A Spring Talk

Later this month I’ll be venturing over the border, into the beautiful county of Dorset, to give an illustrated talk about Somerset’s gardens. Join me at the Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury to discover the huge range of gardens that we have in Somerset – from hard-working kitchen gardens to award-winning ornamental gardens and gardens showcasing the latest horticultural ideas. I’ll also be exploring what it is about this particular corner of the West Country that makes it so conducive to top-notch garden making.

Secret Gardens of Somerset with Abigail Willis

Thursday 28 April, 7-8pm

Grosvenor Arms, The Commons, Shaftesbury, Dorset, SP7 8JA

01747 850580

Tickets £10. To book your place:


Grosvenor Arms Hotel, Shaftesbury

Talking about Somerset Gardens

Over the past couple of years Zoom has come to the rescue in so many guises, and has been a saving grace for those giving lectures to gardening groups and clubs. During lockdowns it has been wonderful to be able to connect to audiences and share my love of gardens, and Somerset gardens in particular. I offer two lectures inspired by the experience of writing and researching Secret Gardens of Somerset, both of which are available either via Zoom or in person.

I’ve presented both lectures to local audiences and had great feedback, so if you would like to book me to come and talk to your gardening club please do get in touch with me via my contact form.

Currently I’m offering a 45 minute talk entitled Somerset: A County of Glorious Gardens, in which I explore why Somerset is such a great place to be a gardener, as well as giving an armchair tour of some of the rich variety of styles of garden that can be found in the county – from cottage gardens to cutting edge creations.

The other Somerset themed talk is a full hour’s presentation that explores Somerset Gardens & the Genius of the Place. In this talk I look at how some of the county’s most beautiful gardens exploit their landscape settings to create their own unique and beguiling ‘sense of place’. A talk that is as much about people as it is gardens and this being Somerset, sometimes that sense of place is not at all what you might expect!

I also offer a talk about gardening innovations – exploring some of the bright ideas that have transformed our gardens over the centuries and which still inform the way we garden in them today. This talk is inspired by my previous book The Remarkable Case of Dr Ward & other Amazing Gardening Innovations. You’ll never look at a pair of secateurs in the same way again!


Some audience feedback

“I loved the talk. She spoke really fluently, was engaging and introduced history and background to well known gardens as well as some secret gems I’d never heard of. Particularly good as many of us haven’t been able to visit gardens for a long time. Dying to know what the other 8 gardens are! Made me feel in the mood to do a garden tour of them all 🙂 if only I had the time.”

‘One of the best talks we have had’.

‘That was genuinely perfect – thank you so much!’

‘Abigail has been a delight to work with, responding promptly to questions and queries.  Abigail has done three talks for us, two on-line and one in person, and in each case the talks have been excellent, with great illustrations.  She has a lovely style of presentation which is very clear, easy to listen to, and enjoy.  We have had good feedback from those attending after each of the talks so would highly recommend.’ South-West Heritage Trust

‘One of the best talks we have ever had. An excellent presentation. Very well researched’ Sampford Brett Gardening Club






Signings in the Garden

Over a year in the making, my new book Secret Gardens of Somerset hits the bookshops this month and I’m hugely excited to be sharing some of Somerset’s finest gardens with the world! Although Covid restrictions have sadly put paid to a traditional book launch for the time being, I’m delighted to have been invited to do book signings at two of the stunning gardens that features in the book. So, praying that there’s an Indian summer in store, and while I search out my trusty fountain pen and blotting paper, here are the details of where you can track me down:

Friday 18 September:

Stoberry House and Garden, 11am-5pm

NB this is an NGS open day and advance booking is required. To book your ticket  (£5) and timeslot to visit the garden please go to www.ngs.org.uk

Stoberry’s 6 acre garden enjoys a panoramic view over Wells and the Vale of Avalon and has been created over the past 23 years by owners Frances and Tim Meeres Young. Its colourful and wildlife friendly planting schemes are designed for year round interest and are full of inspirational ideas for gardeners.  The garden is particularly known for its use of sculpture, which is placed sympathetically within the planting.

Copies of Secret Gardens of Somerset will be available to buy on the day, courtesy of a pop-up Bailey Hill Bookshop stand, and I will be on hand in the Gazebo to sign and answer any questions about the book.

