Book of the Month for Feb 2015

Of Rhubarb and Roses: The Telegraph Book of the Garden, Tim Richardson, editor; Arum Press (December 1, 2013) 400 pp, hardcover; publisher’s price: $40.00, Amazon price: $29.29

Of Rhubarb and Roses: The Telegraph Book of the Garden
Steve Whitesell

Of Rhubarb and Roses consists of articles previously published in the British Daily Telegraph from the 1950s until recently was edited by long-time columnist Tim Richardson. A garden column appeared each day in the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and featured the opinionated and informed writing of a wide variety of well and lesser-known authors including Vita Sackville-West, Beth Chatto, Christopher Lloyd, Rosemary Verey, and my favorite, long-time editor, Fred Whitsey.

Articles are grouped thematically under eighteen broad-ranging categories including wildlife in the garden, both pro and con, great and eccentric gardeners, bulbs and alpines, weeds, notable gardens, and growing fruits and vegetables. Articles are uniformly brief, concise, and authoritative, yet conversational in tone and confessional of achievement and failure. Their honesty invites empathy in the reader and an urge to audibly agree, contest, or elaborate on problems encountered and solutions offered in each column, perhaps muttered while involved in the performance of your own gardening tasks?

In one of several essays she contributed, Anne Scott-James concludes, "Therefore, a good gardening book must, to my mind, be a blend of information with feeling." Judged on her criteria, this is a very good gardening book, and one most readers will savor until the final page. This is perfect Winter reading and hopefully more volumes will follow.


Steve Whitesell is a member of the Manhattan Chapter and edits their newsletter.