My heartfelt thanks to everyone who subscribed to the Zoom talk today, and appreciation for your support of Spencertown Academy's "Hidden Gardens" annual event. We're all hoping by next year the tour and market will be back, and the lecture will again be held in person (with breakfast!)
I'm posting this additional information here, in place of the handouts I would normally give a live audience, for those of you who want to delve deeper into the topic of naturalistic planting design and practice.
First, a reading list (yes, I still read books). Naturalistic planting is a hot topic in the gardening world so as you can imagine there are lots of books being churned out right now, most of them so-so and some downright worthless. Here are a half-dozen I've found to be indispensable, and to which I return over and over again for inspiration and information.
Essay on Gardening
This "essay" is almost four hundred pages long, but it's still the seminal work that outlines the philosophy and evolution of the Dutch Wave in planting design. Sounds intimidating but trust me it's a wonderfully easy read and a gorgeously designed book with many beautiful photographs. Sadly, Gerritsen died in 2008, but his writing continues to guide and inspire.
Dream Plants for the Natural Garden
Henk Gerritsen and Piet Oudolf
My bible for perennial plant selection, not a thick reference but the distillation of decades of trial and error by Piet and Anja Oudolf at their nursery in the Netherlands. Gerritsen's text is succinct, opinionated and amusing, and the way the plants are classified by tough to difficult to ephemeral makes sense to any real gardener. Out of print but available on Alibris (better source of used books than Amazon).
Planting in a Post-Wild World
Thomas Rainer and Claudia West
Still the best hands-on book for understanding how plants are layered in nature and how to translate that idea into a garden setting. Great diagrams and illustrations (one of which I pilfered for the lecture) really demonstrate how plants coexist at great density both above and below ground. Also defines several landscape archetypes that humans recognize and respond to emotionally.
Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden
All her books are worth reading, but this is the one that I go back to again and again. It's a fascinating story of how she turned a gravel parking lot at her nursery into one of the most famous gardens in the world. The perfect illustration of how to work with the site conditions you have, and how to put into practice the maxim of "Right Plant, Right Place".
The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes
This is the updated and improved edition of Darke's essential 1999 book, The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses, now with over 1000 photographs and descriptions of grasses, sedges, rushes, restios, and cattails. The popularity of these plants continues to grow, and they are used extensively in naturalistic planting, so understanding their diverse needs and qualities is key to good design. The one book you need on grasses.
Planting, A New Perspective
Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury
Essential reading for superfans of Oudolf, this is a detailed explanation of his philosophy and design process. Given the scale of most of the projects, and the budgets he commands, the information is of limited use to a home gardener, albeit fascinating. A better bet for most of us is to see the film "Five Seasons" which covers the same ground in a more entertaining way.
Weeds of the Northeast
Uva, Neal & DiTomaso
I couldn't resist adding this because I never tire of recommending it to gardeners, even though it really is extreme horticultural geeking to read about weeds. But, this is a great reference that has excellent photos of our local weeds in all stages of development, highly useful when you're trying to decide whether that seedling is a poppy or a thistle.
In the Zoom talk I showed you how I plant using deep landscape plugs, and here are a few sources. Be warned that most have minimum annual purchases to establish an account, and as wholesalers, can be strict about selling to individual customers. However, most of them will sell to a garden club or a community garden organization if the minimums are met.
North Creek Nurseries
New Moon Nursery
Prairie Moon Nursery
Finally, here's a subjective list of what I think are key names in the history of this movement and some of the best current practitioners. Almost all the contemporary designers have websites and/or can be followed on social media, so you can easily see many of their projects developed and completed.
Mien Ruys (designer, writer)
Henk Gerritsen (designer, writer)
Ton ter Linden (artist, designer)
Piet Oudolf (designer)
Tom de Witte (designer)
Karl Foerster (nursery, writer)
Cassian Schmidt (designer)
Gilles Clement (designer, writer)
William Robinson (writer)
Gertrude Jekyll (designer, writer)
Christopher Lloyd (designer, writer)
Fergus Garrett (designer)
Beth Chatto (nursery, writer)
Noel Kingsbury (writer)
Dan Pearson (designer)
Sarah Price (designer)
Tom Stuart-Smith (designer)
Arne Maynard (designer)
James Hitchmough (designer)
Nigel Dunnett (designer)
Wolfgang Oehme & James van Sweden (designers)
Roy Diblik (designer, writer)
Thomas Rainer & Claudia West (writers, designers)
James Golden (designer, writer)
Christine Ten Eyck (designer)
Rick Darke (writer, photographer)
Thanks again, to all participants, and to the staff and board at Spencertown Academy for facilitating. Happy gardening to you all!
Welcome to Sempervivum, an opinionated, sometimes informed and completely unqualified journal of gardens, plants and plantings by artist-gardener Robert Clyde Anderson.