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Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes
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Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  289 ratings  ·  42 reviews
“As practical as it is poetic. . . . an optimistic call to action.” —Chicago Tribune

Over time, with industrialization and urban sprawl, we have driven nature out of our neighborhoods and cities. But we can invite it back by designing landscapes that look and function more like they do in the wild: robust, diverse, and visually harmonious. Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rain—Chicago
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 7th 2015 by Timber Press
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  289 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Those random little manufactured planting beds outside of Target, the grocery store, lining the pedestrian walkways in your city... Pansies, petunias, and maybe a random boxwood or juniper, right?

This book, while about plants and land use, is also about humans and society. Professional landscape designers, as well as the common gardener can take something away from this beautiful book. Yes, we want wild spaces to remain wild and untouched, but how can we bring this aesthetic, this biome into ou
Mark Hartzer
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is really for landscape designers moreso that the average homeowner. Nevertheless, some ideas are really good. As someone who has bought dozens of cubic yards of mulch over the years, I really like their idea of "green mulch", or having layers of plants covering the ground instead of mulch.

Really nice photos too.
Matt Kruse
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gardening
First, the cons: This book is targeted more at landscape designers than the home gardener, which is especially clear when you get to the practical considerations section. The consistent use of only scientific names for plants throughout the text also makes it more burdensome than it really needs to be (yes, common names vary, but a combo of common and scientific names would make for an easier read and give many readers touchpoints to better understand the examples).

The pros are that
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting enough in concept (and pretty pictures), but unclear exactly who the audience is here. Home gardener with TONS of money and an estate, I guess? But some interesting take aways re: planting/landscaping with wilderness in mind. However: minus 10 points from Slytherin for sentences like "Imagine for a moment what it must have been like for the first European colonists arriving on the shores of America" and then waxing white-washed nostalgic for the "virgin" land "we" arrived to. Ugh.
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lifestyle
This book clarified my thinking about garden design while keeping one foot firmly in the ecological realm of gardening. The archetypes section was especially helpful, as well as the examination of plant behavior to determine what role they should perform in garden design.

(The only disappointment for me was that, save for maybe three mentions of pollinators, it glossed over the fact that thousands of species literally need native plants to survive. The book promoted using native plant
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I wish there was a *little* more actionable content, but the essays are still very interesting and don't take away from it. Kind of caters to high-level thinking on this stuff, and on design at a level for more hard-core professionals than mere hobbyists or enthusiasts (like me). Found the case-study format of the actual plans the best part of this book; showed what can be done with a kind of space and how to do it.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Revolutionary concept! The book is very well written with excellent pictures and illustrations, without a single word wasted. Thank you, Thomas and Claudia, for the ground breaking work, that brings ideas and practical actionable methods to create an ecological, resilient, naturalistic, harmonious and aesthetic pleasing planting style that I have always been wishing for.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book eloquently picks up on a number of trends in landscape design that have been gaining steam over the past few years, directed towards more resilient and enduring place-making. I appreciate the authors’ open framework which takes a more wholistic and creative approach to planting design and breaks free from the puritanical exclusively native camp instead foregrounding community and system thinking.

