Cottage gardens are popular in North America for their abundant informality, but British gardener Christopher Lloyd reminds us that a working cottage garden isn't all hollyhocks and lamb's ears. In its Old World origins, it served many purposes: as vegetable patch, cutting garden, and a place to sit in the cool of the evening. "It has evolved through common sense, combines need with enjoyment and is entirely unpretentious." The Cottage Garden, by Lloyd and photographer Richard Bird, is an homage to this centuries-old style that allows a multitude of plants to flourish in a small space, with a minimum, if crucial, amount of control exerted by the gardener.
Lloyd's introduction is a brisk examination of the cottage garden tradition, after which he describes a large number of cottage garden plants. Happily for North American gardeners, these include plants that are commonly found outside of Great Britain as well as those that have been in the English cottage garden for centuries. A chapter on cottage garden features addresses hedges, waterways and ponds, garden furnishings, and outbuildings. The book's final two chapters are "Planning the Cottage Garden," with several different layouts emphasizing different types of plants, and "The Working Cottage Garden," which offers details for tending the garden through the seasons and using its produce. Some of these seem rather deliberately quaint, such as the recipes for parsnip wine, mead, and pickled eggs. But overall, Richard Bird's serenely intimate photography and Lloyd's affable, opinionated erudition make The Cottage Garden a book to linger over. It's a pleasant addition to the lush DK Living series, which includes other notable gardening titles, such as Anna Pavord's The New Kitchen Garden and Pippa Greenwood's The New Gardener. --Barrie Trinkle [via]