Book Review & Mother’s Day Competition

Monday, 16 March 2020 News


Over the years, I have collected a rather large and varied amount of gardening books, however renting a small flat with minimal space has forced me to pack-up my treasured, literary collection into many cardboard storage boxes and hide them away ….. this has certainly curtailed my book buying, or so I thought it had until I paid a visit to the gardens at Stockton Bury.

I first met Tamsin Westhorpe the revered journalist and horticulturist, who I have admired for many years (and to be honest was rather nervous about meeting) as she was gathering a pile of dropped garden entry tickets with one hand, arranging a small vase of handpicked blooms with the other and somehow clutching a mug of tea whilst pulling open the gates of Stockton Bury, all on a glorious Spring day! As she generously embraced the nonsense coming out of my mouth due to my nerves, I immediately knew why I had always wanted to meet her. Despite the organised chaos around her, she was so welcoming and engaging from the off.

When Tamsin announced she was releasing her new book, the Diary of a Modern Country Gardener the restriction on more gardening books was swiftly lifted – I knew at once I just had to have it !


The Iris walk at Stockton Bury 

As an expert gardener and experienced horticultural journalist as well as being an RHS Chelsea Flower Show Judge, Tamsin is a natural regarding all things plants and people. Her writing style and delivery engages you from the start and the family snap-shots and brief comical quote that “she’ll never make a living weeding” from her late father warmly welcomes you into this year long diary in the life of a country gardener.


From the pillar garden towards one of the lovely farm buildings

Her commitment and love for gardening is clearly evident, the book is easy to read and not just another ‘how to’ or ‘what to do, when’ in the garden, but a really honest, down to earth and at times very humorous look at a professional hands-on gardener’s life at her family’s garden and working farm, Stockton Bury in Herefordshire – A must for all seasoned gardeners and fledgling weed watchers alike.

One can almost feel the atmosphere of the potting shed where Tamsin has written this month to month diary. The potting shed nestles in the stunning, four acres of Herefordshire garden which is part of a working farm surrounded by grazing-sheep filled orchards. This wonderful garden was created by Tamsin’s uncle Raymond Treasure, and his partner, Gordon Fenn, who kindly ‘allow’ Tamsin to help them…

Along with an original cider press and pigeon house, there are many beautiful traditional buildings that ouse character within the garden. The creative planting includes unusual specimens and varieties which make you stop in your tracks and despite this horticultural heaven, Tamsin is so honest and endearing in her book even admitting that she is an imperfect gardener, just like the rest of us!


Spring perfection – dwarf fruit trees festooned in blossom echo the amazing orchards surrounding the gardens


The Cider Press at Stockton Bury also serves as the entrance to the garden

I am not one for defacing books but I have underlined many a passage, phrase or tip including the ‘must have plants’ and ‘monthly advice’ which are truly invaluable and helpful to the amateur and professional alike. Other tips include ‘tin of biscuits in the tool shed for those low-sugar moments and tea – plenty of it’ and the all important ‘covering up ones builders bottom’.

In summary, Tamsin Westhorpe’s book a Modern Country Gardener is both very informative and amusing reflecting the many twists and turns of the countryside along the way, written by a professional horticulturalist and beautifully illustrated with images from Stockton Bury. Tamsin’s aim ‘to demystify gardening and help people gain in confidence whilst having jolly good fun’ has certainly been achieved.


Tamsin signing the two copies of the book for our competition at Hatchards Book Launch kindly donated by Orphan Publishing

Mother’s Day Competition

To celebrate Mother’s Day, I have two signed copies of Diary of a Modern Country Gardener by Tamsin Westhorpe to give away, kindly donated by Orphans Publishing, along with a few beautiful artisan, British hand-made items from my online garden shop.

The prize includes a signed copy of the book, 10 x coppiced hazel plant markers, 3 x beautifully packaged flower seeds from Somerset and 1 x spool of Dartmoor garden wool twine, all beautifully gift packed.

To be in with a chance of winning simply follow me on Instagram and answer the question below in the ‘comments box’

‘In which English county will you find Stockton Bury Gardens?’

The Competition closes at 7pm on Thursday. Winners will be picked at random and notified by email (don’t forget to include your email)

Good Luck!

Mother's day competition

The Winners are:

Katie Farr and Sue Priestley. Well done!! You will receive an email soon for your postal address.