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– Preface (2020) –

T wo decades ago I wrote the articles gathered in this book, and published them, with some apprehension, in the Guardian. The apprehension came from the knowledge that the Guardian’s gardening correspondent, the legendary Christopher Lloyd, would be reading the series and no doubt wondering why on earth I had been let loose on his subject (in a different section of the paper). In the event he was kindness itself, and he liked a cheap joke I’d made, about False Bishop’s Weed, enough to send me send me some plants of the said weed. Later still he invited me to stay the night at Great Dixter in order to be able to see the garden both at dusk, empty of visitors, and at dawn. I knew at once that I had to go.

Anyone in those days who was making a garden in Britain was forced to reckon with Lloyd and with his great achievement, and the thing you had to decide was: am I going to be intimidated by the ­Dixterian taste, or am I going to find my own

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