Book Review

You Should Have Been Here Last Week: Sharp Cuttings from a Garden Writer

by Tim Richardson
(2016, pb 2018 Pimpernel Press)
Reviewed by Georgina Craufurd

My second choice is Tim Richardson’s collected articles and reviews entitled You Should Have Been Here Last Week: Sharp Cuttings from a Garden Writer. Don’t miss his Introduction, a witty Apologia Pro Vita Sua, which explains the breadth of his subject-matter, from Vita Sackville-West to a post-industrial park in Germany, Duisburg-Nord. I particularly liked his comment on Studley Royal: “ … I suddenly realised that these landscape gardens, despite their popularity with the blue-rinse brigade, were nothing less than gigantic, ever-changing, walk-through art installations, replete with subtle meanings.”
The pieces, which date from between 2004 and 2016, were originally printed in such disparate organs as the Garden Design Journal, Country Life, the Financial Times, and the Daily Telegraph, so they are aimed at a varied audience. There are one or two terrible puns, such as “Is garden ornament the love that dares not speak its gnome?” Because he is a historian and writer, he has a longer perspective on gardens and gardening. One piece is even a film review: A Little Chaos, which admittedly is about Louis XIV’s gardens at Versailles, involving (as Richardson puts it) “much décolletage in the bocage”. He writes as he speaks, so though he is extremely erudite on occasion, he takes his reader with him, and invariably provides a twist in the tale. I advise you to give him a try.