by Jackie Bennett
Jackie Bennett writes with authority and flair. Part travel inspiration for the outlying islands of the British Isles and part informative garden guide, this is a book enlivened by a generous dose of storytelling and nuggets of geographical and cultural history.
Bennett has selected and researched beautiful and interesting gardens from among the 100 inhabited islands of the British Isles. There is a pleasingly diverse range of both gardens and custodians. The gardens of community trusts, private individuals, hotels and The National Trust are included. Larger islands, such as the Isle of Wight and Anglesey are given a chapter; smaller islands such as Mull, Oronsay and Seil of the Inner Hebrides grouped together, with an exploration of gardens from each island.
The thread of the book is that island gardens often have more in common with each other than with their nearest mainland. Not necessarily seaside gardens, they have a variety of aspects and all are detailed. All enjoy proximity to water and a mild maritime climate that brings benefits and freedoms but also one main adversary, the wind.
The author explores gardeners’ solutions to creating shelter and also celebrates the strong spirit of self-sufficiency that is crucial to the success of all these island projects. There is a relevant and detailed plant profile for each chapter. These include wildflowers and iconic introductions, such as agapanthus, which have now naturalised the Scilly Isles.
The atmospheric photographs by Richard Hanson are well captioned and complement the text. I recommend this eclectic book to anyone with an interest in horticulture and gardens generally.
Island Gardens by Jackie Bennett
Photogrpahs by Richard Hanson
White Lion Publishing, £25