Le Jardin Contemporain // The Contemporary Garden - Barry Watton Garden Designs

My book recommendations


On the bleakest of winter days, lots of persuasion is needed to head out into the garden, especially when being lured indoors by a comfy chair and a hot cuppa beside a warm fire.

If you are a regular reader of my blog and you have already undertaken all of the duties I recommended for December, then you may find yourself in the enviable position of having little to do in the garden for the next couple of months.

Winter is a great time for reflection, inspiration and forward planning. And with the post-Christmas sales in full swing, I can think of no better way of getting your horticultural ‘fix’ to get you through the next couple of months than by treating yourself to a book or two.

Below is just a small selection from my book library for your consideration:

Down to Earth, by Monty Don

As an avid Gardeners’ World viewer, I find this book simply impossible to read without Monty’s voice in my head. This is the most practical book of my selection, but this is more than simply a ‘how to’ book. As well as offering practical advice to gardeners, it offers insight into Monty’s garden philosophy infused with his years of experience. There is plenty in this book to discover and apply in your own garden.

Love Your Plot, by the Rich Brothers

Part design, part philosophical, this book’s central premise is the creation of gardens by examining and incorporating elements of the natural landscape. I had the good fortune of working on an episode of their UK TV programme ‘Garden Rescue’, in which their design placing emphasis on working with the landscape was selected and built. For those looking to give their garden a sense of place, or wishing to bring elements of the local landscape into their garden, this is well worth a read.

The Thoughtful Gardener, by Jinny Blom

Le Jardin Contemporain // The Contemporary Garden - Barry Watton Garden Designs

This is one of my absolute favourites. Beautiful images from beginning to end, this is more than simply a ‘coffee table’ book. This highly personalised book offers insight into Jinny’s sources of inspiration, her design process and garden philosophy by reference to some of her varied range of projects as case studies.

Jinny’s project at Arijiju is a standout for me; working in an entirely alien landscape with an unusual plant palette her garden nonetheless succeeds and thrives by applying the very same methods and philosophies employed in her more ‘conventional’ European gardens. The combination of geometry, softened with planting using local materials and methods is right up my street. The planting is just exquisite; rugged and strong according to the demands of the location, yet at the same time also very delicate. And who wouldn’t want a garden where the local Elephants can drink from your swimming pool reservoir!

Naturalistic Planting Design by Nigel Dunnett

Nigel Dunnett is a professor of Planting Design and Vegetation Technology at Sheffield University and has spent many years researching plant communities around the world, developing versatile growing mediums and using that knowledge to create high impact, low input gardens returning the green to our grey urban spaces.

Nigel is famed in particular for the 2012 London Olympic gardens (in collaboration with Sarah Price and James Hitchmough), his highly adaptable drench/drought tolerant work dotted around the urban spaces of Sheffield, and the spectacular Beech Gardens at the Barbican in London.

From this vast depth of scientific and practical knowledge comes this book offering an insight into the development of the naturalistic planting movement, his own philosophies, with practical advice on how to achieve ‘the look’ yourself.

I am unashamedly a bit of a Nigel Dunnett fanboy and this is a book I return to again and again for inspiration. For anyone interested in creating a visually interesting naturalistic garden with a sense of place adapted to the modern day challenge of climate change you need look no further.

Seeing as I own these books already, I shall be shopping around looking for new books to add to my collection and keep me going during these darker months.

What horticultural books are your favourite/would you recommend?

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