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This is one of my mother's favourite books. I usually like what she likes, so was keen to read it. My mum reads bits of it, dipping in here and there and coming back to favourite parts all the time. I read it all in one go. To be honest I think it is better read in sections, like my mum does. It is actually several stories, the history of her house and the surrounding area, the history of the making of her garden, the history of her family, all held together by the rhythms of the ecclesiastical day. I enjoyed each bit of her story, but not all smushed up together. Her writing style is beautiful and her take on what she writes about fresh, and interesting, but it did get very fragmented at times and I found myself wishing she could just stick to a narrative for a little longer before abandoning it and moving on to something else. I did enjoy it, but not as much as I'd hoped, and not in the way I had hoped.
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on 26 September 2008
This book is a delight (as is the garden in real life) The author is knowledgeable and paints the most vivid pictures. It is a book about the area of Shropshire she lives in, how it has evolved through the centuries, the house and garden and her sensitive reconstruction of it. She is a lady after my own heart with interests such as history, gardens, cats, flowers, geology, weather....it is so well written, I highly recommend it.
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on 18 July 2017
Beautifully written and lots of research done which Katherine Swift was determined to share every little detail with her readers. I was frustrated with the way the story went off at a tangent when I was just getting involved. Our of 10 people in our book group, only 2 enjoyed it.
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on 2 April 2017
Some beautiful atmospheric description and a host of esoteric facts all twined together like Clematis Montana (excuse the gardening simile).
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on 23 August 2017
Not quite what I had imagined but very interesting. I intend to read it again as
the friends who borrowed it said they had enjoyed it. Maybe I'm missing something!
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I'm something of an armchair gardener - all the pleasure and none of the work - and this book satisfied my liking to read about beautiful gardens. Its chapters are titled according to the monastic hours, echoing the house's monastic past. The author created a dreamlike garden out of a field beside her Shropshire house. The book is a description of the genesis of that garden with digressions into history, herbalism, religion and the uses and growing habits of the plants she seeks to cultivate. The writing is brilliantly clear and the garden comes to life as you read. There are line drawings in the style of illustrations from a medieval book of hours, though no photographs, together with a plan of the layout of the garden This is a book to be enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in gardening, history or the spirit of human endeavour. To create such a magnificent garden is truly a labour of love
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on 26 August 2008
This book is about far more than 'the story of a garden'. For me, it is that rare thing, a book that I did not want to put down and will certainly read again. It is written in such elegant prose with no superfluity almost to the point of self-effacement. The author's knowledge of so many diverse things is a constant delight to encounter. It is about gardening; about astronomy; about the roots of words and language; about the history of Morville and its environs; about the author's place amongst all this and so much more. I read as slowly as I could, not only to savour the text fully but so as to be able to go on sharing Dr.Swift's life and times in rural Shropshire for as long as possible.
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on 22 February 2017
Too little about the garden, very dull and self indulgent.
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VINE VOICEon 14 May 2010
Gardens and gardening have never been more popular. Perhaps it's because a garden represents the ultimate reality check in our twenty-four-seven, centrally heated, air conditioned, just-in-time world.

When Katherine Swift takes on the challenge of creating a garden for a National Trust Property, she finds inspiration in medieval books of hours and their framework for daily life (the monastic hours of work, study and prayer) lived within the wider context of the annual liturgical and agricultural cycle.

The garden she creates reflects both space and time. The geology, soil and weather dictate what can and cannot be grown and what tasks are appropriate to the season. It reflects, too, the history of the place: the monastic cloister garden, the formal Elizabethan knot garden. The book, like the garden it describes, is deeply personal. Katherine Swift meditates on the geology of Wenlock Edge, wonders what moles dream of, reflects on the hardships of rural life (she is no sentimentalist) and ponders on her own family's far from idyllic history.

Although "The Morville Hours" will appeal to gardeners and garden lovers, it isn't a book about gardening - it's about the way in which gardens reconnect us with the bigger picture.
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on 3 May 2009
This book has done what none have done before - made me join the NT ( an organisation I'm very wary of) simply to go and visit this wondrous place. It has also had me reaching for the RHS' Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers to follow the author on her journey round the garden; it's made me download Bottecelli's Primavera so I could admire that secret smile, so many things beyond gardening. What a treasure trove, what a joy this book is. This is going to be Christmas present for everyone I know!
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