Elspeth Thompson

I was saddened over the weekend to hear of Elspeth Thompson's untimely death and my heart goes out to her husband Frank and daughter Mary, who must be devastated.

We have so many great gardening writers in this country, but Elspeth was unique in the way her writing brought sunshine to the reader. It was her natural, witty manner and delight in the simple things in life which really brought pleasure to me when reading her columns and books.

She was a generous soul too: she donated to my Open Garden 2 years ago and left a most encouraging comment about my achievement and garden. Soon after that I bumped into her at the RHS Show at The Inner Temple. Once she realised who I was (psst I'm VP!), we had a delightful half hour chatting about the show, my garden and her project to convert two railway carriages into a family home. Her lurcher had just had puppies, the yard was a full of (recyclable) junk, and they were in the middle of converting units from a school chemistry lab into a workable kitchen. She should have been tearing her hair out but no, to her it was delightful adventure.

At last she was able to turn her energies into converting the (slightly emptier) yard outside into a new garden last year and it was great to see it unfold via her blog. Whenever I left a comment there, I always received a warm email in return full of extra snippets of news. How I wish we'd corresponded more.

Those of you who are RHS members will find an article about Auriculas by Elspeth on page 234 in next month's The Garden. I'm not going to link from here to her blog (fine though it is) because the message on there from her husband is heartbreaking, as is her obituary in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph. Instead, why not take a look at her books such as The Urban Gardener and The Wonderful Weekend Book, if you're unfamiliar with her work. I guarantee you'll be pleased you did.


  1. Ignoramus that I am, I hadn't come across Elspeth Thompson before. It seems ridiculous now that I only become aware of her because she has died. (Not that this is unusual.) None the less, I was moved by her obituary. The inner lives of humans is often different from what we see from outside but it is startling to read about a happy and creative and admired life . . . then for it suddenly, abruptly, to end.


  2. tragic. some years ago, i worked for a woman who was taking an early retirement partly to keep a firmer eye on her daughter, who was experiencing a suicidal determination. it was a resigned bravery. my heart breaks for her family...

  3. Very tragic and very sad, especially for one who brought so much brightness to so many others. I hope she is at peace.

  4. A most gentle spirit has left this world far too early and how heartbreaking for her family and friends. I reread 'The Urban Gardener' on holiday last year and we both chuckled so much at her description of her mobile greenhouse.

  5. Sad news indeed! Flighty xx

  6. It's awfully sad isn't it, VP. Thank you for this.

  7. I only heard about this yesterday and found myself not only physically shaking but also close to years all day. I never met Elspeth but I so admired her beautiful eye for both gardens and interiors. You don't realise how close you can feel to a stranger through a blog until this happens.

    A true tragedy.

  8. Hi everyone - yes it's very sad news, which shook me up quite a bit at the weekend.

    I've seen some wonderful tributes since writing my own small contribution. They show she'll be well remembered.

    Rest in Peace Elspeth.


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