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Small Town GardensBOOK REVIEWS

Small Town Gardens

Rachel de Thame
BBC, distributed by Reed Books

DUBBED the essential guide to gardening in small spaces, this book has it all: beautiful photographs, lively text and lots of practical, down-to-earth advice too.

Rachel de Thame is one of the newer presenters on the perennially popular BBC Gardeners' World in Britain. She originally trained as a ballet dancer and went on to become a model before turning her hand to garden design while raising her children.

I like this book because it's not too serious - it manages to cover all the key issues without being patronizing. And the photographs are among the best I've seen. They capture the magic of funky modern gardens, romantic cottage retreats, elegant English-style formal gardens and bold tropical backyards.

Water gardens feature prominently too - use them to filter traffic noise and provide tranquillity in city spaces - and there's an authoritative plant directory at the back.

Most of the ideas are probably outrageously expensive to copy, but there are some neat tricks too. For example, create a Christmas tree with a difference by draping a clipped buxus topiary ball with twinkling fairy lights, or bury spotlights in a gravel path so that the round orbs glow through eerily at night.

Sometimes garden design books let themselves down by focusing entirely on hard landscaping at the expense of plants. Not so here - there are some amazing combinations to replicate in your own garden, like burgundy coleus with orange crocosmia. And here's one bold combination to steal for summer: team dark-leafed 'Bishop of Llandaff' red dahlias with stripy Canna 'Striata', red hot pokers and the amazing red Lobelia cardinalis. The result is spectacular.

Small Town Gardens does have a British bias, but then so do many of our gardens.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 86, November 15-28, 2001, Page 31

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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