Reflecting Nature: Garden Designs from Wild Landscapes
by Jerome Malitz, Seth Malitz
A beautiful book about garden design, construction, plant selection and husbandry.

Natural Landscaping: Gardening With Nature to Create a Backyard Paradise (Rodale Garden Book)
by Sally Roth
Natural Landscaping is an intelligent and quietly compelling guide for naturalizing the garden. Country Living Gardener editor Sally Roth relies on decades of organic gardening experience, personal anecdotes, and a belief in working in concert with Mother Nature to restore native ecosystems. In the tradition of gardening manuals, she offers best-of lists for everything from grasses for prairie gardens to flowers for a night garden to plants to soften a pool's edge, always stressing the overarching importance of flora-fauna harmony. She also includes helpful tips and sidebars on bird-nest materials, unique ground covers, building dry streambeds, and making homemade sap for butterflies. There's a solid chapter on wall and path design and welcome field-guide information on water wildlife, birds, and butterflies. Roth's tone is warm throughout, and she further personalizes the book by including sidebars about other gardeners and their gardens. Grassland, woodland, and freshwater-area ecosystems are covered, although information on coastal or arid areas is absent. For readers in the Southwest, Desert Landscaping would be a better choice.

The real shine of Natural Landscaping is in the details on creating a natural habitat that is self-contained and self-perpetuating. For instance, one can plant a butterfly bush to attract butterflies, but what perennial will butterflies lay their eggs in for next year? Instead of fighting a never-ending battle of trapping and killing moles, let these insect-eating creatures tunnel their homes and aerate your soil. Your first impulse may be to tidily clear away fallen wood, but why not position it ornamentally and nourish the soil at the same time? The book is full of this kind of sensible wisdom. It's clear Roth has taken her lessons from Mother Nature seriously. -- Karen Karleski

Second Nature: A Gardener's Education
by Michael Pollan
Eight years ago, Harper's Magazine editor Michael Pollan bought an old Connecticut dairy farm. He planted a garden and attempted to follow Thoreau's example: do not impose your will upon the wilderness, the woodchucks, or the weeds. That ethic did not, of course, work. But neither did pesticides or firebombing the woodchuck burrow. So Michael Pollan began to think about the troubled borders between nature and contemporary life.

The result is a funny, profound, and beautifully written book in the finest tradition of American nature writing. It inspires thoughts on the war of the roses; sex and class conflict in the garden; virtuous composting; the American lawn; seed catalogs, and the politics of planting a tree. A blend of meditation, autobiography, and social history, Second Nature is ultimately a modern Walden: a true classic for our time.

The Garden: A History in Landscape and Art
by Filippo Pizzoni, Fillipo Pizzoni
Century by century, The Garden: A History in Landscape and Art offers a history of the gardens of the western world in a larger context than in most such historical treatments. Gardens as art, as cultural achievement, as man's relationship with nature--all are considered here in gardens from Germany to Mexico, from Italian grottoes to modern sculpture gardens. Ancient Moorish gardens of perfect symmetry, drippy stone carvings of the Medicis, and the simplicity of repeated rectangles in a 20th-century Scottish garden astonish with the sheer range of possibilities of landscape design.

The author, an Italian landscape architect who studied in London and specializes in historic restoration, has a bent toward classicism, and inexplicably has ignored Asian gardens altogether. One might ask what gardens of such size and scope can teach gardeners of today, whose home gardens are on such a different scale than these grand gardens?

First, the book is a feast of color photographs and drawings, a treat for the garden enthusiast to study just for the visuals. Most of all you'll find here, albeit with a rococo twist or Baroque ornamentation, all the familiar elements of garden-making today; fountains, pots, hedging, pathways, trees, shrubs, bridges, and flowers. The patterning of these familiar elements, how they've been used in spacing and enclosure, to create shelter or vista across the centuries can help to shape our eyes and aesthetics no matter what the nature of our own garden plots. -- Valerie Easton

The Natural Garden
by Ken Druse, Kenneth Druse
How to create a garden that practically takes care of itself and harmonizes with nature, presented with more than 400 gorgeous photographs taken all over the United States. More than 400 full-color photographs, 15 line drawings.

