Book review · Garden · Non-fiction

Book review: ‘Peaceful gardens’ by Stephanie Donaldson

When I finished reading ‘Peaceful gardens’ I felt a sense of disappointment. I turned the page thinking there was more to come, only to find I had reached the end. I got this book out of the library, but have enjoyed it so much I’d like to buy a copy to read again.

‘Peaceful gardens’ is what might be described as a coffee table book, full of lovely photos with detailed captions, interspersed with more general text about gardening. Although the front cover is not terribly appealing, the illustrations inside are quite the reverse.

peaceful gardens
“Peaceful gardens” by Stephanie Donaldson (2003)

The author, Stephanie Donaldson, was Gardens Editor for Country Living magazine for many years, and has written a number of other gardening books. Although clearly a knowledgeable gardener, her writing style is easily accessible to novice gardeners like myself. I’ve often been put off gardening books by too much jargon and technical detail; ‘Peaceful gardens’, by contrast, introduces ideas and tips about gardening almost without the reader noticing they’re being instructed. That’s my sort of gardening lesson.

The book is divided into three main sections: ‘peaceful shapes and spaces’, ‘tranquillity for the senses’ and ‘scent and sound’, all beautifully illustrated with photographs giving clear examples of what’s being described in the text. There are ideas and suggestions for rural and urban gardens, although the book struck me as being more heavily weighted towards rural or semi-rural gardens that might have space for a variety of features in versatile areas. The text is well worth reading, and nicely written, but even if all you did was look at the pictures you could easily find inspiration and joy in its contents.

Each year, at the start of spring, I have an urge to do something in the garden. I want to see things growing after the long winter months, but my enthusiasm often wanes rather quickly when tasks seem too daunting or the weather’s not conducive to pottering around outside. Perhaps this year ‘Peaceful gardens’ will provide the impetus I need to fulfil some of my gardening dreams in the months to come.


6 thoughts on “Book review: ‘Peaceful gardens’ by Stephanie Donaldson

  1. I am sort of an “armchair gardener”🙄. I like to read about it and admire the gardens. I don’t like to actually dig, although I did grow beautiful hollyhocks in New Hampshire. My husband was quite shocked!😁 The book looks beautiful and just the sort of thing that I could enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I empathise with that condition, Wendy. I’m always hoping I can make myself get out and do the work, but I very much enjoy sitting in the armchair. I think you’d like this book.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds lovely – a garden as a sanctuary is a beautiful idea. There’s something very inspiring about beautiful photos of gardens, as well. I am so looking forward to being able to go outside and think about our own garden!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I very much agree, Jo, I certainly found this book inspiring. Having a new garden must be exciting, and I’m sure you’ll find you can grow things on the west coast that wouldn’t have thrived in West Lothian.

      Liked by 2 people

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