I grew up in the 1950s, and that I recall our garden as being typical of this period: composed of a fundamental lawn surrounded by borders and a vegetable patch with fruit trees at the back — a result of this U.K.’s”Dig for Victory” campaign of the war years. This was how gardens had been laid out in British suburban gardens since the 1930s, but in the swinging’60s the design was about to change.
As a horticultural student in the late’60s, I had a defining moment when my eyes were opened to the actual possibilities of small-garden layout; this was when I read Space Outdoor , a now-classic publication by British garden designer John Brookes.
It was the first aspirational guide to garden design for the’60s homeowner who wanted to design, construct and plant his or her own garden. Brookes shifted my thinking on garden design by designing gardens for people and how they use them, rather than just as places to grow plants in. He taught me to take account of just how much time the operator will spend in the garden and the ages of these utilizing the garden.
Brookes really opened my eyes as well as the eyes of many other young horticulturalists and garden designers — to his view that the garden was basically a location for use by people, not just a static picture.
In the’50s and’60s, gardening hadn’t kept pace with all the influence of design in other lifestyle areas, likely because it was still mainly seen as an old person’s hobby. Almost in a moment, however, Brooke’s alternative thoughts really did change how we thought of our garden spaces and how we could design and use them.
Space Outdoor became my bible, influencing not only how I seemed at garden layout, but also how I physically drew my aims, imitating his fluid draftsmanship with ink on tracing paper in days before CAD.
Helét van Blerk
One of the major modifications in thought — as a horticultural student, I discovered this hard to swallow at first — was that garden plants were merely one of the features of a garden, not necessarily the stars of it.
“We have allowed ourselves to be conned into thinking that the garden is only a set-piece for showing off plants, to be admired for perhaps two or three months of the summer, and not looked at through winter,” Brookes wrote. He considered that though plants are an essential bit of the garden layout, the principal factor in any garden layout should be how folks are going to use the garden.
It is apparent in comparing the prior picture to this one just how distinct the usage of plants becomes when the designer uses Brookes’ ideas.
In my early years of functioning in garden layout, after leaving school in the early’70s, I can remember using a very restricted selection of plants in my Brookes-style garden designs, such as mainly ground covers, including Hypericum calycinum and Brachyglottis greyi, and smaller conifers such as Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Boulevard’ and Thuja occidentalis ‘Rheingold’. All these were planted in blocks or groups instead of being in a traditional mixed border.
Costello Kennedy Landscape Architecture
This style of garden layout is commonplace today, together with the use of this garden area clearly defined, so it isn’t easy to comprehend just what a revolution John Brookes started in Britain together with the publication of the first publication.
Brookes took a number of his new thoughts from the new architecture and gardens in the USA and Scandinavia, which might have been formulated under different conditions but still presented the same conclusions that he came into. It wasn’t just outside influence that explained his views on design, but also the radical shift in our manner of life when compared with prewar days.
Boxleaf Design, Inc..
Reading Room Outside today, with 21st-century eyes, I believe it is simple to observe how our lifestyle has changed, particularly about work. Brookes watched a very traditional middle-class family as an ordinary family, together with the husband working and the spouse carrying out housewifely duties. Some of these duties, such as sewing, shelling peas and ironing, he felt could be completed in the newly created style of garden.
However he joined this lifestyle to his layout ideas by suggesting that the amount of time the householder can spare for garden maintenance was vital to the original layout. Grassing on a big region of the garden might initially look labor saving, yet over a long period it involves a lot of mowing and general upkeep.
Christopher Yates Landscape Architecture
Space Outdoor was designed to be a complete DIY handbook not only for horticultural students, but also for those who desired to design and build a garden in a modern style.
Brookes outlined simple geometric layout techniques to balance the garden with the home, creating patterns which could tie together all of the functions of the garden; the consequent designs echoed Mondrian paintings.
Carson Arthur Design
In Space Outdoor Brookes also showed us that distinct age groups need different features inside the garden, which this should be considered in the plan. It is no good to expect kids to play football on grass surrounded by their parents’ prize herbaceous border.
This little garden follows his precepts flawlessly by allocating space for every purpose: There is an area for kids of different ages and also space for dining and relaxing. With the layout contemplating kids to begin with, any abandoned toys will not disrupt the whole layout.
blackLAB architects inc..
In the early years of my profession I designed many small gardens, many based on the concepts that I’d discovered in this publication by Brookes that I had read as a student. This one book changed the way I looked at garden layout, and that I can still see the same thoughts that excited me more than 40 years back.
Brookes neatly picked up his thoughts in this one sentence:”Design afterward isn’t the acquisition and placing of ornaments and plants, or perhaps drawing of plans or rather patterns, but the logical reasoning from what you and your loved ones want from an area, to provide for yourselves a purpose built uncovered extension to your house, which you are able, take care of and appreciate.”
More: Layout Icons: Thomas Dolliver Church