#BookReview THE VIEW FROM FEDERAL TWIST by JAMES GOLDEN #nonfiction #FederalTwist #gardens #gardening


Federal Twist is set on a ridge above the Delaware River in western New Jersey. It is a naturalistic garden that has no utilitarian or leisure uses and the site is not an obvious choice for a garden (heavy clay soil, poorly drained: quick death for any plants not ecologically suited to it).

The physical garden, its plants and its features, is of course an appealing and pleasant place to be but Federal Twist’s real charm and significance lie in its intangible aspects: its changing qualities and views, the moods and emotions it evokes, and its distinctive character and sense of place.

This book charts the author’s journey in making such a garden. How he made a conscious decision not to improve the land, planted competitive plants into rough grass, experimented with sustainable plant communities. And how he worked with light to provoke certain moods and allowed the energy of the place, chance, and randomness to have its say.

Part experimental horticulturist and part philosopher, James Golden has written an important book for ecological gardeners and anyone interested in exploring the relationship between gardens, nature, and ourselves.





What a glorious garden!! And an equally glorious book that had me captivated by the photos and the insightful writing which really helps you understand the journey that the owner made with the garden and how he has transformed it under his ownership! And what a stunning job he has made of it too!

The garden is in New Jersey, USA and has some testing conditions to deal with, but he has taken his time and put in a lot of research to find the best plants to use in the situations – a lesson for us all! I really enjoyed seeing how he approached the garden in terms of design and planning and loved hearing about the history of the area and landscape. And considering he had no background in gardening, it was fascinating to read that he learnt as he went along!

It’s a truly ‘natural’ looking garden and the photos are spectacular in showing this aspect off. The garden has many ‘pauses’ in it, places where you can sit and take in your surroundings, and that’s what I found with this book too. It sets things out really nicely allowing the reader to ‘pause’ as they read and take in the photography, the plant names as a helpful guide and taking time to notice the changes over a year with different light and changes in the plants. It really is an immersive garden and one that makes you forget the outside world! Very much needed during these times!

This is one of those glorious books that gives me garden envy as I’d adore to have a garden as beautiful like this, but the photos and plant lists allow you to take little ideas to put into action in your own plot and I found it to be such a restful read that it was just a wonderful experience from start to finish!



#BookReview THE GHOST IN THE GARDEN by JUDE PIESSE #20BooksOfSummer2021

This is book 20 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021


The forgotten garden which inspired Charles Darwin becomes the modern-day setting for an exploration of memory, family, and the legacy of genius.

Darwin never stopped thinking about the garden at his childhood home, The Mount. It was here, under the tutelage of his green-fingered mother and sisters, that he first examined the reproductive life of flowers, collected birds’ eggs, and began the experiments that would lead to his theory of evolution.

A century and a half later, with one small child in tow and another on the way, Jude Piesse finds herself living next door to this secret garden. Two acres of the original site remain, now resplendent with overgrown ashes, sycamores, and hollies. The carefully tended beds and circular flower garden are buried under suburban housing; the hothouses where the Darwins and their skilful gardeners grew pineapples are long gone. Walking the pathways with her new baby, Piesse starts to discover what impact the garden and the people who tended it had on Darwin’s work.

Blending biography, nature writing, and memoir, The Ghost in the Garden traces the origins of the theory of evolution and uncovers the lost histories that inspired it, ultimately evoking the interconnectedness of all things.



I found this to be a refreshing and illuminating memoir, combining the fascinating life of Charles Darwin and his family alongside that of the author who finds herself living nearby to his childhood garden at The Mount in Shrewsbury. She’d often walk past the property and the land that is now run partly by The Shropshire Wildlife Trust and she becomes intrigued by the impact that the garden may have had on his outlook and interest into the natural world that he took on to bigger things as he grew up!

It really brings to life the upbringing that Charles had – the dynamics of his family and the areas they lived in – and used letters and diaries from the family so well to bring them to life, so to speak! We get a real insight into the goings on at the time, and the role that those around him had on his interest being piqued on all matters to do with animals and the environment they were living in, and what could be learned.

