Decor and Design

8 Gardening Books To Inspire Your Garden Makeover

Page through a few inspirational garden titles before you get your fingers dirty

Phaidon, Gardener's Garden
Morocco's famous Jardin Majorelle features in Phaidon's inspiring The Gardener's Garden book


There are few things as refreshing as getting your hands in the soil, but with so many decisions to make before actually getting your hands dirty - the prospect may seem a long way away. That's why House and Leisure  journalist, Garreth van Niekerk, has put together a selection of some of the loveliest and most inspiring gardening books on your behalf to get your 2020 garden makeover heading in the right direction.

ALSO READ: 5 books to help you incorporate plants into your space


House and Leisure's Eight Gardening Books To Inspire Your 2020 Garden Makeover


For Advice: Gardening with Keith Kirsten (New Edition)

Keith Kirsten, Norval Foundation, Gardening With Keith Kirsten, Penguin Randomhouse
Keith Kirsten's list of impressive garden projects over the years include spectacular spaces like the Sculpture Garden of Cape Town's Norval Foundation
Gardening With Keith Kirsten (New Edition)
By Keith Kirsten
Penguin Randomhouse

There's a reason that those in the know call Gardening With Keith Kirsten  'the bible' and since it has been updated, for the fourth time now, to include a whole lot more indigenous plants, and ways to maximise water saving in this new era of garden design, it is ever-more valuable to any level of gardener or plant enthusiast. The book is written in Keith's famously calming, and cool tone, so it's approachable and really makes the task ahead quite simple - even if it isn't really. 


For Perspective: The Story of Gardening

Piet Oudolf, Hummelo, Story of Gardening
One of contemporary landscape designer Piet Oudolf's gardens forms part of the greater history of gardening told in The Story of Gardening
The Story of Gardening: A cultural history of famous gardens from around the world
By Penelope Hobhouse
Pavilion Books

Penelope Hobhouse is a garden history buff, so it's no wonder that her incredibly lush volume exploring the history of garden design as we know it would be as useful as it is. The book goes back all the way to the first gardens of ancient Egypt, explores important periods like the Picturesque, dishes on fascinating historical factoids like why a plant is named what it is, and then finally concludes with some super inspirational analysis that contextualises brilliantly the work of modern landscapers like Piet Oudolf and his ilk. 

ALSO READ: Book Review: The Story of Gardening


For Inspiration: The Gardens of Eden

The Gardens of Eden, Gestalten, Abbye Churchill
The Gardens of Eden: New residential garden concepts & architecture for a greener planet
By Abbye Churchill

Gestalten's The Gardens of Eden takes you on a whirlwind tour of 20 relatively small projects around the world that each considers a different way that living with nature can help our growing need for a sustainable life. The book makes big work of the plans that each garden made use of — an invaluable set of drawings for any budding landscaper, project designer or those just keen on making their own spaces look more marvellous. It will inspire you to make the most of even the smallest patch, and it's endless possibilities. 


For Critique: Civilising Grass

David Goldblatt, Civilising Grass, Jono Cane
Saturday Afternoon in Sunward Park, Boksburg, April 1979 by David Goldblatt - one of the art images discussed in the book by Jonathan Cane
Civilising Grass: The art of the lawn on the South African Highveld
By: Jonathan Cane
Wits University Press

The use of lawn grass in our gardens has almost become as simple to think about as the use of soil itself but, as South African author and academic Jonathan Cane points out in his new book, there is a deep layer of history hiding beneath our lawns that could do with a bit of critical reflection by those pursuing their own gardening projects. Cane looks back at how the lawn arrived in Africa, and how it came to so completely define the way we think about our personal gardens.

Read our full interview with the author here. 


For Reading Pleasure: The Education of A Gardener

Russell page, education of a gardener
The Education of a Gardener
By Russell Page
Penguin Randomhouse

Russell Page is one of the gardening history's most influential figures, and his memoir/ autobiography of how he taught himself the art of gardening is one of those mind-expanding, time-losing, world-changing kind of things. It also happens to be one of the most beautifully written books you might ever get hold of. The Education of a Gardener is a true classic of the gardening book genre, but is often hard to come by in stores as a result, so best to look for a digital version if you can't find a physical copy near you. 


For Relief: The Gardener's Garden

The Gardener's Garden, Pavilion Books
The Gardener's Garden
By Madison Cox, Toby Musgrave, Bill Noble, Lindsey Taylor

Paidon has released an all-new, more world-spanning edition of this elegant and much-beloved volume. There is something in here for every sort of gardener, from 14th-century gardens to the most cutting-edge landscapes you can imagine. Pre-orders are open for this one, so get there quickly. 

ALSO READ: Endemic gardening: a highveld garden gets an environmentally sensitive redesign


For Urban Gardeners: Evergreen

Evergreen, Gestalten

Evergreen: Living With Plants


Balconies, backyards, rooftops, inner-city veggie patches and drool-worthy greenhouses get their moment in the sun in this wonderful collection of projects that are bringing green back into the lives of city-dwellers and suburbanites the world over. It's the sort of book that makes you feel happy about the future of gardening and green spaces in the face of mass industrialisation and expansion of our cities. 


For Your Eye to Travel: The Japanese Garden

Japanese garden, Phaidon

The Japanese Garden
By Sophia Walker


Covering more than eight centuries of Japanese garden design in 100 gardens from across the world, author and garden designer Sophie Walker explores one of the most iconic of the gardening design philosophies. It's a rare insight into the world's most magnificent spaces, and will ease your mind into a state as meditative as the gardens themselves. Truly one for the garden lover!