Dig out those gloves – it’s National Gardening Week!

Launched by the RHS four years ago, National Gardening Week (yes, it is a thing) is now the country’s biggest celebration of gardening, with thousands of families, gardens, charities and organisations getting all green-fingered.

New this year, the first ever National Open Gardens Day will take place on April 17. So there’s no excuse not to visit some of the UK’s most beautiful gardens – most of which usually charge entry or remain closed to the public – for free!

And what better way to celebrate this beautiful weather than planting a few sunflowers? (With a glass of Pimms to hand…)

SP publishes a few books for the horticulturalists among us, including Caroline Deput’s The Joy of Allotments: An Illustrated Diary and Jenny Joseph’s Led by the Nose: A Garden of Smells.

The Joy of Allotments by Caroline Deput

“What makes the allotment my place? It’s a mix of meditation, therapy and exercise, a place for me and my thoughts. That’s what I’ve tried to capture in this book – what it feels like to tend an allotment. Frankly, I view growing vegetables as a bit of a bonus.”

Book Review Two for Vegetable Growers The Joy of Allotments

Follow a year on Plot 19 through Caroline’s beautiful diary of colour illustrations and share her eternal optimism (often misplaced) as she keeps her allotment sufficiently weeded, watered and hoed to grow vegetables with the alluring names of Lady Balfour, Bull’s Blood and Hurst Green Shaft. From spring, where she plants with high hopes, to summers spent harvesting her first crop, follow Caroline’s charming year.

As a little treat for National Gardening Week, here’s Caroline’s thoughts on April…

garden

Led by the Nose: A Garden of Smells by Jenny Joseph

Not since Laurie Lee or Flora Thompson has a writer captured the smells and moods of the English countryside in the manner of Jenny Joseph, author of the perennially popular Warning: When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple.

Led By The Nose cover

The memoir depicts a year in Jenny’s garden through the sense of smell, capturing the feel of each month and the flow of the gardening year (the chores to be done, the joy as your garden blossoms). In her writing, Jenny Joseph combines an eccentrically loveable personality with her own individual outlook on life. The book’s unfolding of Jenny Joseph’s personality is just one of its many delights.

 “A treat for the sensual gardener.”
– Alan Titchmarsh

For a list of National Gardening Week events, click here.

To buy a copy of The Joy of Allotments, click here.

To buy a copy of Led by the Nose, click here.

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Spoil Mum this Mother’s Day with the best present of all – a book.

Whether your Mum is an avid gardener or a chocoholic, here are some of Souvenir Press’ favourite Mother’s Day titles…

Warning: When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple by Jenny Joseph

“I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and
Doesn’t suit me.”

Warning cover

The Joy of Allotments by Caroline Deput

“March: We still have morning frosts and it’s just above freezing. I have decided it is impossible to look stylish on the allotment.”

Book Review Two for Vegetable Growers The Joy of Allotments

Chocolate Therapy by Murray Langham

“Chocolate is food from the gods; it’s energy, vitality, oneness.”

Chocolate Therapy

A Chocolate A Day by John Ashton & Suzy Ashton

“Chocolate can be part of enjoying life to the full; and this is what we believe chocolate symbolises – simply enjoying life”

A-Chocolate-A-Day

Learn To Speak Cat 2: The Latest Mews by Anthony Smith

“Meooowwww”

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Head to www.souvenirpress.co.uk for more bookish inspiration!

Reviews round-up: The Joy of Allotments

One of our hot picks for the Christmas gift season is The Joy of Allotments by Caroline Deput. A beautifully illustrated diary of two years on her allotment in Richmond, London, this is a must-read for all gardeners and the perfect gift for your green-fingered loved one.

Published at the start of this month, the reviews are now flooding in, with so many people loving Caroline Deput’s colourful illustrations and her humorous tale of two years on her allotment.

“Caroline Deput’s illustrated diary takes the reader through two years of life on her allotment, Plot 19. She shares her joy in growing her own food in a humorous, quirky way.” – Garden News

“A charming pictorial tale of life on Caroline Deput’s allotment in colour drawings… Inventive and humorous… Life is depicted in a much more realistic way than most allotment manuals manage using photographs.” – Veg Plotting blog

“You can never have too many gardening books… when ‘The Joy of Allotments’ arrived… I was delighted to welcome it to my collection. Its light-hearted tone makes it a refreshing read… Caroline is a talented illustrator and there are witty, colourful doodles and sketches on every page.” – Allotment Mum blog

“Every page brings joyful discoveries of Caroline’s allotment… all handwritten alongside her exquisite drawings.” – Dobies of Devon

On Amazon it is also proving a hit, with 7 reviews, all of which are rated five stars. Read all the Amazon five-star reviews here.

