Diary of a Modern Country Gardener

Secrets for Every Season Straight From the Potting Shed

By Tamsin Westhorpe

Orphans Publishing ISBN 9781903360422

Hardback. 248 pages. £20

Illustrations by Hannah Madden

Book review and prize draw. Please leave a comment to be included in the draw.

We are all standing at our house windows gazing on waterlogged, storm lashed gardens, aching to be outside gardening. It’s doesn’t matter what kind of gardening, anything, as long as we can run some compost through our fingers and see green shoots emerging. It’s been a long wet winter.

Luckily Tamsin Westhorpe has a beautiful new book which transports us immediately to gardening heaven- Stockton Bury in Herefordshire. It is a very welcome and timely escape.

Tamsin is the 5th generation to garden at her family’s farm. The four acre garden within the farm has fruit and vegetable plots, a stream and pond, ‘rooms’ with different planting themes and a dovecote dating back to the time of Henry 1. The land has been worked by the family for more than 100 years, and the much-acclaimed garden is open to the public.

In her new book, Diary of a Modern Country Gardener, Tamsin lets us into her world as we see her facing all kinds of gardening challenges, accompanied by lots of laughter.

There’s expert advice on growing cut flowers, staging summer garden parties, selecting and planting trees, planting bulbs, storing produce, keeping chickens, coppicing hazel and more. I particularly like the ‘tool kit’ panels detailing equipment and materials needed for the list of jobs suggested each month. A useful reminder before getting going on tasks. There’s nothing worse than starting something, and then having to stop to search for forgotten items to complete the project.

I also like the list of ‘must-have’ plants for each month. January suggests Cornus mas, crocus tommasinianus, cyclamen coum, eranthis hyemalis, hamamelis, hellebores, iris reticulata, mahonia, snowdrops, viburnum Dawn and narcissus Bowles Early Sulphur. You can almost smell these spring delights. There’s something cheerful on every page.

As we follow her daily life there’s lots of hints and tips on what to do and when. But this is much more than a ‘how to’ book. It’s a book about solving problems, dealing with gardening conundrums, interacting with people, and simply enjoying every single moment.

I love books where you can really hear the author’s voice. Tamsin’s voice is loud and clear and full of humour. Her stories are compelling. She makes you want to jump in a car and drive over to see what she’s getting up to today. You’d have a real good natter, and come away smiling and fired up with ideas to get going on your own plot. She’s that kind of person who makes anything feel possible.

Her diary does exactly what it says on the tin; it’s a daily insight into the workings of a country garden. There are plenty of ‘secrets’ to be told. I won’t spoil them by retelling them here. But there’s a very interesting story about what she wears in the garden! Apparently her mother set the trend. You’ll have to read the book to find out more. It’s perfect escapism. And the one place you’ll all want to be is in Tamsin’s garden.

The book is beautifully produced and bound by well-respected Orphans Publishing, accompanied by truly gorgeous illustrations by artist Hannah Madden. A thing of beauty. Highly recommended. You’ll soon forget all about the weather! I promise.

Tamsin going through the proofs at Herefordshire Orphans Publishing.

Tamsin and Hannah Madden celebrating their first copy of the book.

Some pages from the book, taken with my i-phone camera. The quality of the photography is much better than I’ve managed to capture here.

About the author, taken with my i-phone camera.

Excerpts from the book for March

Excerpts for June

August

Tamsin Westhorpe’s diary was my book of the week on BBC Local Radio Gardening. It would make an excellent BBC Radio 4 read-aloud Book of the Week. A best seller, I think.

Thank you to Orphans Publishing for offering a free copy for our prize draw. Please leave a comment below to be entered in the draw. Please also comment if you do not wish to be entered in the competition, and let me know. Some of you may have already ordered a copy. The publishers will randomly select a winner. No cash prize alternative and usual rules apply.

Links: Tamsin Westhorpe https://www.tamsinwesthorpe.co.uk/

Orphans Publishing https://www.orphanspublishing.co.uk/

Stockton Bury http://www.stocktonbury.co.uk/

Garden Media Guild https://www.gardenmediaguild.co.uk/

Karen gimson on twitter @kgimson

On instagram karengimson1 and Pinterest.

Thank you for reading. I am very grateful for your 150,000 page views, all kind follows and shares. Please share this on any social media platform. It all helps me immensely.

