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A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future
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A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  85 ratings  ·  18 reviews
As human-made climate change and mass extinction impacts the world’s ability to function, we will be called upon to garden the planet more actively. Native plants in home, business, and public landscapes will play a critical role in helping us know and appreciate wildness, while waking us to global wildlife stewardship and cultivating equality among ourselves.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 11th 2017 by New Society Publishers
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A surprisingly deep and thorough look at ecological philosophy and the anthropogenic forces on our environment and our climate. All of this through the lens of "the garden" as created space, as natural setting. Natural spaces/wildness and its role in such social justice movements, activism, and even religion - all subjects covered in this book.

Vogt's intelligent writing challenged me in a pretty radical way and I am grateful for that. I suspect several more readings and ruminations of the text.
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars, only because I think the book needed more chapters and a little better organization. I felt sometimes there was too much bouncing around between thoughts. I also think there could have been a little more direction at the end, a clarion call sort of statement with direction for how to proceed.

Otherwise, this book is an interesting mix of gardening, ecology, and philosophy, with a smidge of religion. It would honestly be over any beginning gardener's head but is perfect for those with
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this profound take on the ethics of gardening. It's actually so much more than that and a book I shall reread because it's so deep. I was digging (ha!) his ideas about plants not being art and how we - nature and humans - coexist so all decisions need to be made with that in mind, when Chapter 3 blew me away with discussion of shame, guilt, meta meditation and unethical amnesia. Wow! I expected to be drawn to the social justice aspect of Chapter 4 and felt inspired by Vogt's message. I espe ...more
Caleb Melchior
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good overview of the state of thinking on ecological ethics in the landscape industry at the moment. Overall, engaging and well-written. I appreciate Ben’s chapter on the relationship between religious belief systems and ecological thinking - that’s an aspect that isn’t often addressed in the industry. Some thought provoking parallels between landscape design and activism.
Sep 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ch5, e-book
Some lovely garden writing is interspersed in rather poorly organized ecological science and philosophy. Citations are lacking for many of the claims, and digressions sometimes go rather far afield. Apparently Vogt taught at a college and disagreed with the use of trigger warnings to assist students with PTSD. I completely agree with the author's premise that native plants are important for ecological restoration, but some of the arguments could have been made more clearly and persuasively. ...more
Russell Ricard
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Benjamin Vogt’s A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future is a unique call to awareness of our personal choices. How, what, when, and why we garden as we’ve been conditioned to, has an impact on the planet. Vogt’s grounding as a poet, essayist, photographer, and wildlife landscape designer serves his narrative blend of research about plants, gardening, ecological systems, and climate change with beautifully written, accessible language that also highlights his ow ...more
Barbara Sissel
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gardening, philosophy
I finished reading this book several days ago, but it will stay with me, I know, for a long time. It isn't simply a gardening book, but a passionate and compelling appeal for awareness. It's a kind of guide, an attempt to reconnect us to the living outdoors. In all the hue and cry over the havoc being wrecked on our beautiful planet, this beautifully written book gives real facts, many of them heartbreaking, all of them fascinating. I was brought to tears. I wrote in the margins, and a kind of r ...more
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
On some occasions, I believe that Vogt swings his arguments too far, but the underlying messages of his ideas are an interesting contribution to the discussion of nature and design. Overall a decent read with well-worded arguments, but perhaps a little too precocious for my liking.
Betsy Myers
I won this book via Goodreads First Reads. I am an ECE Administrator and I look forward to adding this book to our lending library for parents and staff at my school.
Rebecca Rolnick
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vogt's arguments are compelling and his writing is beautiful.
This book is relevant not just for gardeners but for anyone who cares about the future of the natural world.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very compelling insight into the use of native vs hybrid or introduced species in our gardens.
Rift Vegan
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
This book changed my life. Native plants are so important to our ecosystems that we need to focus solely on native plants!

I am not a home owner, but I do have a Community Garden plot. This book is not about our food gardens. It's about landscaping and flower gardens. And in those places, we need to avoid the exotics and the invasives. BV puts out the argument, and perfectly convinces me. I have been researching the plants I have in my garden plot...

As a vegan, I thought I was doing good to let
Tamara Willems
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This felt to me like a very important and informative book to read, which in no way took anything away from my complete enjoyment of it. Benjamin Vogt is passionate and dedicated to contributing to the environment around him as well as the greater picture, by way of sustainability and sensibly encourages a collective dedication to daily wildness!
He calls on us to be conscious of what, where, how and just who it is we plant our gardens for, how very connected to nature and to each other we all ar
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book. We need to understand the critical value of native plants -- locally native species -- and why they are critical to environmental health, wildlife and human survival. Part philosophy, part gardener, part ecologist, Vogt echoes Aldo Leopold's plea for a land ethic that we can practice in our own immediate neighborhoods, and ideally nationwide. ...more
Natalie Ross
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really excellent perspective on the role of gardening in the climate change conversation. Gardening not just for oneself, but for other species - this should be an important new paradigm shift not just for professional designers, but for everyone with a yard. Beautifully written and well researched. Everyone should read this book, but especially midwesterners!
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I struggle to find words to do this book justice. Just go read it,--and experience for yourself the magic it has to offer for anybody who encounters it with an open heart and open mind.
Dee Roll
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I applaud his goals just find the book itself very colorless
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Skip it. Unnecessary fanaticism.
Linda Brunner
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Bill Peregrine
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Benjamin Vogt has a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an MFA from The Ohio State University. His writing and photography have appeared in over 60 publications from journals and magazines to anthologies. Benjamin writes a native plant gardening column at and speaks nationally on sustainable and wildlife landscapes. He owns Monarch Gardens LLC, a prairie garden des ...more

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58 likes · 15 comments
“Your garden is a protest. It is a place of defiant compassion.
It is a space to help sustain wildlife and ecosystem function while providing an aesthetic response that moves you. For you, beauty isn’t just petal-deep but goes down into the soil, farther down into the aquifer and back up into the air and for miles around on the backs and legs of insects. You don’t have to see microbes in action, birds eating seeds, butterflies laying eggs, ants farming aphids….Your garden is a protest for all the ways in which we deny our life by denying other lives. Plant some natives. Be defiantly compassionate.”
“Ultimately, every garden is an ideology.” 2 likes
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