of a French Herb Garden
by Trevor Edwards
24 September 2002
this delightfully presented hard back book the
author Geraldene Holt, a highly respected food
writer, exchanges her cooking utensils for her
gardening fork and describes the year she spent
restoring a curates ancient, walled garden
in Saint Montan, a medieval village deep in
the Ardeche region of Southern France.
in the book she describes her horror when she
discovered that the Mayor of the village had
started to cut down the Fig trees to make way
for a picnic area.
Geraldenes last minute bid too save the
garden involved negotiations with the mayor
and presentations to the village council. She
charts her efforts for the 12 months from September
to September with captivating passion, love
and humour. She word paints a charming picture
of the village and the people who live there,
and how she coped with the challenges of the
Mediterranean climate, and the lime stone terrain.
book is peppered with lots of practical advice
on how to create a charming garden composed
entirely with aromatic herbs.
Not only does the book provide us with lots
of gardening tips but also Geraldenes
cookery background equips her with plenty of
knowledge and the ability to impart many culinary
tips and advice.
i.e. "Juniper bushes dot the hillside,
their spiky glaucous foliage producing hard
green berries that take two years to ripen to
navy blue yet the wait is worthwhile
since the flavour of juniper berries is irreplaceable
in game dishes and for flavouring rich terrines"
Another example of her graphic word painting
is "The perceptible bite in the
air is as appetising as a glass of chilled Chablis."
book considerately and consistently uses common
names usually followed by the botanical name.
Each chapter deals with a month of the year,
and at the end of the book you can find a chapter
by chapter listing of all the plants mentioned.
Here you can make use of a detailed Planting
Plan which will help anyone to replicate all
or part of the scheme within their own garden.
I enjoyed the frequent snippets of information
e.g. did you know
· That in France the 25th of November
is known as St. Katherines Day. This date
is regarded auspicious by all gardeners in France
since it marks the point when the rate of growth
is almost negligible and so has been considered
the perfect time for planting trees and shrubs.
The date coincides with the usual date of Tree
Week in the UK.
The Patron Saint of Gardening is St. Fiarce.
Well what do you know!
starting to read the book I was not overly enthusiastic
about the prospect of reading a Diary. However
this inspiring guide for the experienced or
novice gardener is also a gripping story of
this English womens love of gardening
thoroughly enjoyed this inspiring book and would
encourage anyone who has an interest in herbs,
gardening in general or who simply loves or
enjoys France to grab hold of a copy.
Book: Diary of a French Herb Garden
Author: Geraldene Holt
Publisher: Chrysalis Books plc