Book review: 365 Days of Colour by Nick Bailey

365 Days of Colour is a visually exciting book that is an inventive masterwork by Nick Bailey, head gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

It does exactly what I’d hoped it would, and more. Presenting hundreds of tidbits of advice from years of personal experience in an easy to understand and enjoyable format. It’s a book suitable for both the advanced gardener looking to push boundaries as well as the complete novice. It works as an interesting page turner and as a reference book I know I’ll be going back to.

Abundant glossy photos litter the pages, carefully selected to show some of the best planting combinations I’ve seen in print. I would pay for the inspiring, accurately labelled high quality photos alone.

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Imagery throughout the book is A-grade in terms of quality – every picture beautiful, clearly painstakingly selected and often eye-poppingly stunning.

But this is a book written by the man at the helm of one of the world’s most famous botanical gardens, so there’s much more to it than the photos. It’s a very smart read. In fact it used the word ‘twixt’ at least twice. More to the point, it throws layer upon layer of very clever things at us, including:

  1. New plants – every page will introduce you to plants that you might not have heard of, or at least, to the latest cultivars of garden classics. Everything has a twist of the new and fresh. The cultivation of all these enticing new choice plants is described with confident first hand experience no doubt unique to people with decades of experience and a large garden for experiments at their disposal.
  2. Good taste – it’s noticeable on every page, that the plants and colour combinations come from someone with taste. Which, thinking about it, is something you almost certainly need from a book advising how to decorate your garden for the next year!
  3. Contemporary colour – from the subtle to the bold, every description and accompanying photo presents beautiful and contemporary colour combinations. It’s as close to an artist’s pallete as I think you will ever find in a plant book, and everything feels livelier for it.
  4. Season breakdowns – one of my favourite elements of 365 Days of Colour is the breakdown of each season into start, middle and end. Moving things a step on from the likes of Christopher Lloyd’s (brilliant) Succession Planting for Adventurous Gardeners.
  5. Easy follow explanations – up front are a number of pages of explanation that cover the concepts of colour matching and plant combos for year round colour. Easy to grasp, and then rammed home throughout the other chapters.

Summary: 365 Days of Colour by Nick Bailey

Hundreds of exciting new plants, exciting colour combinations and year round succession planting to try. All wrapped in a beautiful, picture laden hardback.

My mind is boggling with new ideas and I’m literally changing plans for our 2016 garden to accommodate them. I have a list of plants noted down to buy already. In fact, I’m off to buy a Chamaerops humilis var cerifera and Eucalyptus gunnii to plant twixt some Dahlias this weekend…

Hopefully the first of many insights from Nick. A well written and modern book living up to all expectations.

Score: 5/5

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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