A Year at Brandywine Cottage by David Culp - a book review

A Year at Brandywine Cottage: Six Seasons of Beauty, Bounty, and Blooms
by David L. Culp with Denise Cowie; photographs by Rob Cardillo
Timber Press
Publication Date: March 31, 2020

In 2012, David Culp enchanted garden lovers with his beautiful book The Layered Garden. (I was taken aback when I pulled the copy from my shelf to check the publication date - has it really been 8 years? It seems like a few years ago). Now he is back with a luscious follow-up that documents a full year at the beautiful cottage he shares with partner Michael Alderfur in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Beginning in February (late winter to some of us but Culp labels it "Early Spring"), he shows us the glory of this sleepy phase in the garden when most people, especially non-gardeners, are oblivious to any plant life. A tour through this garden dashes that notion and proves that there is much to behold - the emerging bulbs of crocus, dwarf iris, glory-of-the-snow, winter aconite, witch hazels and the author's large collection of snowdrops. As the early winter season progresses into March, daffodils and hellebores take center stage.

Each subsequent chapter showcases not only what is blooming that month but also details the chores that have to be done and the history of the garden's development. Culp, who grew up on a farm and who has been interested in plants from an early age, shares many amusing childhood anecdotes and how they influenced his gardening life. Interesting sidebars pop-up throughout the narrative that discuss topics such as how to propagate hellbores, creating a terrarium and how to establish a meadow garden.

In addition to the garden, there are recipes that highlight vegetables that are in season ("Sauteed Fiddlehead Ferns", "Summer Squash Pizza", "Cheese Pie" to name just a few). The indoors are just as beautiful, with decor of beautiful wreaths, flower and plant arrangements, houseplants and Christmas trees.

The photographs by Rob Cardillo really capture the beauty of the garden and home in all of the seasons. This is an inspiring book that will provide readers with ideas and advise for their own gardens, not to mention getting you exhilarated for the upcoming season.

A Year at Brandywine Cottage: Six Seasons of Beauty, Bounty, and Blooms

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. This sounds like one I would enjoy. I like reading about the "year" in a garden. I love to see how people look at their garden during different seasons.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts