Is this the book everyone wants? Small gardens?
Anne Wareham, editor.
New Small Garden reviewed by Susan Wright
New Small Garden is Noel Kingsbury’s latest book. It’s a comprehensive guide to the “principles, planting and practice” of small gardens, a statement accurately reflected in the content. Though the gardens featured don’t look what you may think of as ‘contemporary’.
Its 200 pages are full of advice and information about setting out small gardens and are as well written and researched as one would expect from Noel Kingsbury. The tone is a touch dry and text booky at times, though leavened by welcome touches of humour here and there.
It is also absolutely full of photographs, some too small to enhance the text much, but most are fine. To my surprise and mild irritation, the majority seem to be of Dutch or Belgian gardens (the photographer is Dutch) and so have very recognisably European look. Will that, I wonder, sit well with the post-Brexit reader?
By far the most interesting chapter was the one on layering with plants. Ideal for novices or the many who look at their gardens wondering why they don’t quite work, this excellent chapter about the strong graphic effect of layering might well help.
As one would expect given the author, the book has a strong ecological message and favours naturalistic planting with bird, bee and insect friendly plants. The hand of the garden designer, where there is one, is very subtle. The illustrated gardens are sturdy and densely planted in the main.
Do not consult it if you want to create a formal garden or a clean, modern look within your small space, for none is included. But for other all purposes, including container, small fruit and vegetable gardens, this would be an excellent choice for a novice looking for solid, basic and fairly priced (at £20 new) book. Experienced gardeners need not apply.