Stoberry House garden with view of Wells Cathedral

Stoberry House, view to Wells Cathedral. Photo: Clive Bournsnell

Friday 25 September:

Yeo Valley Organic Garden

Timed tickets include garden entry and the chance to talk to me and the book’s photographer Clive Bournsnell and get copies of the book signed. There are three 2-hr time slots, 10am, 12.30pm and 3pm.  Book your tickets here

Yeo Valley is a thrilling showcase of organic gardening at its most creative and fun. Its sequence of themed garden rooms explore colour and plant combinations with huge elan and show that gardening without chemical interventions doesn’t haven’t to be worthy or stuffy. Set on the shores of Blagon Lake in the Mendips and surrounded by lush cow-grazed pastures,  the garden is an integral part of the Yeo Valley farm and is one of only a handful of Soil Association accredited ornamental gardens in the country. The cafe, replete with gold sprayed garden gnomes and serving delicious home cooked goodies, is the icing on the cake!

Yeo Valley Organic Garden lime and red garden with landscape beyond

The Red and Lime Garden, Yeo Valley Organic Garden. Photo by Clive Boursnell


Secret Gardens of Somerset celebrates the art and craft of garden making in Somerset and features 20 of the county’s most beautiful and beguiling gardens, with stunning colour photography by Clive Bournsnell. It’s the perfect read for anyone who loves gardens, Somerset (or both!) and is also a lovely introduction to the county for those who don’t know it, or who would like to get to know it better. And, dare I say it, the book would also make an ideal Christmas gift for the garden lover(s) in your life …

Published by Frances Lincoln on 15 September 2020 and available to pre-order and buy from Bailey Hill Bookshop in Castle Cary (order form on the website, www.baileyhill.com)

cover image of Secret Gardens of Somerset published by Frances Lincoln




I’m thrilled to be part of the line-up of authors at this year’s Ilminster Literary Festival.  I’ll be talking about Dr Ward and his revolutionary case, and how The London Garden Book A-Z inspired me to delve deeper into the stories behind some of the amazing gardening innovations that we take for granted today. https://ilminsterliteraryfestival.org/

Date: Thursday 30 May 2pm;Tickets £8

Venue: Jordans Courtyard, Horton Cross, TA19 9PT (for sat nav use TA19 9PY)


Mere Literary Festival 2019

I’m delighted to be taking part in this year’s Mere Literary Festival in October – a lovely local book festival that’s just over the border in Wiltshire. The Mere Gardening Club have kindly invited me to speak about ‘The Remarkable Case of Dr Ward and other Amazing Gardening Innovations’, and I’ll be sharing how I came to write the book, and discussing a few of those amazing gardening innovations. There will be copies available for sale too, so you could get your Christmas shopping underway at the same time (the book makes an ideal present for gardening friends and family – or even for the smallest room in your house!).

The talk is on Wednesday 9 October at 7.30pm and the venue is The Grove Buildings, Church Street, Mere. https://mereliteraryfestival.com




warden case, plant carrier, garden invention
The Wardian Case, illustration by Dave Hopkins

Dr Ward at Taunton Literary Festival 2018

I’ll be talking about my new book, The Remarkable Case of Dr Ward & Other Amazing Gardening Innovations, at this year’s Taunton Literary Festival.  Come along to Brendon Books and find out more about the genesis of the book, and some of the great ideas that changed gardening for ever.

21st November, 6.30pm


An inspirational book – officially!

The London Garden Book AZ


I”m delighted to announce the The London Garden Book A-Z was a finalist in the Inspirational Book of the Year 2017 category at this year’s Garden Media Guild Awards – the ‘Oscars’ of the gardening media world.

The book was in very good company (other shortlisted authors included Ginny Blom and Ambra Edwards) and  Clare Foggett, chair of the Garden Media Guild, hit the nail on the head when she said: “That so many of this year’s entries document the benefits gardening has for our health and wellbeing, or appeal to people discovering the joy of gardening for the first time, shows that our winners and finalists are adept at turning the mood of the moment into high-quality content that makes people want to get out and garden. Gardening is good for you, and it’s fantastic that this year’s Garden Media Guild Awards reflect that.”  Hear hear!

Priced £16.99 the book can be ordered directly from Metro Publications, or from your local independent bookshop.