Book Review: Cutting Garden Journal by Sarah Raven

Hello friends, how are you? Today, it's my pleasure to tell you about a book that I was delighted to receive recently - Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden Journal. Based on Sarah's original Cutting Garden bold,published nearly twenty years ago, this updated edition includes a monthly journal section for handy notes on your own garden project.

Having just moved into a house which has a garden, this book is now my trusty sidekick as I navigate the new, and frankly intimidating, world of gardening. As I grew up I watched my mum out in the garden, growing all sorts of pretty things, and I often wondered when the 'desire to garden' gene would kick in for me. We even sat and watched Gardener's World together, as I grew fascinated by the many beautiful varieties of plants. I must be honest and confess that I still feel pretty daunted looking out into the patch of green outside, and often stand there wondering what on earth I'm supposed to do, cut, plant or water. All that said, I do love cut flowers and if I had £10 in my pocket, they're the first thing I'd buy as a treat. My heart is cheered by all kinds of flower - from scabious, peonies and anemones to roses, sweet william and hydrangea.

A book such as this, which takes the reader through a year of cut flowers is something of a revelation to me. I have no clue what I should plant and when, and if I do then plant bulbs and seeds I struggle to know when and how to cut, condition and preserve these precious blooms. Who knew that some varieties demand frequent pruning to keep them in flower? {Probably a whole lot of you lovely readers, but not me, that's for sure!} And so, with this book holding my hand, and explaining clearly what to do and when, I have found the help I need. I'm now super excited as I make plans for the garden, planning space for the cut flowers I'd love to see blooming in the coming year.

The book is handily arranged by month, with suggestions for projects to do then, in accordance with the season. So, for September as the leaves turn and an autumn chill creeps in, the focus turns to flowers of the season, including gladioli and dahlia. The project for the month is a lovely autumn collection, a simple arrangement of gathered stems which when displayed individually, appear minimal but when combined become a part of a larger and beautiful arrangement. This sort of arranging is definitely for me, as I'm definitely a 'pop a few stems in a jam jar' kind of person. At the end of the September chapter there is then a list of jobs for the month, and a few lined pages for jotting down notes about your own garden.

It's a very practical book, jam-packed with information on everything from planning a cutting garden {whether your garden is large or small}, to a list of key bits of equipment that make arranging flowers a cinch and lots of advice on sowing, cutting and keeping cut flowers. As it's an updated edition, those owners of the previous incarnation may not feel they need this book, but for those coming to it fresh, like I am, it certainly is a very handy reference book to have on your shelf. I did feel a few of the photos and arrangements veered towards the more dated or traditional look, but that said it is still a lovely book and the wealth of handy information contained within makes it a great and valuable read.

The lovely people at Frances Lincoln have shared a special code with me - so if you fancy getting your hands on Sarah Raven's Cutting Garden Journal at the discounted price of £11.99 including p&p* {RRP: £14.99} simply telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG200. *UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas. Hurrah!

The journal is out now and is published by Frances Lincoln.

-x-

Ps - want to read some more book reviews? Here's my review of Decorate with Flowers by Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring and also Home for Now by Joanna Thornhill.