Jane Cumberbatch: Show & Tell Garden Tour

Shari Altman

Jane Cumberbatch
Photo copyright Grace Brown.
We're heading to London today for a tour of Jane Cumberbatch's garden. Jane's style book, Pure Style Living, and her PureBlog are some of my very favorite inspirations, so I'm thrilled to feature her garden in our Show & Tell Garden Tour series.

The garden is shooting skywards after a really tough winter. In the foreground, there is freshly picked rainbow chard from my little vegetable patch. It keeps going all year round! I like to steam it with garlic, lemon and butter.
Tell us a little about your family and your garden.  

I have three children -- Tom, 21, Georgie, 18, and Gracie, 16;  husband Alastair; Rosie, the springer/lab; and Bea, the black and white moggy. We live in southwest London -- in a late Victorian house.

I designed the garden seven years ago when we moved in. At the time, the garden was completely neglected and a mass of brambles and overgrown beds. We laid out 16 small beds to make a parterre, and I found salvaged red bricks to make a patio. We also recycled the Victorian ceramic edgings that had been running along borders that went the length of the garden. I painted the shed, using garden green colours from The Little Greene Paint Company.

Jane, 1958
Did you grow up with a garden?

Yes. I grew up not far from here, in another suburban garden, where my mum would grow raspberries and courgettes and herbs, amongst the roses and lavender.

One of my favorite alliums ‘Christofle’ -- they’re like purple stars of the plant world.
What are some easy ways to include children in the day-to-day aspects of keeping a garden?

When my children were younger, I would get them to cut roses for the table or a bunch of lavender to take to their grandparents. When the tomatoes and beans were ready, I'd give them a trug and tell them to go and pick -- always guaranteed to elicit a positive response, as was having a race with the wheelbarrow.

I have made a simple parterre of beds that are fringed by salvaged Victorian cobbles and filled with rosemary, lavender tulips in spring, and blousey roses from four standards in summer.
Tell us about a DIY garden project you have taken on recently and love.

I have been filling part of the vegetable patch with thin sticks of willow against which I will grow this year’s sweet peas. I like the way the natural sticks make a simple framework for the winding and curling sweet pea stems.

An old wooden bench under the apple tree is lovely and shady on hot days. Metal garden arches are covered with scented sweet peas in summer. We eat on the brick patio around a simple table from IKEA. The 1970s chairs are from my parents' garden shed.What's on your must-grow list this year?

I must grow more foxgloves because they remind me of country hedgerows.

Gertrude Jekyll -- the first scented roses of summer. I love the voluptuous petals and the lemony rose scent. I remember to deadhead the roses to keep them flowering all summer, even into winter!
What garden blogs, websites, and books inspire you the most?

I love Crocus.co.uk for bulbs; classic garden writing includes anything by Vita Sackville-West, Gertrude Jekyll, and Rosemary Verey (she writes so well about parterre gardens). Joy Larkcom is brilliant on growing salads for gardens. I also love David Hicks' (the Seventies interior decorator) book on garden design.

Tulips, willow wigwams for my beans, and the little shed painted in a pale blue/green in the background.
Why do you garden?

It give me peace and a great sense of satisfaction to be out there in the elements and to grow beautiful things.

All photos copyright Jane Cumberbatch.

Style guru Jane Cumberbatch is a pioneer of the new simple and natural approach to interior decoration. Her uniquely stylish and influential look has been used to sell many home furnishing brands including Habitat, Marks and Spencer and Laura Ashley. A former decorating editor of House & Garden magazine, Jane has worked as a journalist and style director on leading publications including Elle Decoration.

With her vision of a simpler life, Jane has written the best selling books
Pure Style, Pure Style Outside, Pure Style Living, Home Sweet Home, and her latest title, Decorating Easy. Her own homes in London and Spain have been featured in various interiors publications in England, Europe and the US. Jane is currently developing a Pure Style range of simple products for the home and undertakes interior design commissions for private clients. She also has a popular website Pure Style Online and a blog.

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