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Down the Garden Path (Allways trilogy #1)

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  349 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Down the Garden Path has stood the test of time as one of the world’s best-loved and most-quoted gardening books. From a disaster building a rock garden, to further adventures with greenhouses, woodland gardens, not to mention cats and treacle, Nichols has left us a true gardening classic.
Hardcover, 290 pages
Published December 13th 2004 by Timber Press (first published November 30th 1931)
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Pest Control for Organic Gardening by Amber RichardsDown the Garden Path by Beverley NicholsThe Language of Flowers by Vanessa DiffenbaughSecond Nature by Michael PollanOnward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine S. White
Best Gardening Books
2nd out of 29 books — 14 voters
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonBlood River by Tim ButcherAfrica and Back by Dorothy May MercerAngela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Best Memoirs/Autobiography/Travel
79th out of 368 books — 391 voters

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Community Reviews

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Feb 08, 2013 Hannah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Hannah by: Leslie
Rating Clarification: 4.5 Stars

This is one of those books that would have forever remained hidden from my reading world without the auspices of Goodreads in general and my GR buddy Leslie in particular (to Leslie - thanks for your squee-worthy review which led me to read this).

Written in the early 30's by a witty, jazz-age playwright (a man with the unfortunate first name of "Beverley"), Down the Garden Path chronicles Nichols' attempts to cultivate the garden of his dreams in the rural midlands
Matthew Gatheringwater
If Noel Coward wrote gardening books instead of musicals, they might have been something like Down the Garden Path: campy, sentimental, and wise. Short chapters and pleasant associations make this a classic in my bedside book genre.
So this is my review of Beverley Nichols’ Down The Garden Path. The reader already knows I really, really liked it because of the rare 5 star rating. I haven’t tossed one out there in ages. I haven’t even considered it. This book, for me, is the beginning of a friendship, even though the other guy is long gone. I can say this because I’ve already searched Amazon and Goodreads and learned there is much more of this comical, curmudgeonly garden enthusiast’s work out there just waiting for me. Sigh ...more
Sarcastic, self indulgent and beautiful. As a semi-autobiographical gardening book from an American in England back in the 1830's, Nichols takes an interest in gardening. Through transforming his newly purchased property into an admired landscape, he tells us of his misadventures, visitors, and nosy neighbors in such a way to have the reader feel very much in the confidence of an entertaining and close friend.

His account is a down to earth journal, where he opts to write articles for publicatio
made me laugh out loud alone in bed, quite late at night. seriously gleeful laughter. the only problem was how he'd refer, at times, to being poor: he was an aristocrat with servants and multiple properties. sigh. oh, and his 1930's era elegantly closeted homosexual brand of misogyny. enormously charming, nonetheless! highly recommended for plant lovers, eddie izzard lovers and those who believe they should have been born in london, paris or berlin in 1920.
You have to like flower gardening to read this book. Nothing happens in it, really. There's the partially-told story of Nichols purchase of a country house with wrecked garden, and his work at transforming it, but more than this the book is a collection of observations about plants, women gardeners, neighbor gardeners, greenhouses, cats, the enjoyment of winter plants, etc. Beverley Nichols loves flowers and gardens - that is the thing that makes this book fly.

A sample:
"For city gardens have a m
Julia Tourianski
It's pure poetry! Full of wit, charm and british frankness. His attitudes towards all things are justifiable and deserved. His anecdotes are touching and full of giddy circumstance. Every line is beautifully crafted, yet no one else could replicate writing in such a peculiarly effortless manner. Here's the first page to get you interested:

"I believe in doing things too soon. In striking before the iron is hot, in leaping before one has looked, in loving before one has been introduced. Nearly all
This book was on our new shelf at the library and I pulled it off and read a random page... and instantly fell in love. It's the auto-biography of a new gardener and his adventures are hilarious, random, and actually fairly informative. I have a new stash of mental notes on winter flowering plants that I can hardly wait to try out. I think it would lend itself to having portions of it read out loud, though it is written by an early twentieth century bachelor so the material reflects a certain vi ...more
Just the gardening book I was looking for. Nichols is snotty and charming, which makes for delightful narrating of just about anything. A terrible book to read if you're trying to exorcise adjectives, adverbs and superfluousness from your own writing ("Pools and cupids and cats, and very crazy pavements, and seats that are scrubbed, on rare summer evenings, by sulky butlers"). A perfect book to read before bed, because there isn't a compulsion to stay up late to see what happens to his rock gard ...more
This book makes a great leisurely read; there's no narrative suspense here to keep anybody awake (which is good). It's a facsimile (with index and introduction added) of the original edition with original illustrations, so it's a very handsome physical object.
Lori Simcik
Nichols is a delightful and witty read. He possesses a keen eye for observation, and a deep appreciation of beauty. His enthusiasm will inspire gardeners - I dare anyone to read this book and then not start planting a winter garden.
Heather Obeda
My mother introduced me to this book and author. Reading him (Beverley is a him) is traveling back 75 years and a continent away. His writing style charmed me like a cyclamen in winter--a jewel amongst paste!
Witty, fun, beautifully written with characters that leap off the page. I giggled out loud several times throughout. It also made me very excited to seek out some winter flowers for my own garden.
This book was a delightful surprise. Mr. Nichols' charming garden memoir is full of anecdotes that are laugh-out-loud funny. Wholeheartedly recommended!
This book is such a funny and delightful read whether you enjoy gardening or not but if you do it is definitely inspirational!
This was a delightful read--inspiring for a gardener and fun for anyone who likes a glimpse of life from another time and place.
makes me laugh every half page.. and also wonder about his brilliant style and choice of words..
Ellen Bell
How it's possible that this book has merited an average rating of 4+ stars is completely beyond me. I didn't just dislike this book; I utterly loathed it. Where do I begin...