The Garden Design Sourcebook: The Essential Guide to Garden Materials and Structures
by David Stevens

Water in the Garden: A Complete Guide to the Design and Installation of Ponds, Fountains, Streams, and Waterfalls
by James Allison
This book explains how to put ponds, fountains, waterfalls, and bridges in your garden.

The Natural Habitat Garden
by Ken Druse, Margaret Roach (Contributor)
Through 500 color photographs, The Natural Habitat Garden introduces readers to 35 gardens that re-create the naturally balanced plant communities found in each of the four main botanical habitats. Druse helps to define a new horticultural aesthetic while showing gardeners everywhere how they can recreate the natural havens for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife that once made America beautiful. Full-color photographs.

The Woodland Garden: Planting in Harmony With Nature
by Alex M. Downie, R. Roy Forster
The Woodland Garden is a valuable source of information and a practical how-to guide on hundreds of plant species ideally suited for planting in the woodland environment. Here is all the information needed to get started, from design, plant selection and initial planting through ongoing maintenance, using principles that can be applied anywhere in North America in almost any size garden - from large estate to city lot.

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
by Michael Pollan
Working in his garden one day, Michael Pollan hit pay dirt in the form of an idea: do plants, he wondered, use humans as much as we use them? While the question is not entirely original, the way Pollan examines this complex coevolution by looking at the natural world from the perspective of plants is unique. The result is a fascinating and engaging look at the true nature of domestication.

In making his point, Pollan focuses on the relationship between humans and four specific plants: apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes. He uses the history of John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) to illustrate how both the apple's sweetness and its role in the production of alcoholic cider made it appealing to settlers moving west, thus greatly expanding the plant's range. He also explains how human manipulation of the plant has weakened it, so that "modern apples require more pesticide than any other food crop." The tulipomania of 17th-century Holland is a backdrop for his examination of the role the tulip's beauty played in wildly influencing human behavior to both the benefit and detriment of the plant (the markings that made the tulip so attractive to the Dutch were actually caused by a virus). His excellent discussion of the potato combines a history of the plant with a prime example of how biotechnology is changing our relationship to nature. As part of his research, Pollan visited the Monsanto company headquarters and planted some of their NewLeaf brand potatoes in his garden--seeds that had been genetically engineered to produce their own insecticide. Though they worked as advertised, he made some startling discoveries, primarily that the NewLeaf plants themselves are registered as a pesticide by the EPA and that federal law prohibits anyone from reaping more than one crop per seed packet. And in a interesting aside, he explains how a global desire for consistently perfect French fries contributes to both damaging monoculture and the genetic engineering necessary to support it.

Pollan has read widely on the subject and elegantly combines literary, historical, philosophical, and scientific references with engaging anecdotes, giving readers much to ponder while weeding their gardens. --Shawn Carkonen

The Bold & Brilliant Garden
by Sarah Raven, Jonathan Buckley (Photographer)
A very colorful book full of garden photos.

Naturalistic Gardening: Reflecting the Planting Patterns of Nature
by Ann Lovejoy, Allan Mandell (Photographer)
"Gardening is by definition interference with nature," begins Ann Lovejoy cheerfully. That said, gardeners will save themselves no end of trouble by cooperating with nature insofar as possible. Thus naturalistic gardening, which has made real inroads into the more formal, traditional American gardens over the past few years. But naturalistic gardening doesn't mean just throwing a lot of seeds on the ground, or letting the weeds take over. Lovejoy's practiced advice helps gardeners get a handle on constructing a garden that is like nature, but with an element of art. Allow plants to follow their own natures by judicious placement, she counsels, and you will minimize their care as well as reveal their essential beauty.

Lovejoy includes enough practical instructions to allow anyone with a reasonable amount of gardening experience to create a successful naturalistic garden, and the inspiring patterns of the example gardens, beautifully photographed by Allan Mandell, are nicely explained. Lovejoy even gives a chapter to the hotly debated tropicalismo school of naturalistic design. The emphasis is very much on gardening in the northwestern United States, but anyone who yearns for a more natural look in the garden will benefit from the principles outlined here.

