Grasping the Nettle
Tales from a Modern Country Gardener
Dig into a delightfully funny memoir this autumn: one woman’s guide to making a living with muddy fingernails, steel toe-capped boots and a can-do gardening attitude.
“Charming, good-humoured and inspiring”
– Alan Titchmarsh
Have you ever watched Gardener’s World and fantasised about getting your hands dirty like Monty Don? Or perhaps you don’t even give a passing glance to the office plants person dusting the dieffenbachias …
Whatever side of the garden fence you’re on, prepare to be charmed by these tales of life spent outdoors told by someone who’s not afraid to stand out like a sunflower in a row of cabbages.
Tamsin Westhorpe’s memoir of memorable mishaps whilst making a living with mud permanently under her fingernails will win over any reader. A cast of colourful characters pepper the pages as she tells all about her hapless horticulture exploits.
What do you say on live TV when you’re asked the best place to put a garden gnome? Is nudist gardening a good idea? And why do the roses surrounding beautifully manicured English lawn bowling greens grow so vigorously?
The answers to all these questions and more are revealed in Tamsin’s fresh, funny and fearless look at how horticultural can shape a life.
Praise for Tamsin Westhorpe
“Enchanting… made me want to rush out into my own garden”
– Constance Craig Smith, Daily Mail
“Self-deprecating and practical … a welcome arrival”
– Anna Pavord, The Sunday Times
“Perfect bedside or bath time reading”
– Laetitia Maklouf, author of The Five Minute Garden
“I felt as if I were kneeling down in the damp soil right next to her”
– Mike Palmer, garden designer and writer
“Peppered with outdoorsy insights”
– Helen Yemm, Daily Telegraph
About the author
Tamsin is a hands-on gardener at her family garden, Stockton Bury in Herefordshire, which regularly features in round-ups of the best UK open gardens to visit. She is also a public speaker, podcast presenter and RHS judge. Her proudest achievements are being a judge at RHS Chelsea and starting her career as a greenkeeper at a young age.
When she isn’t in the garden, Tamsin is a features writer for newspapers and magazines. She is also former editor of The English Garden, and deputy editor of Amateur Gardening magazine. She is a prolific lecturer at home and abroad and her aim is to make her audiences laugh.
Which side of the garden fence do you belong?
Whether we love all things outdoors or prefer the shopping centre to a garden centre, and whether we choose to get our hands dirty or not, everyone is influenced by plants in one way or another. Gardening had a huge surge of popularity during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, when many people, forced into downtime but seeking connection, rediscovered the joys of the natural world and took to sharing their passion for plants and growing things on social media.
But whilst Instagram is great for sharing ideas and knowledge, it made me wonder - are we now so set on showing ourselves in a good light that we've forgotten how to celebrate the apple with a maggot in or the shed with a broken window? A garden with flaws is often one filled with much love and adventure. The best gardens you come across in life aren't necessarily the ones with perfect colour, texture and form - they're the ones that have been lived in and loved. And I think that goes for a life well-lived too.
My life in gardening has been varied, with successes and failures along the way. I was often mucky, sometimes extremely cold and exhausted but ultimately it has given me happiness and been so fulfilling - and funny! - that I wanted to share a few of my stories in the hope of making others look at gardening in a very different light. Join me as I don my steel toe-capped boots and dig in...