The Modern Cottage Garden – Review

We can become somewhat fixated on a particular style of gardening and in my case it just happens to be the Cottage Garden style. So, I was interested to see that in his new book, ‘The Modern Cottage Garden – A fresh approach to a Classic Style’, author Greg Loades inspires us to think outside the box and create something special by combining the best of the traditional cottage garden and the gardens of the new perennial movement – The Modern Cottage Garden.

As he points out, pushing the boundaries of traditional garden style, whether by accident or design, can be a good thing and unwittingly I did this myself several years ago when my desire to incorporate grasses took hold and I started to introduce them into my cottage garden beds.

The Modern Cottage Gardener‘ is a practical book, with plenty of excellent examples of how the gardener can combine the best of both styles with grasses and perennials. By combining big, colourful blooms, native plants and striking grasses into one space you can discover that they require little maintenance and provide you with a longer flowering season.

Commenting on the book, garden designer and broadcaster, Chris Beardshaw, says: “Greg’s enthusiasm for plants and for this unbridled gardening approach is clear. The result is encouragement for those new to the style and reassurance to embolden the spirit of those already convinced of its merits.” Adjusting a garden style needs confidence and the encouraging words and advice that Greg provides in his book will give that.

I just took the plunge and haven’t regretted it but in many ways wish I had had the advantage of Greg’s book as I might have done some things differently. I feel that once the reader has had time to digest all the advice in the book and studied the various examples he gives, you will have all the enthusiasm and information needed to create a Modern Cottage Garden.

The book’s early chapters outline examples of a Traditional Cottage Garden and a New Perennial Garden with visits to Newby Hall, Yorkshire, whose traditional herbaceous borders have inspired the cottage garden style and Piet Oudolf’s Perennial Meadow at Scampston Walled Garden, which bears all the hallmarks of the new perennial movement, he has made famous throughout the world.

The reader is now prepared to follow Greg’s advice on planting what he calls a Gardener’s Garden. He covers both small spaces and planting in containers and there are several garden visits to inspire the reader, illustrating a variety of approaches.

Growing and looking after the garden season by season is covered and Greg has also added an A to Z of 50 essential plants.

The book is lavishly illustrated by Neil Hepworth and there is a comprehensive index. Greg’s writing style and advice is down-to-earth and enthusiastic and he has certainly inspired me to take my experiments with cottage garden favourites and new perennials to new heights being less afraid to ‘mix’ styles and allowing me more choice from the wide variety of plants we have to choose from.

Greg Loades is editor of The Alpine Gardener and writes frequently about gardens and gardening for magazines such as Kew and Garden News.

The Modern Cottage Garden – A Fresh Approach to a Classic Style‘ by Greg Loades is in hardback, published by Timber Press at £18.99.