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Episode 9: Well-Cultivated Words

Gail, Hazel and host Philippa dig into the subject of garden writing with the journalist and social historian Ursula Buchan and Matt Collins, nature writer and Head Gardener at London’s Garden Museum. The conversation meanders convivially in the usual Slightly Foxed manner, via daredevil plant-hunters, early wild gardening advocates such as Gertrude Jekyll, William Robinson and Vita Sackville-West, and the passing passions and fashions of garden design, with a peek over the hedge at Christopher Lloyd’s Great Dixter along the way. And there’s the usual round-up of the latest bookish harvest from the Slightly Foxed office and plenty of recommendations for reading off the beaten track too.


With thanks to Alice Pattullo for letting us use her glorious artwork ‘The Potting Shed’ (commissioned for the cover of SF Issue 53) for this episode’s cover artwork.

Comments & Reviews

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Show Notes

Please find links to books, articles, and further reading listed below. The digits in brackets following each listing refer to the minute and second they are mentioned. (Episode duration: 35 minutes; 50 seconds)

Books Mentioned

We may be able to get hold of second-hand copies of the out-of-print titles listed below. Please get in touch with Jess in the Slightly Foxed office for more information.

84, Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff (2:24)

Corduroy, Adrian Bell(2:30)

– Wood and Garden, Gertrude Jekyll is out of print (11:33)

The Wild Garden, William Robinson (11:34)

– The English Flower Garden, William Robinson is out of print (11:38)

We Made a Garden, Margery Fish (13:27)

A Green and Pleasant Land, Ursula Buchan (15:23)

– Graham Stuart Thomas titles are out of print (17:04)

– Dear Friend and Gardener: Letters on Life and Gardening, Beth Chatto & Christopher Lloyd is out of print (18:46)

Forest: Walking among Trees, Matt Collins. With photographs by Roo Lewis (19:20)

Meetings with Remarkable Trees, Thomas Packenham (19:48)

Trees, Hugh Johnson (19:52)

The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben

– Oriental Vegetables, Joy Larkcom is out of print but both The Salad Garden and Grow Your Own Vegetables are available (21:37)

– The English Gardener, William Cobbett is out of print (22:06)

The Well-Tempered Garden and In My Garden, Christopher Lloyd (22:49)

The Diary of a Bookseller, Shaun Bythell (31:25)

Where the Hornbeam Grows, Beth Lynch (32:05)

Old Glory, Jonathan Raban (32:33)

– So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald, Ed. Terence Dooley is out of print (32:54)

Wilding, Isabella Tree (33:44)

Related Slightly Foxed Articles & Illustrations

A Hardy Perennial, Isabel Lloyd on Beth Chatto, The Dry Garden, Issue 65 (18:11)

A Well-tempered Gardener, Michael Leapman on the garden writings of Christopher Lloyd, Issue 59 (22:49)

Other Links

Ursula Buchan is an award-winning journalist, social historian and garden writer (3:50)

Matt Collins is a nature writer, and Head Gardener at the Garden Museum in Lambeth, London (6:02)

– David Douglas (25 June 1799–12 July 1834) was a Scottish botanist, best known as the namesake of the Douglas-fir (10:08)

Hortus, a gardening journal (20:08)

– All back issues of Slightly Foxed are available to browse and buy (30:20)

Music and sound effects
Opening music: Preludio from Violin Partita No.3 in E Major by Bach
Sound effects:
An English Country Garden in July by Keith Selmes
Bees and bumblebees foraging by odilonmarcenaro
Thanks to www.freesound.org CC licence, attribution

The Slightly Foxed Podcast is hosted by Philippa Lamb and produced by Podcastable

Comments & Reviews

Leave a comment

  1. Claudia says:

    I was visiting London last autumn and purchased two issues of Slightly Foxed. I’ve fallen in love with your quarterly. I held off subscribing because we’re on a strict budget here and I live in the States, so, it’s a bit more expensive. After listening to all of your delightful and erudite podcasts, I fell even harder for all things Slightly Foxed, so I took a deep breath and subscribed to the quarterly. I can’t wait to receive my first issue. Thank you for your podcast, by the way. There is such a warmth and a feeling of intimacy to the discussions around the table – I wish I was there! I find myself writing down book titles as I listen. Thank you from a reader/listener in New York.

  2. Caroline Walker says:

    As always a complete delight which takes one away to a calm and peaceful place full of interest and inspiration leaving just a slight frustration as to how to find the time to read all these wonderful books. On this occasion I have particularly enjoyed the synchronicity of the podcast being on the topic of garden writing. I have just finished reading my first book on gardening (although when I look I have several on my shelves) – Hidcote The Making of a Garden by Ethne Clarke.

  3. Frankie Paynter says:

    I very much enjoyed your gardening podcast. I’d like to recommend 2 gardening authors. Years ago I read and enjoyed Down the Garden Path and Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols. Also the author Lady Fortescue who wrote about gardening in Provence. The first book is titled Perfume from Provence and others followed, describing amusingly the vicissitudes of gardening in that region of France.

  4. Sally Roberton says:

    How much I have enjoyed your podcast about gardening. I have never listened to any of the others – however, as an admirer of Ursula Buchan, William Robinson and Christopher Lloyd among others how could I resist? It was just as though I were in the room with you all. Thank you. I looked at many of the books you mentioned on the shelves beside me – they appreciated it too.

  5. Graham Grayston says:

    I can never stop adoring just about everything you produce. Whether or not I want to put the clock back, I have to remind myself that we are in AD 2019! For better or for worse.

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