On Wednesday I made my way to London for the official launch of ‘The Bad Tempered Gardener’ written by the ever challenging and thought provoking Anne Wareham of Veddw House Garden and founder of thinkinGardens.co.uk.
The day started with a long train journey and I immediately grabbed the opportunity to read a few more chapters of Anne’s book. I’d started to read it at home but as usual life, animals and other commitments soon took over. As it all too often happens, it found a home with the many others and simply sat staring at me from the coffee table stealing glances as I passed it day in, day out. But as I alighted the train my seemingly daunting journey suddenly changed in to something much needed and I have to say The Bad Tempered Gardener kept me thoroughly entertained throughout my commute.
It didn’t take long for me to realise, but I guess it was always going to be the case, that Anne’s book is much more than an entertaining read. I was jolted in to thinking, disagreeing, pondering how to implement some of the things Anne discussed, and at times it even made me giggle, which to my amusement and to the discomfort of other passengers gave me that air of crazy man on a train. I read many a chapter on my journey but no sooner had the journey begun I found myself at Paddington Station and it was time to hit the tube.
After a day spent in London, a couple of tube journeys and a short but brisk walk I found myself stood outside sofa.com headquarters in beautiful Chelsea. I made my way past antique shops and pubs and then in to the venue where I was immediately greeted by Anne and the delightful Emma who offered a much-needed glass of something fizzy. I quickly met up with some familiar twitter folk (I have no idea what the official term is) and no sooner had I arrived but Anne had taken to the stage and as always she was on great form. With a small, folded note to hand decorated with various scribbles and crossed out paragraphs Anne welcomed her guests. It turned out that this note was not really needed. Anne spoke about the process of writing and how at times it has been quite a lonely place. She thanked many of the people in the room who contributed to the book and those who supported her during her time writing it. She also praised the role that social media has played in promoting and progressing views that were once either unavailable to the mainstream or found little support in small disparate circles. Anne described how Twitter and other enterprises have allowed us to discuss issues such as garden criticism and gardens as art in such a public and accessible way that we have opened new dialogue, which is something Anne wished could have happened 20 years ago at a time where she found solitude. Nowadays, if an individual doesn’t agree with something they see on television, read in a book or come across in a gardening magazine then they can find a voice and challenge it often with the support of others with similar views. Previously that view went unnoticed, unaired and have almost certainly passively perpetuated a multitude of bad advice, attitudes and an ideology that we have come to accept over the years and still see today. A new dialogue that challenges such views is not something Anne said she expected to see in her own life time, but with the advent of social media it has been possible to open up such discussions and aid progression in how we view gardens and gardening as a whole.
As quickly as it began it was all too quickly over for me and I found myself rushing to get to the tube station for fear of missing my train. Slightly drunk, but safe in the knowledge that I hadn’t bought a new sofa, I dashed across London accompanied by a fellow twitterer with an excellent sense of direction and I finally found my train home.
I’m yet to finish reading Anne’s book as I want to give it my full attention but I’m sure I’ll have finished it by the end of the weekend. It’s already attracted a lot of comment and you may want to read reviews by Jane Perrone, Graham Rice and Victoria Summerley.
Based on what I’ve read already I can most certainly recommend this book and I’m sure that there are many others out there that would say the same also. I’m almost certain that I’ve forgotten to mention or missed much of what Anne spoke of at the launch but if you are even the slightest bit interested in what was said or Anne’s views about gardens and gardening then I would urge you to read more from The Bad Tempered Gardener, thinkinGardens.co.uk and at least venture in to the land of twitter. Who knows, you may find a voice too.
Anne will also be interviewed on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this coming Tuesday 10 - 11:00am.