A Rage for Rock Gardening

The Story of Reginald Farrer, Gardener, Writer and Plant Collector

by Nicola Shulman

  • Published: 27 Sep 2011
  • Price: £6.99
  • Format: Paperback
  • Format: Ebook
  • Extent: 128p
  • ISBN: 9781904095477
  • Buy it now from Amazon.co.uk
  • Buy it now from Waterstones

Nicola Shulman’s miniature masterpiece about the life of gardener Reginald Farrer. A hundred years ago, there was a revolution in British gardening, as the garden changed from being a diversion of dukes to the hobby of millions. Few figures were more prominent in this renaissance than Reginald Farrer, whose passion for alpines, the most demanding of plants, would inspire generations with a love of flowers. He was the man who put a rockery in every back garden. Tormented by physical and emotional misfortune, Farrer was one of those ‘born to endless night’. Yet in the realm of horticulture his many faults were turned to advantages, and he became one of the great plant-hunters, collecting new species from the mountains of Tibet and China. Through the influence of his extraordinary books, Farrer did for English gardening what, half a century later, Elizabeth David would do for its cookery, changing everything forever.


“A little masterpiece” Daily Mail

“Writing with wit an enviable clarity Ms Shulman has created a brilliant brief biography of Reginald Farrer.” Anna Pavord, Standard

“A wonderful story about the man who did for gardening what Elizabeth David did for cooking… I loved it.”  Rick Stein, Radio 4

“All lovers of natural history should read this book, as should… anyone who wants to learn the art of biography.” Ruth Rendell, Sunday Times

“A miniature miracle of compression, a triumph of decisive style, a cabinet of learning lightly and subtly displayed” Times

“An elegant mini masterpiece.”
Antonia Fraser, <em>Tatler</em>
“As good as biography gets: pithy, funny, touching, never less than captivating.”
“An unforgettable biography, beautifully written in a wry, rather old-fashioned manner, full of comedy and, finally, tragedy – and one which can be read in a single sitting… A real treat.”
<em>Country Life</em>

About Nicola Shulman

Nicola Shulman is a writer and reviewer for publications including the Sunday Telegraph, The TLS and Harpers & Queen. She lives with her family in London and in Yorkshire. She has also published Graven with Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt with Short Books (2011).