Mary Keen

Finding Paradise in your own back garden

Gardening is the nation’s hobby. It is worth around £3 billion in annual business, much of it generated by television makeovers. No one is letting on that what keeps us spending is the pursuit of a dream. Makeovers are showbiz, brilliant marketing tools, but Eldorado will never be found at B & Q or the garden centre. Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new book, The Garden: An English Love Affair (Weidenfeld, £25) takes a beguiling look at what gardens have meant to us over the last 1,000 years. Garden histories, for the general reader, tend to employ recycled facts to demonstrate a bewildering number of trends, but recent books have tried different perspectives. Tom Williamson’s Polite Landscapes explained the economics of the 18th-century landscape and Charles Quest- Ritson’s The English Garden: A Social History

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