Book Smart

Condé Nast House & Garden‘s contributing gardens editor Franchesca Watson shares her favourite titles about garden design and indigenous plants.

About design

The Cultivated Wild (Above) by Raymond Jungles (Monacelli Press, 2015)

One of the characters of the garden design world, Raymond Jungles’s work in his hometown of Miami and elsewhere is about vigorous design and virtuoso plants, using a mostly subtropical palette. The effect is lush, vivid and unafraid — exciting and stimulating to behold. I particularly enjoyed the conceptual sketches, which depict the ideas behind and development of the gardens.

BAWA: The Sri Lanka Gardens by David Robson (Thames & Hudson, 2017)

In Bawa, you’ll find a visual feast of the two Sri Lankan gardens cultivated by Geoffrey and Bevis Bawa. Bevis created his garden on a rubber plantation called Brief Estate and it became one of the most influential small gardens in Asia. At his own estate, Lunuganga, Geoffrey became so fascinated with architecture that he retrained and became one of the most well-known Asian architects of his day. The gardens both survive and are open to the public.

The Art of Making Gardens by Luciano Giubbilei (Merrell, 2016)

This is not a book about Luciano Giubbilei’s garden design signature, but rather a personal story of his work with flowering plants. It charts his progress from Italian formal green architecture, to the flowery borders of his adopted England. His mentors Fergus Garrett, head gardener of Great Dixter, and fashion designer Sir Paul Smith, wrote the foreword, while other specialists that Luciano has collaborated with over the years also feature. The book provides loads of moody photos, and a glimpse into the process of a designer now in his mature creative phase.

About plants

The Amaryllidaceae of Southern Africa by Duncan, Jeppe, Voigt (Umdaus Press, 2016)

A beautiful investment for plant lovers, and the latest in a long list by botanist Graham Duncan, this book combines extensive botanical information with photos and artwork. The illustrations are by Barbara Jeppe, whose lifelong ambition was to paint all known South African Amaryllidaceae, and her daughter Leigh Voigt completed the catalogue of paintings after her mother’s death in 1999.

Field Guide To Succulents In Southern Africa by Smith, Crouch, Figueiredo (Struik, 2017)

If you want to create planted beauty, knowing more about the vast range of succulents of our region makes sense. I found this book very inspiring — the information is broad and accessible, and the photos generally show the whole plant, giving clues about the habitat, along with a close-up of the flower.

Indigenous Plant Palettes by Marijke Honig (Quivertree, 2014)

This beautifully designed book manages to combine a catalogue of South African plants with helpful pointers about good planting design and lists of specimens for various situations.