The Writer’s Garden: Sunnyside Farm

Best-selling author Anna Pavord opens up her countryside paradise to Great Gardens


Tucked away in a hidden valley, garden writer and author Anna Pavord’s carefully considered patch nestles up to the surrounding Dorset countryside. “I wanted to make a handshake between the garden and the wider landscape,” she explains in the latest episode of our seasonal series, Great Gardens. 

Having originally met Pavord at a Wakefield and Northern Tulip Society show, photographer and filmmaker Howard Sooley first visited Sunnyside Farm as it was being laid out some ten years ago and is still charmed by its Through the Looking Glass qualities. “It’s as if there is a series of doors leading you from one room to the next with signs telling you to drink the potion,” notes the director.

Such are the rich textures, punctuated by bursts of color from the shifting (major) tulip, iris, peony moments, and packed with Pavord’s botanical fixations and experimentations – catalogued in Pavord's great uncle’s old school exercise books – one half-expects to come across Peter Rabbit just around the corner. “Even though there is a lot going on, there’s this incredible sense of calmness – the garden never excludes the landscape, it’s always welcoming,” says Sooley.

Here Pavord, the author of The Tulip, a horticultural love affair with the wild flower, shares her essential garden reading: 

The Well-Tempered Garden 
Christopher Lloyd (Phoenix paperback, 2001)       

Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles
W J Bean (John Murray 8th edition, 1970)       

The Art of Botanical Illustration
Wilfrid Blunt and William T. Stearn (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 1994)     

The Dapuri Drawings: Alexander Gibson and the Bombay Botanic Gardens
Henry J. Noltie (Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, 2002)       

The Anatomy of Dessert: With a Few Notes on Wine
Edward Bunyard (Dulau & Co, London, 1929)

Lee C. Wallick is a regular contributor to NOWNESS. 


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