Not since Laurie Lee or Flora Thompson has a writer captured the smells and moods of the English countryside in the manner of Jenny Joseph’s ‘Led By The Nose’. The nation’s favourite poet has tended her “rural slum” in the Cotswolds for decades, and this calendar of a year in her garden is simply stunning. You can expect a personality that is uniquely literary, often leading the reader off her garden path with the sharply sly humour of her famous old woman who wears purple.
The memoir depicts a year in Jenny’s garden through the sense of smell, capturing the feel of each month and the flow of the gardening year (the chores to be done, the joy as your garden blossoms). In her writing, Jenny Joseph combines an eccentrically loveable personality with her own individual outlook on life. The book’s unfolding of Jenny Joseph’s personality is just one of its many delights.
In ‘Led by the Nose’, the sense of smell powerfully evokes memories and images that only a writer of Jenny’s originality and perception could capture. It reminds us of the full range of thoughts and feelings a garden can stir in us. As one critic has said of Jenny Joseph’s work: “Her back garden, like Emily Dickinson’s, has room for most of what one can imagine about the world.”
Jenny Joseph published her first collection of poetry in 1960 and won a Gregory Award for it. She has since become one of Britain’s leading poets and in 1996 her ‘Warning: When I Am An Old Woman’ was voted Britain’s favourite poem by viewers of BBC television.
“A gardening book for the literary-minded.”
‘Woman’s Hour’, Radio 4
“A treat for the sensual gardener.”
Alan Titchmarsh, ‘Daily Express’
“You may not think that you know the work of Jenny Joseph, but you do. She is the author of ‘Warning: When I am an old woman I shall wear purple’ – once voted the nation’s favourite poem and a world-wide best-seller. Now she has written this year’s most unusual gardening book, Led By The Nose.”
“The poet’s sensitivity comes through in the details… for those who want to evoke similar Proustian memories.”