by Clare Leighton
A beautifully illustrated year in a garden.
I'm a big fan of the publisher Little Toller's Nature Classics Library, in which they re-print classic nature writing in a lovely modern format. They really are a joy to handle as well as read.
Four Hedges describes a year in the 1930s in the garden of the engraver Clare Leighton and her long-term partner, the journalist Henry Brailsford. I'm not at all interested in gardening, but I was pleased to find considerable amounts of humour in the book, describing, for example, an ongoing battle-of-wills with their gardener, or playing gramophone records to blue tits.
But the writing isn't really why you buy Four Hedges; it's all about Leighton's fantastic wood-engraved illustrations. The book contains several dozen of them, and they are superb.