Garden Gear - Gardening Books

Book review: Dream plants for the natural garden

Dream Plants for the Natural Garden,
by Henk Gerritsen and Piet Oudolf;
Timber Press;
144 pages;

Dutch nurseryman and garden designer Piet Oudolf is at the forefront of a naturalistic style that celebrates the form and texture of plants throughout the season. In his gardens, seed heads are as welcome as the flowers that preceded them. Plants are chosen for beauty and toughness, and the best are those that, in his words, “live well and die well.”

The “dream” plants Oudolf and co-author, Henk Gerritsen, also a Dutch garden designer, cover in detail-including annuals, biennials, perennials and grasses-are indispensable to the naturalistic garden. The authors concentrate on plants they rate as dependable without added fertilizers or pesticides.

I recommend this book to experienced gardeners wishing to expand their plant palette, and to anyone eager to embrace a naturalistic garden style. (Secateur-wielding neat-nicks need not apply.) Novice gardeners may be discouraged by the number of unusual and hard-to-find plants listed-though many can be grown from seed-and by the fact that some of the perennial cultivars included aren't available in Canada.

As with other garden books from Europe, some points don't ring true. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is listed as short-lived and unable to withstand competition, but like most Canadian gardeners, I find it perfectly reliable and easy-to-grow, even in a crowded perennial border.
--Yvonne Cunnington

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