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Cornucopia - A. T. Johnson

A.T. Johnson
Sue Catchpole

My favourite gardening books that are not particularly about plant information, right location or colour combinations but for the sheer joy of reading, are those by A.T. Johnson. Absolutely perfect for reading on a cold, snowy winter’s day, curled up in an armchair by a blazing log fire. ATJ lived near Bodnant in North Wales and his first book about his garden was ‘A Garden in Wales’, published in 1927. His second book ‘A Woodland Garden’ appeared in 1937 following the Johnsons’ purchase of an adjoining piece of land. Then when they bought a meadow and Bulkeley Mill after WW2, ATJ wrote ‘The Mill Garden’, published in 1949. All of these books have such wonderful turns of phrases to describe his trees, shrubs and plants, in fact he hardly ever seems to duplicate the adjectives, similes, metaphors or analogies. He was a Grand Master of the English language and the Classics and his sheer love for the plants and our written word shine through the pages of his books.

He was also very interested in wildlife and his plantings were done in a naturalistic manner. He also wrote a leaflet on Labour Saving Gardens (which I have been unable to locate) – a man ahead of his time. Many of you will know that a number of shrubs and herbaceous perennials were either named by him or after him such as Geranium x oxonianum 'A.T. Johnson'; Geranium 'Johnson’s Blue'; Ceanothus 'A.T. Johnson' and Mimulus 'A.T. Johnson'.

If you can purchase a copy to read over the next winter you could do no better than read one of Arthur Tysilio Johnson’s books.

First published in the Cheshire & Friends Group Newsletter, Spring 2010
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 27.
© Copyright for this article: Sue Catchpole

This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2011. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.

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