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56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2014
Living Landscape is an important addition to the works on native gardening. The collaboration between Darke, a knowledgeable plantsman and designer of natural landscapes and Tallamy, an entomologist with a terrific understanding of ecosystems, is an excellent pairing.

I trained as a landscape architect and have been frustrated by the gap between conservation theory at the university level and practical applications that could be helpful to the homeowner who desires a healthy landscape.

The book takes one past the concept of reducing one's lawn to real examples of space planning and the use of plants to support diversity. Tallamy's first book, "Bringing Nature Home", made the critical link between the survival our native bird population and available insect protein for fledgling birds. Native insects have, of course, co evolved with native plants and primarily, require our native plants to survive. So there is a very important link between the native plants and our native bird populations. He makes the equally important point that homeowners can help bring back diminishing bird populations.

The book is thoughtfully structured around design principles and ecological function. Observations of "Layers" in the wild landscape, including topics like the canopy, understory, waters edge and so on, are discussed relative to layers within the home garden. "The Art of Observation" is educational too. Significantly, among other valuable observations, Tallamy points out the importance of interrelationships of organisms, ecological function and ecological benefits for humans as well as wildlife, and the critical role of biological corridors.

Yes, the book primarily approaches the larger suburban property, but it's principles are important to consider at any scale. Several properties are discussed. I found the authors' observations of their properties over time to be valuable.

An important gift of The Living Landscape is to empower the important and even urgent work of the property owner with a framework. This book does not cover all of the details, but landscape are complicated. There is a helpful list of the benefits of various plants in the book.

Given the triple threat of habitat fragmentation, overpopulation of deer and invasive plants crowding out our natives, this is a well-timed publication, so thanks for your work, gentlemen.

As I write this review, The Living Landscape is no. 1 of Amazon's Landscape Architecture titles. I will recommend and gift this book to landscape designers and home gardeners.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2014
I have been a fan of Doug Tallamy's book Bringing Nature Home since it was published. It changed the way I thought about the plants in my yard and has guided my choice of plants. I've been looking forward to this new book since I heard that it was being written. Finally a "how-to" book for creating the entire landscape, not just the individual plants within it! But as the introduction says, "It is not a how-to book." And after all, given the diversity of people's yards and personal preferences, a cookbook approach could hardly work.

Instead, it "aims to provide readers with inspiration and strategies for making and maintaining truly living landscapes..." In this it has succeeded. It has given me many new ideas to think about, has provided many images of the natural world as well as home landscapes to serve as guides, and has strengthened my understanding of the importance of what we do with our own yards.

I happen to live in the ecoregion pictured in the book, so it's especially useful for me, but plant lists are provided for each region in the country and indicate both the ecological and landscape functions of each plant. (Even so, it might not be as useful for someone in the Southwest, since it's so different from the examples used throughout the book.)

Like Bringing Nature Home, this book has further extended my thinking about my home landscaping, and I highly recommend it.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2014
I heard Douglas Tallamy speak at the Native Plants Conference this Spring, and I've been eagerly awaiting his new book since.

As a professional gardener at a top US Japanese garden, as well the writer of a garden blog focused on creating your garden sanctuary, I don't grow only native plants. In fact long ago, I was one of those turned off by the whole native plant movement.

I have gradually over the years been turned into a convert. I now fully recognize the value of native plants in the landscape. It was Doug's monumentally important book Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded that solidified my evolving views of how and why I should be pursuing my career and calling.

His new book is lives up to his last.

"The Living Landscape" is more of a continuation of "Bringing Nature Home" than a replacement for it.

If his first book made the case for using native plants in the landscape, this book shows you how in a general sense. This is not a "paint by number book" for creating a native landscape, but it is a broad and detailed covering of how and why it can be done. This also is not a dumb down book for the beginning gardener. By the same token, I can't imagine a better first book for someone looking to begin landscaping their home to read.

I recommend it without reservation.

Doug's coauthor, Rick Darke (author of "The American Woodland Garden: Capturing the Spirit of the Deciduous Forest") brings not only his writing voice but also his excellent photography. Don't get me wrong this is a heady book with some pretty in depth concepts, but it also features an abundance of beautiful pictures. So much in fact, it almost qualifies as a Coffee table book.

Chapter 1 - Layers in the Wild Landscapes - This 74 page chapter covers looking at wild landscapes through the view of the different layers in the garden. Not only the vertical layers of the woodland but also horizontal layers where different landscape types meet and layers through time. It was a ironic that the day I posted a blog post on layers in the woodland, that I received this book in the mail that explained the concept I was trying to communicate in a more in depth way.

Chapter 2 - The Community of Living Organisms - This 15 page chapters basically sums up most of the important concepts of the 1st half of "Bringing Nature Home". It will be a worthwhile review for those who have read that book, while readers who have not should read it slowly and take in the important message it presents.

