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Plant-Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place, and Spirit Hardcover – Oct 7 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press (Oct. 7 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881928771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881928778
  • Product Dimensions: 27.9 x 24.1 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #260,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 23 reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Sumptuous book breaks new ground in garden design Dec 9 2008
By Panayoti Kelaidis - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is not just Another Pretty Garden Book, although it is chockablock full of stunning images. Unlike cookie cutter coffee table books with the same plants and same rehashed notions, the Ogdens have filled the text with clear, compelling exposition that really elucidates the ways in to take advantage of the inherent ecological needs of plants to achieve stunning aesthetic ends. This book is utterly new and novel. Everyone talks about design, but the Ogdens deliver the goods: their stellar photography captures the most beautiful North American gardens and crystallizes their salient aspects (microclimate, hardscape, texture and light) showing you how you can recreate many of these artistic habitats in an urban or suburban setting. They have distilled two lifetimes of cutting edge gardening into their copious plant lists and designs--the best new plants used in fresh ways. These speak to all parts of our continent. I am especially excited by the sections on transforming dull lawn space into multidimensional, self sustaining meadows filled with year around color, attracting wildlife and safe for humans! Encyclopaedic in scope, intimate in feel, this is a handbook for creating sustainable, gorgeous, truly American gardens. Every serious gardener, designer or landscape architect in America should own and cherish this book.
82 of 91 people found the following review helpful
my thoughts as I read this book: plusses and minuses March 9 2009
By hope beverly - Published on
Format: Hardcover
On the plus side, the photos are undeniably beautiful. They have taken care to select the right time of day, the right angle, and the right exposure to really maximize the beauty of the gardens and plants. The paper and printing process enhances their beauty. Many, but not all, of the photos are from their own garden (I don't know how large their space is, but it is obviously larger than my own, and has a natural backdrop that my suburban home could never replicate). I have already learned a few lessons about garden design (daffodils point southeast, so plant them so they'll turn toward the viewing area, for instance).

On the negative side, I am on page 51, and have been struck already with how -- for lack of a better word -- catty they are about other designers and gardens. I am happy to read their ideas for what makes a garden beautiful, but I can do without their references to, for instance, a native plant garden director "piously" sharing her opinions with them (which they obviously didn't share) or statements like "[i]nsensitivity to this plant's spirit is exemplified by a planting along the south side of an east-west path at a prominent botanic garden". I am hoping this attitude will settle down as I progress through the book. It's very jarring to be reading their peaceful, nature-driven, perhaps even dare I say, "hippy-like" writing, and then have them suddenly stop to take a swipe at another designer or garden or gardening theory. Doing that exhibits the same arrogance for which they denigrate others.

I'll update as I continue through the book.

UPDATE: So it's November and I'm only at page 117. I kinda sorta took the spring/summer/fall off to actually go in my garden, instead of reading about them. I must say that I think the cattiness dropped off some, or perhaps just became broader comments, rather than swipes at particular gardens/designers. I am a little disappointed, though, that I haven't learned much more. I guess when I bought the book I was thinking it would be a little more instructional in terms of HOW to make your garden look natural, once you have the right plants. My problem is trying to figure out spacing and doing those "drifts" that are always talked about, but never laid out on a page to clearly see a diagram of how many plants in what section, how far apart from the next plant, how to intersperse different plants so they look like they have naturally drifted into each other. Yes, I know, it's nature, but there's math and patterning in the natural world, too.

The book is a curious mix of broad gardening/nature concepts, interspersed with charts of specific types of plants (eg, "big-and bold-leaved plants"). The charts aren't as helpful as you might think, though, because most are not broken down into zones, light, water needs, etc, so you would have to go through the whole list and google them to find ones that might work in your garden. I did find their insert about Koppen Zones interesting, but my interest was purely academic, because they don't really discuss the zones in the body of the book, or separate out certain comments for certain zones.

So, now that the cooler weather is upon us, I hope to finish up this book soon, if for no other reason than to finish this review so I don't have to think about the "comment" the author saw fit to attach to my review. Talk about spoiling any good vibes... I'll update again when I'm done with the book.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Connecting plants and people through art, science and philosphy Dec 4 2008
By Pat Hayward - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Gardening books tend to be easily classified - detailed reference books, encyclopedic treatises on individual plants, design how-to, or regionally-specific. Plant Driven Design transcends time, geographic boundaries and spirit. It is a book that evokes thoughtful consideration and compassion for our own backyards and a greater connection with the world at the same time.
Readers will not want to sit and read this all at one time - it's a book to return to again and again. The abundance of beautiful photographs and detailed, honest prose provide repose for stressed minds, offer inspiration for new garden concepts, encourage exploration of the natural world, and grant freedom to experience plants as the basis for all garden processes.
On the other hand, Plant Driven Design offers some of the most diverse and creative plant lists ever incorporated into a single gardening book, with hundreds of suggestions of a vast array of species and cultivars for a myriad of sites and conditions. I was especially intrigued with lists of Junipers to Love, Bulbs for Steppe Plantings, Designing with Light, and Matching Climates and Plants.
Gardeners of all flavors will appreciate the depth and breadth that these intelligent and creative gardeners bring forth - science, art, philosophy, travel, romance and nature woven purposefully throughout the pages. This is a book that will change the way you experience gardens forever.

Favorite quote:
In the chapter, Putting Plants First: "The earthly Edens we create are indeed poetic realms in which we are able to forget our modern-day divorce from the natural world. This renewal of our relationship with nature is the very essence of garden experience."
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Plant-driven Gardening Dec 3 2008
By Doris J. Martin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book should be required reading for Landscape Architects and anyone else who wants to create beautiful gardens...As usual these two very knowledgeable plants-people have called our attention to putting the right plants in the right places so that one enhances the other. This will certainly become one of the great garden books of this century. With a list of features and plant lists right next to the contents they have made it easy to find specific types of plants...plants with big leaves, columner plants, hardy cycads and much more. Lauren's photos(mostly)and Scot's (occassionaly) light up the book perfectly. Give yourself and your favorite gardeners this book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
More from the Queen of Western gardening! Dec 20 2008
By A reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. I got this book a week ago and have been reading every night. It is going to take me a while to read it, let alone digest it!

Honestly, I think the premise of the book is a little contrived. Whether you first have a site and want a plant that conveys a certain atmosphere, or whether you first have a plant and then find the right spot for it - it doesn't make a difference. For both approaches, you have to know a lot about plants, their provenance, and their culture to have a stunning result. But, if Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden needed a catchy phrase to build their new book around, so be it.

I hadn't read Scott Ogden's other books, but I will definitely read his other titles now.

The book is full of fantastic plant lists, outstanding photographs, and and and. I wonder whether steppe gardens are going to become all the rage now? I hope not. I hope what all gardeners will take home from reading this book is to follow their own design instincts and build the garden of their dreams.