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How to Design a Garden


Beginning in the 1960s, John Brookes MBE (1933–2018) revolutionised garden design, with a new design philosophy and methodology that was rooted in the notion that gardens are about the people who live in them. Recognising the demands of the contemporary lifestyle, he broke with previous labor-intensive garden design traditions and the emphasis on showcasing plants. Instead he promoted using gardens as extensions of the home.

He introduced this notion in his 1969 book, A Room Outside, which also contained practical advice on materials, methodology, and planting. His approach was unprecedented and included the then-novel idea that people of all income levels could have designed, fashionable gardens tailored to their needs, low-maintenance, and beautiful. John taught and lectured around the world and, thanks to his energetic writing, teaching and media appearances, he became regarded as the ‘king’ and ‘godfather’ of garden and landscape design.

How to Design a Garden is an informative and ultimately practical collection of his thoughts and advice selected from countless writings and lectures given to students, professionals and the public around the world. In addition to his teaching on how to design a garden, the book has two key themes – environmental sustainability and a focus on the local vernacular. They show how far ahead he was of his time and to what a great extent his teaching remains relevant to garden-makers today.

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