Sissinghurst, By Adam Nicolson

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The Independent Culture

This book, by an outstanding social historian and nature-writer who also happens to be heir to one of England's best-loved houses, really does break new ground in the literature of locality.

A manifesto, or Arcadian dream, about the future of his place runs in and out of chapters that sumptuously evoke the house, its tangled history, and the Bloomsbury icons who – often unhappily - lived there.

Now Nicolson, aware that he can no longer act as "lord of the manor", aims to put buildings, gardens and farms, past heritage and fresh hope, back together again.

Obstacle by obstacle, he describes his efforts to sell a greener vision of the estate to the National Trust, which actually owns it, and a sceptical staff. Inch by inch, seed by seed, the dream does come to life.