‘It seemed a simple and interesting idea: what plants would you choose if starting a garden from scratch, given that you were only allowed to propagate them from seed? . . . The emphasis is on childish simplicity of approach, and economy of outlay.’ – James Fenton
‘He has cleared the ground of several decades’ worth of garden-world cant, and planted in its place something close to the simple essence of growing flowers – a delight.’
– Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire ‘A wonderfully subversive book. Good-bye to the tired idea of “garden as outdoor living room” – that static place with its trees for lamps and its shrubs for sofas and its perennials that are “installed” instead of being planted. Fenton’s spritzy un-purple prose restores to the garden the excitement of chaos, chance, and tides of colour, all sprung from seed.’
– Mac Griswold, co-author of The Golden Age of American Gardens
‘There’s not a single photo in the whole book. There aren’t any step-by-steps either. Instead, Fenton invokes the names of flowers and describes them in luscious detail . . . You have to read this slim book slowly. It’s like dark chocolate – you just break off one square a night.’ – Spade & Spatula
‘Fenton’s list – a hundred seeds – is brisk and robust, but each of the varieties he selects takes on a delicate life of its own in the fertile topsoil of his poet’s imagination. His definition of a garden is a democratic one: it takes in “morning glories grown on a fire-escape high above Manhattan; mustard and cress sown in a face-flannel, Virginia stock in an old crab shell . . .”’ – Tim Adams, Observer
James Fenton is a poet and a gardener.
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