Wednesday 23 November 2011

John Brookes, gardener.

I've said many times, and it's true; I'm no gardener. OK, I grow a few vegetables as a matter of choice and practicality, but as for flowers, shrubs, and fancy designs; I score nought out of ten. Everything I do around the house is haphazard; if it works OK, if not it comes out and I start again.

However, gardening does interest me, and I enjoy a well designed plot as much as the next man.

When quite young I discovered John Brookes (above), and read a book of his about Cottage Gardening, of which he was (and probably still is) a great exponent. I remember very little of this book other than he seemed to view gardening rather how I view painting. His theory was that a garden is nothing without 'background'. His words were (aprox) 'a rose looks wonderful draped around a cottage door, but plant it in the middle of an empty field and it becomes pointless'. An obvious observation, but it needed to be said.

By building my 'tower', the 'background' that Brookes finds so essential has been increased hugely, and a new canvas has been stretched before my gardening eyes. I just wish I knew how to make the best of it, rather than repeating what has worked elsewhere. As my problem is that I know nothing about what plants to put where, it'll have to remain a question of trial and error (mostly error). This is why one needs a Mr Brookes to consult.

John Brookes not only writes about, and designs, gardens; he's also a practical gardener. His garden, Denmans, near Chichester in Sussex is one of the great 20th Century English gardens, and well worth a visit.... Mind you, Sussex itself is one great magnificent garden, which is why it was chosen to be known as The Garden of Eden.


  1. "reading between the lines" I think you have a good gardening eye cro.
    Knowinging what you like is 80% of gardening me thinks

  2. Have a look around your area Cro and what flourishes in your climate, pick out what you like and copy it..nothing wrong with a bit of sameness as long as you are happy.

  3. I'd have thought your climate would mean 'anything goes' (or grows) Cro.

    You can grow veg and that makes you a gardener in my book.

  4. You have an artist's eye, so simply apply your knowledge and enjoyment of color and design to your garden.

  5. I sympathise Cro. I too have huge appreciation accompanied by useless application. Makes for great frustration!

  6. You should not devalue yourself as a gardner especially as a good gardner needs an artist's eye. It is not about what another sees, but about the glory we feel in our own accomplishments.

  7. Oh I just found this older post of yours. Yes, I love John Brookes books (haven't been to his garden). Really good design advice regarding space and harmony. I probably skip the plant lore cos that comes naturally, but like A Blessed Life commented look at what is growing wild up trees in the woods for something to clothe your tower, or scrambling wild over old stonework elsewhere. And if you like someone else's artifice, copy it. The site and your touch will make it your own.


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