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We Made a Garden Paperback – 29 Jul 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Batsford Ltd; New edition edition (29 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713487526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713487527
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,612,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Crammed with good advice. . . . I defy any amateur gardener not to find pleasure, encouragement, and profit from We Made a Garden --Vita Sackville-West

This garden story is filled with wisdom and insight --English Garden

Gardening is like everything else in life, you get out of it as much as you put in. No one can make a garden by buying a few packets of seeds or doing an afternoon's weeding. You must love it, and then your love will be repaid a thousandfold, as every gardener knows. --Margery Fish --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

First published in Britain in 1956 and never before available in America, We Made a Garden is the classic story of a unique and enduring English country garden. One of Britain's most esteemed gardening writers recounts how she and her husband set about creating an exemplary cottage garden from unpromising beginnings on the site of the former farmyard and rubbish heap that surround their newly purchased home in the countryside of Somerset, England. Each imbued with a strong set of horticultural opinions and passions, Mr. and Mrs. Fish negotiate the terrain of their garden, by turns separately and together, often with humorous collisions. From the secret to cultivating the smoothest lawn to the art of lifting and replanting tulip bulbs to the landscaping possibilities of evergreens, the diverse elements of successful gardening--and delightful writing--are bound together by Mr. and Mrs. Fish's aspiration to cultivate that most precious and slow-growing quality--the fundamental character of a good garden. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 8 May 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a must-have standard for anyone interested in garden design and plants, and who understands that real gardening is about hard work, effort and love.
Marjery Fish, with 'help' from her husband, tracks the transformation of an unpromising site to a garden that still draws visitors from around the world. Her knowledge is generously shared, both experienced and new gardeners will learn much from her, both about garden design and how to use plants. She has a gift for describing plants that is mouthwatering, plantaholics beware!
What lifts this book however, is not just the quality of her writing, it is the chacter of Mrs Fish herself, funny, self deprecating, honest about failures and mistakes. She is the practical gardening friend that every gardener would like to have. As you read the book you are aware that she too has experienced the satisfaction of a hard days garden labouring, the obsession that sends you out at night to check on your plants (in her case climbing walls in evening dress to hand water), the frustration when a loved plant just refuses to grow for you ...
This is not a quick fix garden makeover book, it's a journey which celebrates the pleasure that comes from creating and sharing a garden. Don't dismiss it because of the original publishing date, Marjery Fish has so much to offer present day gardeners; not least the relief that they don't have the terrifying Mr Fish overseeing every move.
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There is no subtitle to this book, but this is what Margery Fish became in the process of making her garden. For years, I had assumed that because it is an old book, it would be dry and 'learned'. It is neither. It could be my gran or aged aunt, writing me letters about what they found when they bought the house, early plans which proved to be mistakes, learning by experience, quietly going against the 'better judgement' of an older husband who had had a garden before and preferring her outcomes, growing to love plants, working out their different needs in terms of site and conditions, and above all, loving the doing of it.

There are make-over gardeners, low-maintenance gardeners, spend-to-impress gardeners. I'm not sure that this book would appeal to them, even though they would learn things. The people who will love this little book are the ones who have discovered a love of plants for their own sake. Who enjoy the small and delicate, the humble as well as the tricky. Who are either taking tentative steps towards something they think they might come to really love, or who already love it, and can say "Yep. We did that. Ended up moving ours, too."
I regret not reading this book years ago. I too had a husband who would say "What are you bothering with that for?" Margery Fish would have understood!
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Margery Fish is my gardening pin-up and that is largely due to the influence of this book. There is no pomposity or artistic pretension, and it seems to me to be a powerful palliative to the books of the Grand Gardeners. When I can no longer stand the bleatings of Gertrude Jekyll I turn to Margery - and there I think you have the difference; that I always think of Gertrude as Miss Jekyll but Margery is always Margery. She is like an unappreciated Aunt.
She writes without an agenda and the book contains what I'd call a running gag; the battle between herself and her husband about how the garden should evolve. Perhaps 'battle' is not quite accurate. It is more that Margery conducts a war of skirmishes, setting up small areas of rebel resistance. The book thus becomes not only about plants but also, I think, about the position of women in mid-20th century England. She should be a feminist's icon.
A must for the gardener who does not aspire to an estate and an army of gardeners.
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I bought this as I saw it recommended elsewhere. I wasn't sure what to expect but found it a really interesting read. I wondered if it would be a dull list of jobs and plants, but the story of how the garden is designed and restored, as well as Margery's relationship with her grumpy and intransigent husband, who is very insistent on things being done his way and sometimes sabotages Margery's efforts to do otherwise, give the book a structure and "characters" which make it quite a compelling read.

The details of the garden are also beautifully written, and, as another reviewer has also said, the book warrants a second reading - probably with google at the ready to find photos of all the plants mentioned. Many of the tips about growing conditions and which plants go well together are really useful, even to someone like me whose garden is tiny! The book follows Margery as she learns about gardening while building what became a classic garden, but she is not shy of admitting to mistakes and problems and I think anyone who enjoys gardening and reading will probably enjoy this book.

I've given it 4 stars instead of 5 because there are no photos and sometimes I really wanted to see exactly what the place looked like! I thought this would actually be more of a negative point but the descriptions are wonderful, however I do think this is a book crying out for a new, illustrated, edition.
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