Forest of Dean. Beech trees & holly in new leaf



Little point in looking at gardening books on foliage; they all (as far as I know) regard coloured and variegated leaves as esssential, obligatory even.  Christopher Lloyd's "Foliage Plants" ("this classic book" according to the cover) features two different species with variegated leaves on the front cover which leaves the reader in  no doubt where Lloyds' interests lay. To reinforce the point, inside the book,over half the illustrations are of coloured leaf plants.

My selection of books has sought to provide information and inspiration from three subject groups: the plants themselves, photos of gardens which use green leaves prominentlly and books by designers who write insightfully about foliage (among other things).

Some of the books listed may be out of print: I have included them because it is now surprisingly easy to get out of print books via theinternet.  Looking at books is no substititute for visiting and immersing yourself looking in the real thing.  Nevertheless much can be learned from books by careful reading and detailed study of the illustrations.

Garden visiting is a very chancy business compared to experiencing other art forms.  Even live performances of music or drama, subject as they are to so many unforseen events, still don't have to cope with weather  and seasons.  So many things can conciously or unconciously influence your percerption of a garden.  Some are obvious: time of year, time of day, the weather, (no garden, however great, can entrance the visitor when there is a cold wind, a grey sky and no rain. These restless, shadowless, dusty days banish all magic from the garden.) quality of the light, substandard garden maintainance, garden too crowded and noisy, ugly plant labels, no plant labels (when you want them!). Others, less obvious and perhaps more subconcious but still significant: worries about love, health and money, the wrong companion, no companion, unsuitable shoes, a headache etc etc etc The list is endless. So garden visiting  really is chancy and gardening is a fugitive art.  There are, however, days when you can briefly glimpse  greatness: and these moments will be with you for the rest of your life.


 Book Lists





S.Hogan: Trees for All Seasons: Timber Press 2008

H.Johnson: World of Trees: Univ of California Press. Revised 2010 

M.King & P.Oudolf: Gardening with Grasses: Frances Lincolm. 1998

R.Phillips & M.Rix: Shrubs: Pan. 1989

R.Phillips & M.Rix: Perennials 2 Vols Pan 1991

M.Rickard: Gardening with Ferns: David and Charles

M. Rix & R. Phillips: The Bulb Book. Pan 1981


The Philips and Rix books all have terse texts but excellent clear photos which cover an exceptionally wide range of plants and many photos of garden plants growing wild in their countries of origin are a delight and an inspiration.

There is a good book on herbaceous perennials (Graham Stuart Thomas; Perennial Garden Plants 1976) but it is now out of date and is poorly illustrated.





H.Attlee: The Gardens of Japan. Frances Lincoln. 2010

U.Buchan: The English Garden. Frances Li:ncoln. 2006

M.Don: Great Gardens of Italy. Quadrille 2011

C.von Hantelmann; Gardens of Delight: the Great Islamic Gardens. Dumont 2001

Teiji Itoh: The Gardens of Japan. Kodansha 1984

M.Keswick: The Chinese Garden. Frances Lincoln. 2003

D.Robson & D.Sansoni: Bawa: The Sri Lanka Gardens. Thames & Hudson 2008

V.Russell: Gardens of the Riviera. Little Brown. 1993

Les Jardins de Jacques Wirtz:Fondation pour L'Architecture a Bruxells 1998






C Bradley-Hole.  The Minimalist Garden.  Mitchell Beazley 1999

G.Cooper & G Taylor: Mirrors of Paradise:The Gardens of Fernando Caruncho: Monacelli Press 2000

H.Dillon: On Gardening 2010

D Hicks:  Garden Design.  Routledge 1982

R Page:  Education of a Gardener 1962

D Pearson:  Garden Inspiration.  Fuel 2009




Copyright 2010-2011 Graham Cousins

He hangs in shades the orange bright

Like golden lamps in a green night


Andrew Marvell (1621 - 1678)  Bermudas