The Flower Yard. Book Review and Giveaway

By Arthur Parkinson

Published by Kyle Books

Hardback, 208 pages. RRP £22

ISBN 978-0-85783-917-6

Open the pages of The Flower Yard and you’ll enter a world full of exotic parrot tulips, jewel-coloured dahlias- and flamingos…

You’ll learn much about creating flamboyant Venetian-coloured containers, but you’ll also hear about Caribbean flamingos. For the author, Arthur Parkinson, once had the choice between becoming a zookeeper and horticulture. He chose gardening, and a year’s training at Kew. But in his strange and colourful book, he says he hopes one day to go back to more zoological rather than horticultural pursuits.

To my mind, his latest book seems to combine the two loves of his life. The exotic parrot tulips, feathery grasses and plume-like dahlias are as colourful as birds. And to add to the effect, there’s often a fancy bantam – his other passion in life- nestled in amongst the plants.

Even his words have an avian ring to them. Parkinson talks about planting ‘a flock of dolly tubs’ in preference to acres of land.

“I am not, however, desperate for a larger garden. I find the challenge of conquering the restrictions of an urban environment hugely thrilling. I love small town gardens, by which I mean gardens where plants come first in abundance. I have no desire for endless herbaceous borders, which so easily become tired and full of perennial weeds. Give me a flock of dolly tubs any day, ideally on old bricks or York stone. An old orchard would be, admittedly, heaven though, for hens.”

Back on the subject of birds, Parkinson writes about his choice of colour for plants. Pink, he says can be too light and sickly: “Before you know it, pink can make the garden verge into the Barbie-doll section of Toys “R”Us, outcompeting the other colours.”

Parkinson’s garden was once described by a friend as ‘a path of pots.’ It is, in fact, only 5m (16ft) long and filled ‘cheek by jowel’ with containers on either side, leading to the front door. The book follows a year of growing to create specific displays of plants – one for each season.

One chapter is headed ‘Archipelagos of galvanised metal and terracotta’ and Parkinson says: “I garden in pots because I do not have a choice, but I rarely resent this as it is like having great living vases of growing flower arrangements. You can fill pots easily, cramming them with colour and textures, creating islands of flamboyance.”

Arthur Parkinson’s brick path to the front door features rows of galvanised pots full of seasonal colour.
Frizzle-feathered bantams feature in many of the garden photos. I believe Parkinson takes some of these with him when he travels to give flower arranging and planting demonstrations. The author appeared on BBC Gardeners’ World, and also assists Sarah Raven with her floristry. He previously worked for potter Emma Bridgewater, designing her acclaimed garden at the factory in Stoke-on-Trent.
Photo shows ‘Amazing Parrot’ tulips in full flight with tulips ‘Black Hero’, ‘Antraciet’ and ‘Black Parrot’ giving striking contrast.
Sweet peas for summer
Peony ‘Rubra Plena’ supported by woven hazel with a pigeon-sized and ‘very talkative’ little Belgian Barbu d’Uccle Millefleur bantam hen. The breed’s beard-like plumes often need to be washed!
An Instagram posting with the dahlia ‘Emory Paul’ which the author says, is “Like a flamingo wonderland croquet mallet, gorgeous in some ways but its flowers do look almost painfully ridiculous with some reaching the size of useless footballs upon what are quite tall stems.”

I’ve made lists of all the tulips and dahlias to grow for next spring and summer. I love the dark, rich colours he chooses. And now I need to nip out and find a supply of galvanised containers ASAP. Quite honestly, what Arthur Parkinson doesn’t know about planting in dolly tubs isn’t worth knowing. He’s opened a whole new beguiling world of colour, and I can’t wait to create my own ‘islands of flamboyance.’ If I can add the odd flamingo or two in there as well, I will.

The publishers have kindly sent one extra copy to give away in a prize draw. Please leave comments below and one name will be randomly selected by computer. Thank you for reading.

Please note, my I-phone photos of the pages do not adequately capture the bright colours and brilliance of the original photos which were taken by the author.

Please check back at 6pm Sunday to see who has won the prize draw copy.

