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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Flourish by Juliet Nicholas and Barb Rogers

Juliet Nicholas and Barb Rogers are two names synonymous with gardens, garden design and showcasing the lives of the women behind some of this country’s most significant gardens. In Flourish the triple strands of their passions come to the fore in an elegant - and timely - table top book.

The publication of Flourish coincides with the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. It’s a delicious way to celebrate the heroic endeavours of women who have always been the homemakers, elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary through the frequently overlooked art form of the domestic garden.

In many cases these industrious and ingenious gardeners have created gardens of national significance which are open year-round. Others are open to the public with equal anticipation but with less frequency at calendar events to raise money for charity.

Others still remain private and would remain largely unseen and unheralded but for the endeavours of writers like Rogers and photographers like Nicholas who do us all the service of revealing the gardens and their gardeners. Without them all of this hard work and flair might otherwise remain undiscovered.

As we meet the gardeners and take an armchair tour of their gardens, the very different stories of passion, motivation and hard work are an inspiration to upgrade our own patches – however small and non-descript they might be. Because among the several themes of the diverse group of women is their ability to work progressively and in harmony with nature.

These are women who have learnt by costly mistake to persevere when drought or storm obliterates their masterpiece. And none seems to shy away from admitting error and ripping out a swathe of misplaced plants. Through their perseverance they teach us the valuable life lesson that sometimes we have to just bite the bullet and admit to our mistakes.

Flourish is such an encouraging and inspiring read I was motivated after a long and cold winter to finally stop procrastinating and get back in to the garden. But don’t hold your breath waiting for it to be open to the public any time soon.

Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Penguin Books $55


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