Is this the dream of every flower-loving woman? You meet a fellow mother at school pick-up who seems really fun. You bond over a shared love of gardens and a disinclination to return to life as a lawyer. Then she moves into a fabulous old place in the English countryside, with a famous, but now abandoned walled garden that once provided cut flowers for royal events. Together you bring the garden back to life, start selling open-grown cut flowers and become sought-after designers of productive walled gardens from Zimbabwe to New Zealand.
Welcome to the world of Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld, aka The Land Gardeners. “Of course it’s not all a bed of roses,” says Courtauld, “and like any other start-up it takes hard work, but whatever we do it’s fun.” “The dream,” clarifies Elworthy, “is working with someone you really get on with.”
And after eight years of working intensely together the two friends are still having a ball. They finish each other’s sentences, lay a hand on each other as they talk, and yes, have their own Land Gardener’s outfits: striped T-shirt, indigo smock, black leggings and boots.
Their recently published book, The Land Gardeners: Cut Flowers (Thames & Hudson, $80), is half dreamy floral romance and half deadly practical because all the flowers are just the icing on the cake the women really care about – compost. And they are keen for converts.