project at his family's country estate of Lullingstone Castle. Tom is not your average aristocrat. He has a poor opinion of his own abilities and faces the fact that his family have beggered them selves to secure his release,(the word ramsom is never mentioned) but the family are certainly not rich. Tom realises that if he can pull off this stunt and create a World Garden that will bring the tourists flocking back to Lullingstone, he could redeem himself and restore the family fortunes. The task is anything but simple, and Tom's style of creating chaos and mayhem before achieving his aims makes very funny reading. His style is witty and self-deprecating, never pompous or boastful. I enjoyed both these books as much as any novel read this year.
I visited the World Garden at Lullingstone in September with my aunt (a former librarian). She had seen the TV series and when she told me the story behind the creation of the garden, I couldn't wait to read the book. We both read the books in sequence, so The Cloud Garden first and then An Englishman's Home. We enjoyed reading both books, but we agreed that we liked the second even more than the first. I loved Tom's easy, conversational writing style and he managed to be informative and interesting without overwhelming the reader with latin names and science. He struck a fine balance between chronicling the creation of the garden and introducing his family and friends. I loved the book and will revisit the World Garden this year with a fresh viewpoint. Will you write a sequel please, Tom?
Having enjoyed the book myself, I bought a copy for a gardening friend. I have been twice to talks by the author, and visited the garden, and found both talks and garden a happy experience recommending it to many people. The book is well written, and lighthearted, and interesting in its subjects. The said castle and its surroundings in the lovely Darenth valley are also a delight.