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Pure Style in the Garden – Book Review

Create your own stylish sanctuary in the garden, inspired by the gardening year of former House & Garden decorating editor Jane Cumberbatch. Reviewer Sonya Patel Ellis is a writer, editor and artist.

Pure Style in the Garden: Creating an Outdoor Haven
by Jane Cumberbatch
Pimpernel Press, £20
ISBN 978-1910258064


Pure Style in the Garden takes Jane Cumberbatch’s signature ‘pure style’ philosophy – making the most out of the simple and beautiful pleasures in life and in the home – and takes it down the garden path of her beautiful Victorian home in south London.

The rich tapestry of garden journaling, horticultural advice, nature-inspired recipes and home-styling tips, illustrated with photographs and Jane’s own paintings, mirrors the parterre-and- potager-inspired layout of the space and the planting within. The book takes the reader on a seasonal journey through the gardening year from January to December, but the end game is anything but prescriptive. Instead, it gives nature a backdrop of order in which to ramble and unwind, just enough of an experienced edit to keep things from going completely wild.

Although not written during lockdown, the author’s nature notes on anything from emerging spring shoots and the wabi-sabi decay of autumn to inspiring book suggestions (Outlines of a Small Garden by CH Middleton, 1945) and al-fresco dining ideas (a fresh salad of cauliflower, pomegranate and pistachio) will strike a chord with those of us who turned to gardening, journaling, art or cooking as therapy during uncertain times. It’s also brimming with the kind of seasoned wisdom that knows how to deliver a succession of spring and summer blooms: narcissi under the tree; tulips and alliums in the borders; dahlias and agapanthus in pots.

As furniture and cushions make their way into the garden, so nature finds its way into the author’s pared- down, vintage-filled home via Constance Spry-style arrangements of blooms, herbs and edibles, or the poetic leaning of a dried cardoon against a white wall. A rose-laden blueprint for anyone wanting to develop and record their own outdoor haven of pure style.