Book review: Some Flowers by Vita Sackville-West

'This short book is personal, and therefore very arbitrary,' begins Vita Sackville-West in the foreword to her book of essays on twenty-five of her favourite flowers. And at first glance down the contents page, the flowers she has chosen do appear to be haphazardly selected, heavily weighted as they are, for no reason that is…

Book review: Lessons From Great Gardeners by Matthew Biggs

Madame Ganna Walska was a Polish beauty of enormous charisma, charm and energy.  Her initial career was in opera, but her particular talents lay in two quite different directions: firstly, in making prudent marriages (she married a succession of men of huge wealth); secondly, in exotic, exuberant, and extravagant gardening. After divorcing for the sixth…

Book Review: ‘What a Plant Knows’ by Daniel Chamovitz

It was while investigating the genes responsible for regulating plants' responses to light and dark that Daniel Chamovitz, a research biologist, became interested in the parallels between plant and human biology. How do plants 'know' that they must turn towards light, and how does this correspond with human responses to light? And if a plant…

Book review: ‘The Sceptical Gardener’ by Ken Thompson

My sister, bless her dear soul, is a Telegraph reader (those italics are for editorial correctness, not incredulity); moreover, she reads the analogue version, one section of the Saturday edition every weekday morning over her tea and toast, and when she's done with the Gardening section she gives it to me. When it's my turn,…

Book review: ‘Compost’ by Clare Foster

From House and Garden's Garden Editor comes this charming little guide covering every aspect of composting. As Foster describes, composting is an accelerated imitation of the natural processes of decomposition that occur on a forest floor, a process that involves millions of organisms slowly digesting fallen leaves and dead vegetation, releasing the nutrients back into…