id the Romans have rakes? Did the monks get muddy? Did the potato seem really, really weird when it arrived on our shores? This lively 'potted' history of gardening in Britain takes us on a garden tour from the thorn hedges around prehistoric settlements to the rage for decking and ornamental grasses today. It tracks down the ordinary folk who worked the earth - the apprentice boys and weeding women, the florists and nursery gardeners - as well as aristocrats and grand designers and famous plant-hunters. Coloured by Jenny Uglow's own love for plants, and brought to life in the many vivid illustrations, it deals not only with flowery-meads, grottoes and vistas, landscapes and ha-has, parks and allotments, but tells you, for example, how the Tudors made their curious knots; how housewives used herbs to stop freckles; how the suburbs dug for victory in World War II. With a brief guide to particular historic or evocative gardens open to the public, this is a book to put in your pocket when planning a summer day out - but also to read in your deckchair with a glass of cold wine, when dead-heading is simply too much.
Jenny Uglow is the author of biographies of Elizabeth Gaskell and William Hogarth (both shortlisted for the Whitbread) and most recently, The Lunar Men, winner of the PEN International Prize for history and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.