It has been eleven years since guitarist, singer, songwriter, movie producer, and gardener/landscaper George Harrison died of cancer. I did not know about the gardening and landscaping part of his life until I read George Harrison: Living in the Material World, a photobiography by Olivia Harrison. He began gardening in 1970 when he purchased a rundown estate called Friar Park. What did a young man raised in streets of Liverpool know about shrubs and trees? Was it just natural to love plants? Was he impressed by the gardens of India while there seeking spiritual knowledge? Olivia Harrison doesn't tell, but she does include photos of the estate grounds before and after his work.
By the way, George Harrison was a Beatle, too, but he downplayed that after the band disbanded. Until his son Dhani was seven, he thought his dad was a gardener. He only learned of his father's fame from other kids at school. In her book, Olivia does document the Beatles years with photos, letters, and quotes, but her aim is to show it as a time of hard work and insanity more than a wonderful experience. She portrays Beatle George as a young man who struggled with his values and post-Beatle George as a man who sought peace within himself and with others in a troubled world. She includes many accounts and photos of his collaborations with Ravi Shankar and the international musicians in his band Dark Horse.
While George Harrison: Living in the Material World is primarily a photo album, with many of the photos coming from George's own camera, there is plenty to read as well. Allow yourself at least a couple of evenings to enjoy a tour through his unorthodox life.
Harrison, Olivia. George Harrison: Living in the Material World. Abrams, 2011. 397p. ISBN 9781419702204.