Perhaps it was a veneration of the grand displays of aristocratic European gardens that convinced many of us that home gardens should be self-contained aesthetic preserves. Landscape designer Rick Darke (The American Woodland Garden) and ecologist Douglas Tallany (Bringing Nature Home; In Harmony with Nature) had made it their calling to reject that idea by teaching us how to bring the larger landscape into our backyard flora. A biodiverse garden, they assure us, can be both beautiful and ecologically vibrant. Filled with specific design suggestions and environmental ideas, The Living Landscape brings new ideas to the table-and your outdoor garden.
The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodeversity in the Home Gardenby Douglas W. Tallamy, Rick Darke
Many gardeners today want a home landscape that nourishes and fosters wildlife. But they also want beauty, a space for the kids to play, privacy, and maybe even a vegetable patch. Sure, it’s a tall order, but The Living Landscape shows how to do it. By combining the insights of two outstanding authors, it offers a model that anyone can follow. Inspired/i>
Many gardeners today want a home landscape that nourishes and fosters wildlife. But they also want beauty, a space for the kids to play, privacy, and maybe even a vegetable patch. Sure, it’s a tall order, but The Living Landscape shows how to do it. By combining the insights of two outstanding authors, it offers a model that anyone can follow. Inspired by its examples, you’ll learn the strategies for making and maintaining a diverse, layered landscape—one that offers beauty on many levels, provides outdoor rooms and turf areas for children and pets, incorporates fragrance and edible plants, and provides cover, shelter, and sustenance for wildlife. Richly illustrated with superb photographs and informed by both a keen eye for design and an understanding of how healthy ecologies work, The Living Landscape will enable you to create a garden that is full of life and that fulfills both human needs and the needs of wildlife communities.
Landscape designer Darke (The American Woodland Garden) and ecologist and entomologist Tallamy (Bringing Nature Home) give meaningful definition to the idea of biodiversity, particularly as it relates to a suburban garden. The book addresses the question: is biodiversity about “just gardening with native plants?” The answer is no; biodiverse gardening means giving native plants a functional and life-giving role in sustaining gardens. The authors highlight the less appreciated but critical role that natives can play, including cooling, tapping into ground water, and providing shelter for wildlife. They also assert that because suburban sprawl has created profound environmental change, “It’s time to stop worrying about where plants come from and instead focus on how they function in today’s ecology.” Their book focuses on long-term strategies for regenerating depleted soil. They dispel the false dichotomy that a garden can be either all natives and therefore healthy or filled with exotic plants and not naturally sustainable. Including 500 color photos, the book offers guidance for creating beautiful landscapes that will be durable and “support life without sacrificing aesthetics.” (June)
“Shows home gardeners how landscapes can benefit wildlife and provide beautiful spaces for entertaining and relaxing.”
“Essential for gardeners and nature lovers interested in sustainability.”
This acclaimed collaboration from Darke (The American Woodland Garden) and Tallamy (Bringing Nature Home) explains how gardeners can emulate nature's layering technique and features region-specific lists and tables for the continental United States. (LJ 5/15/14)
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Read an Excerpt
Introduction No matter how much any individual garden may seem like a separate place, a refuge, or an island, it is in truth part of the larger landscape, and that in turn is made of many layers. The layering of the larger landscape varies over place and time, and is profoundly influenced by the life within it. Some landscapes have more layers than others, and some layers are more apparent than others. The richness of life in any given landscape is generally linked to the richness and intricacy in its layering. A bird’s-eye view of typical urban and suburban landscapes reveals that they lack many of the living layers characteristic of broadly functional ecosystems. In addition, many of the layers that are present have been stripped of much of their complexity, and because of this, the biological diversity and ecological functions of these landscapes are greatly diminished. Since we spend so much of our time in such landscapes, it’s easy to adjust to their simplicity and unconsciously to accept it as the norm. However, if our intent is to create beautiful, livable landscapes that are also highly functional in environmental terms, integrating meaningfully detailed layers has to be a primary design goal. Many suburban residential landscapes already include a few or many of the literal layers that have made traditional habitats and other long-evolved ecosystems so full of life. Existing layers can be enhanced and missing layers can be appropriately created. The key is to develop a familiarity with the basic functions, inter-relationships and living dynamics of layered landscapes, and then to use horticultural skills to reprise and maintain them. Learning to read and draw lessons from the structure, composition, and processes of functional ecosystems will be increasingly essential to good gardening and the making of broadly functional landscapes for life. The lack of biological layers is especially evident in many commercial landscapes and in the majority of urban landscapes since so much of their available area is dedicated to buildings and to the extensive paving necessary to accommodate cars and other motorized vehicles. Although there are opportunities to reintroduce layers to such landscapes, the greatest opportunity lies in the suburbs, which are now home to approximately half of the United States’ population. Despite frequent remnant patches of layered woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands within the broad suburban landscape, they are just that: patches. These isolated fragments are typically surrounded by highly altered expanses with minimal habitat functionality. Their separation and relatively small size is insufficient to sustain the great diversity of wildlife that requires larger, continuous habitat. Reintroducing layers to residential landscapes is the best strategy for restoring biological function on a vast scale, contributing to habitat and to a wide range of ecosystem services that are broadly beneficial, including replenishment of atmospheric oxygen, carbon sequestration, groundwater recharge and filtration, soil conservation, and moderation of weather extremes. The first chapter of this book examines the patterns and processes in wild, unmanaged systems. Using a woodland as example, the chapter unpacks the components of the literal vertical and horizontal layers in a wild landscape. It also addresses cultural and temporal layers, edges (transitional areas), and wildness (the ability of a natural habitat to perpetuate itself). Chapter 2 looks at relational biodiversity—the interactions of plants and wildlife in a regional ecosystem. Although we often measure biodiversity in terms of the numbers of different species present in an area, this chapter makes the case that biodiversity encompassing long-evolved interrelationships is more meaningful, more functional, and worthy of conservation and enhancement. The third chapter answers the question, “What does your garden do for you and for the environment?” Some of the human-oriented functions that might be asked of a home landscape include the following:
- create living spaces suitable for play, meals, entertaining
- add beauty and sensual pleasure including color and fragrance, framing, and order
- offer shelter and refuge, privacy and screening
- yield sustenance through edible plantings
- produce opportunities for storytelling and other artistic expression
- inspire and educate by providing exposure to or immersion in natural phenomena including seasonal cycles, cycles of plant and animal growth and migration
- recharge groundwater
- replenish atmospheric oxygen
- sequester carbon
- furnish shelter/cover for wildlife
- promote a stable food web for wildlife
- support pollinator communities
- provide the right conditions for natural hybridization and the continuing development of biodiversity
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. His projects include scenic byways, public gardens, corporate and collegiate campuses, mixed-use conservation developments, and residential gardens. Darke served on the staff of Longwood Gardens for twenty years and 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 is recognized as one of the world's experts on grasses and their use in public and private landscapes. For further information visit www.rickdarke.com.
Doug Tallamy is a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware. He has been awared a silver medal by the Garden Writers’ Association, the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation, and the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence. Tallamy is a regular columnist for Garden Design Magazine.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Love this book! I really found the charts in the back - broken out by region - to be so useful in guiding me to great plant choices. Bonus are the gorgeous photos. I've purchased it for gifts as well since buying my own.