Book Review: The Ivington Diaries

Books about learning to garden can be a bit repetitive. After all, there’s only a handful of ways to sow seeds. Books on gardens, however, are wonderful. This example from Monty Don, has captured my attention and really made me want to learn more and visit more gardens to understand planting on a larger scale. It’s written as a year’s worth of diary entries, but with the years ranging over roughly a decade, so for example January 1st 1999 is followed by January 4th, 2004 and it’s utterly captivating.  Monty writes so engagingly he makes you want to walk around the acres of garden (sections have names;  spring garden, jewel garden, white garden) and take a peek into the potting sheds. He writes of practical matters, mulch being a favourite, and of the joy and artistry of creating a beautiful garden, not to mention the work that goes into creating such a garden from scratch and his words are accompanied by lush photography so you get a good overview of the different parts of the garden through the year.

The book format (even down to the paper and font choices), reminds me very much of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diary which is an absolute favourite book of mine, so if you liked that, imagine a similar book set in a garden, and you’ve gone some way towards capturing the feel of this book.

The garden in question is at his home, Ivington, where he and his family moved following the collapse of the family business and the death of his mother. The house they bought and the creation of the garden seems to have brought their lives back together and in his own words ‘rebuilt’ him.  He writes with such love, attention and humour and, because the book is written as short diary entries, it’s really easy to dip into and read whenever you’ve got a free minute. I really recommend it, and think it would be a wonderful gift for Mothering Sunday…

The Ivington Diaries

4 Responses to Book Review: The Ivington Diaries

  1. Joanne says:

    This sounds really good, I enjoy watching Monty Don on Gardeners World but haven’t read any of his books. I’ve just got an allotment this week, after about 8 years on the waiting list, so I’m all about gardening at the moment. On a different book topic, if you’re still looking for suggestions for fantasy reads, Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings is doing his annual Once Upon a Time challenge. You might pick up some tips there. The link is

  2. maz hawes says:

    well, I WAS going to wait for this one to come out in paperback but feel I may have to order it PDQ! I need a good Monty fix- I love his writing and you’ve really piqued my interest with your review 🙂 Can I recommend a couple more? Anna Pavord writes compellingly in The Curious Gardener… and anything by Christopher Lloyd, especially his correspondence with Beth Chatto.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Ooh, I’ll add those to my list! Thank you for the recommendations. Did Anna Pavord write the book on tulips? I enjoyed that, will keep an eye out for The Curios Gardener. And I’ve long wanted to visit Christopher Lloyd’s garden, perhaps I’ll read his books first 🙂

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