When Xa Tollemache found herself chatelaine of Helmingham in 1975, she was initially overwhelmed. ‘I was a horticulturally raw and totally ignorant young mother . . . [but] once I had managed to get a small grip I marched out one day, day, spade in hand, and said to Roy Balaam, the head gardener, ‘Teach me how to dig.’ He taught her to such effect that twenty years later she was in a position to embark on a career as a garden designer. And in 1997 her first Chelsea Flower Show garden was awarded a Gold Medal. Not surprisingly, her garden design practice has flourished ever since. She has designed many gardens in Europe and the US, as well as in Britain. She also lectures extensively in the US and the UK. Her own garden at Helmingham Hall is open to the public. This is her first book.