and the Linnean Society, where I was looking into the ‘lives’ of celebrated gardeners, landscape designers, botanists and horticultural writers.
either had I ever imagined being a journalist, but I found myself learning my trade as a sub-editor on the Antiques Roadshow Magazine, simply because one of the publishers I wrote to on spec at this time was producing it on the side. I loved sub-editing because one must handle words almost as physical objects, honing sentences and articles into shape as delicately as possible. I still maintain that while anyone can be a writer of sorts, only someone with a deep affinity with words can edit properly. Poetic craft is more reminiscent, to me, of sub-editing than ‘writing’ (my first volume of poetry was published in 2015 − the result of an open competition). At Oxford I had given myself the task of examining Milton’s use of punctuation, with a special emphasis on the semi-colon. I was interested in the mechanics of poetry, how it can elicit certain specific emotions in the reader. I have used the same kind of technique with my analyses of planting design and spatial organization in landscapes: anatomizing the design by taking it apart and construing its effects on those who experience it.
ditorial experience helped land me a job as a sub-editor on Country Life magazine. At my interview the editor asked me if I could ride. I answered yes, truthfully enough, though it was some years since I had been on a horse and even then hacking around the lanes on a farmer’s nag was not exactly riding to hounds. At Country Life I gravitated towards the gardens pages from the start, but it is a large weekly magazine with a small staff and over my eight-year stin I was in addition books editor, exhibitions editor, property editor, motoring editor, news editor, sports editor and performing arts editor. In fact I am still a theatre critic for Country Life. At one point I remember being faced with a clear fork in the road: do I specialize in art, or in gardens? I chose the latter, and ended up as Country Life’s gardens editor.
I was not long in that post, however, because I had conceived of an idea for a new gardens magazine for a new generation, which after a fraught period of development was launched in 1999. New Eden lasted barely eighteen months − despite healthy sales and industry awards for its innovative design. It was closed along with several other magazines when the parent company failed to float on the stock market and was sold on to venture capitalists. At least you should have been here last week iv