Rhubarb Rhubarb

By Mary Jane Paterson and Jo Thompson

A correspondence between a hopeless gardener and a hopeful cook

Biography | Food & drink
103% funded
218 supporters
On press

Publication date: Spring 2020

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Early bird special edition hardback

First edition hardback, the e-book and your name in the back of the book 
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Special edition hardback

First edition hardback plus the e-book
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Collectable

Signed special edition hardback, the e-book and your name in the back of the book
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Bulbs

A selection of 20 of Jo's favourite seasonal bulbs. Plus everything at the Collectable level.
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Seasonal

Four seasonal plant lists and four seasonal menus with recipes: grow your own, cook your own and impress your friends!
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Problem page

Send your gardening or cooking dilemma to Mary Jane or Jo, and receive sensible advice by letter in return.
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Five Special Edition Hardbacks

Five Special Edition Hardbacks, with five names in the back of the book and the ebook
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Lunch with the authors

Everything in the Seasonal level, plus lunch Lunch out with Jo and Mary-Jane to discuss food and gardening
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Menu planner

A tailored and comprehensive menu planner and recipes, sent to you following an email consultation with Mary Jane, to set you up for a special meal or weekend
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Garden consultation

An email conversation, with photos attached, to discuss your garden’s needs with Jo.
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Ten Special Edition Hardbacks

Ten Special Edition Hardbacks, with ten names in the back of the book and the ebook
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Site visit

A morning or afternoon visit from Jo - a Chelsea gold medal winner - to discuss your garden design and sketch some ideas.
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Within Greater London or via Skype
$1,200  + shipping
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Double helpings of Rhubarb

A visit to your home from Jo and Mary Jane, who will give you some great advice about planting and garden design, and prepare a home-cooked meal for up to eight guests based around seasonal ingredients.
Includes up to eight signed special edition hardbacks, and everything at the Collectable level

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A correspondence over one year between a cook and a gardener, two good friends who bonded through a mutual terror of what they call professional mothers. Finding themselves in a perfect world of cupcakes and gym bunnies they decided to de-code and de-mystify their own skills with hilarious consequences.

Conversations became letters via email, which gradually seemed to turn themselves into a book. Jo would find herself one day panicking about what to cook for Easter lunch: a couple of conversations with Mary Jane and the fear subsided, and sure enough, a delicious lunch appeared on the table. Mary Jane, meanwhile, seemed to have a totally irrational fear of planting bulbs. After a couple of sessions staring at flowerbeds with Jo, the mystery evaporated and the whole thing revealed itself as a fairly simple process. The whole book is full of similar question and answers, and musings on life in general. It's sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes hilarious, and always enlightening.

What makes this book different to other cookery and gardening books is that it comes with a big slice of real life: it gives simple recipes for cooking, which real people can make without being overwhelmed. The gardening tips are interesting (yes really), quick, innovative and helpful to the virgin gardener. Jo’s expertise in beautiful planting enables the reader to have a go at some simple schemes with delightful results. Mary Jane, never phased by a the prospect of an occasion, shares her secrets and knowledge gathered from a lifetime of providing fabulous food for friends and family.

It has been described as 84 Charing Cross Road meets The Kitchen Diaries with a bit of Delia and Gardener’s World thrown in for good measure, and it's for 'middle aged middle England', as well as young people setting up home and all British Bake Off watchers. It is aimed at being a good read for both the cookery and the gardening market, trying to encourage everyone to ‘have a go’.

This book will make you laugh, empathise, and stir up a bit of enthusiasm in those who are feeling hesitant in the face of wooden spoon or trowel. At the same time, it has an appeal to those more seasoned cooks and gardeners. If you ever have had the urge to write to a cook or a gardener with a pressing question, here's your chance to read how they might reply. Have fun, read our book: both your table and your garden will be eternally grateful.


The authors will donate 10% of their profits to TOF (for children born being unable to swallow) and Epilepsy Action - charities close to their hearts.
Support this project

Quick select rewards

$15 
9 pledges

Digital

The e-book edition
Choose this reward
$40  + shipping
93 pledges

Special edition hardback

First edition hardback plus the e-book
  • Mary Jane Paterson avatar

    Mary Jane Paterson

    Jo Thompson avatar

    Jo Thompson

    Mary Jane Paterson trained at Leith’s Cookery School where she completed the one-year diploma. She worked at various places including at the English Gardening School at Stoneacre in Kent creating feasts for trainee gardeners. Since then she has taken on various culinary projects including hosting cooking days at her house in Sussex, most notably with CJ Jackson who runs Billingsgate fish school. In the last few years she fulfilled a life long wish to go to drama school. She ended up with a certificate and a little more stage fright than when she started. Her love of food is legendary, her fare is fabulous and everyone looks forward to going to her dinners. Her first rather sad culinary adventure was documented in her mother's novel, Yadav-A Roadside Love Affair.


    Jo Thompson is one of the UK’s leading garden designers, which came as much as a surprise to her as it does to everyone who knows her. She is renowned for her exquisite planting and innate sense of place. Jo's Wedgwood Garden won a gold medal at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show, and she has won numerous other awards including a smattering of Chelsea golds. Apart from being a full time designer, she lectures and writes for the Sunday Times.