35 thoughts on “Diary of a Modern Country Gardener

    • Hello Fiona, and thank you so much for persevering with the comments section of the blog. I’m also going to ask our library to get some in. It’s a book that’s good for the soul. Cheerful notes of hope on every page. Please do venture this way again. I write mostly about my own garden here at the brambles, but also write family recipes for the children to find in one place, when they have homes of their own. And I also recount what’s said on the bbc gardening shows I appear on. All the best. Karen

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  1. Karen thank you very much for your wonderful and kind words. How can I not be by your side at a time when two very strong storms have passed and have flooded your garden and thankfully you have not flooded your house and that you and your family are safe and sound. That’s what good friends are for my dear Karen. I hope Grace and Meg are fine because I love them so much. Everything will pass and I wish with all my heart that your fabulous garden will dry very soon and begin early spring. All my support and my love for all your family, Mr B and for you. Take care Affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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  2. My garden is all too waterlogged too and I’m looking forward to spring. The snowdrops promise that it’s on the way. This book looks great and the thought of it also spurs me on to go and visit Stockton Bury Gardens on the other side of the county from where we live. And now I’ve discovered your blog too – our garden is big, rambling and brambly too.

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    • Thank you Ellie. We are all desperate for some dry weather. Thank you so much for venturing here and leaving a message. Good luck in the draw. Looking forward to seeing you again soon. Karen

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  3. I hope you can get out into your garden soon Karen. It’s certainly been a long wet winter and so many windy days too. Stockton Bury Gardens are high on our list of gardens to visit next time we head down the A49 so I would love to read this book before we do. Thank you for your review and giving us the opportunity to enter the draw.

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    • Oh you would really love the gardens. They are quite spectacular. Thanks so much for reading the blog. Please keep coming back, there are some lovely books, tools and equipment coming up. I’m not turning anything offered down this year! Good luck in the draw. Karen

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  4. I’ve added this to my birthday list, which I know will be bought for me in August if I can wait that long! I too love a book where you can hear the author’s voice and that imparts advice which you know works, but without making you feel inadequate. Look forward to reading it too. Ella x

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    • It really would! Thanks your for reading the blog Catherine. Good luck in the. Draw. There are many more new books coming up, and some nice tools and equipment. I’m not turning anything down this year! Enjoy your gardening

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  5. It looks like a very readable book and sounds fun too. I would also like to be added to the draw. It has been wet here too Karen, but nowhere near as wet as the UK. I do hope it dries up soon so you can get outside. It is so frustrating at this time of year when the longer daylight hours are begging to be put to good use!

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    • Thank you Cathy. It’s been really wet and windy since October. I’ve never known a winter like it. Terribly behind with all jobs. Garden was flooded again today. Water coming in from surrounding fields and ditches. Must admit I’m rather fed up with it now. Good luck in the draw.

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  6. Despite, or rather because of, being a professional cut flower grower, my home garden is a disgrace to the neighbourhood. I am trying to remedy this by creating a wildlife friendly garden and I feel Tamsin’s book would be inspiring in my mission to make a difference in this suburban concrete jungle.

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    • Karen thank you very much for opening the comments. The book is wonderful, I love it and I love it. How complete and charming it is. The photos are fantastic. The content of the book is abundant and well organized, it does not bore you for what you say. He has everything and his writer writes it as if you were by his side. Who had that book! He tells you about the flowers of each month, the jobs and tools you need, the care of plants, how to solve problems and hundreds of other things. I would love to have a book. I wrote you on Instagram and on Twitter as I couldn’t do it here. Karen I’m so sorry your garden is so wet that you can’t do any gardening. On the contrary, this afternoon I was encouraged and with the gloves you gave me I put on and planted some rudbekias seeds on the terrace. Tomorrow I have if I continue planting more seeds that are from last year but are not expired. Karen with all my heart I wish the sun to rise and dry your garden and not rain in a month and then rain normal. My dear friend, you will have had a hard time with the two strong storms. Hopefully no more will come. Karen a lot of love, a lot of health, a lot of strength, a lot of encouragement for your whole family, Mr B and for you. Loving caresses for Grace and Meg. Take care Affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your lovely heart-felt response Margarita. I am so glad to see what I do In the book. It’s is something to treasure. The ability to inspire someone and fire them up to try, and keep trying, with gardening. Tamsin is a very special person and her honesty and good humour shines thorough. Good luck in the draw. And thanks for your good wishes which mean a lot. Affectionate greetings from us all. Love karen xxx

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