Alongside his story, we see into the life of the author as she brings up her children to be just as interested in wildlife, encouraging them to explore with her on walks in the local area. She becomes obsessed with learning all she can about him and the use of letters from his sisters was a great way of seeing how they kept him in touch with matters from home while he was off travelling. Having lost his mother at a young age, it seemed his siblings became even closer, especially with his father being so busy.

It also touches on the ongoing work to preserve his legacy and keep sharing his work with people in the area, and how a humble garden can continue to teach us about the past and how we can imagine the area being used by those who lived there and what impact they have on shaping a young mind, such as Darwins’, and how they continue to do so.

I learnt so much from this book and loved the use of diagrams, photos and drawings to illustrate and get a real feel of the area, especially for those who haven’t been to visit!



I’ve done it!! Completed another wonderful 20 Books of Summer challenge!! It took me a while to get going this year for some reason, and I didn’t think I’d make it at one point as I was reading lots of things that weren’t on my list!! Very helpful!! BUT I stuck to my game plan of attacking the Netgalley shelf and the 20 books I named at the start were the ones I managed to read!  Now if only I hadn’t added to the Netgalley shelf with yet more books over this Summer….. will I ever learn?!!

My thanks as always to Cathy at 746 Books who started all this 20 Books of Summer business off! I always love to take part and is it wrong of me to already begin counting down the days to the 2022 version??!!!!


#BlogTour BOTANICAL CURSES AND POISONS by FEZ INKWRIGHT #BookReview @Rosdottir @Liminal_11 @RandomTTours

Delighted to be with you today as part of the fantastic Blog Tour for BOTANICAL CURSES AND POISONS by FEZ INKWRIGHT.  My thanks to the publisher, author and Anne of Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all!
I’ll be featuring my review of Botanical Curses, along with the previous book, FOLK MAGIC, and I hope you’ll enjoy the bonus review too!


Botanical Curses and Poisons The Shadow Lives of Plants by Fez Inkwright 

Discover the fascinating folklore, lurid histories, and malignant properties of toxic plants.
‘If you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison’, it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.’ – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland 

Poisonings are among the most memorable deaths in history, from the Roman Empire to the Medieval era and beyond. Concealed and deliberate, it’s a crime that must be planned in advance. And yet there is a fine line between healing and poisoning – Paracelsus argued that only the dosage matters!
 In Botanical Curses and Poisons, illustrator, author, and folklorist Fez Inkwright returns to archives to uncover the fascinating folklore, lurid histories, and untold stories behind deadly plants, witching herbs and fungi. Filled with beautiful illustrations, this treasury of folklore is packed with insight, lore, and the revealed mysteries of everyday flora! 
Botanical Curses and Poisons is printed in hardcover with metallic foiling, a ribbon bookmark, black-and-white illustrations on nearly every page, and a wealth of folklore, history and poetry about the deadly plants within! From the creator of Folk Magic and Healing (2019).

Published by Liminal Books


Publisher Website


We first need to discuss how stunning this book looks!! It will  stand proudly on any bookshelf on looks alone!! But thankfully the insides are just as stunning and fascinating as the author explores the history of poisonous plants. As a keen gardener myself, I’m always intrigued to learn more about the plants I have in my garden – and reading this book it appears that many of the plants I love in my garden appear in this book! 

I loved how this book explores the superstitions behind the plants along with the use in witchcraft, and how these plants were used in history to kill or poison victims..  Society used to look down on ‘herbalist’ women who would use plants to offer help to those in the community with medical issues – there’s a thin line between kill and cure it seems in some eyes!

This book also features an A-Z of plants that have been viewed and used in these ways – the meanings, the myths and the uses and it was fascinating! As I’ve said before, with so many of these plants already in my garden, I am definitely looking at them through different eyes now -and wanting to add to my ‘poison plant’ collection!!!





Throughout history, plants have played a key and vital role to our existence. Whether as a foodstuff, medicine, building material, or religious aid, the way that we re-purpose and domesticate plants has shaped a core part of the development of human culture. Hedgerows and wild-growing areas are a vital part of our countrysides and, through our codependency, have become ingrained in the myth and lore of humanity. Many of the old wives’ tales about plants were created to spread knowledge of their medicinal and nutritional properties, and many have become entwined with stories of local spirits, deities, and more ancient legends.

