Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Planting Design: Gardens in Time and Space by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury

About time for someone to take perennials so seriously they write a manifesto.

I've read all the books by Oudolf, Kingsbury (and occasionally others in changing combination with one or the other). I have to fess up to ordering this book several months before it was published by Timber Press (bless Timber Press for their wonderful selections). I'm a fan of these guys.

At first I found this book off-putting, distubing. It seemed to be trying too hard to make a point - or several points. Now that I've read it three times, I realize it simply contains so much information it's almost bursting out of its covers. Gardening is getting political. If you remember an article by Michael Pollan in the New York Times magazine several years ago, in which he ripped such authors as Ken Druse for promoting "natural gardening," a term which he and others have claimed as virtually meaningless, you know how political it can get.

If Planting the Natural Garden was poetry, this book is, indeed, a manifesto, but it is much more. Its focus is herbaceous perennials, and the art of designing with plants to make gardens, as opposed to landscape architecture, which is usually practiced with minimal use of plants and minimal knowledge of how they grow.

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