32 thoughts on “The Flower Yard. Book Review and Giveaway

  1. 🍃🌸🍃🐔🍃🌸🍃🐔🍃🌸🍃
    🌸🍃So incredibly lovely🍃🐔
    What a wonder-full treasure!!
    🍃🌸🍃🐔🍃🌸🍃🐔🍃🌸🍃thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an inspiring read. I’ve tried to reduce the number of pots in my garden this year by planting out in the garden but, …. now I’ve changed my mind 🤦‍♀️🤣🤣🤣🤣 but that’s ok too isn’t it 🤞

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an inspiring read, must add this one to my wish list. I’ve tried to reduce the number of pots in my garden this year by planting things out, but ……now I’ve changed my mind 🤦‍♀️🤣🤣🤣🤣 but that’s ok though isn’t it 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too! All that watering. But go big, I think is Arthur’s advice. Big dustbins and dolly tubs don’t need as much water as lots of little pots. And what have I got? Lots of little pots…. 😂

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    • It really is! Such a bright and cheerful book. Amazing what can be achieved in such a small space. As you know, I adore your special, plant-filled plot. Xx

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  4. What an intriguing book. I love using containers like this to give plants so much more root run and potentially more nutrients if I get the compost right. Thanks so much for running the competition.
    May I suggest contacting our local scrap man for old dustbins etc?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Funnily enough, I was considering the joys of bucket, pot, old bin, you name it, planting, as an easier option by which to grow a range of pretty things with less work attached each year to doing so. I am still working out what would be worth planting that would grow in colder/cooler climes, apart from evergreens grasses and Alpines.

    xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too. I’ve got two old galvanised bins I’m going to adapt, if I can somehow make some drainage holes in. I’d love a dolly tub or two, but they are frantically expensive. But I do have assorted bins, pots and baskets, so I’m away. I’ve still got 50 dahlias to plant, and I’m running out of ground, so I reckon they are going into pots. Have a great weekend 🙂👍 xxx

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      • An amusing container this week was the base of a Henry vacuum cleaner. As it was in use I didn’t attempt to look under it. A hand drill might help to create drainage in such an object. Super weekend to you. X

        Liked by 1 person

    • An amusing container this week was the base of a Henry vacuum cleaner. As it was in use I didn’t attempt to look under it. A hand drill might help to create drainage in such an object. Super weekend to you. X

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s interesting to see your review of the book and the lovely photos. I requested a copy from our local library, but it’s already out on loan and there are four people ahead of me in the queue… I think by the time I get to read it, he will have published two or three more books!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sarah. Must admit, I had to wait for a review copy. It was so popular! Please check back on Sunday evening 6pm to see who has won the copy. Thanks for reading. All the best. Karen

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    • Hello Sarah. Well, no need for the library book. You’ve won the prize draw! Please e mail me your name and address to k.gimson@btinternet.com. No one else will contact you and there’s no postage or anything to pay. Please be aware of scams. Thanks very much for joining in and reading my review. Look out for more books to follow! All the best. Karen .

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      • Hi Karen,
        Thank you so much. I’m really looking forward to reading the book – if anything, your review has made me more impatient! And now I can take my name off the waiting list at the library! Thanks again, Sarah

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I love Arthur Parkinson , have his Pottery Gardener book which I absolutely love. This looks equally gorgeous with wonderful photos of his beautiful chickens that he loves so much! I am definitely having one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sue. Must admit, I missed the pottery garden book, but have it on order now. The photos are wonderful in the latest book. So inspiring. And there’s no one who writes the same as him. There’s an honesty in what he says. All the best and thanks again for reading the blog. Please check back on Sunday 6pm to see who’s won.

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    • Thank you Lynne. It’s really sparked off some new ideas. Next spring’s tulip containers will be like jewels! As you know, I’ve already got the little bantams…. I’m tempted to get some more 🙂

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    • Thanks great news! Let me know what you think when it arrives. I particularly live the parrot tulips which flower right into May in the UK. I love the little `tigers eye’ violas he suggests, and a rich pink rose called Hot Chocolate. Oh, and some deep plum gladioli flowers. Enjoy 😊

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