|Catherine Larner’s about books newsletter|
‘All the rain we’ve had in recent weeks has brought abundant growth in our gardens, but there haven’t been so many opportunities for sitting in a sunny spot with a good book, nor necessarily keeping on top of the weeds. This book has provided a glorious reminder of brighter days, expansive gardens and impressive planting. And has also given me a desire to revisit some of the stunning properties in this region. Helmingham Hall, Wyken Vineyards and The Manor in Hemingford Grey (the former home of the children’s writer Lucy M. Boston) are all favourites of mine, and I’m eager to see them again in all their splendour. There are 22 gardens included in the book, spanning Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, and for each one there is a detailed account of the notable features as well as a short history of the owners and designers. It’s supported with wonderful photography, as you would hope in a large coffee table book format.I first bought this book as a gift, but soon realised that it’s a title that I need to have on my own bookshelf, and on a grey, rainy day it’s the perfect tonic!’
Karen Gimson: Words and Pictures
‘…in Secret Gardens of East Anglia, Barbara Segall is our excellent guide, taking us straight down the drive and through the front gates of 22 privately owned gardens. It is quite a revelation. We see sumptuous planting, grand sculpture, rose parterres, moated gardens, and wildflower meadows galore! A real treat – in words and pictures…’
Sophie in the Sticks
‘I was recently sent this gorgeous book called Secret Gardens of East Anglia by Barbara Segall which is exactly up my street. I’ve been glued to the pages, reading all about local places with the fascinating history of gardens and how they’ve been developed and grown through the years. The photography is fabulous and really brings the gardens to life, Marcus Harpur has captured the beauty to perfection. The book is full of divine images so as well as being particularly interesting and informative also makes for a feast for the eyes with a quick flick through.’
Gardens Illustrated (September 2017)
‘…these highly personal gardens reflect the varied personalities of their owners. It is fun to see photographs of the owners, allowing us to guess at the style of their gardens in the pages that follow…Barbara Segall has written informative passages on what makes each owner tick and included useful gardening tips. The book has tempted us to visit more gardens in this area.’
‘A pleasure to read, a pleasure to browse through and a pleasure to enjoy the wonderful photography perfectly encapsulating each garden’s style and spirit. The author writes in a friendly and warm style and her plant information is spot on.’
‘Barbara Segall, a horticulturalist and garden writer visited each of the 22 gardens and has written about them so beautifully and enticingly it was a hard task to pick out just a few in this review, buying this book really is a must. The photographs taken by the late Marcus Harpur are a delight, he was a brilliant photographer who sadly died on the 6th August but not before he and Barbara were able to celebrate the arrival the first copies of the book in June… This review really is just a taster of this captivating book and I really recommend it.’
Radio Leicester comment from Karen Gimson on Ben Jackson show
2.34.50 on the timeline. – 23/08/2017 – @bbcleicester
Rowan Mantell, 7 Secret(ish) Gardens, Norfolk Magazine, September 2017
‘..open the gate on to some of the loveliest gardens in Norfolk, as the stories of seven horticultural heavens are told in words and pictures…a hymn to the hidden gardens of [Barbara Segall’s] adopted home.’
George Plumptre, Book review, Country Life, 30 August 2017
‘Gardens can definitely portray the particular characteristics of a certain part of hte country, but it takes a certain skill to reveal this at the same time as telling the personal and horticultural stories of a loosely assembled group. In Secret Gardens of East Anglia Barbara Segall grasps this elusive quality, celebrating the breezy openness of this often sparsely populated region as she reveals the delights of 22 gardens… it is a source of great poignancy and sadness that Marcus Harpur recently lost his battle with cancer and didn’t live to see the book’s publication. As the photographs confirm, Marcus was a craftsman of both skill and vision… the book is a fitting legacy that celebrates the part of ngland in which he lived all his life and which he loved deeply.’
Alison Levey, My Blackberry Garden blog
‘Each entry features a photograph of the owners in their own gardens and there is a real sense of pride shining out of all of these photographs. You can recognise in these faces the love that we gardeners have for our gardens. No matter what the size of our patch, there is that smile that we have when we look out and think its looking pretty good today. Barbara cleverly uses the love the owners have for their gardens to be part of the attraction for wanting to visit… This book is a fitting testament to [Marcus Harpur’s] work and shows his skills at their best. In her introduction Barbara says that his photographs make the gardens ‘glow’ and this is an apt description. The use of light and shade in the photographs is a masterclass. The use of shadows is particularly noticeable and the colour of light. They really are stunning photographs.’
Sarah Shoesmith, The Gardening Shoe blog
‘…Yes, I want to visit the gardens – who wouldn’t after drooling over all those mouth-watering photographs? But the stories of the gardens and their gardeners, so engagingly told by Barbara, grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and propelled me outside to reconsider my own plot. The stories and photographs in this book have inspired me to be a braver, more audacious gardener. To garden bigger and better and with greater passion than ever before.’
