Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses: Sedges, Rushes, Restios, CatTails and Selected Bamboos

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This encyclopedia by a distinguished American horticulturist is the most authoritative and best-illustrated reference ever published on ornamental grasses. Rick Darke has been studying and photographing grasses in gardens and native landscapes around the world for more than 20 years, and this book includes the best 500 photographs from his collection of nearly 15,000. At its heart is the illustrated alphabetical encyclopedia of important ornamental grasses, sedges, rushes, restios, cat-tails, and selected ...
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Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. 1999 Hardcover Fourth Printing Very Good in Very Good jacket 4to. pp. 325, "This encyclopedia by a distinguished American horticulturist is the most ... authoritative and best-illustrated reference ever published on ornamental grasses. Rick Darke has been studying and photographing grasses in gardens and native landscapes around the world for more than 20 years, and this book includes the best 500 photographs from his collection of nearly 15, 000. At its heart is the illustrated alphabetical encyclopedia of important ornamental grasses, sedges, rushes, restios, cat-tails, and selected bamboos, with many plants illustrated in more than one season. Intended for gardeners in a wide range of situations and climates, this book is an invaluable tool for landscape architects, garden designers, nursery professionals, and home gardeners." Read more Show Less

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Overview


This encyclopedia by a distinguished American horticulturist is the most authoritative and best-illustrated reference ever published on ornamental grasses. Rick Darke has been studying and photographing grasses in gardens and native landscapes around the world for more than 20 years, and this book includes the best 500 photographs from his collection of nearly 15,000. At its heart is the illustrated alphabetical encyclopedia of important ornamental grasses, sedges, rushes, restios, cat-tails, and selected bamboos, with many plants illustrated in more than one season. Intended for gardeners in a wide range of situations and climates, this book is an invaluable tool for landscape architects, garden designers, nursery professionals, and home gardeners.
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Editorial Reviews

HGTV.com
"The best book on the subject. Fabulously illustrated, it takes the guesswork out of selecting and caring for these beautiful plants."—Maureen Gilmer, HGTV.com, April 21, 2006
— Maureen Gilmer
Sunset
"As the photos on these pages show, Western designers have found beautiful new ways to integrate grasses into the garden."—Sharon Cohoon, Sunset, July 2000
— Sharon Cohoon
Horticulture
"It is a marvelously inclusive and authoritative reference from start to finish."—Thomas Fischer, Horticulture, May 2000
— Thomas Fischer
HGTV.com - Maureen Gilmer
"The best book on the subject. Fabulously illustrated, it takes the guesswork out of selecting and caring for these beautiful plants."—Maureen Gilmer, HGTV.com, April 21, 2006
Sunset - Sharon Cohoon
"As the photos on these pages show, Western designers have found beautiful new ways to integrate grasses into the garden."—Sharon Cohoon, Sunset, July 2000
Horticulture - Thomas Fischer
"It is a marvelously inclusive and authoritative reference from start to finish."—Thomas Fischer, Horticulture, May 2000
Patricia Jones
Overall, Darke has delivered a tour de force to follow his magnum opus The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses.
Plants and Gardens News
Mark Griffiths
This encyclopedia is undoubtedly the most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated work on ornamental grasses to date.
The Gardens (RHS)
Country Living Gardener
Invaluable to professional landscape designers as well as serious home gardeners.
Library Journal
This well-written title by one of the world's authorities on ornamental grasses provides details on the biology of grasses as well as their use in garden design. The plant profiles section includes data on native habitat, physical features, culture, and cultivars. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780881924640
  • Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Pages: 326
  • Product dimensions: 8.88 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Rick Darke is a landscape design consultant, author, lecturer, and photographer based in Pennsylvania who blends art, ecology, and cultural geography in the creation and conservation of livable landscapes. Darke served on the staff of Longwood Gardens for twenty years, and in 1998 he received the Scientific Award of the American Horticultural Society. His work has been featured in the New York Times and on National Public Radio. Darke has studied North American plants in their habitats for over three decades, and his research and lectures have taken him to Africa, Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Japan, New Zealand, and northern Europe. His books include The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes (2007), The American Woodland Garden (2002), and In Harmony with Nature (2000).

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Read an Excerpt


In the laying out of lawns and artistic gardens, a few of the many beautiful hardy grasses should not be overlooked. Their stateliness, tropic luxuriance and soft colors harmoniously punctuate the prevailing green, while their graceful, sinuous yielding to every wind gives animation to gardened landscapes too apt to look "fixed."

