I love a good book and can slew through one in a few hours if hooked. I read a lot of books, sometimes having 3 or 4 on the go at once sometimes only 1, though this is rare for me. I read a good deal for work too, magazines in the main but also reference books and several blogs too. So I am an avid consumer of the written word you might say. Some of this is a slog. Of course it is. Not every writer out there is blessed with good narrative skills and gripping content.

Last month the lovely folk from Frances Lincoln Publishing sent me a new release Secret Gardens of East Anglia and I will own up to not jumping on it as it arrived. Indeed it has sat waiting in the pile for a month, everything goes in at the bottom and works it’s way to the top. Simple chronology really. I finally opened the pages yesterday and was of course quite taken with the book, at first glance the tempting images from Marcus Harpur were enough to have me flipping through and marking pages to go back to.

What appeals as I read through is the stories of the gardeners and owners. The people. The gossip if you like, oh not the salacious type but the history, the decisions and choices, the ‘how we got here’ aspects. I’m as nosy as the next person and being invited into someones garden even if it is only on paper is a priveledge, knowing how they have made their garden is vital for me. I always want to know what’s behind the end result. I studied art, history of art, design, history of design and so on as part of my Degree and found this aspect of going behind the scenes often far more interesting and telling than the end work. Isn’t that the way though? This book is full of this wonderful narrative about the place and the people who have gardened and created and gardened and changed and gardened some more. One can find the characters in this book, in these gardens, making them come alive and all the more appealing for the next stage which is the visit because surely that is what the owner and the writer wants,  to inspire the reader to ‘go see’, be bold and visit.

I know some of the gardens already, being a ‘fairly local’ girl. I am inspired to go to some again, now I have read this book, with a deeper understanding of the garden made. There are favourites, should I say this? All the gardens are marvels but of course some’ speak to me’ more than others.

Winterton Lighthouse – Norfolk

The perfect combination of modernity setteled stunningily in it’s landscape with secret lush green spaces linking landscape and lighthouse-scpae seemlessly. Much packed into the 1/2 acre plot but showing off that texture and a limited colour pallette that can WOW year round.

Wyken Hall – Suffolk

It’s hard not to instantly love a gardener who sells a valuable piece of jewelry to redesign a key aspect of the garden!  A glimpse at the abundance of seating, overflowing kitchen garden, lively planting combination  and keenly framed views of the wider landscape make this a must see on my list.

Pensthorpe Natural Park

A long time favorite and a garden I have been to several (many!) times. Initially to see the Millenium gardens by Piet Oudoulf but then to explore further in the other stunning garden spaces,  The Wave Garden by Julie Toll,  that keep on developing year after year. Also has an excellent tea room…need I say more.


All in all a beautifully collated book, with wonderful insights into these superb East Anglian gardens and a good pre-read for summer visitors to the area.

Secret Gardens of East Anglia by Barbara Segall

Author: Barbara SegallIllustrated by: Marcus HarpurFormat: Hardback, 144 Pages
ISBN: 9780711238596
Publisher: Frances Lincoln

%d bloggers like this: