John sketching on site in New York State.

“Before setting pencil to paper … I like to discover as much about the owners of the site as possible: their likes and dislikes, what they intend the garden for – a place for the dogs, for entertaining in, or just to look at.  I also like to see the inside of their house, to get some idea of their taste: whether elegant, sophisticated, or just plain pretty.

With this information in mind, I look at the site, its neighbours, and its views… It seems to me to be important at this stage to think of looking at the garden from inside the house and to try to integrate the design and colours into the garden design.  A view from a window can be compelling even in the finest interior, which I see as the frame to the site….”

John Brookes MBE
1963, House and Garden


John Brookes MBE designed thousands of gardens over his nearly 60-year career including  small urban courtyards, suburban gardens, large country estates and various public commissions.  Dubbed “the man who made the modern garden”, John dramatically changed British garden design, making designed gardens accessible to people of all income brackets and demonstrating that gardens can and should be integrated as outdoor living spaces with the houses they surround.  Above all, gardens should serve the desires and lifestyles of those who use them.

There is no such thing as a “John Brookes” garden because each garden he designed, whether in Britain or abroad, was uniquely tailored to site and client.  The speed at which he worked was amazing.  He was able to very quickly link architecture, garden, and the landscape  and produce a unique design to the client’s style and preferences.  In this exhibition we present four gardens on four continents that John designed to demonstrate how he connected each to its setting.