Book review:

'The Seaside Gardener' by Richard Mortimer

Published in 1997 by Beeline Books, Alderney

Richard Mortimer is the pen-name of a London medical practitioner who has gardened by the sea for over 30 years. The book is directed at ‘All other gardeners sharing the same battles against wind and usually drought’.

The book starts with a short autobiographical chapter, in which he describes with humour his early experiments with gardening, from sand tray to seaside. The following chapters describe the coastal environment and summarise the problems of wind, salt and sand. He emphasises the importance of choosing plants that are adapted to these conditions. He gives advice on planting, propagating and how to choose windbreak species. The rest of the book – Chapters 8 to 14 – is devoted to the central problem of choosing the right plants: he has chapters on Mediterranean plants, sub- tropical plants, a very long chapter about trees and shrubs, climbers, wall plants and perennials.

At the end of the book are appendices filled with information tables – classified shrubs and trees, ground cover, perennials, annuals, grasses. Finally there is a book list. The book is illustrated with four pages of colour photographs and four of black-and-white photographs.

There is a wealth of experience here. My only criticisms are the lack of a full index and the fact that the photographs aren’t all in colour: the book deserves better. Apart from that, I recommend it for its immense knowledge and its delightful style.

Paperback. 260pp. Internet price £11.50.

The Seaside Gardener