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Gardening Notes from a Late Bloomer


“I’m not dead yet,” writes Clare Hastings to her daughter, Calypso, who will one day inherit Clare’s beloved cottage garden in the Berkshire Downs. “In fact I woke up this morning feeling quite chipper. I glanced out of the window…and thought about you. And felt a frisson of panic. What if I were to be struck down before elevenses on the B4009? I realized that I needed to leave you a handbook about the garden. For you the countryside is a pathway from the car ark to the door, to be completed on the run. But I’m not giving up.” The daughter of writer and gardener Anne Scott-James, Clare too was a latecomer to gardening, daunted by Latin names and nervous around plants. Then she realised she wasn’t and never would be a `proper plantsman’ and that it didn’t matter. Since then she has explored the joys of gardening, finding that a garden is just like life. There are moments when you want to divorce it and other times you can sit alongside it forever. Clare acknowledges that most – though not all – of what she has learned about gardening came from her mother. In Gardening Letters to my Daughter, published in 1990, Anne imparted some of her vast knowledge of gardening to Clare, who occasionally contributed a response. Now, after many years’ experience of her own cottage garden, Clare shares her gardening life notes with Calypso.

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