I’d be interested in an exploration of additional archtypes, while grasslands, woodlands a
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gardening
Outstanding. I've been struggling with how to "mass" plants without looking strange in the landscape. I want big impact and keep weeds down, drought tolerance, and native if it is appropriate for the space. This book outlines the strategy I've been struggling to figure out on my own. Designing a "plant community" in layers makes all the sense in the world to me... this book is especially for new gardeners but all gardeners can learn a lot from the methods presented here.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a pretty technical book, targeted at the professional gardener. That said, it contains a lot of information about design, planting and maintenance of semi-wild spaces. If you're wondering why your prairie meadow looks bad or seems to require a lot of maintenance even though you're doing exactly what other people told you to do, this book will tell you how to fix it but perhaps not in the way you expect. Be prepared to have your assumptions about natural landscapes challenged.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First of all, gorgeous! Secondly, thoughtful planning and preparation guide for sustainable landscaping. Highly recommend to novices and enthusiasts; definitely a good pick for a public library.
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
All of my intuitions and approach to horticulture and landscape design validated - loved it!
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Good book. Lots to think about both in thinking about your own yard and also community spaces.
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book opened my mind like no other “gardening” book I’ve ever read. Landscape design is so much more than you think it is, and if you have the smallest interest in learning why then this very thoughtfully written book with perfect charts and photos and descriptions is exactly what you’re looking for. I can open the book to any random page and be instantly engrossed.. in a landscape design book. “As extreme and unnatural as urban conditions may seem, there is likely a native plant community i ...more
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This book takes a look at landscaping as an art form with a focus on sustainability. It emphasizes planting the community and not each individual plant. While I agree with most of the concepts in this book, I can't agree that aggressive exotics fit into their overall concept. The authors do suggest using native plants in many instances, but more from an aesthetic point of view. I think it would enhance their ideas to describe why natives are important, not leave it at how pretty they are in the ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book explains how to embrace, rather than constantly battle, landscape elements that are typically thought of as challenges, such as clay soils, acidic/alkaline soils, and shade. By working with the conditions that you have, you can create a durable, beautiful landscape that feels uniquely-authentic and provides actual ecological benefits.

It also made me realize how prevalent bare ground (aka wasted space, aka weed sanctuary) and far-spaced plantings are in our designed landscap
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I don't entirely agree with the author's premises as I am much more of a purist when it comes to planting natives, but there were some valuable concepts in here, such as planting to reflect real natural habitats, creating landscape layers all the way to the ground. Plus "how to" info on ratio of structural layer plants to middle and ground layers, and how to go about preparing the site and installing. I think the text is more geared to landscapers than home gardeners such as I, but still valuabl ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it
This had a lot of information and plenty of beautiful pictures. My biggest issue was that they nearly always (but not consistently) reference plants by their scientific names. I understand why, but unfortunately it makes the book a little less accessible to the lay reader like myself who only knows a handful of scientific names. It definitely slowed down my reading and made it harder to connect with the specific plants that were mentioned. I don't think it would have been hard to use both common ...more
Susan Beecher
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the very best books I have read on landscape design. I learned so much. They direct us to start with a landscape type that we want: forest, woodland (or what others might call savannah), grassland, etc. Not really a book for the total amateur more for landscape architects but as I said I learned more from ths book than from the many I already have.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While definitely geared for landscape designers and professionals, the theory presented in this book really helped me understand a lot about planning and developing plant communities that work for different situations. I learned a ton and am so glad I picked it up.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book has gotten me back into the dirt. I'd recommend it to all my friends, but I think most of them are here already. Still, this is beautifully written and illustrated, and gives a great overview. Will I see a changed aesthetic in my lifetime? I really think I might.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference
Beautiful photos and layouts about building resilient landscapes instead of forcing gardens.
Jennifer Johnson
Most up-to-date advice for ecological plantings

I’ve read most of the gardening books to come out in the last couple of years. This has by far the best advice.
Annie Oosterwyk
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: gardening
I got some inspiration on a January day. I need to order seeds, February is coming!
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read as a horticulturist/landscape architect student. Probably a bit too technical for the average homeowner.
Emily Bragg
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, plants
informative but ultra-dry
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very helpful. Finally an answer to constant weeding!
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful inspiration for how to design a landscape with native plants. Very useful for me, since I have so many invasive species to deal with in a very shady piece of land.
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent reference book for folks interested in sustainable landscape development. I wish it was a requirement for gardening clubs and landscape management companies and everyone who is concerned with the clear cutting for new housing developments that are rampant in my area. Now in the spring of 2018, as I drive through areas that were open land two years ago that are being built on I am distressed by all the developers who have little regard for native and invasive plants.
Grady McCallie
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lovely pictures, clear graphics, and a fairly narrow rubric for landscape design presented in a much grander frame. Stripped down, that rubric is: decide whether the site you're dealing with is belongs to the grassland, shrubland, or forest archetype; within the appropriate template, plant architectural elements, groundcovers to hold the soil, and seasonal plants to add color and flair; and don't necessarily get stuck on natives, but use plants that belong together in a habitat and evolutionary ...more
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