Garden design books are ubiquitous. Every month sees the publication of a couple more titles. Some books have inspirational photography but text that is impenetrable (lists of Latin plant names don’t impress me much). Others are more for the coffee table with amazing, misty shots but no explanatory detail of any kind. A book of planting plans is great if you happen to have a plot just the shape and climate of that in the book, but who does? Not much good for covering the tenants of good design.
A couple of books break the mould, however. The Essential Garden Book by Terence Conran and Dan Pearson is one. The other stand-out title that I’ve referred to frequently is a beautifully produced publication by Heidi Howcroft (a landscape architect and author) and Marianne Majerus , an award winning garden photographer.
The book is filled with hundred’s of Majerus’ stunning images, accompanied by detailed explanatory text by Howcroft. It’s divided into sections, the main six of which are: Basics; A Question of Style; The Components; Greenery and Flowers; Furnishing; Difficult Plots and Tricks of the Trade.
“Basics” covers the initial research that must take place before a garden design can be conceived. “Style” looks at small, large, city, country, classical, modern, etc. with case studies galore and detailed images and captions. “The Components” offers guidance on structure (i.e. paths/ decking/ hard surfaces); steps and ramps; enclosures; and shaping the garden (undulations anyone? terrace perhaps? Or would you prefer a mound?).
Then comes “Greenery and Flowers”. This chapter, for me, is totally fascinating. It has the kind of attention to detail that I’ve never seen before in a gardening book. The photography is outstanding throughout, showing gardens that are real spaces (well, real spaces of the rich, I suppose), not the unachievable dream of a show garden. Case studies look in detail at the planting used to achieve particular styles. It even covers veggie gardens. No excuses for boring allotments after this. (Not that any allotmenteers I know would give a stuff about the aesthetics of their plot.)
Furnishing the Garden looks at water features, and interestingly, garden rooms. Lighting and Art are also covered. Finally, “Difficult Plots and Tricks of the Trade” covers roof gardens, container gardens and coastal and basement gardens, amongst others.
Any OCG would be inspired by the breadth of this book’s contents and the crisp, detailed photography. Definitely worth a few of your hard earned pounds.