The Kitchen Garden (Britain's Heritage Series) by Caroline Ikin
|The Kitchen Garden (Britain's Heritage Series) by Caroline Ikin
|Reviewer: Sue Magee
|Summary: An introduction to the history of the kitchen garden: well written and great illustrations. Recommended.
|Date: June 2017
I love visiting country houses, but you can keep the interiors and the flower gardens - what interests me is the kitchen garden: seeing one which has been restored to its former glory is a real treat, as was Britain's Heritage: The Country Garden when it landed on my desk. There was no longer any need to guess at the work that had been done: here was the history complete with glorious illustrations as well as some wonderful advertisements. Canary Guano. For Greenhouse and garden. Perfectly clean. May be used by a lady. is still making me giggle.
There's a simple and very sensible structure to the book. We begin by looking at the people who made it all work : the gardeners. In my innocence I'd always thought that the man would be a horny-handed son of the soil, but Caroline Ikin demonstrates that head gardener would need an impressive range of skills to do his job, including not just horticultural expertise, but knowledge of latin, flower arranging and book keeping to name just a few of the necessary competencies. I came away with a great deal of respect for the men - and later the women - who made these gardens into what they became.
From the people we move on to the cultivation, with the ability to grow the more exotic crops doing a great deal for the head gardener and his employer. Pineapples were a particularly difficult crop to grow but the expertise was developed and it was known for the resulting fruit to weigh anything up to 3kg. A great deal of knowledge was required for the work of espaliering fruit trees onto the walls of the garden to make use of the warmth and protection they provided. Design and layout was obviously important and Ikin explains in detail the type of site which would be required and how it would best be laid out to maximise the cropping - and the amount of work which the gardeners could do. There was a 22 acre kitchen garden at Windsor, created in the 1840s by Prince Albert and it was designed to supply all the London residences of the royal household.
The type of walls and buildings was important once the importance of not only heat but light was realised. I particularly appreciated the pictures of the restored buildings at West Dean in West Sussex - somewhere which has gone on my list of gardens to visit. This garden has thirteen restored Foster and Pearson glasshouses and Ikin's chapter on glasshouses was one of the most interesting in the book for me. The book finishes with a list of further reading and other resources.
The Kitchen Garden is a quick read but it's an excellent introduction to the history of the land which fed the great households and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If you've enjoyed this book we think you'll also get a lot out of Allotments (Britain's Heritage Series) by Twigs Way or The British Phonebox by Nigel Linge and Andy Sutton. For another heritage garden, try Tea Gardens (Britain's Heritage Series) by Twigs Way.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Kitchen Garden (Britain's Heritage Series) by Caroline Ikin at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Kitchen Garden (Britain's Heritage Series) by Caroline Ikin at Amazon.com.
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