Barter Books in Alnwick has hosted some notable literary evenings in its time.
Visits by authors Joanna Trollope and Michael Morpurgo spring to mind.
This marvellous venue was full to capacity once again last Monday evening for the launch of Frank Lawley’s book Herterton House and A New Country Garden.
The subject is a 16th century farmhouse and garden, just three miles from Wallington Hall, and how they have been patiently transformed over several decades by Frank and Marjorie Lawley into the Eden we’d all wish to call home.
The book has plant names aplenty and superb illustrations but it’s not just another gardening tome, rather a story of endeavour in which two artists express their flair for design in the most natural way.
Several people directly involved in the book’s production spoke of Frank with great warmth, including Val Corbett whose delightful photographs illuminate the pages. Frank, a very modest man, talked us through the twin challenges of transforming the derelict house and grounds then actually writing about it.
Visits to great gardens such as Sissinghirst provided early inspiration in design and planning as they strove for horticultural perfection. Reading the works of Dickens presented ideas on authorship.
In answer to his wife Marjorie’s question, ‘Why can’t small places be as beautiful as big places?’ which proved a driving force throughout the years – take it from one who has visited Herterton over time and has the book, they can, and yours is.
Herterton House and A New Country Garden by Frank Lawley is published by Pimpernel Press Ltd. It is widely available. Cost £30.