Saturday, 31 May 2008

Holiday Reads

Around this time of year lists of books to take on holiday start appearing in magazines and newspapers. But what does the gardening enthusiast take on holiday?

Assuming that is that he/she can be prised away from their plot. Personally I always have mixed feelings about going away. Even if it's just a short break, the plant that I have been drooling with anticipation over for weeks, takes the opportunity to flower like crazy, so that it's over and done by the time I get back.

Anyway, I digress.

So what is a good gardening holiday read? I am assuming here that light and entertaining is the order of the day, and you're not crazy enough to lug some big old reference book away with you.

Well, Valentine Low's One Man and His Dig, as capably reviewed by Emma Townshend on my main blog, and also much less capably by myself, is a good choice, being easy to read, and amusing throughout.

Last night I finished another book that I'd recommend as a good holiday read for the same reasons.

The Day Job by Mark Wallington has been out a year or two, but is still available in plenty of shops. Subtitled ‘The Adventures of a Jobbing Gardener’ - it is that, but more. It follows a year in which Mark, with no experience, sets up as a gardener in Hampstead, London. At the same time he is trying to break into writing TV comedy. Nothing much happens as regards the latter, but his gardening brings him into contact with all manner of clients from single parents and pensioners, through to the rich and the titled. All of whom seem to be batty, to a greater, or lesser, extent. There are also run ins with a local landscape firm, Powerflowers, and a touching cupid role in the life of Indian bank clerk Balbir. It's a warm and entertaining book, which is just what you want to have in your holiday bag.

I realise two books is a pretty thin holiday book list.

Can anyone help me add to it?

Oh, hang on, I've thought of another one - The Cloud Garden - Tom Hart Dyke & Paul Winder - just mad.


Alex said...

I'm not sure it really counts as a gardening book but The World Without Us by Alan Weissman is a fantastic look at what would happen to the planet if all the humans suddenly left/disappeared (in short, it would all grow back fine, though it might take a bit of time in some places). I read it on holiday last year in darkest Spain.

Esther Montgomery said...

'Old Herbaceous' by Reginald Arkell.

VP said...

For holiday reading only:

'Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener' by M. C. Beaton

Similar to a Miss Marple murder mystery with a few gardening bits thrown in.

I wouldn't usually read such things, but it was on Radio 4 with Penelope Keith...

VP said...

Is that the same Mark Wallington who wrote '500 Mile Walkies'(walking the South West Way), 'Boogie on up the River' (rowing to the source of the River Thames) and 'Pennine Walkies' (guess)?

If it is, I must read your recommendation as the others are hilarious.

Alex's reference to darkest Spain also reminds me of Chris Stewart's 'Driving Over Lemons' - the ex-drummer of Genesis (before they became famous), turned sheep shearer turned farmer in Spain

The Garden Monkey said...

Yes it is the same MW.

Boogie Up The River is sometimes on rotation on R7 read by Timothy Spall.

Deb @ Beholder's Eye said...

No Nettles Required. It fits beautifully into my tiny handbag and I love to dip my toe in on the train. I'm sure it would translate to the beach beautifully... I took Avant Gardeners on our recent seaside trip. Great read but too bloody heavy.

R. Pete Free said...

Mark Mills 'The Savage Garden' a sort of Capability Brown meets the da Vinci Code. Definitely in the 'holiday read' category being gripping in an annoying 'I knew that was going to happen' way

emmat said...

If we could go off the topic interpreted strictly, how about the Garden of the Finzi Continis by Bassani? It's an Italian novel from the 60s, sort of a nostalgic family story set just before the war.

It doesn't have huge horticultural content, but it DOES have a wonderfully evoked walled Italian garden, which serves as a metaphor for all the efforts to resist the changes that were overcoming Italy in the years coming up to the war.I'm pretty sure it's one of the top 10 most famous Italian novels. Very summery and pastoral but with an undertone of unease, as the family are Jewish and their position becomes increasingly uncomfortable.

Jane Perrone, Horticultural blog said...

I am currently reading/re-reading everything by Christo Lloyd - still so fresh and sagacious and inspiring.

I also have Mark Cocker's collected writings on my desk and suspect it'll be a lovely holiday read to dip into.

VP said...

Can I suggest a variation on your holiday reads theme?

What's your favourite dippable book? You know the kind of thing - you're in your lounger on the patio (ignore that weed RPF), glass of nice chilled something in 1 hand, dippable book in the other, doesn't matter if you have a quick snooze in between reading...

Mine's 'The Faber Book of Gardens' at the moment, edited by Philip Robinson. It's where I found Ted Hughes' Thrushes poem I posted the other day.

emmat said...

Jane is right. Mark Cocker is a really good idea - he taught a nature writing course I went on recently and his book about Crows in particular is really delightful.

And Christopher Lloyd is amazing and always will be. I am just annoyed that I recently paid 15 quid for his Gardening Year only to find I already own it, when I was tidying up yesterday. (See monkey, I DO have too many books.)

Hang on a minute though, JP is taking Guardian loyalty to the hilt there, isn't she? Ain't Lloyd and Cocker both Guardeners?