English Cottage Gardening for American Gardeners
by Margaret Hensel,1992

Loving the style of English Cottage gardening with its wonderful examples in jolly old England, I picked up this book with eagerness, heightened by the fact that Tasha Tudor wrote the foreword. (If one is unfamiliar with her “Corgi Cottage” garden, it is a delightful example of cottage gardening that truly pictures what is possible for that sort of landscape… with all the old fashioned lifestyle that Tasha Tudor is also famous for, in life and art.)

I think that the “for American Gardeners” part of the title is a misnomer, unless it refers only to the zones that mimic English climate such as the Northern coastal regions of the West Coast and the lower New England and Mid Atlantic states on the East Coast.

A good half of the book showcases gardens situated in England, which is good for educational purposes in style, but holds drawbacks for the American gardener.

Some Drawbacks For American Gardens
  • We have a lack of ancient stone walls and enclosures here- which give these gardens so much of their charm
  • CLIMATE, need I say more?
  • The rustic architecture of quaint thatched¬†homes is rare in America, and this is no small matter in the success of the beautiful melding of home and garden in Cottage gardening of England

That is not to say we can’t have our own interpretation, but the book doesn’t provide much guidance in making that interpretation.

One big plus in this book is the inclusion of Tasha Tudor’s ‘Corgi Cottage’. It really is the main feature for an American gardener.

The lush photographs with drawn landscape examples are instructive.
There is a small, but nice, compendium of plants listed at the end with light/soil/zones, size/habit/bloomtime/color information included for each plant; along with short culture notes and design ideas.


My opinion:
Inspirational, but less helpful in the category of American garden how-to. If you are a new gardener, this is mostly a beautiful coffee table tome, if you are experienced with gardening in your area and climate you can probably make the necessary substitutions of plants and effects to fit your garden. Buy the book for the beauty of it and the Cottage garden examples, but not for nuts and bolts gardening technique.

For more interest on this topic
Make a quaint cottage garden