Garden Design: A Book of Ideas


“There is no one way to design a garden – the variations and breadth of possibilities are astonishing but it is the choice of the individual that make the world of gardens so exciting.” When I read this on the jacket of a new book about garden design I was immediately hooked.

Garden design has always been one of my weak points and I am not alone when I say mine just ‘happened’ rather than being the creation of an ordered and planned mind.

In ‘Garden Design: A Book of Ideas’ Heidi Howcroft and Marianne Majerus take us on a journey from getting the concept right to choosing the perfect finishing touches for our outdoor space.

In a beautifully presented book with stunning and detailed photography by award-winning photographer Marianne Majerus, the author carefully leads us through the concept of adopting a style, the components needed, greenery and flowers and finally furnishing the garden (an aspect often missed in some garden design books).

Difficult plots and tricks of the trade are also included so that by the end of the book you have all the necessary information needed to look at your plot with a whole new set of eyes.

Progression through the book is logical and staged in such a way that it is easy to follow the thinking behind the design process, which for someone like me with what I consider ‘limited vision’ I felt was refreshing.

Range of garden styles

There is a wide-range of garden styles from International Chic Minimalism to City Gardens and New Country. The author also includes classical elegance with a nod to the past as well as the more traditional flower gardens we associate with Jekyll and Vita Sackville-West.

There is also a series of interesting case studies illustrating the points made by the author. The book does what it says on the cover – provides a mass of garden ideas suitable for a wide range of locations, large and small, town and country.

Just looking at Marianne’s stunning photographs made me want to go outside and start re-thinking my plot with all sorts of possibilities coursing through my mind. I defy any reader not to find a style they can feel comfortable with in this book, there are plenty of ideas which can be adopted, even for the most difficult location.

Heidi points out in the introduction that: “Like a suit, a garden has to fit, have a shape yet be comfortable. But while it is possible to try on clothes before making a commitment, it is a different matter with gardens.” This important point is the reason that many gardeners will shy away from changing their gardens to any dramatic degree. Having the inspiration and confidence to do so is half the battle and ‘Garden Design: A Book of Ideas’ will certainly help both the experienced and inexperienced gardener improve and enhance their personal space.

German-born Heidi Howcroft completed her professional training as a landscape architect in Germany, where she lived and worked for many years. In addition to her design work she has curated exhibitions and is the author of over 20 books covering a wide range of garden topics. Now based in Somerset, England, she works and travels throughout Europe.

Marianne Majerus is one of the world’s finest garden photographers and a regular contributor to many international publications including The Wall Street Journal, RHS The Garden and Gardens Illustrated. She has won numerous awards for her work including International Garden Photographer of the Year in 2010 and Garden Media Guild Features Photographer of the Year in 2013.

‘Garden Design: A Book of Ideas’ by Heidi Howcroft & Marianne Majerus, is published in hardback by Mitchell Beazley, £30

An e-book is due for publication in March 2015.