The Secret Gardeners - Britain's creatives reveal their private sanctuaries.
Author: Victoria Summerley
Photographs: Hugo Rittson-Thomas
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
This book features the houses and gardens of twenty five famous creative individuals - actors, entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, theatre and film producers, musicians and gallery owners. They range from the more well-known, such as Jeremy Irons and Sting to lesser known creatives, such as Gus Christie the chairman of Glyndebourne and the sculptor Daniel Chadwick.
Although the author freely admits that the size and budget of the gardens dwarf those of most other people, this does not mean that they are any less passionate about their personal outside spaces. Many have gardeners and some have employed garden designers in order to realise their ideas, but it is obvious that they have all been intimately involved in the shapes that their gardens have taken. Prue Leith designed the Red Garden at her house in Oxfordshire and admits to being a compost anorak, whilst Griff Rhys-Jones has been hands-on with a mini-digger in order to shape the landscape in his Suffolk garden. Many, not surprisingly, have tastefully included items from their day jobs within their gardens, such as the two canons from the set of "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" in the garden of Terry Gilliam and his wife Maggie.
This book could quite easily have been a superficial, through-the-keyhole glimpse at celebrities' gardens. However, what raises it to a much higher level is, firstly, the selection of creative individuals chosen as subjects - it is fascinating to discover how the likes of Anish Kapoor and Cameron Mackintosh have envisaged and moulded their gardens. Secondly, the author's description of the houses and their gardens from historical, design and horticultural perspectives is excellent. In her introduction she mentions that she often had to interview the creatives and their gardeners and then needed to walk around the gardens more than once in order to get a feel for the spaces. This is obvious from her detailed descriptions.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book since it satisfied my curiosity whilst simultaneously catering to my design and horticultural interests.