Stone, Rock & Gravel Gardens: Natural Features for Modern Gardens,
by Kathryn Bradley-Hole; Cassell & Co.;
hardcover; 160 pages;
Kathryn Bradley-Hole is clearly a gardener who loves stone, and her enthusiasm bubbles over on every page of this thoughtfully written, beautifully photographed book. The opening chapter is devoted to our ancient relationship with stone, from primitive cave dwellings, through Stonehenge and ancient Eastern shrines, to the first European "rock gardens," and culminates in our conception of stone and its function in present-day landscapes.
Subsequent chapters focus on rocky landscapes and the flowers that thrive in them; how to build and plant a rock garden; gardening with gravel (or xeriscaping); scree and dry riverbeds; herb gardens; and using stone in containers, or creating 'potted rock gardens,' as Bradley-Hole dubs them. The book concludes with a chapter on garden maintenance and a comprehensive plant list that includes everything from tiny spring gentians to small shrubs. In addition to clear and concise instructions on how to plant a shady rock wall, construct a stone 'sink' and create a stony pond using a flexible liner, there are plenty of excellent drawings that further clarify the text.
As good as the suggestions for plant material are, readers should bear in mind this is a British book, so gardeners in areas colder than Zone 7 will need to check the hardiness of plants they want to include in their designs. Nevertheless, Bradley-Hole's concepts are easily adapted to northern gardens, and her book will doubtless provide incentive and inspiration for Canadians from coast to coast.