The Garden in the Clouds (book)


For anyone who's wanted to live the dream but never had the nerve to try. It was a derelict smallholding so high up in the Black Mountains of Wales it was routinely lost in cloud. But to Antony Woodward, Tair-Ffynnon was the most beautiful place in the world. Equally ill-at-ease in town and country after too long in London's ad-land, Woodward bought Tair-Ffynnon because he yearned to reconnect with the countryside he never felt part of as a child. But what excuse could he invent to move there permanently? The solution, he decided, was a garden. In just a year he'd create a garden so special it would be selected for the prestigious Yellow Book -- the famous National Gardens Scheme guide to gardens open to the public for charity. It's an unlikely ambition to entertain in this most unlikely of settings, and one that soon sees Woodward driven by odder and odder compulsions -- from hauling a 20-tonne railway carriage up the mountain to making hay with hopelessly antiquated machinery. The path to Woodward's elusive sense of belonging turns out to be a rocky and winding one, taking in childhood haunts, children's books and Proustian nostalgia trips. As the family battles gales, mud and Welsh mountain sheep of marble-eyed cunning, not to mention the notoriously fastidious NGS County Organiser, it remains deeply uncertain whether the 'Not Garden' and the 'infinity vegetable patch' (that grows only stones) will ever make the grade! Warm, thought-provoking and brilliantly funny, this is a memoir of a hopeless romantic with a grandly ludicrous ambition -- an ambition to which anyone who's ever dropped into a garden centre, or opened a packet of seeds, has already succumbed. [1]