At the end of a long WFH day I often wander into my newly created vege garden to unkink my spine and daydream of an abundant organic garden of plenty bursting with home-grown goodness where I can potter and harvest fresh veges for supper. Instead I usually end up grubbing up weeds and gazing sadly at chewed-up shoots, bolted greens and struggling seedlings. Perhaps I need to spend more time learning from Bri DiMattina, whose Italian-inspired kitchen garden is the basis of this book. Built on memories of her Sicilian/Neapolitan grandparents’ garden crammed with tomatoes, grapevines and lemons, it celebrates the quiet satisfaction of growing food yourself then creating something delicious with it. Arranged by the seasons, it has growing notes for favourite crops and photographer Lottie Hedley’s beautifully composed seasonal spreads are a delight. I’ll have to wait until spring for asparagus season to try the gorgeous asparagus, pea and parmesan custard tarts or asparagus and goat’s cheese pasta bake, and the mandarin-scented rice pudding will be welcome in colder weather, but tomato caper sauce with parmesan fish will fit the late-summer bill, even if I do have to buy the tomatoes. Recipes draw on Bri’s Italian roots and alongside classics and favourites are some ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ surprises such as magnolia petal jam or pretty pink pohutukawa-blossom sugar. TRACY WHITMEY