Planting: A New Perspective

Planting: A New Perspective

by Noel Kingsbury, Piet Oudolf


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“Indispensable.” —The New York Times Book Review

Piet Oudolf’s gardens—unique combinations of long-lived perennials and woody plants that are rich in texture and sophisticated in color—are breathtaking and have deep emotional resonance. With Planting, designers and home gardeners can recreate these plant-rich, beautiful gardens that support biodiversity and nourish the human spirit.
An intimate knowledge of plants is essential to the success of modern landscape design, and Planting shares Oudolf’s considerable understanding of plant ecology, explaining how plants behave in different situations, what goes on underground, and which species make good neighbors. Extensive plant charts and planting plans will help you choose plants for their structure, color, and texture. A detailed directory shares details like each plant’s life expectancy, the persistence of its seedheads, and its propensity to self-seed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604693706
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/03/2013
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 194,311
Product dimensions: 8.70(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Noel Kingsbury is a researcher, writer, and teacher. A gardener since childhood, he has run a nursery, designed gardens and public spaces, and done doctoral research at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape on the ecology of ornamental perennials. He lives and gardens in the Welsh Borders near Hay-on-Wye.

Piet Oudolf is among the world’s most innovative garden designers and a leading exponent of naturalistic planting, a style that takes inspiration from nature but employs artistic skill in creating planting schemes. Oudolf's extensive work over 30 years of practice includes public and private gardens all over the world. He is best known for his work on the High Line and Battery Park in New York, the Lurie Garden in Chicago's Millennium Park, and Potters Fields in London.

Read an Excerpt

The agenda for planting design in the twenty-first century
The former nursery at Piet and Anja Oudolf’s at Hummelo in the Netherlands. It is now a boldly experimental area where a range of robust perennials grow amidst a sown mix of wild pasture grasses along with various spontaneously arriving species. Only time will tell how it will work out.

Plants are increasingly being recognized as a vital part of our urban and domestic environments, not just a luxury or an unnecessary—if pleasant—bit of decoration. It has long been established, for example, that the mere view of plants through a window has a beneficial effect on the human psyche, and that plants can play an important role in cleaning and purifying the air of buildings and built-up environments.

Gardening, whether on the most intimate private level or the most extensive and public, involves an appreciation of and involvement with the natural world. For many people, plants may be their only point of contact with nature apart from feeling the effects of the weather. Private gardens offer the opportunity for personal choices to be made about what plants to grow and how to manage them, while designers of civic landscapes have always had the responsibility of serving the wider public interest. There is, however, a new and additional agenda for gardeners, both private and public: sustainability and the support of biodiversity. Sustainability demands that we minimize irreplaceable inputs in gardening and reduce harmful outputs, while the support of biodiversity brings a demand for wildlife-friendly planting and practices.

The use of long-lived perennials in conjunction with woody plants—the approach Piet Oudolf and I have always supported—genuinely offers improved sustainability and support for biodiversity. Reducing the amount of regularly mown lawn and the unnecessary trimming of woody plants for unclear motives is surely a step forward. Creating rich garden habitats offers natural beauty close at hand, provides resources and homes for wildlife, and improves the sustainability of management.

Deciding what plants to use and how to arrange them is covered by the field of planting design, which brings together a combination of technical knowledge and artistic vision. This book looks at some of the recent trends within planting design, and is aimed primarily at home gardeners, garden design and maintenance professionals, and landscape architects. There are, however, important lessons for others, such as architects, who do not use plants directly but often have to situate their work in close proximity to them, or ecologists, whose profession does not involve much design but who increasingly have a role to play in the creation and management of designed plantings.

While the role of plants—and therefore planting design—is well established in the domestic garden, and is indeed absolutely crucial to its aesthetic and functional success, it has not been so well established in landscape design. Or perhaps more accurately, plants have often played a minor role in urban landscape design. Historically, for centuries the only plants used in cities were avenue trees; the nineteenth century saw the growth of urban parks, the late twentieth a much wider use of plants in urban areas—a practice to a large extent pioneered in the Netherlands. Now, however, the use of plants is increasing, particularly that of perennials and ornamental grasses, requiring greater access to technical information about plant establishment and management, and to ideas about the visual aspects of their use. Before I discuss in more detail what this book is about, it is perhaps worth looking at these new trends.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Planting design for the twenty-first century 9

1 Planting - the big picture 25

2 Grouping plants 77

3 Combining plants 121

4 Long-term plant performance 175

5 Mingling currents in contemporary planting design 199

Conclusion: The new planting 233

Plant directory 241

Plant names 270

Metric and US equivalents - Further reading 271

Acknowledgments 272

Photo credits 273

Index 274

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