Chapter 3 - The Ecological functions of the Garden - 11 pages. Another short but important chapter. It helps to broaden our view of how our landscapes can provide benefits other than just looking pretty. It covers topics such as species conservation, carbon sequestration, moderating temperature, watershed protection, air filtration, etc.

Chapter 4 - The Art of Observation - This 10 page chapter could be better in my mind. I like the color examples given, but I feel more depth and breadth of this topic could be covered. It is still worthwhile to most readers.

Chapter 5 - Applying Layers to the Home Garden - This massive 156 page chapter is the meat of the book for people wanting examples on how the concepts in the book apply to their landscapes. There are lots of examples and beautiful pictures of applying the information in the 1st chapter on Layers especially to the author's landscapes. Again, it does NOT give Step by Step instructions so some people may be disappointed here. There is enough meat in the examples, that practical advice can be extracted and applied to your landscape. It may take a bit of study though.

The last part of the book may be the most helpful for some people. It includes a listing of plants and their different benefits and uses by region in the US. The Regions are Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest and Mountain states, Pacific Northwest, and New England. These lists mostly cover natives, but some include exotic plants mainly to point out those that provide little value to our ecosystems. Overall the lists are good but I have a few comments about specific regions.

Mid-Atlantic - This is the only one that is personally done by the authors. The other regions were written by other experts. This region gets the most detail and if I lived in this region I would be thrilled by the detail of this list.

Midwest and Mountain states (hmm, Indiana and Colorado has same plant list?) - This list was written by an author of a book on Ohio birds. It looks pretty accurate and detailed for those of us in the Midwest. I am not quite so sure I would be happy with this information if I lived in the Mountain states.

Overall this is a fantastic follow up to Bringing Nature home. It definitely stands on it's own. If it is viewed as an extension of that book, it is a lovely and worthwhile addition to any gardener or landscaper, or just anyone interested in preserving our living landscape.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2014
I have been a Landscape Architect and garden designer in the SE US for 35 years now. This book should not only change the way we think about designing our gardens but how we think about our role in forming them. I especially like Chapter 4 "The Art of Observation". Thanks to the authors/editors for including a quick reference chart illustrating the ecological functions of several native plants for the SE (by Dr Larry Mellichamp). I will recommend this book to all my future garden design students.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A comprehensive and highly readable guide to changing the way we look at and treat our gardens--not as an extension of our house, but as an extension of the environment of our area. Instead of a "butterfly garden" and a bird house and bird bath plunked into the typical garden, the authors offer a rationale and a path for transforming our too often just-for-show gardens into gardens that provide beauty for us as well as place for nature to flourish. The final goal is not just an area for bees and birds and butterflies to flourish, but for us to flourish as well.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2014
Here's a test: ask any householder about their "landscape" and I will bet you get a list of flowering plants and possibly some small shrubs and a particularly lovely tree or two. Speaking broadly, almost since the time humans established permanent dwellings, plants have been seen as decoration. That's it. Eye candy.
We gardeners in western South Dakota remember the truly stirring comments of Doug Tallamy, Ph.D. who spoke to us about his experience and philosophy expressed in his book, Bringing Nature Home (which should be on everyone's bookshelf). He suggested broadening the traditional definition of `landscape' to describe an organic, vibrant, vigorous, ecological, living whole. We do this, he said, by understanding the importance of and support of all the life systems in our environments. Thus we are encouraged to accept, for example, the important place of myriad insects to feed the birds and native plants to draw those insects, to put into play the vigor of living species that co-evolved. The great truth is the realization that we cannot garden selectively...everything in our landscape has a place and is connected for the health of the whole. This is easy to say; it is hard for some of us to do.
Timber Press has just released a book by Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy, The Living Landscape. Let me state without hyperbole: this is the best gardening book I have ever read. Darke is a landscape consultant who combines art, photography, ecology and stewardship of living landscapes with years of experience as Curator of Plants at Longwood Gardens. He has partnered with Tallamy who brings passion and experience in many areas of ecology and whose research, according to the author notes, "...is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities." There it all is: the crucial connection of insects, plants and diversity of animal communities in our gardens.
Although Darke's photographs are stunningly beautiful, this is not JUST a coffee table book. The Living Landscape describes, illustrates and promotes landscape "layers" and their functions as horticulture, as botany, as ecology, as biology, and as a challenge for educated stewardship.
Chapters titled "The Community of Living Organisms: Why Interrelationships Matter More Than Numbers" and "The Ecological Functions of Gardens: What Landscapes Do" including "Applying Layers to the Home Garden" are bookended by discussion of the various layers, in the wild and in our home gardens - tree canopies, herbaceous plants, wet edges (stream and pond sides), the dynamic edge which we here in the Black Hills would call the forest interface, meadows and grasslands and layers of time and community and more.
The authors have included comprehensive lists of selected plants for all areas, including 13 pages of plants for the Midwest and mountain states. The book delivers solid scientific information based on the vast experiences of the authors.
The bonus for beginning gardeners is that the information is delivered with the authors' passion for understanding how landscapes really work and illustrated by photographs that are as instructive and applicable for persons on the East coast as they are for those of us in the Upper Midwest. This works because, in my view, principles - ethical principles - are illustrated, not simply sites.
The bonus for experienced gardeners is that the authors lead with experience, research, and science, and in the process, at least in my case, deliver hearty portions of opportunities to experience reverence for life, a phrase brought into public use by the famous polymath, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who received the Nobel Peace prize in 1952. In `Civilization and Ethics' he opined that observing the world (landscapes) around us "...affords me my fundamental principle of morality...that good consists in maintaining, assisting and enhancing life..."
This book, while teaching us, surely, calls us to expand and embrace a greater view of Nature, much as Aldo Leopold did in Sand County Almanac.
This is a book I have been waiting for. It broadens our definition of a garden, any garden. It empowers the gardener with new vision, understanding and vocabulary and places him smack in the center of the ecological dynamic to ponder this question: as gardeners do we only decorate or do we also understand, support, and appreciate the living layers of our gardens?
Cathie Draine
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48 of 62 people found the following review helpful
when i read Doug Tallamy's excellent book Bringing Nature Home, I hoped the book to be written would combine the information contained in Mr. Tallamy's book with help for owners and designers of small gardens. This is not that book.

