Book Review – 365 Days of Colour in Your Garden

Reading time 5 minutes

My initial response to the launch of “365 Days of Colour in Your Garden” at the end of 2015 was to ask myself whether gardeners really need another book on colour. Surely the subject has been amply covered by the likes of Percy Thrower (“Colour in Your Garden”, 1987), Penelope Hobhouse (“Colour in Your Garden”, 1995), Andrew Lawson (“The Gardener’s Book of Colour”, 1996) and Christopher Lloyd (the brilliant “Colour for Adventurous Gardeners” in 2005)? Perhaps, but what Nick Bailey attempts to do in this new book is help us to achieve the ambition of many a frustrated gardener: non-stop colour, all year round.

This is Nick Bailey’s first book and already an Amazon best seller. Little wonder with a front cover that proclaims exactly what’s in the tin. Jonathan Buckley’s thrilling image of rainkissed vermillion hemerocallis floating in a pool of vivid greens and blues sets the very high standard for this book’s illustrations. Showstoppers include an image of Achillea ‘Terracotta’ mingling with Aconitum carmichaelii Wilsonii Group (end of post) and the airy blooms of a mauve thalictrum flirting with wine-red dahlias. There is not a bad photograph in the book.

As Head Gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden, Nick Bailey has plenty of experience when it comes to maintaining interest in a garden 365 days a year. He begins by explaining the science and nature of colour and how to combine different shades and hues, which is stuff many experienced gardeners will already be familiar with. However, quickly Nick gets into the main section of the book which describes a range of choice plants to cultivate for continuous flowers and foliage from early spring until late winter. This is very much a selection of the author’s favourites rather than a comprehensive list, but Nick clearly knows a good plant. I was pleased to see he had included Rosa ‘Bengal Crimson’, a rare rambler which never stops flowering in Central London.

365 Days of Colour in Your Garden, Nick Bailey, Jonathan Buckley, Kyle Books

I am rather less convinced by the need for the “Growing for Colour” section which sits between spring and summer: this does not strike me as the right place, even book, for a practical gardening guide and its presence spoils the flow. A section on how to extend the season of different flowers by choosing species and cultivars that bloom at different times might have been truly brilliant had it extended beyond 5 subjects: geraniums, clematis, narcissi, tulips (shown above) and roses. The chapter “Perfect Pairs” is sure to offer even the most adventurous gardener inspiration to try new planting combinations.

365 Days of Colour in Your Garden, Nick Bailey, Jonathan Buckley, Kyle BooksNaturally, it being mid-winter, I flicked straight to the back to see what Nick Bailey recommended to brighten our darkest days. Acid yellow Luzula sylvatica ‘Aurea’, Cyclamen coum, Iris unguicularis, Correa ‘Dusky Bells’, Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ and Acacia dealbata gleemed back at me from the glossy pages; proof that, with a little careful planting, your garden need never be dull.

365 Days of Colour in Your Garden“, published by Kyle Books, is available from good bookshops now. For more book reviews and recommendations, click here.

Categories: Book Reviews, Bulbs, Flowers, Foliage, Photography, Plants

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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27 comments On "Book Review – 365 Days of Colour in Your Garden"

  1. Gorgeous photography. I must admit my problem isn’t getting more color, it’s making what I’ve got look intentional. (I’m bitten by contrary ambitions–I’d like to have a garden generally regarded as ‘pretty,’ and I’d like to try growing one of everything. Ever. Obviously, these are unreconcilable.) Still, I bet it is a fabulous pick-me-up read for slushy grey winter afternoons.

    1. Yup, I get stuck with that conundrum too! I’m afraid there’s no answer other than better self control – easier said than done. You sum this book up perfectly as a great antidote to winter gloom 🙂

  2. A good book is the one which can “transfer” us to a different dimension of our dreams. As this one is about colours in the garden 🏡, it is definitely very useful in terms of getting rid of winter blues. Enjoy it, Dan.

      1. A cup of hot tea with a slice o lemon and a spoon of honey should help 😊. Get better soon

  3. Oh no, you’re sick too. Here’s hoping you get better quickly. 🙂 This looks like a lovely book with both gorgeous photos and good gardening advice. However, I think he needs a second version – 180 days of color in your New England garden. Then I could log right on to Amazon and get myself one. Get better, Dan. 🙂

    1. We are both poorly and self-quarantined in Broadstairs this weekend Judy. The weather is vile so there’s nothing for it but to snuggle up and watch rubbish TV 🙂 It’s not often you’ll find me doing that but it’s all I am good for!

