BOOK REVIEW: The Illustrated Garden Book by Vita Sackville-West

The Illustrated Garden Book by Vita Sackville-West

The author of this book was not trained as a horticulturist or designer. Neither was her diplomat husband, Harold Nicolson. Nevertheless, the two of them created one of the most visited gardens in England, at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, an Elizabethan ruin which they acquired in 1930. The creation of the gardens was a labor of love that lasted decades; their marriage, not so much! The garden was open to the public in 1938 and now run by the National Trust.

West wrote gardening articles for 15 years to help pay the bills. This 1989 book version uses many of her columns, beautifully written, filled with humor and lovely photographs. It is just the perfect book for all gardeners to curl up with during this unusual summer.

Their son, Nigel Nicolson, tells the story of his parents’ unconventional marriage and social connections in Portrait of a Marriage. This book sounds intriguing as well and I have it on my future read list.

Joan Meister

The Illustrated Garden Book