I have all books published by Rick Darke, and with each addition to his oeuvre I have found more of the same - lots of nice pictures - too many similar pictures - without enough focus or substance. Then when Mr. Darke published on the coattails of William Robinson an update of the Wild Garden, I was disappointed - no shocked - that a classic had been so badly diluted. A few nice photos, but not enough added, in my view, to warrant a new edition of the book. Mr. Robinson stands very well on his own, and his plant palette is of a different time.

In The Living Landscape, Mr. Darke again teams up with a distinguished figure in landscape knowledge. Again, there are beautiful pictures. But it is more of a promotion for Mr. Darke's own landscape than what could truly have been a valuable complement to Doug Tallamy's book. In my view what was needed was more help for suburban and urban areas, where most of us live, rather than the 15-acre model of au courant gentleman's estate shown here.

Thus, the best part of this book is the part written by Tallamy. I hope a better book is yet to come that will better serve his research and the fauna he is such an eloquent spokesman for. and, timber press, i hope it will be in electronic form.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2014
When I heard a year ago that Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy were working on a new book, I looked forward to it with great anticipation. Darke, the skilled nature photographer and story teller, and Tallamy, the author of the seminal work Bringing Nature Home? Couldn’t wait! Well, it’s here, and worth the wait. Reading the book is like taking a walk in nature in the mid-Atlantic with these two talented men who have a great deal to share.

This book includes five chapters and is roughly divided into thirds. The first four chapters comprise one-third of the book, and address the ecological basis for landscape design – structure (layers), community/critters, ecological function of gardens, and a special chapter on the art of observation.

Chapter 5 is the second third of the book. The concepts presented in the first four chapters are applied, using the layers as an organizing structure. One sentence in this chapter seemed to me to form the core of the book: “Plants will always be at the heart of gardening, but instead of beginning with a set of objects, we can start with a set of goals to ensure the landscapes we live in are beautifully layered, biologically diverse, and broadly functional.” Many ideas are offered. I especially appreciated the discussion of how to create the herbaceous layer; this clicked for me in a way it has not before.

The final third of the book is a detailed plant list that includes the many plants shown and discussed in the book. The plants are listed by US region. Each plant is keyed to indicate ecological function as well as aesthetic landscape function.

The book is very well-organized. Some of it is co-written, some written individually by each author, including essays on various topics. Helpfully, pages written by Darke are colored gold; by Tallamy, blue.
The authors make note throughout the book of size and scale, and how plants would work both in large and small garden settings. There are pictures of plants used in both formal and informal gardens, offering many ideas for the reader. I recommend this book to all gardeners, especially those gardening in the mid-Atlantic region of the US, home ground of the authors and source of most of the inspiring photographs.

As Rick Darke wrote in his Preface: “A well-made garden should be full of life, human and otherwise, providing infinite, daily opportunities to experience that glorious multiplicity of things and living processes.” And from Dr. Tallamy’s Preface: “We can simultaneously appreciate how landscapes look and how their interconnected parts create the vital ecosystem services that sustain us all.” Their book definitely provides “the inspiration and strategies for making and maintaining truly living landscapes – gardens that are full of life and truly vital to both human needs and the needs of local and regional wildlife communities.”
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2014
Both Tallamy and Darke are incredibly talented and practical. This book shares some great ideas for making your landscape more beautiful and purposeful. Beautifully illustrated! Another great book by authors who have made a lasting impact on all who have been lucky enough to learn about their work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2014
I love this ideas contained in this book. It is not all that useful for California, though, because most of the species information and the photographs are not relevant to the southwest. I wish someone would write a book like this for us in the southwest.
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