Joy of Allotments - September

Author Corner: Caroline Deput on the Joy of Allotments

Book Review Two for Vegetable Growers The Joy of AllotmentsCaroline Deput is the author of THE JOY OF ALLOTMENTS, a beautifully illustrated diary of two years on her allotment. A must-read for all gardeners, who will all recognise the trials and rewards of tending a garden, you can read a free sample here, or read on for Caroline’s illustrated guide to planning your allotment. From crop rotation to pest prevention, you can plan for everything – except, of course, the great British weather.

For more blog posts in our Author Corner, click here.

The Importance of Planning
By Caroline Deput

Over the last 13 years, I’ve discovered that tending an allotment requires a lot of planning and organisation.

Caroline Deput blog 1

 Crop Rotation – not my strongest subject

I’m not good at remembering which vegetables should follow one another. I know it’s important and I should look it up and write it down, but I always forget. Do brassicas go before or after potatoes? No idea. And what about this new tomato grafted onto a potato plant, so it produces tomatoes above ground and potatoes below? How does that fit into a crop rotation?! If I could eventually get the hang of it, my veg would grow like a well-orchestrated symphony.

Caroline Deput blog 2

 Crops need constant vigilance against all sorts of pests.

Perhaps I’m paranoid, but right from the first day I got the allotment, I could sense the wildlife watching, waiting for me to fail.

I try to garden organically, and that means I have to be quite tough. So look away now if you are squeamish…

I’m afraid slugs get stamped underfoot, whitefly larvae get squished, and the rabbits are eaten by the foxes. I don’t mind the parakeets, rumoured to have escaped from the set of ‘The African Queen’ at Shepperton Studios nearby, as they look pretty eating the sunflowers.

Caroline Deput blog 3

You need accommodate different veg’s particular growing needs.

Some like a sandy soil; others need protection from the elements at the beginning of the growing season while others are unhelpfully described as ‘not fussy.’

Caroline Deput blog 4

Plan DIY projects properly

I’ve always fancied one of those ornate circular seats that fit round a tree – the sort you see at National Trust properties. Our local DIY store was throwing out 6-foot long pallets, so my husband helped me take 5 of them up to the allotment.

‘What will you do with them?’ he asked.

‘Make a bench!’ I replied.

‘Need a hand?’

‘No, I’ll be fine, ta.’

Well, I measured and re-measured for my octagonal bench, which would fit perfectly around my palm tree on the allotment. Yet somehow I ended up with something more like a septagon-and-a-half than an octagon. And so flimsy, it would collapse if anything more than a robin should sit on it. Hey ho.

Caroline Deput blog 5

 But not everything can be planned…

Unexpected generosity

One of the chaps on the allotments had some manure delivered this summer. I say ‘some.’ It was more like a ton. We all couldn’t believe it when he told us all to help ourselves. You could barely see us, we moved so fast with our wheelbarrows up and down that path to the main gate. (The soil is so sandy on the plot that without constant muck it would dry out and blow away.

Caroline Deput blog 6

And you can never plan for the weather

When you work full time, as I do, you have to get onto your plot at the weekend – whatever the weather.

Last summer was like a monsoon. The rain just kept on coming.

Caroline Deput blog 7

So I gave up hoping the weather would improve, and longed instead for a stylish boat that I could use to sail around the potato beds…

Caroline Deput blog 8

The Joy of Allotments!

“What makes the allotment my place? It’s a mix of meditation, therapy and exercise, a place for me and my thoughts. That’s what I’ve tried to capture in this book – what it feels like to tend an allotment. Frankly, I view growing vegetables as a bit of a bonus.”

If you’re a keen gardener then you will no doubt recognise the highs and lows of the growing year as documented in Caroline Deput’s diary of two years on her allotment, The Joy of Allotments.

With charming, colourful illustrations throughout, fellow gardeners and allotment holders will groan in recognition at Caroline’s eternal (and often misplaced) optimism. There is always something to be done, whether it’s weeding, watering, hoeing, sowing… and that’s before you even get to the harvest, when your crop may or may not have fallen victim to insects, rodents, badgers, weeds, rabbits, pigeons, slugs or helpful children.

The Joy of Allotments is now available in hardback, and will make the perfect present either for yourself or the gardener in your life. Visit the Souvenir Press website for more information, or take a look at a couple of sample pages (you can click on them to enlarge) taken from the book.

Coming soon, we will also have for you an exclusive illustrated guest blog from Caroline Deput!

Joy of Allotments - September

Joy of Allotments - October