The Garden Design Book
by Cheryl Merser, Garden Design Magazine (Editor)
Cheryl Merser and the editors of Garden Design magazine have produced a zaftig beauty of a garden book. The emphasis here is on "new gardening," with a nod to the traditional elements of garden design. New gardening combines a sophisticated treatment of the five senses and a natural style with a no-fuss approach to garden care. The book is marvelously organized, with rich sections that consider design elements such as boundaries, structures, pathways, and water, and a separate "Plants as Design Tools" section that considers plant color, texture, and form. Anyone designing a garden of any size from scratch will want to consult this book to clarify the planning steps, but also just to revel in its sheer gloriousness. With its exuberant, light-filled photos, this is the best possible coffee-table reading for rainy days; on sunny days, use it as a textbook in the garden.

Garden Design: How to Be Your Own Landscape Architect
by Robin Williams
How to create an attractive, easy-to-maintain garden.

Gardens of Obsession: Eccentric and Extravagant Visions
by Gordon Taylor, Guy Cooper
"Gardens of obsession" are "the metamorphoses of dreams, fantasies, ancient myths or allegories made into a physical reality." This stunning book features a breathtaking array of 150 gardens, from the beautiful to the bizarre, from the enchanting to the eccentric, each of them the realization of one person's wildest dreams. And it is the fact that these dreams can be so completely brought to life on the garden's canvas that makes this book so enthralling. Even the most extravagant design has been achieved with great accomplishment; the most extreme idea has become reality. Yet these gardens are also testaments to craft and hard work--only the obsessive bent on creating something truly personal can achieve the sort of visions exemplified in the book.

The locations of these horticultural wonders can be found in the jungles of Mexico, on the lawns of Oxfordshire, in an Ecuador cemetery, and in the surrounds of a Czechoslovakian castle. Some reflect high culture, while others explore surrealist fantasy containing lavish topiary and astonishing sculptural splendor. Within these pages we are taken on a pilgrimage through the minds and souls of people who have striven to realize themselves through the deeply personal space that a garden can be. When so many gardening books remain mired in the utilitarian, this wonderful volume takes a bold leap into fantasy. This is the book for anyone who wants to be inspired to create a garden that goes beyond a tidy lawn with tidy borders. -- Nicola Hollins

Le Notre's Gardens
by Michael Kenna, Eric T. Haskell
The gardens of Andre Le Notre shore up the essential configurations of seventeenth-century French aesthetics. Michael Kenna approaches these landscapes with fresh insight that carries the viewer into an elegant world of pure light, form, and line, while following the aesthetic discipline of Le Notre's gardens. From the legendary Versailles to the newly added Fountainebleu, Kenna explores the ten most important gardens credited to the brilliance of Andre Le Notre.

This long awaited rerelease of Michael Kenna's, Le Notre's Gardens has finally arrived, now featuring an additional twenty images in addition to the existing forty meticulously printed quadratone plates. A true visual feast for both lovers of the formal garden and connoisseurs of the classic photograph. Text by professor and garden historian Eric T. Haskell.

The World of Garden Design: Inspiring Ideas from Around the Globe to Your Backyard
by Susan Dooley, Susan Doodley, Editors of Garden Design Magazine
You'll find it hard to tear yourself away from the gorgeous world tour of garden photos of this colorful book. More inspiration than practical guide, there's plenty to admire no matter what your style preference. Choose from among stately formal gardens, shady riverbanks, tidy herb beds, or complex succulent showcases, all presented with stunning depth of color on pleasingly glossy paper. Each photo has accompanying suggestions and design hints from the gardeners responsible for such glory. The text is scant, but what there is makes for interesting reading.

Design histories, the practical needs for each environment that resulted in creative and stunning plant choices, important elements of each type of design--these are all included as the sidelines to the incredible pictures. In the section entitled "Bringing It Home," the text expands to practical tips to help you duplicate the looks you've admired on previous pages--each style is covered in slightly greater depth, but the focus is on design, rather than plant care or environmental suitability. The perfect book to pore over on a cold and rainy day, The World of Garden Design is fabulous fodder for brainstorming sessions in developing fresh ideas for your own gardens. For those lucky enough to travel the world seeing various gardens in person, this book will give you ideas for new places to visit, or lovely reminders of the places you've been. -- Jill Lightner

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