Andrew O’Brien, Gardens Weeds and Words blog
‘This could so easily have been one of those coffee table books to be flicked through absentmindedly, gazing at gorgeous photography while skimming over the text. But it’s much more than that. Which isn’t to say it’s not an attractive book. 144 pages of thick, glossy (but not too glossy) paper stock bound into a package slightly shorter and wider than an A4 page, and just over half an inch thick (never underestimate the importance of the physical aspects of a book; the pleasure derived from an well designed object adds immeasurably to the enjoyment of the contents, while a poor or cheap construction can be an irksome distraction). But the names adorning the jacket inspire confidence in every way – the experienced team of Barbara Segall and Marcus Harper as author and photographer respectively, with a foreword by plantswoman Beth Chatto. By the end of the introduction, I was hooked… As with all the best garden writing, Barbara Segall weaves her narrative as much around the people as the gardens they create and tend… Marcus Harper’s photography sees the reader transported into the heart of the gardens. and sometimes into the heart of the borders themselves..’
Michelle Chapman, vegplotting blog
‘If you’re planning a trip to East Anglia, this book provides excellent guidance on some special places to visit in addition to those that are better known. If you can’t get to East Anglia but love reading about special gardens, then this is also the book for you. It’s the latest in a series of fine regional garden books published by Francis Lincoln. Barbara Segall has woven a web of magical words around photographer Marcus Harpur’s wonderful images. Within the pages you’ll get to know the garden owners, their thoughts behind the garden they’ve made, plus see lots of beautiful views taken in more than one season. It’ll make a great gift for any garden lover.’
Judy Saddington, The Cynical Gardener
‘When I was recently contacted to see if I would like to take a look at the new book Secret Gardens of East Anglia, I jumped at the chance, I’m always on the lookout for interesting places to visit, I was delighted to find this book is brimming with in-depth detail and gorgeous photographs covering 22 gardens, most of which I’ve not been aware of before. The majority of the gardens are not regularly opened for visitors, but sometimes open their garden gates on special open days, such as for the National Garden Scheme, or other local events… The book is filled page by page with planty delights, the information about each garden is complemented with usually a picture of the garden’s owner, which I think is a lovely touch, and provides the reader with a real sense that the gardens are not only owned, but loved by those that live in them daily.’
CassieFairy, My Thrifty Life
‘Featuring impressive gardens from around the counties of Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, every page celebrates the culture, beauty and diversity of the region. We not only learned about the natural conditions and the plants that have thrived in the area, the book also tells us a little more about the garden creators themselves. This personal approach really got me interested in the book. Sure, it’s nice to look at lovely photos of gardens but it’s the owners’ style that intrigues me most. As someone who is only just starting out on their gardening journey, it was interesting for me to learn about the specific challenges and rewards the gardeners have encountered while tending to their gardens.’
Michael Perry, Plant Geek
‘You won’t have to be an East of England enthusiast to enjoy this tempting tour behind the garden gate. Barbara is one of the warmest ladies I’ve ever had occasion to spend time with, and is well-known on the garden writing scene, and gives insight on a thrilling range of unique East Anglian gardens. Ably photographed by the late Marcus Harper, this is a handsome coffee table book which you’ll be flicking through every time you’ve boiled that kettle!’
‘Barbara Segall’s writing is exemplary and had me nodding and smiling at times. For instance one chapter starts…On the occasion of their ruby wedding Peter Swete gave his wife Denny a garden shed. It was the perfect gift. Marcus Harpur’s photos are superb, be they general views or a close up of a single flower. There is one notable full page, Narnia-like, monochrome photo looking up the stepped canal at Hunsworth Hall, Norfolk… This is a book that I’m sure I will be taking off the shelf time and again to browse through or enjoy rereading about all these wonderful gardens.’
Alexandra Campbell, The Middle Sized Garden
Author, journalist and blogger Alexandra Campbell has reviewed Secret Gardens of East Anglia on her blog and included it in her video round-up.
‘What I found particularly impressive is the roughly equal balance between Barbara Segall’s well researched and in-depth description of each garden combined with Marcus Harpur’s brilliant rich photographs. It left me enthused to see as many of these wonderful gardens as possible.’ Read the whole review
Gillian Mawrey, Historic Gardens, November 2017 (No. 46)
As an “Essex girl” I didn’t have to be convinced of the beauties of those “terribly flat” counties of East Anglia. They may suffer from cold, drying winds from Siberia but these are more than compensated for by magical light and serene countryside. Barbara Segall, who lives in Suffolk, knows the area well and has chosen 22 of its gardens to explore in detail. Many of them were created in recent decades – Pensthorpe, for instance, planted by Piet Oudolf to celebrate the Millennium – and I’m not sure how “secret” they are, considering most are made on the grand scale, involving serious money and lots of earth moving and personnel. Opening to visitors or hosting weddings and other events helps to offset the resulting massive maintenance costs, though an interesting thread running through the book is how today’s standards of upkeep are rather more relaxed than in the past and have led to a welcome increase in wildlife. Segall’s interviews with the owners, many of whom were involved themselves in the design of their gardens, allow us to appreciate the books and people who inspired them, while Marcus Harpur’s muted photographs show both plant details and sweeping vistas.