  • Tulips and lemon cake

    Dear Gardener

    As you know I LOVE tulips. Tulips are my favourite flower. The planting of them, however, terrifies me. You see, as a virgin gardener, the thought of digging holes in my flower bed is simply scary. I just don't understand how you avoid all the other bulbs and roots in your flower bed. Thanks to you I've got hundreds of bulbs to plant, and I am grateful for them, especially at the promise of a wonderful spring morning with ramrod-straight tulips staring up at a blue sky from their pots. I want to plant them myself but am scared of going wrong. I know I sound idiotic but I just need some planting advice and to know if you think they are better in pots or scattered over the garden. I feel they are more formal than that. Advice? And should we peruse the history of the noble tulip? Do you know the Dutch story in detail, you know how tulips were worth a fortune etc etc...


    Best etc


    Cook

    Dear Cook

    Borders and beds, pots and planters - wherever there's a nook. I pack 'em much in the style of the passengers on those buses your mother wrote about.

    The most important thing is not to allow tulip bulbs to get soggy. It's common sense if you think about it: look at the bulb and imagine it sitting in our Wealden clay for five months. Disaster. So, if it's been raining for weeks, as it has been for what seems like weeks here, just be patient and wait a while. They won't come to any harm by going in a few weeks late, as long as they have been stored somewhere cool and dry. I confess to planting in January a couple of years ago, just because up till then I couldn't find a nice enough day to go outside. Bulb planters really take the hard work out of the job: and bulb planters with long handles (I reckon devised for the infirm) are actually a stroke of genius - no bending down, no muddy knees and the bulbs get planted to the right depth. As for the other plants, I've been telling you for ever: just plant the bulbs where there aren't plants - it is that simple, I promise you. I know you're worried about existing bulbs, but if you take a photo of them when they're flowering, you'll have a pretty good idea. I know it's a bit of a faff but it will save you the irritation of slicing a happy bulb in two.

    Anna Pavord wrote the seminal work on the tulip, called, you guessed it, The Tulip. She described how when it arrived from Turkey, it took Western Europe by storm, and almost drove people crazy in their anguish and desperation to collect prize specimens. You can imagine this: such an exotic, sturdy yet delicate flower, with stems taking their own shape in vases. My favourite combination of the moment is Jimmy, Cairo and Ronaldo: toffee-coloured Cairo seems weird, but when you put it with purple and burgundy and deep red – sumptuous.

    However, the best of the best of the best has to be La Belle Epoque – think damask and Colefax and Fowler circa 1983. I promise I’ll remind you in a few months when it’s bulb ordering time.

    Read more...
  • Mary Jane Paterson and Jo Thompson have written 2 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    30th October 2019 Rose tinted and loving it.....

    Seeing life through rose tinted glasses....If you haven't seen our cover here it is! We love the pink and green colours - it was our favourite design and we think it is perfect for our book. We hope you like it too!

    It's now available to pre-order at Foyle's and is on the Amazon and Waterstone's website for publication in April 2020. Please follow us on instagram on rhubarbrhubarb_

    Thank…

    2nd October 2019 Rhubarb Rhubarb is coming soon....

    We are very excited today as we received our cover copy and page design samples yesterday. They are quirky but elegant and pretty too so the book is looking exactly how we imagined it. Publication is set for spring 2020 so thank you for your support and patience. We will be fulfilling some of the pledges soon too so we will be in touch. I am oarticularly looking forward to the authors lunch - surprise…

    10th January 2019 Coming up smelling of Roses

    The start of the New Year and I'm definitely starting afresh. We've ripped out every last plant of our two borders and Jo T has picked out 68 roses to go in this Saturday. I never thought I'd say this but gardening is quite exciting! On the cooking front I've been obsessed with beetroot soup- making it with a couple of parsnips with lemon juice to add a zing and a swirl of creme fraiche and toasted…

    14th October 2018 Rhubarb Rhubarb at Cheltenham Literary Festival

    Well, we had a complete blast at #cheltlitfest https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literaturelast week. It was a huge honour to be invited to share the stage with Caroline Donald, Gardens Editor of The Sunday Timeshttps://www.thetimes.co.uk/?sunday  . We chatted about roses, tricky garden spaces , more roses and tricky projects over a delicious tea. There was a last-minute drop-out - lovely Peter…

    28th August 2018 Bank Holiday Cooking

    Thanks so much to all those who have pledged for our book this bank holiday. I've been doing some summer Asian cooking.I made Summer Rolls with a Peanut Dipping Sauce, Som Tam Salad and Chicken Panaeng Curry. All very yummy though I say so myself and a nice change on bank holiday Saturday. My garden is looking a bit tired and forlorn...time to call Jo for some inspiration! Looking forward to some…

    22nd May 2018 Rhubarb Rhubarb - the merry month of May

    Just a quick update on our progress. Jo has won a gold at Chelsea today for her Wedgewood garden so if you are going to Chelsea this week don't forget to visit her beautiful garden. We are one third of the way to funding our book so please tell your friends to pledge for our book if they haven't already - we need support to reach our target. May is such an amazing time of year -  everything is looking…

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