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Gardens should be subjected to restaurant-style reviews, according to one of gardening’s most outspoken critics.

Garden critic Anne Wareham

Garden writer and consultant Anne Wareham, who appeared on Channel 5 series Britain’s Best Home and Garden, said it’s time to name and shame gardens that disappoint.

Anne said: “Think about how things have changed in food over the last 25 years: the adventurousness in home cooking and in eating out. But in the garden media none of this has happened. We are stuck in a time warp: suspicious of new things and clinging to the familiar.”

She went on: “The media present all gardeners as ‘lovely’. The result is that gardens that charge for entrance are complacent, frequently disappointing and often dull. Continuing the analogy, it’s as if we had never had any restaurant critics to sharpen up our eating out.”

Anne spoke out ahead of the launch of her book, The Bad Tempered Gardener.

She used to write for garden magazines but got “dropped like a hot potato” when she begun to get
“a teeny bit critical on occasions of gardens”.

The Bad Tempered Gardener is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Christopher Lloyd’s The Well Tempered Garden.

It is illustrated with photographs by Anne’s husband, photographer Charles Hawes. Together, they have created the gardens at Veddw House in the Welsh borders.

Anne, who describes herself as “a thorn in the flesh of the garden world,” added: “Making a garden and opening it has been a quite a trauma at times. Frustrations often make me bad-tempered, as do the smiley faces of garden celebrities, who look as if they’ve never found a slug in their hostas.

“This may well be the first garden book to talk frankly about the media as well as making a garden out of two fields and a wood with little money.”

The £16.99 hardback from Frances Lincoln is out in May. It can be pre-ordered at www.amazon.co.uk.

  • Robert Webber

    Of course, viciousness gets you talked about, but it does not necessarily achieve an improved standard!In the field of education it is generally recognised that a supportive atmosphere is one in which improvement can be gainfully and pleasantly achieved. RW

  • felicity waters

    now that is an interesting argument Phil…..Anne?

  • Philip Voice

    I just wonder how Anne would deal with criticism if her Veddw garden didn’t get the right reviews?

    There is only one system that works in today’s modern age and that’s a democratic peer review – the internet is the vehicle for this.

    I’ve met Anne, I like Anne and I agree she’s a thorn in the side but for someone who insists on vetting and censoring comments to her Thinking Gardens website, I’m not sure she’s in the right place to make this call.