      1. Oh, I hope it is something simple that will leave you quickly. We are getting better, but it is day 11 for us. I’ve never been this sick – we are worn down. Yes, nothing like paying top dollar for cable with hundreds of channels and you can’t find anything that isn’t an insult to your intelligence. I’ve read so many books its laughable. 🙂 Get well soon – both of you.

      2. I am sitting in my dressing gown looking at my storm-ravaged garden and building up to going out there at least to sweep up. Him Indoors thinks I am crazy to even try.

        I am sorry to hear you have been so unwell. It’s no fun being ill for that long. Nothing for it but to take plenty of rest and let your body recover before attempting to get back to normal. There’s nothing much good on TV here either, so, like you, I have been catching up on unread books. Get well soon 🙂

    2. Good point about the cold winters, Judy; you have a special challenge in New England. One of the things I enjoyed most during the first spring, summer, autumn cycle in my new home was the progressive emergence of garden colors . . . my landlady really knew what she was doing there . . . during winter its mostly browns and evergreens . . .except for a surprising winter jasmine which took advantage of the relatively warm December to bloom. Love that cheerful yellow on a cloudy morning. Hope you feel better soon.

  4. You know, I’m going to be incredibly boring but I use annuals, often punnets to fill the gaps. Violas in Winter and Petunias in Summer or whatever……works for me. My garden is mostly shrubs, bulbs, perennials but that instant colour is the way to go.

    1. That’s not boring at all Peta. The best gardeners have lots of ‘fillers’ waiting in the wings as those inevitable gaps open up. That said, almost every viola and pansy has rotted off at the base this year, so I will either have to replace them in the spring or leave gaps where they were.

  5. How amazing! My son has just bought me this book for my birthday. What a coincidence! As yet, I haven’t had time for a proper read, merely a quick flick through but I am looking forward to it. Well done, son!

  6. Dan,
    I can see that your love for gardening, gardens and plants is deeply seated in your heart. Watching the pictures and reading texts you post here, I am sure you put a lot of patient labour and attention into your “garden projects” .
    “Plants don’t grow merely to satisfy our ambitions or fulfill our good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them” ( Liberty Hyde Bailey)
    And as William Kent said “all gardening is landscape painting, thus be THE PAINTER and “garden as though you will live forever”.
    Happy birthday Dan 🙂

  7. Happy Birthday, I hope your flu and tonsillitis are gone and won’t spoil the party? If not – party even harder (when they are gone, obvs ;-)! Seriously: Have a lovely day – even if it means in bed with a scarf around your neck, hot lemon and a book!

    1. Thanks Stefanie. I am doing the latter, alternating the hot lemon with hot tea and about to embark on Monty Don’s ‘Gardening at Longmeadow’. It’s an alternative way to spend one’s birthday – the partying will have to wait until next week 🙂

  8. Sounds good to me! At least you are well enough to read. I’m used to these “alternative ways” myself: my 40th birthday two years ago went completely unnoticed as I was so poorly, I could hardly hold a phone… (and no, sadly I never made up for it). Similarly the 30th… But speaking of birthdays on a happier note: got “Seeing Seeds” for mine and remembered I saw the cover in a pic on this blog before! Did you like it? Re Monty Don: I’d like to read the Ivington Diaries one day, heard good things about them. Enjoy your read and get (completely) well soon!

    1. Oh no! Poor you. I had proper flu at the end of 2013 and, like you, was so ill I couldn’t move. This is nothing like as horrendous. I did get Seeing Seeds but have only scanned through thus far. I am very excited to read it properly. As for Monty’s Ivington Dairies that is spooky as I was just about to mention them in my next post. I keep them on my bedside table and read a few days at a time so it feels like Monty and I are gardening in parallel!

      1. Must be telepathy between Capricorns then 😉 . No, sorry, I’m neither into astrology nor esoterism. But please do write about the Diaries, I’d love to hear (well, read).

  9. Hi Dan, The photos in this book are great, but I was slightly disappointed in the lack of captions relating to the fabulous flower borders, nice to know where the garden is and to say 5 or so names of plants depicted in the photos. My five favourite plants were missing…aconogonon speciosum Johanniswolke, aralia Sun King,Crocosmia Lucifer ,Phlox Blue Paradise and salvia Caradonna.
    Still think Andrew Lawson book ‘Gardeners Book of Colour’ is tops.

  10. Ive been quite enjoying reading this book (btw, this and a few others on your recommended reading post are available in kent libraries can be collected in your local one).
    What are we going to do now he’s told the world about all the long flowing gems that its taken us years to discover 🙂

    1. I am glad someone has found the reading list Tim. I was actually thinking of moving it this weekend so that it is easier to locate. At the talk I attended this week Nick said he reckoned one could achieve 365 days of colour with only four plants. Stupidly I ommitted to write them down! Have a lovely weekend.

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