Books, Garden Tours, New York Glamour and Other Lovely Stuff

There's a lot going in here at the moment, with many projects being juggled (often in an uncoordinated fashion). I picked up a terrible flu from Asia too, which made the productivity levels plummet. As such,  I'm a little behind in emails, and for that I apologise. Will get on top of work soon, I promise.

So many lovely people have been emailing about the garden tours and also (curiously) asking for advice on how to publish a book. Having been both a book editor and an author, I can tell you about both sides, but I have to warn you: it's not easy. Only the most tenacious will be about to do it. That said, it's a wonderful thing to see your books in a store such as Rizzoli New York or Galignani Paris, so I encourage all would-be authors to try. If you really want to publish a book, you will find a way to do it.

If you'd like advice on any stage of the process, do just let me know. I'll also do a blog post on this subject soon, and will be offering small-group workshops in late September or early October as well. (Details will be posted soon.)


This week has been all about New York – or rather, editing New York. With the new book, New York In Style (Nov 2014) due soon at the printers, we've been doing final checks of all the pages. This is, as all authors know, one of the most frustrating stages of the publishing process. By the time you get to this part of the schedule you're usually sick of seeing the same pages and reading the same paragraphs over and over, and it's a given that your eyes will glaze over by the fifth page. However, it's imperative to check every single word because if you don't a typo (or ten) will inevitably slip through.

I'm incredibly fortunate to have one of the best editors in the biz working on this project, but I'm still paranoid about typos. The curious thing is, you often can't pick them up on a computer. It's a strange publishing fact that the eye reads better on paper than a white screen, so the usual process is to print out all the pages. But then, of course, when you're flicking through these enormous, glaringly clear hard copies, you begin to see ALL the things you wish you'd designed or written differently!

Oh yes, it's a frustrating stage of the publishing process.

That said, authors always take on board reviews and comments because the constructive criticism that comes with them is instrumental in improving future projects. For instance, we added maps to this New York book because lots of people emailed us to say they wished there were maps in the Paris book. (NB Maps are VERY difficult to do! I resorted to watercolours because they were so forgiving.)

Next week I'll be starting design work on the new Paris book, and I thought I'd document it on the blog, so you can see how a book progresses from vague ideas to solid design roughs.


This week has also involved a lot of work on the garden tours, including branding (above). 

For those lovely people who have emailed about future tours, please be reassured that we're now putting together itineraries and will be costing everything shortly. I'll do a blog post in the next week or two, but we'll certainly be in touch by individual email with further details, once everything is finalised.

After seeing so many gorgeous gardens in May, such as these two romantic ones (above), I can't wait to include many of them on future itineraries.


Having learned that people can overdose on flowers and gardenalia after too many days sniffing the dahlias, we've decided it's important to add in a lot of 'visual relief' (VR), much like sorbet between courses. 

This is one VR that will go on the England Tours – the charming village of Rye.

I adored Rye. It really is one of the prettiest hamlets in southern England. And the signs are quirky too. This sign (above) said: 'The Mermaid. Rebuilt 1420'. Clearly they think that's a relatively recent renovation...

The house opposite The Mermaid Inn had a sign above the door that said 'The House Opposite'.

Pragmatic people, these Rye folk...

And this one was called 'The House With Two Front Doors'. 

Oh yes, there was entertainment at every doorstop.


For those flying to Europe from Australia for future garden tours, we're going to encourage them to stopover in Singapore or Hong Kong. This was the famous Raffles Hotel (above), which is worth a stopover in itself. The new Karl Lagerfeld-designed Sofitel So is another that will give your feet a rest between flights.

Hong Kong is a potential jetlag-breaker too, particularly if you book into the glamorous Siam Hotel.


If you love photographing gardens, like me, but don't want to upgrade to a $5000 or $10,000 camera because you're tight with money (like me), here's a tip: invest in a good lens. A great piece of glass will lift your old camera – and your photography – to a new level. For instance, if you have an old Canon (like me) that you're hanging onto for either sentimental reasons or budgetary restrictions, a fantastic lens to throw on it is a EF-S 60mm macro. It's brilliant in low light and great for proper macro work (such as garden photography), but it will also shoot hero landscapes like a dream and – best of all – does bokeh like no other! (See above.) There are more expensive macros around but this little mid-price beauty works like a pro.


And finally, if you love coffee table books on glamorous destinations, two beautiful new books have just been published by Assouline.

The French Riviera in the 1920s is a sumptuous look at the South of France during its heyday when artists, writers and designers gathered to fashion a new way of life—among them Chanel, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gerald and Sara Murphy, Picasso, Cocteau and Diaghilev. 

It's an expensive purchase, at $195, but cheaper than a flight to Nice. (July 2014)

The second book focuses on another gorgeous corner of the world – the Hamptons. 

The Big Book of the Hamptons is a grand tome that details the gilded lives of those living at the tip of Long Island. It's not as expensive, at $75, but the images aren't up to Assouline's usual standard, and it's certainly not on a par with the bestselling Hamptons Gardens

Still, it's an impressive title to stack on the coffee table. Guests will love a flick-through. (June 2014)

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