Penelope Hobhouse's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Penelope Hobhouse recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Penelope Hobhouse's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Garden Design - Sylvia Crowe

A history of design in gardens and a study of the need for these principles to be applied to the contemporary landscape. less
Recommended by Penelope Hobhouse, and 1 others.

Penelope HobhouseFor anyone starting to be a garden designer, this book is about the most useful one you could have. (Source)

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Both an official chronicle and the highly personal memoir of the emperor Babur (1483–1530), The Baburnama presents a vivid and extraordinarily detailed picture of life in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India during the late-fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries. Babur’s honest and intimate chronicle is the first autobiography in Islamic literature, written at a time when there was no historical precedent for a personal narrative—now in a sparkling new translation by Islamic scholar Wheeler Thackston.

This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition includes notes, indices, maps,...
Recommended by Sandy Gall, Penelope Hobhouse, and 2 others.

Sandy GallHe was the first Mughal emperor. He was born north of Afghanistan in the Fergana Valley in today’s Uzbekistan. He spent most of his life fighting. When he was a young and up-and-coming princeling he tried to capture Kabul but failed. He captured Delhi in 1526. He then returned to Afghanistan and captured Kabul. (Source)

Penelope HobhouseHe was a great warrior and commander but also with a wonderful eye for nature and landscape. It’s rare to combine warfare and gardening. (Source)

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The new, compact edition of this classic manual, with over 200,000 in print, adds 150 new plant entries to its encyclopedic 9,000 plants across more than 650 genera. Entries for all 9,000 trees and shrubs include color photos and essential facts such as: A-to-Z listings of each species and genus; descriptions of leaves, flowers, and stems; preferred ways to grow in your garden, greenhouse, or home. Essential for any gardener. less

Arabella Lennox-BoydYes, I use it all the time, alongside other plant catalogues like David Austin’s Roses. I find it very useful from a technical point of view. It tells you quite a lot about the trees and shrubs. First of all it gives you a brief idea of botany, so you know what a pennate leaf is or something like that. It also teaches you where it comes from and who found it. (Source)

Penelope HobhouseThere are so many notes in my first edition that I’ve had to have it rebound. It’s a constant companion. (Source)

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The Education of a Gardener

Russell Page, one of the legendary gardeners and landscapers of the twentieth century, designed gardens great and small for clients throughout the world. His memoirs, born of a lifetime of sketching, designing, and working on site, are a mixture of engaging personal reminiscence, keen critical intelligence, and practical know-how. They are not only essential reading for today’s gardeners, but a master’s compelling reflection on the deep sources and informing principles of his art. 

The Education of a Gardener offers charming, sometimes pointed anecdotes about patrons,...

Arabella Lennox-BoydThis was definitely one of the books that taught me a lot – not only about the relationship of designer with client, but also about the dos and don’ts of garden design. I only really knew him vaguely because he was very, very grand when I first started. He was a kind of guru and one hardly dared speak to him. But I could see that he had a mystical side to him and a real sense of landscape. He had... (Source)

Penelope HobhouseHe had an enormous understanding of how to use space which made him very exceptional. He would see space in terms of volume and he could feel what should be done. (Source)

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The Well-Tempered Garden

Wisdom and advice from a legendary gardener. less
Recommended by Kenneth Cox, Penelope Hobhouse, and 2 others.

Kenneth CoxThe title of his book is slightly ironic, I think because he was rather more interested in making bold and daring statements. (Source)

Penelope HobhouseHe was ahead of a lot of people in doing things – to take just one example, he experimented with wild gardening in grass. (Source)

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