No Fear Gardening
by Charlie Hart
ISBN 978-1472132413


Following his gardening memoir Skymeadow, Charlie Hart’s second book, No Fear Gardening, is an enjoyable read demystifying the tasks every gardener faces. And let’s be honest, some of the things we get up to, such as shovelling horse poo around flowers or drawing blood while pruning a spiky shrub in the depths of freezing winter can, to beginners, appear off-putting.

© National Trust/Melvin Jefferson

Hart explains such oddities in a light and to-the-point manner: ‘The correct place for a vegetable patch is the spot with enough light and enough shelter that is closest to the external door of the house, that is itself closest to the kitchen. That is all there is to it.’

Unlike practical how-to books, No Fear Gardening is more concerned with the ‘why’ discussed in an entertaining rather than text-book style. Well written in a carefree tone, it’s an easy read with no gardening knowhow required.

Chapters cover gardening basics, such as plant types and weeds, through to design, vegetables, trees and hard landscaping projects. Each chapter is then broken into bite-size chunks that can be read in any order but ultimately link seamlessly into the next. Reading like a novel with plenty of personal anecdotes, I found it fun to read cover to cover.

Refreshingly unabashed at romanticising traditional planting, roses, topiary and mock orange are covered as well as large trees many of us with tiny gardens dream of. Rather than being off putting, Hart’s enthusiasm flows from the page and these large-scale gardening points – ride-n mowers for instance – are interesting and apply to parks in towns and cities while fuelling urbanite dreams of a large country garden.

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Up-to-date thinking on wildlife, wellbeing and no-dig cultivation pop up too, which are applicable to gardens big and small, making this a perfect introduction to gardening without the fear of doing something wrong.


A Clapham-based landscape designer, Jack works anywhere around the world. He has a regular garden column for the Telegraph and his book, Wild About Weeds: Garden Design with Rebel Plants, is published by Laurence King publishing.