50s and 60s

Revisiting garden design from the 50s and 60s

By Paul Hervey-Brookes, April 29

Go old school and be inspired by the 50s and 60s in your garden

Chicken in coop

Ration books, austerity and the Festival of Britain. The 1950s started off with Britain still adjusting to life after the war.  Clothes were recycled, we had utility furniture, I Love Lucy was on the television, Pat Boone crooned and Chubby Checker rocked and rolled.

In the garden, dads grew the vegetables and mums grew the flowers.  Older type houses usually had large back gardens and these were turned over to the ‘grow your own’ and also to the henhouse and the keeping of chickens.  These usually came from the rag and bone man when he did his rounds.

The mainstay in the veg garden were potatoes, onions, carrots and peas. As trendy as it is now, most people ate a much more healthy diet in the 1950s - simply because fast food had yet to arrive!

Nowadays, heritage seeds that have stood the test of time can be purchased. These include Snowball turnips, Musselburgh leeks and Telegraph cucumbers.  Over the past few years, heritage and heirloom veg varieties have become really popular - not only because of their taste, but because of the great stories which brought them into being - such as the American tomato variety: Mortgage Lifter!

Favourites in the flower garden included Golden Rod, carnations and Michaelmas daisies. Stepping stones similar to the Bradstone Random stepping stone range were used to create paths, winding through the garden and giving a cosy, informal feel that we still love to this day.

In the 1960s, interestingly, whilst both Marilyn Monroe and John F Kennedy died, Her Majesty the Queen invited Sir Eric Savill to re-landscape the Woodland walk and Bog garden at Sandringham House. 

Rockery stones and flowers

The 1960s were also defined by the informal garden design. The severe winter brought conifers and evergreens to our gardens alongside rockeries and heather beds!  Ornamental gardening slowly began to emerge. 

Large stones were usually found at the site of demolished war-damaged housing and people even used large chunks of concrete. Today, rockery stones add that all-important finishing touch and come in a variety of colours.  Also reclaimed from bomb damaged buildings were large slabs that were recycled into crazy paving.So get the swinging look by adding bold colours, sweeps of evergreens and stylish rustic paving!


Paul has his own highly successful landscape design business, and has also designed a range of gardening gifts for Marks and Spencers.

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