LORD Cavendish interweaves family, history and community in a fascinating new book reflecting on 40 years of gardening at his 17,000-acre estate.

A Time to Plant, which was launched at the Holker Garden Festival last weekend, is based on the 70-year-old’s role in the gardens at Holker Hall.

The reader learns about the history of the Cumbrian country house, its inhabitants and his relationship with his wife, Grania.

But even though he grew up at Holker Hall, Lord Cavendish admitted he did not get into the garden hobby until adulthood – and that he was at first reluctant to write his own book.

“I was away at school as a boy, so I didn’t get to see the garden all year round until I was about 18 or 19, and that was when I became more interested in it,” he said.

“It now gives me great pleasure, but when publishers said I should write my own gardening book I was unsure – I didn’t know if I could write. Once I began though, I really enjoyed the process.”

He penned details about the rare plants in the grounds, some of which there are only four or five specimens in the country, and many that are non-native. Among them is his collection of Styracaea, which should be coming into bloom at this time of year.

The book is beautifully illustrated with photographs taken by Lady Cavendish, whose talent her husband admires.

“Her pictures are exceptional – her eye does all the work, rather than the lens,” he said. “We have a good marriage and do some things separately, but gardening we do together. We want to present the best of it.”

The teasing rapport between them was evident when Lord Cavendish told The Westmorland Gazette: “I must go and prune some bushes now; my wife says I haven’t done enough!”

To buy a copy of A Time to Plant, visit www.holker.co.uk.