Spring 1909 Catalog
The Storrs and Harrison Company
Painesville, Ohio

The turning of a century inspires both reflection and speculation. Looking back at ornamental grasses and their role in gardens over the past 100 years, it is easy to see that much has changed. Whereas turn-of-the-century gardeners had perhaps a dozen perennial grasses to choose from, today's gardeners have hundreds. Ornamental grasses now embody a huge array of textures, forms, sizes, colors, flowering times, and cultural adaptations. This exhilarating increase in diversity has resulted from the efforts of botanists, breeders, and nurseries in nearly all parts of the globe and seems certain to continue. The unprecedented popularity grasses now enjoy can be attributed partly to this development; however, there are other factors fueling the current enthusiasm that are sure to influence the place grasses will hold in tomorrow's gardens.
Left Image: The vivid blue foliage of blue wheatgrass,
Elymus magellanicus

, provides sharp colorcontrast with the flowers of
Stachys stricta

"Dark Lilac" in Alan Bloom's garden in Bressingham, England, in mid-July. Photo by Rick Darke.
As we enter not just a new century but a new millennium, we are doing more than expanding the plant palette — we are redefining the garden. Landscape gardening, that unique confluence of art and science, is searching for a model that will provide an opportunity for creative expression and a reverent link to the larger ecology. Gardens must be at once inspiring and conserving, high-spirited and low maintenance. They must reflect and sustain the rhythms of our lives and our homes, and they must speak to us eloquently of the sun and seasons. Delightfully, grasses are sympathetic to all these ideals.
This book is intended for gardeners in a wide range of situations and climates, and draws from the experience and creativity of great gardens and gardeners around the world. It begins with an exploration of the unique aesthetics and appeal of ornamental grasses. A review of the families of ornamental grasses explains botanical characteristics important to gardeners. A chapter on names helps to simplify the complex, often confusing world of botanical and horticultural nomenclature and taxonomy. A survey of grasses in their native habitats analyzes ecological and visual patterns that can be of practical and inspirational value to gardeners. The design section features the imaginative use of grasses in myriad fine gardens, and a chapter on growing and maintaining grasses explains how to support such creations.
Gardeners usually speak of "ornamental grasses" in the broad sense, including not only the true grasses, but also related families of grasslike plants, such as sedges and rushes. Following this tradition, this book provides a detailed treatment of the perennial grasses (Poaceae), sedges (Cyperaceae), rushes (Juncaceae), restios (Restionaceae), and cat-tails (Typhaceae) available to modern gardeners, as well as selected bamboos (Poaceae).

From Chapter 5 "Designing with Grasses"
Ornamental grasses are a stunningly versatile group, offering myriad possibilities in the garden limited only by the imagination of the designer. The vast modern palette includes species and cultivated varieties suited for use as specimens, accents, groundcovers, masses, hedges, container subjects, and a host of other purposes.
Right Image:
Carex Grayi

in early June at Springwood, the eastern Pennsylvania garden of Dick and Sally Lighty. Photo by Rick Darke.

Grasses are often most effective in garden designs that allow them to interplay with other perennials, annuals, biennials, trees, and shrubs. When first using grasses a common impulse is to segregate them; however, this rarely results in a satisfying design. Just as a border composed solely of flowering perennials can be colorfully bland, a garden collection of different grasses is often equally lacking in dimension and balance. Designs that utilize a variety of plant types are not only aesthetically richer, they are often the soundest strategy for making gardens capable of providing year-round interest while minimizing labor and consumption of natural resources.

Working with Light in the Garden
To best capture the inherent translucency and luminous possibilities of ornamental grasses, it is important to develop an awareness of the direction, strength, and periods of sunlight in the garden. Even relatively shady gardens have points and moments when the sun's direct rays can work magic. It is equally rewarding to carefully consider the patterns of daily and seasonal activity in the garden. For example, think of the times of day an established or potential garden path will be used and the direction from which the sunlight will be coming. If planting a west-facing walk that will be used regularly at the end of the day, any grasses situated between the one walking the path and the setting sun will be naturally back-lighted. Similar considerations are worthwhile when designing favorite sitting spaces, focal points, or views to the garden from inside the house.
Right Image: The sun's backlighting enhances the already-gold autumn foliage and reddish brown spikelets of wild-oats.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 7
Preface 9
Acknowledgments 11
Ch. 1 The Beauty of Grasses 17
Ch. 2 The Families of Grasses and Their Relatives 29
Ch. 3 The Names of Grasses 49
Ch. 4 Learning from Grasses in Native Habitats 57
Ch. 5 Designing with Grasses 73
Ch. 6 Growing and Maintaining Grasses 111
Ch. 7 Encyclopedia of Grasses, Sedges, Rushes, Restios, Cat-tails, and Selected Bamboos 131
Glossary 301
Bibliography 303
Nursery Sources 308
USDA Hardiness Zone Map 310
European Hardiness Zone Map 311
Index of Common Names 312
Index of Botanical Names 317
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