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The Higgledy Piggledy gardener

Clare Hastings book launch at Barrs Yard

Trish Lee

Trish Lee


01635 886663

clare hastings

BACK in the early 90s, Anne Scott- James’ Gardening Letters to My Daughter gave me enormous pleasure, not least because the eminent gardening writer lived for 15 years in my own village of Aldworth, next door to her daughter Clare Hastings, who co-wrote the book with her mother.
They shared a passion for their gardens and in the book she conveyed, in delightful lighthearted letters to Clare (the sister of Max Hastings), some of her immense knowledge on the subject. The humour and sensitivity of these letters were enhanced by attractive line drawings. Now Clare is passing on her own knowledge with her daughter Calypso in Gardening Notes from a Late Bloomer, illustrated by Osbert Lancaster, Clare’s stepfather.

“I’m not dead yet,” she writes to Calypso, who will one day inherit Clare’s beloved cottage garden on the Berkshire Downs. “In fact I woke up this morning feeling quite chipper. I glanced out of the window ... and thought about you. And felt a frisson of panic. What if I were to be struck down before elevenses on the B4009? I realised that I needed to leave you a handbook about the garden. For you the countryside is a pathway from the car park to the door, to be completed on the run. But I’m not giving up.”

Clare, too, was a latecomer to gardening, daunted by Latin names and nervous around plants. Then she realised she wasn’t and never would be a ‘proper plantsman’ and that it didn’t matter. Since then she has explored the joys of gardening and now after many years’ experience of her own cottage garden, Clare shares her gardening life notes with Calypso.

The book is full of insight and humour, as well as practical information for newcomers to gardening.

Clare will be reading from her book and sharing her notes with her daughter Calypso to celebrate the release of the book next Thursday (May 3) at Garden Art, Barrs Yard, Hungerford. Drinks at 7pm, before the talk at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £7 from Hungerford Bookshop or online at

Gardening Notes from a Late Bloomer is published by Pimpernel Press at £12.99.

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