Great Garden Design


In the Introduction of ‘Great Garden Design’ by Ian Hodgson, the author makes the comment that, “Garden design galvanizes art, science, culture and environment together unlike any other discipline.” Bringing all those disciplines together and being able to identify a range of ideas and themes that will help us transform our outdoor space, is the focal point of this excellent book.

‘Great Garden Design’ showcases more than 300 of the best garden designs in the last 10 years from 50 top designers and members of the Society of Garden Designers (SGD). The author has carefully surveyed contemporary garden design to provide ideas and inspiration to help the reader create the garden they have always wanted.

Whether you manage a large, medium or small garden, a window-box or a small patio area, ‘Great Garden Design’ will guide you through a range of garden styles, from formal and cottage to urban and minimalist, providing you with a wide spectrum of design choices to suit all tastes and budgets.

side-Great-Garden-DesignPlanting schemes, style guidance, practical insight and expert knowledge shout out from every page. Ian brings together masters’ of garden design including Tom Stuart-Smith, Luciano Guibbilei, Dan Pearson and Charlotte Rowe, to stimulate and demonstrate ideas.

Ian points out that: “A desire to improve our quality of life and reconnect with nature has also been an impetus for garden-making, from private courtyards to country estates and public spaces, but especially for recuperative gardens, where sensitive design of outdoor spaces can be a powerful agent for good.” As gardeners, we should never be too smug or satisfied with our plots and a good many of us will always be striving to make changes and improvements as our circumstances or taste changes.

The chapters in the book cover Bold Visions, Great Designs – garden styles including contemporary, urban chic, naturalistic and subtropical; Garden Gallery – containing ideas for a range of architectural ideas and planting styles; Outdoor Experiences – with ideas for relaxing, dining, playing and bathing; Gardens with a Conscience – sustainable solutions and managing water as well as supporting wildlife and finally Realising Your Design – assessing your plot and commissioning a designer.

There is also a useful directory of garden designers at the rear of the book linked to their designs within the chapters which I think is very helpful.

I found the case studies really helpful and I think that the author is to be congratulated on his inclusion of Sustainable Solutions, particularly concerning ethically sourced materials and green technologies.

Ian Hodgson is a former editor of The Garden (published by the Royal Horticultural Society), a qualified landscape architect with over 25 years experience as a writer and editor for the horticultural press. He is now Editor-at-Large for Garden News and Garden Answers. He writes in an informed and entertaining style and he quickly gets down to the important aspects of his topic in a no-nonsense way which I really appreciated.

I will leave the last word to John Brookes MBE., who writing in the Foreword to the book says: “However, the great majority of designers’ projects are not show gardens, but real gardens that the designers conceive and make in collaboration with owners. Real-life gardens that need to evolve, delight and function for 52 weeks of the year, rather than a single week.”

In ‘Great Garden Design’ by Ian Hodgson, you will find plenty of gardens that fit into the category of ‘real-life’ gardens with more than enough inspiration as to changes you can make in your own garden. It is published in Hardback by Frances Lincoln – – priced at £25.