Outsiders: A Book of Garden Friends

ISBN: 9780954928650
Author(s): Ronald Blythe
Format: hardback
Edition: First
Year published: 2008
Publisher: Black Dog Books
Publisher Location: Norwich
Total Pages: 284
Illustrations: Illustrated in colour and black & white throughout


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The ‘quiet wit, keen observation and sober reflection’ of Ronald Blythe’s work have delighted readers ever since Akenfield propelled him into the limelight nearly 40 years ago. Just last year Field Work brought together a selection of his best loved essays, literary and topographical, and now, this ‘Book of Garden Friends’ celebrates a lifetime of gardening and garden writing.

Like the poet Clare, Blythe embraces the world of wayside flowers and old hay fields; the rosebay willowherb is as dear to him as the fritillary meadows of his native Suffolk. He recalls the compulsion of childhood gardening, the pleasures of the allotment and the cottage garden before revisiting the Cambridge Botanic Garden and the scientific world of his friends Denis Garrett.

There are absorbing essays on the Great Garden and Writers’ Gardens and Blythe’s vivid impressions of Cedric Morris, the ‘Iris Master’, and the ‘spartan grandeur’ of his time at Benton End in Hadleigh. Central to this inspired new collection are Blythe’s meditations on the changing seasons and the sensual delights of Bottengoms, the ‘farm garden’ in the Stour valley created by that other artist-plantsman John Nash. Nash’s guiding spirit is still evident here and in the delicate line drawings that adorn Outsiders along with the photographs of Edwin Smith and a host of other garden friends.



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