One Minute With: Katherine Swift, gardening writer

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm sitting by the Rayburn in my kitchen looking out at the wall that divides the garden from the church [at Morville in Shropshire].

What are you currently reading?

I have a corridor shelved with books I'm currently reading – but at my bedside are 'The Secret Life of Trees' by Colin Tudge, which is deeply scholarly but beautifully written; and Jo Shapcott's new collection of poems, 'Of Mutability'.

Choose a favourite author and say why you like her/him

I first read Ronald Blythe's 'Akenfield' in the early 1970s... So tender, compassionate and elegiac, it has been an enormous influence on me ever since. With 'Word from Wormingford', I could weep with envy at the elegance of his phrases.

Describe the room where you usually write?

The upstairs study, which has a view right down the garden – but which also has blackout curtains. As long as I can see the garden, I'm so conscious of all the things I need to be doing in it. When writing 'The Morville Hours', the curtains were drawn.

What distracts you from writing?

The garden!

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Part of me always longed to be Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road': I was blown away by his style. But the rest is closer to Mary Lennox in Frances Hodgson Burnett's 'The Secret Garden': a disagreeable child transformed by gardening.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Lovely. The garden at Morville is open through the summer, so I meet masses of people every weekend who have read the book.

Who is your hero/ heroine from outside literature?

Basho, who wrote haiku – but not in his capacity as a writer. He wandered the length and breadth of Japan with no money... I would love to have the detachment and calmness of mind to do that.

Katherine Swift's 'The Morville Year' is published by Bloomsbury