Jean Cocteau

How do authors’ gardens inspire them?

When Henry James moved to Lamb House in the Sussex coastal town of Rye, he admitted that he could hardly tell a dahlia from a mignonette: ‘I am hopeless about the garden, which I don’t know what to do with and shall never, never know – I am densely ignorant.’ He sought advice from the artist and designer Alfred Parsons and fortunately Lamb House already had a gardener, George Gammon, to do all the work. When Gammon won prizes at local horticultural shows, James was delighted: he was a vicarious gardener, more comfortable at his desk in the Garden Room than with his hands in the soil. Thomas Hardy was