Anna Pavord (born 20 September 1940 in Abergavenny) is the gardening correspondent for The Independent and the author of a number of books on plants and gardening. She is an associate editor of Gardens Illustrated magazine, has written for The Observer for some twenty years, and contributed to Country Life, Country Living and Elle Decoration. Besides gardening her interests include sailing, black and white films, Evelyn Waugh and the rainforests of Central America.
Living in Puncknowle in south-west England, she is the daughter of headmaster Arthur Pavord and teacher Christabel Lewis. She attended the University of Leicester and graduated in 1962 with a B.A.(honours) degree in English. Not aligned with any political party, her religious views are those of a Pantheist. She married Trevor Ware on 18 June 1966 and has three daughters, Oenone, Vanessa and Tilly.
"The Rectory", her rural garden in Dorset, has been both a healing influence and source of inspiration for more than thirty years. She took up writing about gardening in order to finance the revamping of the building and garden. The one and a half acres of garden of this 300-year-old estate in Dorset was used as a nursery for her ideas on horticulture. In the beginning the garden was overgrown and the building dilapidated. It was here that she first planted tulips, and intrigued by their beauty, planted many thousands more.
"The soul needs to look out at things and find rest and peace and beauty in the things that the eyes are seeing. I think that’s a need. It’s a need as much as having a roof over your head and food in your stomach".
In her 2010 book, The Curious Gardener, Pavord, assembles a collection of articles from her newspaper column. Her use of grammar is deft and lucid, and her easy way with prose is not often encountered in other writers:
"It was at our first house and on the first patch of ground that we actually owned that I really discovered the point of gardening. It wasn’t a Pauline conversion. There was no sudden, blinding vision of beauty. I didn’t see myself (still don’t) trolling through bowers of roses, straw hat just so, gathering blooms into a basket. Nor had I any idea at first of the immense joy of growing food. But I had at least begun to understand that gardening, if it is to be satisfying, requires some sense of permanency. Roots matter. The longer you stay put, the richer the rewards.
"I also realised how completely I had missed the point as a child. Gardening was not necessarily about an end result. The doing was what mattered. At this time too, I learned about gardening as therapy. Banged up with small children all day for the first time, I thought I would go under. When a confrontation seemed to be looming of a kind that had no solution (apart from giving away the children to the first person that passed by on the lane outside) I would race to the newly made vegetable patch and furiously hoe beans. The children’s legs were shorter than mine and if I was lucky, I’d have at least a minute and a half on my own before they caught up with me and wanted to hoe too. Later on, when they were five or six years old, gardening with the children became a pleasure. But at this early stage – not."
Pavord worked as copywriter for Lintas Advertising Agency 1962–63, as production assistant and eventual director of Late Night Line-Up, a daily, live TV and media show on BBC TV 1963–70, with contributions to The Observer 1970-92, as gardening correspondent to The Independent since 1986, and associate editor of Gardens Illustrated 1993–2008. She was also the writer and presenter of Flowering Passions, a 10-part TV series on Channel 4. She was awarded the Gold Veitch Memorial Medal by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1991, and an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University of Leicester in 2005. She is a member of the Gardens Panel for English Heritage and chairs the Gardens Panel of the National Trust.
Books and publications
- Growing Things (1982)
- Foliage (1990)
- The Flowering Year (1991)
- Gardening Companion (1992)
- The Border Book (1994)
- The New Kitchen Garden (1996)
- The Tulip (1999)
- The Tulip. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. 1999. ISBN 1-58234-013-7. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
- Plant Partners (2001)
- The Naming of Names (2005)
- Bulb (2009)
- The Curious Gardener (2010)
- Landskipping (2016)