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Jo Thompson: The Gardener’s Palette

Garden designer Jo Thompson launches her new book 'The Gardener's Palette' in conversation with Rachel De Thame.

Colour can set a mood at a glance. We want colour in the garden, but each gardener’s preferred palette is unique. How do you choose the right one for your garden, and how do you find the plants that will help you fulfil your vision?

People have been wrestling with colour for a long time: how to define it in words, how to capture it in form, how to harness it in thought, how to apply it in our world. Is it subjective, is it objective? How can we see it as a whole when—although it may seem material and our experience of it physical—it is in fact simply sensory and cultural, according to our lived experience?

The Gardener’s Palette, published in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society, shares an entirely new way for home gardeners to confidently incorporate colour at home. Working with the RHS colour charts and using them almost as paint swatches, Jo Thompson offers 100 evocative and fresh palettes, pairs them with images of her own and other designers’ work, and breaks them down with charts showing the exact plants used.

  • Jo Thompson

    Jo Thompson

    Her designs are wide ranging: from residential family gardens, historic landscapes, public spaces and country estates to restaurant roof gardens, rooftop terraces and urban boltholes. The gardens are notable for the way in which they sit beautifully within their surroundings: rather than following fashions, Jo uses her innate understanding of a place to ensure that the landscapes she creates both work seamlessly within their locations and perfectly for her clients. Her exquisite planting has led her to be considered one of the UK’s leading plantswomen. Current projects include working with Iford Manor in Wiltshire, the restoration of Highgate Cemetery in London with Gustafson Porter + Bowman, and the regeneration of the walled gardens at Water Lane in Kent.

    Jo is the recipient of four Gold and five Silver Gilt medals from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and gained the coveted People’s Choice at the first RHS Chatsworth Flower Show in 2017. She is a member of the RHS Gardens Committee and is Garden Advisor for RHS Rosemoor, as well as being a member of the RHS Show Gardens Selection Panel and an RHS Shows Judge. Jo speaks both nationally and internationally, and also tutors at The London College of Garden Design. She is a Fellow of the Landscape Institute and a Registered Member of the Society of Garden Designers. She is a Trustee of Bankside Open Spaces Trust.

    The Gardener’s Palette is Jo’s second book; her first, Rhubarb Rhubarb, was published in 2020 and was written with Mary Jane Paterson

Image: Rachel Warne