The National Year of Reading Garden

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The National Year of Reading garden

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Gardens and the National Year of Reading

The 2008 National Year of Reading celebrates reading anything, anytime, anywhere. It encourages and reminds us that to get the most out of reading, we should always start with what we love - be that picture books or garden guides, journalism or love letters. But reading isn’t just about WHAT you read, it’s about WHERE you read, too.

The National Year of Reading is spending this summer celebrating the joys of outdoor reading. Reading for pleasure is key to improving attainment in reading and reading outdoors is one of life’s great free pleasures. So, this summer we aim to encourage the creation of appealing, sustainable and sociable public reading spaces for communities across the country.

This magical space will live on after the Hampton Court Flower Show as the garden will be ‘recycled’ in a deserving community via a national competition ensuring it remains a perennial reading haven for future generations

To ensure that outdoor reading spaces continue to add genuine benefit to deserving communities, the National Year of Reading has also launched a groundbreaking new project called the ‘Reading Spaces Challenge’. Working in partnership with Business in the Community (BITC), three outdoor spaces in Bradford, Nottingham, and Manchester will each receive a radical makeover transforming them into special reading areas for the benefit of local primary schools.

The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will mark the launch of the ‘Reading Spaces Challenge Toolkit’. This free, practical and easy-to-follow resource for any individual or community group provides guidance on how to transform an unused outside space into a permanent reading garden. The toolkit includes practical horticultural advice and design hints to ensure completed gardens are accessible and easy to maintain, as well as looking good.

About the garden

This garden is inspired by the pleasures of reading for children and grown-ups alike, and is full of surprises. Key features in the garden can be seen on the plan above.

Can you find Wally in The National Year of Reading garden?

Books and writing that inspired the garden

A diverse range of reading sources is interwoven to bring the garden to life including The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Philippa Gregory’s novels on the lives of the plant-hunting Tradescants, Peter Pan and Gardening Encyclopedias.


Plants with stories to tell

Key plants such as the Liriodendron tulipifera and Sarracenia purpurea represent the ‘story’ of plant collectors – both of these were introduced by John Tradescant junior from North America in the17th century. Many of the plants we take for granted in our gardens today were collected from their native countries by plant collectors, many in extraordinary circumstances and harsh conditions. The Dicksonia antarctica are in the garden because of their importance to aboriginal culture. Aborigines have a great tradition of storytelling and aboriginal history has been passed from generation to generation in this way rather than being written down.

What do garden designers like to read?

We asked designers of other gardens at the show what they like to read. The entirely unscientific results reveal that garden designers do like to read, mostly fiction these days but some read garden books for fun!


Garden Design and Construction

Sally Court of Courtyard Garden Design designed the garden. Courtyard Garden Design 020 8892 0118 sally@courtyardgardendesign.co.uk

Garden construction was by The English Garden Company Limited. The English Garden Company Limited 01372 471187 leshewett@aol.com

The garden was project managed by Anita Foy of the National Year of Reading.


Thank yous We would also like to thank the following, without whom none of this would have been possible:

Alex Elsom Interior Design for dressing the bedroom 020 8892 7125

Coblands Designer Plants for transport and Danish trolleys dp@coblands.co.uk

Garden Organic for the salad leaf lawn enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk

Gaze Burvill Ltd for table, chairs and bench info@gazeburvill.com

Hewitt-Cooper Carnivorous Plants for carnivorous plants e-mail: sales@hccarnivorousplants.co.uk

Hillier Nurseries for the Liriodendron tulipifera sales@hillier.co.uk

Premier Plants for the Dicksonia antarctica and hedge info@premierplantsuk.com

Sempervirens for the sedum mat and donated turf info@sempervirens.co.uk

Shoreline Furniture Limited for the ‘throne’ and snake seat info@shorelinefurniture.co.uk

Waterwell Ltd for lighting and irrigation info@waterwell.co.uk

WH Smith for donated books www.whsmith.co.uk

Mrs Alex Clarke for growing vegetables

Helen Billetop, Fiona Stephenson and many others for plant sourcing and planting

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