Designing and Planting a Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden
by Kelly D. Norris
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Pub Date 16 Feb 2021 | Archive Date 01 Jun 2023
Quarto Publishing Group – Cool Springs Press, Cool Springs Press
In New Naturalism, horticulturist and modern plantsman Kelly D. Norris shares his inspiring, ecologically sound vision for home gardens created with stylish yet naturalistic plantings that mimic the wild spaces we covet—far from the contrived, formal, high-maintenance plantings of the past. Through a basic introduction to plant biology and ecology, you’ll learn how to design and grow a lush, thriving home garden by harnessing the power of plant layers and palettes defined by nature, not humans.
The next generation of home landscapes don’t consist of plants in a row, pruned to perfection and reliant on pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides to survive. Instead, today’s stunning landscapes convey nature’s inherent beauty. These gardens are imbued with romance and emotion, yet they have so much more to offer than their gorgeous aesthetics. Naturalistic garden designs, such as those featured in this groundbreaking new book, contribute to positive environmental change by increasing biodiversity, providing a refuge for wildlife, and reconnecting humans to nature.
In the pages of New Naturalism you’ll find:
- Planting recipes for building meadows, prairies, and other grassland-inspired open plantings even in compact, urban settings
- Nature-inspired ways to upgrade existing foundation plantings, shrub beds, and flower borders to a wilder aesthetic while still managing the space
- Inspiration for taking sidewalk and driveway plantings and turning them into visually soft, welcoming spaces for humans and wildlife alike
- Ideas for turning shady landscapes into canopied retreats that celebrate nature
- Creative ways to make an ecologically vibrant garden in even the smallest of spaces
New Naturalism approaches the planting beds around our homes as ecological systems. If properly designed and planted, these areas can support positive environmental change, increase plant and animal diversity, and create a more resilient space that’s less reliant on artificial inputs. And they do it all while looking beautiful and improving property values.
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Average rating from 15 members
Love, love, love! I love our garden beds and we have spent a few years trying to make sure that all of the plants are native and that they satisfy the biodiversity of our area, attracting and feeding insects, birds and animals while being relaxing, re-centering places for us to enjoy. They are currently covered with mounds of snow and what PERFECT timing for this read! Chock full of informative articles, suggestions and inspiration for when spring finally comes back! The multitudes of pictures were stunning and I've already taken notes for garden adjustments and adds for next year! It covers everything from pathways and shade to what to plant as ground cover between the blooms. It is very natural and wildflower focused, encouraging you to work towards a garden that requires less work and upkeep as it is a more natural and flowing style. With our garden, we have tried towards a fluidity with one plant ending its bloom as another starts, each working together and always full of bumblebees and butterflies and every photo in this book got me excited to get back to my gardens next spring. Accompanying the pictures were very lengthy, informative articles on topics ranging from soil and architecture to maintaining the gardens 5 years in. The different layers of the garden are discussed at length which was a helpful and informative way to look at the layout, instead of the landscape focus that I have been using. Different plant types are charted to match each of the layers you would want to encourage which is very helpful. Did I mention the gorgeous pictures of those plants? There is even a new take for an unstructured rose garden that I particularly liked. There were multiple layering ideas discussed, for spaces such as rooftop and courtyard as well as container and I loved the ones that focused on incorporating rocks and stone borders and walls within the garden spaces, "softening the hardscapes". Kelly remarked in the writing that he wasn't sure he would be able to fit everything he wanted into this book and I can say that what he did pack in gave me a beautifully illustrated encyclopedic level reference for an ecologically friendly and diverse wild garden and I ++ recommend that if this is something you are interested in incorporating into your home or cottage environment you step into the new naturalism🌿🌎
**Thank-you to Cool Springs Press, Quarto Publishing Group and NetGalley for the beautiful advance reader copy of this book which will publish January 26, 2020**
This is an amazing book, full of detail but easily readable detailing the right place for the right plant, and creating an ecological garden. With beautiful pictures showcasing the plants throughout the book, this really is a reference book to treasure. I will certainly be taking some tips from this book, especially the section on wild-inspired borders.
A thorough guide encouraging your garden planning! There are no prescriptions (because this is naturalism!) but Norris covers every step and addresses a myriad of potential concerns.
Inspired by a wild rural Iowa roadside, Kelly Norris has written the definitive guide to natural garden design in the New Naturalism: Designing and Planting a Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden. Recently there has been a revival of incorporating native plants in gardens to benefit pollinators, birds and other animals who benefit from these habitats. Norris has incorporated beautiful pictures of colorful natural gardens in bloom, hardscaping, use of trees and shrubs as backgrounds, and curbside plantings. Detailed plant charts help the reader design natural landscapes based on form and function, texture and hardiness. Scientific names and common names are featured which helps gardeners perusing their catalogs which come in the winter when snow and cold covers our gardens. Norris states “plants are characters with stories to tell” which gives gardeners a new perspective in planning or adding to their existing gardens. For those who are restricted in space or time, smaller gardens with water features are shown; or ambitious and experienced gardeners will discover how to incorporate natural plantings into their existing gardens. Beginning gardeners will find plenty of information on soil preparation, choosing plants and the value of studying the light capacity of the garden space. A favorite garden design section discusses how to cover the ground both vertically and horizontally with vegetation.
This book is the perfect book to order in the cold of winter so we can dream and plan out our garden spaces once spring arrives. Kelly Norris is the Director of horticulture and education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and offers us an engaging, colorful and informative book for all levels of gardeners.