Reckless Gardener, Gardening Books for Christmas 2017
‘A carefully crafted book by an award-winning team, author Barbara Segall and photographer Marcus Harpur. Barbara’s writing style is fresh and entertaining and brings to the reader 22 gardens selected for their culture, beauty and diversity in the counties of Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. The book provides a lovely insight into each garden – Barbara really is an excellent story-teller – and leaves the reader feeling as though they have visited in person…A pleasure to read, a pleasure to browse through and a pleasure to enjoy the wonderful photography perfectly encapsulating each garden’s style and spirit.’
John Sitrland, GetGardening blog
‘This book is an ideal reference for both the amateur and professional gardener alike and will undoubtedly provide those moments of inspiration when some part of one’s own garden requires a lift. On the other hand, just to sit and browse through Secret Gardens of East Anglia is, for me, a pleasure in itself.’
Louise Nicholls, Adventures in Horticulture
‘What makes this book more than just a “Coffee table” book though are Barbara Segall’s skilful descriptions of the ideas, the driving force behind the creators of these wonderful spaces. Barbara visited and talked with the owners of each of the 22 gardens featured. She weaves the stories of each garden & draws you in till you feel an overwhelming urge to step into the book….’
Barbara Segall’s booksigning and talk was featured by the Saffron Waldon Reporter.
Harriet Rycroft, A Parrot’s Nest
‘Meanwhile downstairs I have a Kitchen Table book, which sometimes ends up in the garden room (sounds posh but it’s a glorified porch) because it’s lighter there. At the moment there is no KT book because the tables have been covered in plants. I’m sure many of you have the same problem. Anyway, the KT book is usually a garden book because so many of them are vast, so heavy that reading them in bed is definitely inviting serious injury. I was sent a review copy of Secret Gardens of East Anglia a while ago and it turned out to be the perfect KT book, not so huge that it gets in the way of my coffee but big enough to lie open comfortably. I was delighted to be given this book because it was one I genuinely wanted to read, written by Barbara Segall, with insightful photographs by Marcus Harpur, who sadly died this year, a great loss to the celebration of gardens and to the horticultural community generally…’
Bridget Blair, Thinking of the Days
‘A glossy, beautifully photographed and well written book is a joy, and this is one of my favourite gardening books this year. Ideal for a present, “The Secret Gardens of East Anglia” by Barbara Segall and photographed by Marcus Harpur shortly before his death this summer, is packed with inspiration.’
The Chatty Gardener
‘While the title, Secret Gardens of East Anglia, suggests these are unknown plots, some do have a public profile and attract hundreds of visitors a year. The ‘secret’ is instead the story behind each garden’s creation from the Christmas Day phone call that led to Piet Oudolf designing for Pensthorpe to the way Barnards Farm was designed largely from the air. Bringing this private tour to life are beautiful photographs by the late Marcus Harpur who sadly died before publication of the book. Often, they show the gardens in different seasons giving a comprehensive overview of what there is to see. Yet, as plantswoman Beth Chatto says in her foreword: “It is only by walking in a garden . . . that you can really appreciate the picture that has been created there.” Secret Gardens of East Anglia is an invitation to visit and to do just that.’
Matthew Wilson review of Secret Gardens of East Anglia was first published in The Garden, magazine of the Royal Horticultural Society, February 2018
Secret Gardens of East Anglia was featured in the Regional Reads section of Village People magazine.
Clare Foster reviewed Secret Gardens of East Anglia in the January 2018 edition of House & Garden.
Secret Gardens of East Anglia got the top slot in Tim Richardson’s Top 10 gardening books of 2017 in The Telegraph (9 December 2017). (With thanks to Kate Elliott for the photo.)
Clive Lloyd reviewed Secret Gardens of East Anglia in Norfolk Gardens Trust newsletter (No. 24, Autumn 2017).
Secret Gardens of East Anglia was featured in The Times‘s Gardening Books of the Year on 25 November 2017.
Secret Gardens of East Anglia was featured on the Gifts for Gardeners page in the December 2017 edition of Cotswold Life.
The Daily Mail featured Secret Gardens of East Anglia in its 4 November 2017 edition (magazine): A ‘delightful new book’.
Suffolk Gardens Trust reviewed The Secret Gardens of East Anglia in their Autumn 2017 newsletter.
Sue Burton reviewed Secret Gardens of East Anglia in the Autumn 2017 newsletter of the Suffolk Group of the National Council for the Conservation of Plants & Gardens.
Bury & West Suffolk magazine featured Secret Gardens of East Anglia in their September 2017 edition.
East Anglian Daily Times featured Secret Gardens of East Anglia in their 9 September edition.
Country Living reviewed Secret Gardens of East Anglia in their October 2017 edition.
Barbara Segall was featured in The Lady in their 29 September 2017 edition.