Gardens Illustrated
Thoughtful gardener

Book review: The Thoughtful Gardener

Published: April 5, 2017 at 9:32 am

A book review of The Thoughtful Gardener by garden designer Jinny Blom

The Thoughtful Gardener: An intelligent approach to garden design
by Jinny Blom

Front cover of the book 'The Thoughtful Gardener' by Jinny Blom
A detailed and richly illustrated account of how one of the UK’s leading practitioners approaches the art of garden design
Reviewer, garden writer and an editor Annie Gatti

In her introduction to this sumptuously illustrated book, designer Jinny Blom sets out her intention to chart her progression from ‘apprentice to journeyman to master craftsman’. Although she has always made a garden wherever she’s lived, at 36 she took the bold step of quitting her job as a psychologist to become a designer. The apprentice section is short – she confronts her fear of making mistakes by mocking up her designs with canes and string to test out levels, wall heights and distances.


Successive chapters give us a sense of what it must be like to employ Jinny, who has designed hundreds of gardens. First, your site will be exhaustively researched so that any links to its geographical or historical setting can be incorporated; you will be given hand-drawn sketches and mock-ups to help you visualise the new plan; and the planting will be chosen with consummate attention to its habit and horticultural requirements, and will most likely include trees, hedges, topiary, roses and gorgeous perennial combinations.

The scale of many of the featured gardens could be off putting for the rookie designer or garden owner – Buxus sempervirens ‘Rotundifolia’ arrives by the lorryload, lakes are five miles long. But intimacy is central to Jinny’s designs and many of the images reveal serene spaces that could work equally well in small gardens.


In the Cotswold garden at Temple Guiting, for example, it’s fascinating to see how she achieves billowing successive planting in a border that’s just one metre wide. The combination of sketches, plans and photographs further elucidate the text. Jinny reveals that when she returns to gardens she has designed, it’s the maturing structure she really loves. Read the book, and you will too.

Jacqui Small, £35 ISBN 978-1910254592

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