Secret Gardens of Somerset - a book review

Secret Gardens of Somerset: A Private Tour

by Abigail Willis; photographs by Clive Coursnell
Frances Lincoln (September 15, 2020)

I've never set foot outside the United States but I do have a strong desire to travel and I would love to see the great gardens of the world. I've always said that England would be my first choice but what part of England? I would be at a loss as I know very little about the geography. From what I hear, Somerset, with its rolling hills and quaint villages, sounds enticing. 

At this point, armchair travel has to suffice for me, and I do love a beautiful garden book. This one, available this week, takes readers on a tour of twenty fabulous landscapes. 

The gardens range from large manor estates to cottage gardens and small farms. The garden styles are varying, from informal to formal and some with very modern touches. Several are influenced by Piet Oudolf. Margery Fish, whose garden was immortalized in her book We Made A Garden, is here and we see how her legacy is being kept alive. The most famous garden (or the one that I was most familiar with) is Hestercombe, designed by the great team of Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens. Other gardens include The American Museum and Gardens, Elworthy Cottage, Forest Lodge, Greencombe Gardens, Hauser & Worth Somerset, Ilford Manor, Kilver Court, Midney Gardens, Milton Lodge, The Newt, Stoberry House, Westbrook House and Yeo Valley Organic Garden.

The author presents the history of each garden and explains how the long established gardens are being rescued by a new generation of gardeners.  The text is illustrated by the stunning photography of Clive Coursnell. A gorgeous book to inspire gardeners and plan a trip to Somerset.


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


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