Garden Magic – making the ordinary extraordinary


George Carter is noted for his subtle and witty approach to garden design. His passion for the art of 17th century formal garden design finds ample illustration in his own garden in Norfolk where he has re-invented the traditional formal garden in a contemporary form.

In his new book,’George Carter: Garden Magic, Making the Ordinary Extraordinary‘, he reveals his much-coveted garden secrets, using his own garden to illustrate how readers can emulate his style bringing elements of theatre in an entirely approachable way.

As he points out in his book, one of the things that makes 17th-century gardens effective is their interest in spatial organization, volume and void, the way that the wide and the narrow, the long and the short are contrasted. So we are taken on a journey around his garden explaining how it came to be and how he has incorporated the tenets of formal gardens into the design. It is a fascinating journey with plenty of thought-provoking ideas we can easily translate into our own gardens.


What I like about this book is the way the author carefully takes the reader through his garden illustrating how with a modicum of work and a maximum of imagination, everyday items from garden centres and chain stores, as well as natural objects, can be transformed into articles of charm and beauty. Whether it’s turning a drainage pipe into a plant stand, transforming a garden shed into a Gothic show piece or illuminating a piece of water with LED ice cubes, the message is clear – nothing is without merit, always look at alternatives and never underestimate the power of a coat of paint.


Throughout the book, the photography by Harry Cory Wright, clearly illustrates the author’s thinking, bringing alive a mind-boggling array of objects, created from finds at car boot sales, plumbers’ merchants and DIY centres. The author really does create the extraordinary from the ordinary with stunning results.

Chapters include garden furniture, containers, lighting and frames as well as looking at structures and embellishments. There is also a useful directory at the rear of the book giving lists of suppliers, outlets etc., from where cheap and usable materials can be purchased.

George Carter is presently engaged in restoring the gardens at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and has designed and made gardens for Burghley House and Penshurst Place. He is a multiple Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medalist and author of several books on gardening.

Published by Double-Barrelled Books, ‘George Carter: Garden Magic’ is in hardback priced at £25.00.