Many other reviews have mentioned the author's self-deprecating humor. What I interpreted, however, was an upper-crust, turn-of-the-century (20th century, that is), bachelor who whines incessantly about his various misfortunes and misadventures in gardening his small plot of land. While I could look past that minor annoyance
Lise Petrauskas
Witty, opinionated, comic, rambling, rhapsodic, self deprecating, honest and above all entirely passionate about gardens, Nichols tells the story of the first year—with many digressions, asides, flash-backs and flash-forwards— he owned and transformed a garden in the midlands of England. The enthusiasm with which any gardener greets even the smallest most battered flower in the bleakest muddiest month of the year is described with accuracy and hilarity. I found myself in almost every line and wa ...more
Mar 21, 2013 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jennifer by: Alicia
First published in 1932, this book has had a lot of staying power. The version I read was printed in 2005. A charming period piece, even the font looks old-fashioned. While some of the sentiments in the book seem a bit dated (Nichols would never be able to write about women the way he does today!), it is entertaining and much of his gardening observations are sound. And his descriptions of creating a pond, a rock garden, and even a "wood" make you laugh. Somehow he makes it all sound so amazingl ...more
Yes, Melody, I'm finally getting around to reading this book from our book swap in 2010 or was it 2008, oh, well, better later than never!
5/24/11 - Yes, I'm still reading this book, but I took a break to read those two mysteries from the library. Beverley has just planted his woods. Gad Zooks, but he bought a whole mess of trees for that wood!
5/29/11 - Finished this last night. I enjoyed it, but I do have a bone or two to pick about his comments on women gardeners - NOT like that these days, at
I enjoyed Down the Garden Path but I don't think it would be of too much interest if you aren't interested in gardening. Beverley Nichols describes how he acquired his country house which was actually three cottages which had been knocked into one, and how he went about planning and planting his garden and wood. The book was first published in 1932 when Nichols was enjoying a successful career as a playwright. There's a fair amount of name dropping, it's a witty, sarcastic and at times quite cat ...more
My favorite Nichols book
let's be honest, most of the time i had no idea what plants he was talking about, but i love gardening with Mr. Nichols. this cad from 1939 has the best perspective on gardening i have ever heard ( for example when you pick out trees, you should drink martini's first, then go shopping). don't worry about the plants or the long chapter on his beloved winter flowers, the exploits of mrs. m, the creation of the pond, and the infamous mushroom planting make you want to spend all day with beverly in ...more
This is the book that Beverley Nichols is best remembered for. First published in 1932 it was a bestseller.

He did not write it as a garden manual so look for no guidance for the mechanics of gardening. Instead and I quote: That there may come to them, once more, a faint tremor of that first ecstasy which shook them when they learnt that a garden is the only mistress who never fades, who never fails."

This is about understanding the soul of a garden.
A 1930s memoir of a house and garden with quite a few gardening tips, particularly for getting something to bloom in the dead of winter. Charming and funny.
An interesting book about a man's garden in England. Of course, this isn't just any garden but one with many different types of gardens, a greenhouse, a pond, etc. Nichols writing style is rambling and quirky and he isn't very good at maintaining a proper flow of the story line but the book was written in the 30's so a "proper" writing style is probably a lot different now than it was then.
The prose style sometimes veers into the precious but overall this is a charming book about the joys (and disasters) involved in designing and planting a garden. Even though I don't own several acres to bring under cultivation, I was so inspired by the book's joie de vivre that I immediately savaged a potted calibrachoa on my patio. Next, perhaps, a rock garden?
Sep 17, 2011 Carol rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011, 2013
I just love Beverley Nichols! I have read all his gardening books and his biography. They are all books I own and cherish. There is something snarky, sentimental, sassy, and just plain informative about his experiences as a homeowner and gardener in England. I know these are books I will continue to pick up and read for a long time to come.
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John Beverley Nichols was an author, playwright, journalist, composer, and public speaker.
More about Beverley Nichols...
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“It was not till I experimented with seeds plucked straight from a growing plant that I had my first success...the first thrill of creation...the first taste of blood. This, surely, must be akin to the pride of paternity...indeed, many soured bachelors would wager that it must be almost as wonderful to see the first tiny crinkled leaves of one's first plant as to see the tiny crinkled face of one's first child.” 0 likes
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