There is no garden in this country so awful that there won’t be someone desperate to tell you how wonderful it is by Anne Wareham

August 26, 2011

in Editorial

I’m happy to say that thinkingardens is beginning to get offers of garden reviews. So I thought it was worthwhile to offer a short piece encouraging readers to do garden reviews for us and to try to sum up what I am looking for in a garden review.

Reviews currently available on the site may not adequately meet these criteria – please remember I have only just written this; I am unable to pay for material; and I have not done any retrospective checking of our reviews – all of which I was grateful for and which have good things to offer.

First, it should be entertaining and well written. If no-one wants to read it there’s not much point, is there?

Secondly, I think ideally you would be moved to write a review not by a desire to tell how wonderful a garden was, or indeed, wasn’t, but by something you learned.

Though I will consider reviews of ‘destination’ gardens that have badly disappointed, with reasons for the disappointment, as I am aware that sometimes people make great and expensive journeys to visit some gardens.

Third, I would hope that any garden review on thinkingardens would not just be of interest to people who can visit the garden in question, but to anyone who wishes to improve their own garden visiting and appreciation. Perhaps – though not at all inevitably – their own garden making.

So, no garden tours please. A brief description of the context and the nature, size and location of  garden is helpful, but remember that these days any garden which can be visited will have these details available on the web, and I will always include a web link.

Equally ‘I liked’ or ‘I didn’t like’ is unhelpful to a reader unless there is some indication of what, why and, ideally, what beneficial change there could be, should such a thing be imaginable.

Basically I am interested in what works and what doesn’t in a garden, in all aspects – visual, atmosphere, context, sensory and whatever else you might find exciting. I am also very tired of discovering that second rate gardens have been talked up, and I value honesty above all.

If you conclude with some version of ‘…has created a garden which is practically perfect in every way’ I will know you have been reading too much garden porn.

Anne Wareham, editor website

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Catharine Howard January 10, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Anne I have stumbled in here at last like a thirsty man getting through the Grand Erg Occidental. Thought it would be to highbrow for me but no,,,,,,,I’m kicking off my hot sweaty desert boots and joining in. I will put that link in my blog now and wrack the brain for a worthwhile bit of writing to contribute.

annewareham January 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Great Catherine! Welcome on board. XXXX

Lara Hurley October 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I might feel brave enough one day, but the gardens I have visited are mainly historical or very well known. Sounds like a good excuse to visit a few more places…

annewareham January 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Very well known and historical gardens are just the ones we need some honesty about. I have seen such nonsense written about so many of them. Did you see James Alexander-Sinclair’s review of Highgrove on this site? =

Susan in the Pink Hat August 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I’ve been visiting a lot recently for garden reviews. Especially since she (not sure if she or he, but we’ll say she) is reviewing gardens I really, really want to visit (Priona, Hermanshoff, Garden House). The writing can be really good. Probably the most interesting assessment of Henk Gerritsen’s gardening style vs. Piet Oudolf’s that I’ve read. Although she is mostly all praise, she is also critical of the gardens she visits even reportedly first rate ones like The Garden House. Her posts are photograph heavy, and I must admit that I do prefer that, but the subject matter is almost always interesting. You should link to the site here, and maybe solicit thegardenwanderer to post some of her reviews here.

annewareham September 3, 2011 at 11:11 am

Thank you for this – and I’m delighted to tell you that’s she’s going to start reviewing for us very soon. Well spotted. Or – maybe it’s sad really – shows how few there are?

Pauline Thomas August 26, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Anne, aka Brave Heart,
Are you happy to put the reviewers on that new scheme…..The Gardens Witness Protection Programme ?
No seriously this is tempting, even for a non journo’ type like me. Ah but, do you have to be somebody….
Personally I don’t think many people will have the bottle until they watch how brave folk are first….bit like locking up The Krays…

Good luck….
Pauline (Gardens Weekly)

annewareham August 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm

One of the things I love about editing thinkingardens is the fantastic range of people who are willing to write for us. No – you don’t have to be somebody. Just note what I’d like and write…? And, perhaps, be brave…

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