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Green Grows the City: Story of a London Garden Hardcover – 1 Jun 1997
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First published in 1939, this text relates the gradual transformation of a forlorn, unpromising patch of London garden into the sort of idyllic and imaginative retreat of which so many city-dwellers dream. The author charts his progress from inception to completion. Buoyed by memories of his garden and "Allways" in Huntingdonshire, his innovations include cunning layouts of pathways and flowering plants, the erection of a domed greenhouse and the introduction of cacti, the construction of a rock garden, and the painstaking design of his peculiar triangular space to draw the eye in desired directions and maximize the appeal of the garden.
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His account of how he transformed a dirty, clay ridden patch of earth from a triangular eyesore into an oasis of outstanding beauty will appeal to anyone with even the remotest interest in their own blessed plot. Poor soil, ugly fences, awkward corners, and a terrace which grew progressively smaller as he removed chunks of it to make room for yet more plants-it's all there, and somehow manages to hold more practical information in its 285 pages than many books twice its size. The fact that it was published so many years ago doesn't matter, as the problems he encountered, and the solutions he offers, apply just as much today as they were then.
Well laced with humour, some of which includes descriptions of several battles with an uncooperative neighbour, this is a book which, once started, one finds hard to put down.
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Green Grows tells the story of the ultimate "problem" garden, as can only be told by the highbrow, snobbish Beverley Nichols. It was a "problem" only because Beverley wouldn't let good enough alone. He had to have the perfect garden. While never actually getting his hands dirty, we stand beside him as he explores ways to shape his triangular back garden, install a domed greenhouse, deal with new neighbors, and still manage to take care of his cats.
In Beverley's world, turning his garden into something beautiful, despite its awkward shape, is the most important thing in the world. He spares no expense and calls his contractor in at all hours, as well as making his gardener plant and move shrubs several times...as if he were arranging pictures on a wall. All this despite the fact that a war was about to begin...didn't matter a lick to him.
Additionally comic is his relationship with his neighbor down the street. In a classic Nichols fashion, he again is vexed with the nosey neighbor. His interaction with her is an additional bonus to the reader. This book is priceless.