Next Stop on the Blog Tour: Diary of a Modern Country Gardener

Looking back at Stockton Bury's entrance and its rural setting

I'm delighted to be the next stop on the blog tour of Tamsin Westhorpe's new book, Diary of a Modern Country Gardener. I have to declare an interest here: I know Tamsin well and I've visited the garden in question - Stockton Bury Gardens in Herefordshire - twice, but don't worry dear reader, my thoughts on Tamsin's wonderfully warm and witty diary would still be the same if I didn't know her or the garden from Adam.

Designers often talk about finding the sense of place in their designs. Stockton Bury Gardens is firmly rooted in its farming landscape which has been in the stewardship of the family for 5 generations. You get a sense of both over her gardening year which starts in February. She isn't afraid of telling a warts and all story and her personality and sense of humour are woven into every page. Once you've stopped chuckling at her tales, you'll find yourself inspired to get out there and garden, even if it means getting caked in mud, or you're so hot, you'll strip down to your bra - a gardening tip passed down from Tamsin's mother!

To help you, there's a toolkit for each month, plus a list of must-have plants (though do check all of them will thrive in your garden's conditions), a to-do list, and a country project for you to tackle. There are seasonal treats each quarter for you to enjoy too.

If you buy just one gardening book this year, make this the one.

Orchard view from outside Stockton Bury's cafe

If you find yourself in Herefordshire or close by, then add Stockton Bury Gardens to your must-see list; make sure you sample Tamsin's sister's fine food from the cafe; then sit outside and contemplate the glorious orchard, such an iconic view from this border county.

Watering cans on parade
Tamsin Westhorp and Larry - photo by Dan Chubb

Now let's take a closer look at the garden, based on the two dates of my visits in 2014 and 2017.

Tamsin's photos are much better than those you'll see here, but we'll make do with mine for now. The photo of Tamsin and her dog Larry is by Dan Chubb.

Let's open the book to see them leaning over the gate to greet us, then follow them in to hear some of Tamsin's words from her diary for April 25th (2017's visit) and September 18th (2014's)...

April: those that see beauty are the lucky ones
"There is no excuse for anyone to be bored in April – there’s so much to be done in the country garden. There’s new life all around us with lambs bouncing about the fields, hens sitting patiently on their eggs and seedlings springing up everywhere."

Apple blossom in April 2017

Wednesday 25th April
"Today we’ve had hail, rain and sunshine – at last, a typical April has arrived. The garden looks quite incredible. Everything is so green and hopeful."
Views of the garden when I visited on 25th April 2014

September: the familiar smells of autumn return
"The garden closes to visitors at the end of this month. Although I shall miss the company, it’s time to think of new ideas to tempt gardeners back next year. Planning and planting will consume hours of my time but we must be realistic about what we can achieve. Any new project that’s started now must be completed before the gates open again next April."

Autumn at Stockton Bury Garden

Tuesday 18th September
"My mood has changed from feeling frustrated about summer passing to embracing autumn. I’m not sorry that the garden looks more of a free spirit than a perfect vision.  I compare it to a school child who hasn’t brushed their hair, has their shirt pulled out, socks down and scuffed shoes but still somehow has a certain charm. Nothing is trussed up now – the garden is showing its true personality."
September views at Stockton Bury

Diary of a Modern County Gardener is published by Orphan Publishing; a local company based in Leominster which fits well with Tamsin's philosophy of celebrating the region she calls home.

Stockton Bury Gardens reopens for the 2020 season on 1st April.

I have tool shed envy


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