Folk Magic and Healing is, ultimately, a collection of many of these beliefs, aiming to inspire a greater appreciation of our wild plants and countrysides.

This stunningly illustrated treasury of the folklore of flora is packed with insight, lore and the revealed mysteries of everyday plants – perfect for gardeners, writers, folklorists, witches and general knowledge buffs alike!

This NEW edition takes Fez Inkwright’s gorgeous self-published book to the next level. Now in hardcover with metallic gold foiling, plus wonderful extra material, gorgeous illuminated letters and a drawing for every single plant illustrated in Fez Inkwright’s amazing style!


Publisher Website


Another stunning book to look at, and another fascinating read as the author explores the healing powers of plants along with their history and those who use them either for protection or charms.

Once again I’ve been spellbound (no pun intended!) by all that I’m learning about the plants included in this book!  As well as the uses of each plant, it also explores how plants were prepared for us, medicinal uses all alongside some lovely black and white illustrations.
Following the A-Z format again so each plant is given time to be explored, I’ve been fascinated to learn about the folklore of many plants that I have in my own garden – such as clover, ivy. daisies, foxgloves, primroses, roses and snowdrops to name but a few – and it is interesting that it gives you a different perspective on these plants that we just take for granted!

It’s a book you can dip in and out of and with the A-Z format, it’s easy to flip to a particular plant you wanted to learn a little bit more about!  It explores the roles that these plants play in our lives whether for magic, healing or darker reasons!


#BookReview Rhapsody In Green by Charlotte Mendelson #nonfictionnovember

About the book

Gardening can be viewed as a largely pointless hobby, but the evangelical zeal and camaraderie it generates is unique. Charlotte Mendelson is perhaps unusually passionate about it. For despite her superficially normal existence, despite the fact that she has only six square metres of grotty urban soil and a few pots, she has a secret life. She is an extreme gardener, an obsessive, an addict. And like all addicts, she wants to spread the joy. Her garden may look like a nasty drunk old man’s mini-allotment, chaotic, virtually flowerless, with weird recycling and nowhere to sit. When honoured friends are shown it, they tend to laugh. However, it is actually a tiny jungle, a minuscule farm, a wildly uneconomical experiment in intensive edible cultivation, on which she grows a taste of perhaps a hundred kinds of delicious fruits and odd vegetables. It is a source of infinite happiness and deep peace. It looks completely bonkers. Arguably, it’s the most expensive, time-consuming, undecorative and self-indulgent way to grow a salad ever invented, but when tired or sad or cross it never fails to delight.

Published by Kyle Books

Purchase Links



book depository


As a keen gardener myself, I adored this book!! I found myself on way too many occasions recognising my own irrational behaviours when it comes to the world of gardening and how a simple hobby transforms you into a raving maniac at times!

This is a real book for real gardeners! It understands the struggles and realities of gardening with restrictions of plot size, but never in your ambitions of just what you ‘think’ you can grow! And you really get the passion that the author feels for the subject as it takes you through so many topics – gardening catalogues, seed buying addiction, the hatred towards garden pests, the thrill of germination, gardening clothes – just to name a few! I think it’s one of those books I’ll be going back to over the years to feel that I’m not alone in my thoughts about gardening! How it can drive you to despair one minute, and then bring you so much joy the next!

Charlotte is a gardener who prefers to grow things to eat so it’s also fun to hear her thoughts on how she tries to plan ways of expanding her garden menu, and it’s also written with humour! It takes you through a year so points out the highs and lows of each season, the dreams and realities that each month brings and the never ending list of things to do!

And it was also nice to know that I’m not the only gardening who thinks certain ways about other gardens! As the author writes ‘ despite the chaos of my own garden, i feel entirely justified criticising everyone elses’!!! Yes to this!!!

So if you’re a gardener, or you know a gardener, then I’d highly recommend this book as you or they will ‘get it’!! The obsession, the erratic behaviour caring for your plants creates, the joy of compost and the art of plant watering!! It’s all there and I loved every page!