The Romance of Gardening. By F. Kingdon Ward. (Cape, 10s. 6d.) Reviewed by MARJORIE NICHOLSON The man who brought the now-famous Tibetan blue poppy (Gentiana sino-ornata) and the Bulleyana hybrid primulas to England is certainly qualified to write of "the romance of gardening," and incidentally to challenge diehard opinion on such matters as the introduction of foreign plants into England, the changing countryside, and wildflower preservation. Only three chapters of Mr. Ward's agreeably discursive book are devoted to the romance of plant-hunting. Those chapters, which deal with the "Geography of the Garden," "Alpines," and "Introduced Foreign Plants," are interestingly and practically informative [to the gardener who wishes to tackle sensibly the cultivation of plants which have not yet taken out their naturalisation papers in England.] In fact, the major portion of the book is a spirited and delightful defence of better and brighter foreign plants in England. Perhaps that is why Mr. Ward speaks so feelingly of the rock garden as "the outstanding contribution of England to gardening." The rock garden is now ubiquitous in England, but it is no more typical of the English garden than an aviary is typical of an English bird-sanctuary. The thing can be made in any country. [A rock garden is a cage for plants, a "horticultury," but it is not a garden.) [These, at best, illuminated quarries or garnished dry river-beds, at worst, lamentable cairns and sheer almond puddings. are attractiae, interesting, and pleasing to the eye perhaps—but you cannot play on them or cut flowers from them, or take your deck-chair and sit out on them, you cannot even take a good spade to them and dig them up. You can mess about with them, but you cannot work in them they are not gardens.] Mr. Ward in his first chapter says, " there is no such thing as a typical English garden," but presently he contradicts himself: "a lawn . . rose-beds . . . a few stately trees flanking the winding
paths mixed flower borders . . . high wall and a yew hedge cutting off the main garden from the more formal parterre." That is the typical English garden still to be seen throughout England . a could quote fifty examples of the recipe in Gloucestershire alone) and, when pettedly cultivated, urunatched outside England
The sixteen photographs in the book of flowgrs and shrubs and tor in) their native haunts are really exquisite.