Buchan, Ursula 1953-

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BUCHAN, Ursula 1953-

PERSONAL:

Born June 25, 1953, in Oxford, England; son of William (an author) and Barbara (Ensor) Buchan; married Charles Wide (a barrister), April 14, 1979; children: Emily, Thomas. Education: New Hall, Cambridge, B.A., 1974; Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, diploma in horticulture (with honors), 1979. Religion: Church of England.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Peterborough, England. Agent—A. D. Peters and Co., Ltd., The Chambers, Chelsea Harbour, Lots Rd., London SW10 0XF, England.

CAREER:

Freelance garden designer, journalist, television presenter, and consultant, 1979—.

WRITINGS:

The Gardener's Handbook, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1984.

(Editor) An Anthology of Garden Writing, Croom Helm, 1986, published as A Bouquet of Garden Writing, Godine (Boston, MA), 1987.

(With Nigel Colborn) The Classic Horticulturist, Cassell (London, England), 1987.

The Pleasures of Gardening, Dent (London, England), 1987, revised edition published as Gardening for Pleasure: A Practical Guide to the Essential Skills, Abbeville Press (New York, NY), 1997.

The Village Show, photographs by Hugh Palmer, Pavilion (London, England), 1990.

Wall Plants & Climbers, Trafalgar Square (North Pomfret, VT), 1992.

Foliage Plants, Royal Horticulture Society (London, England), 1993.

(With David Stevens) The Ultimate Garden Book for North America, Rizzoli (New York, NY), 1996.

Plants for All Seasons: Beautiful and Versatile Plants That Change through the Year, Mitchell Beazley (London, England), 1999.

Good in a Bed: Garden Writings from the Spectator, Trafalgar Square (North Pomfret, VT), 2001.

Also author of The National Trust Book of Wall Climbers, Pavilion (London, England). Contributor to magazines and newspapers, including Vogue, Spectator, Observer, Country Life, Country Living, and Houses and Gardens.

SIDELIGHTS:

Ursula Buchan's "sensible, intelligent and utterly English voice," as Spectator contributor Mary Keen described the author's writing style, has made her one of England's most admired gardening writers. In a review of the collection Good in a Bed: Garden Writings from the Spectator, Times Literary Supplement contributor Jennifer Potter noted that Buchan's main strengths are her professional expertise and her practicality in seeing gardens as real places rather than "some aspirational nirvana demanding hushed tones and kid gardening gloves." Potter also enjoyed Buchan's strongly-stated and uncompromising opinions. New York Times Book Review contributor Maxine Kumin, too, expressed appreciation for Buchan's no-nonsense approach and her "pithy comments and aspersions." Reviewing Gardening for Pleasure: A Practical Guide to the Essential Skills, Kumin hailed the book as a volume that serious gardeners "will definitely want to own."

Buchan told CA: "I became interested in gardening as a child, and when I left Cambridge I decided to gather some practical experience in various gardens at home and abroad for two years. After that, I applied for a place at Kew Gardens as a student for three years so that I could be properly trained. It had always been in my mind to make a career as a journalist, but I wanted to have a specialty, rather than to be a general writer on many topics. I have not regretted the decision, for I find both gardening and writing equally fascinating, and I feel privileged to be able to combine the two.

" An Anthology of Garden Writing is an account of the lives and works of five great gardening writers; The Classic Horticulturist is concerned with the origins of plants grown in gardens; and The Pleasures of Gardening—a book written to be read, rather than simply referred to—is concerned with how to do all those tasks that are necessary while avoiding those that are not. My writing closely reflects my view that it is one's duty to make anything one writes readable and enjoyable and that gardening is essentially fun."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 15, 1992, George Cohen, review of Wall Plants and Climbers, p. 1795; June 1, 1996, Alice Joyce, review of The Ultimate Garden Book for North America, p. 1660; May 1, 1999, George Cohen, review of Plants for All Seasons: Beautiful and Versatile Plants That Change through the Year, p. 1570.

Library Journal, June 1, 1996, Dale Luchsinger, review of The Ultimate Garden Book for North America, p. 138.

New York Times Book Review, June 1, 1997, Maxine Kumin, "Gardening," p. 46; June 6, 1999, Verlyn Klinkenborg, "Gardening," p. 14.

Publishers Weekly, January 27, 1997, review of Gardening for Pleasure: A Practical Guide to the Essential Skills, p. 100.

Spectator, December 1, 2001, Mary Keen, "Gardening Books: Down to Earth," p. 48.

Times Literary Supplement, December 18, 1987; October 26, 2001, Jennifer Potter, review of Good in a Bed: Garden Writings from the Spectator, p. 30.

Wall Street Journal, August 14, 1996, Patti Hagan, review of The Ultimate Garden Book for North America, p. A10.

Washington Post Book World, July 12, 1987.*