This beautiful book focuses on leaving nature to nature and not forcing it to grow how we require it to in regimented lines or patterns. Wild plants grow where they know to grow and ought to grow. A big focus, of course, is on the medium in which they grow. Soil is so crucial. We can grow wonderful lilies in brutal Saskatchewan, for example, yet they do poorly at our Mediterranean home. But in the Mediterranean of course there are many, many fruits and herbs which do spectacularly well in heavy red clay. It's important to learn what our plants need where they grow best and nurture them in situ. The weird covid 2020 season prevented most of us from traveling so my focus was what on grows here and learn more about what had been taken for granted. As a master gardener I should know better!
The section on plant architecture is fascinating as well including plant hardiness and competition. Starting small is crucial, too, as gardening can seem daunting on a large scale. Attracting beneficial insects (repelling harmful ones), birds and animals should also be a consideration. Stunning photographs of many plants are contained in this book such as delphiniums, lilies, columbines, foxglove, coral bells, spurge and coneflowers.
Ecology is becoming more and more important to people and this is discussed wonderfully here. You will find information on preparing to plant and planting including helpful charts as well as what to grow in which location (i.e. hot and sunny, damp and shady). One of my favourite sections is on shrubs as they seem to be less understood (at least in my area). The green garden section is stunning as well. I've been fortunate to visit many gardens internationally and some of the prettiest have been layers of green and wild gardens.
Those who love gardening ecologically or dream of it, do read this book. It is truly inspiring. The photography is breathtaking...hard to believe people live in such beauty! You will learn a lot, too.
My sincere thank you to Quartro Publishing Group - Cool Springs Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this gorgeous book in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated.
What a superb book; it is a joy to read regardless of how you choose to garden. I have to admit to being somewhat biased as I have long been interested in the writings of the influential Dutch garden designer, Piet Oudolf, whose garden designs were inspired by natural habitats. Reading “ New Naturalism” has reinforced all those ideas and given me new insight into creating a beautiful, ecologically vibrant garden.
There is so much to enjoy and learn from this book. One of the most useful for me what the idea of the three layers to help create a natural garden (I guess it would be useful for any gardener, even if you are not interested in creating an ecological garden!) and the most important issue of letting the plants take the lead in your design.
The first section deals with background information for creating a natural garden – understanding plants, their social lives and their survival and the techniques for recognising and acknowledging the place where you will be planting them.
The second section is called Planting Palettes which are guidelines for planting in different areas. He stresses that these are suggestive; a “starting line for a new gardening adventure” They are fantastic! The palettes, based on the layers he espouses in the first section, include planting for sunny and dry conditions, for front yard gardens, shady courtyards, damp conditions and many more. There is so much to inspire and encourage the reader. Stunning photographs and case studies throughout the book add real value too.
I would really encourage all gardeners to read “ New Naturalism” It is beautifully written, sensibly laid out, and full of ideas that can be adapted to wherever you garden.
What a gorgeous book! The author did a great job with putting together the research and details needed to guide gardeners to use the spaces they have to grow plants that will thrive in those locations and create the naturalistic landscape that is so popular right now. I would say that beginners might struggle with some of the concepts but for those who have been gardening a while and want to pivot their gardening style towards working with the landscape and a more ecologically friendly way, this is a great book to get them started. I appreciated the plant listings to get folks started in the right direction, too. My only quibble with this style is that the term ecological gardening feels like a misnomer to me, when the plants suggested aren't always ecologically friendly to every location. But that's just my own personal grudge!
I will have to continue to revisit this book in the future to glean inspiration and ideas for my garden. I think it pairs nicely with Ken Druse's The New Shade Garden.
New Naturalism is a tutorial, style, and selection guide to designing and implementing resilient and ecologically responsible gardens utilizing a holistic synergy and interdependence between healthy soil, understanding local conditions and wise choice of plant materials. Due out 16th Feb 2021 from Quarto on their Cool Springs Press imprint, it's 208 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.
There is certainly no shortage of gardening advice to be found. I find myself enthusiastically clipping pictures of garden layouts and styles which appeal to me but wind up being completely impractical to implement. This book does an unusually fine job of giving solid information on the interplay of soil, siting, local climate, culture, and plant selection. In choosing plants wisely we allow them to do what they were *built* to do, instead of torturing them into conforming to follow potentially unrealistic expectations of what *we* want them to do.
This book allows gardeners to take a close look at what sort of garden spaces they have and gives concrete advice on planning those spaces based on that information to allow the chosen plants who are at home in those environments (wet, dry, rocky, sandy, etc) to thrive.
It's split into two main sections. The first chapters provide a thorough grounding in different types of planting environment and techniques for building robust ecologically diverse garden spaces. The second (larger) part of the book provide "palettes" for different spaces: open landscapes, planting around the outdoor living spaces, using hardscape areas, and shady/dappled areas. Each of the planting sections contains numerous suggestions and tutorials for finding and choosing planting material.
Plants throughout the book are listed by both common and botanical (Latin) nomenclature for clarity. The book is beautifully photographed throughout with color photos on nearly every page. This is a solidly useful book full of good advice which goes way way beyond the single chapter on xeriscaping offered by most gardening books.
Five stars. This would be a superlative selection for library acquisition, gardening groups, community gardens, home gardeners and the like.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.