The Thoughtful Gardener

Making a leap of faith and trusting to your instincts is not always easy when you are settled in a profession, however, that is exactly what designer Jenny Blom did.

In The Thoughtful Gardener – an intelligent approach to garden design – she confesses that her anagnorisis moment came 20 years ago during a trip to Spain.

This delightful and beautifully produced book takes the reader on a journey alongside Jinny as she charts her progression from apprentice to journeyman to master craftsman. As Paula Deitz, Editor of the Hudson Review points out in the introduction, reading this book makes one feel personally included in “a long conversation with the writer.” That is exactly how I felt as I became absorbed in Jinny’s story, and in her insight into the creative process of the many gardens she has designed around the world.

The great-granddaughter of an impressionist painter, Jinny had a liberal arts education in the UK. She trained as a psychologist working for many years in mental health, in a job she admits she loved. However, that trip to Spain’s Pecos Mountains stirred in her deeper feelings and led to her making the life changing decision to change direction.

©Andrew Montgomery

The Thoughtful Gardener is a beautiful coffee table book with luscious illustrations and colour plates. All the gardens featured have been designed by Jinny and I particularly liked the ‘standout’ phrases peppered throughout the text illustrating a pertinent point or thought. A prolific designer, Jinny embraces a wide variety of planting styles in the book, from formal walled gardens to contemporary installations, defining her work with an ability to create a space that responds to the history of the site and the wider landscape.

The chapters awaken our senses by Seeing; Understanding; Structuring; Harmonising; Rooting and Liberating. She sets out by explaining that we should trust our instincts and then gain an understanding and respect for what is already there and what you unearth. Rooting is a wide chapter covering soil, trees, shrubs, climbing plants and rose gardens as well as plant groupings, bulbs and meadows and hedges.

In the concluding chapter – Liberating – Jinny takes us through the art of gardening and why, when it’s all over, it can begin! At the end of each chapter there is a case study and these are not only instructive but thoughtful in their own way.

© Charlie Hopkinson

In this book she generously shares with the reader the many techniques that we should be using to read the land, pointing out: “The number of notes that exist for us to write our tunes with are pretty much set – the rest is in the hand of the composer.”

Jinny explains that by using a carefully selected palette of ingredients for a garden, it is possible to make something that harmonises perfectly with its position. The book is full of inspiring and beautiful landscapes and the gardens within them so no matter how you garden or where, there will be something here for you to be ‘thoughtful’ about with regard to your own plot.

If you love good writing then The Thoughtful Gardener is for you. The photography is superb and includes plates by several garden photographers at the top of their profession including Allan Pollok-Morris, Charlie Hopkinson, Andrew Lawson and Andrew Montgomery. The cover is by Marianne Majerus.

The author has been a columnist for The Times and contributes regularly to radio and television worldwide. She has designed four award-winning gardens for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show achieving a coveted gold medal in 2007.

Reflecting Jinny’s highly individual character, The Thoughtful Gardener, features plenty of wit and quirk alongside expert knowledge and will appeal to a wide audience of garden lovers.

The Thoughtful Gardener is published by Jacqui Small (as an imprint of The Quarto Group) and is in hardback coffee table size priced at £35 (UK), 50$ (US) and $65 (Canada).Published March 2017.

Review copy received from Jacqui Small Publishers