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The Self-Sustaining Garden: The Guide to Matrix Planting Hardcover – Illustrated, June 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated; First Edition edition (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881928372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881928372
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.9 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Peter Thompson is a distinguished plantsman, with a background in plant physiology. He has founded a gardening school in Shropshire, England, owned and run Oldfield Nurseries, and headed the Physiology section at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where he established a Seed Bank for useful, threatened, or otherwise important species and populations of wild plants. He lives in the UK.

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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Cate on October 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Although Peter Thompson considers matrix planting an "unorthodox" way of gardening, the concept has been around for awhile. Ann Lovejoy devoted about 20 pages to it in her book, Ann Lovejoy's Organic Garden Design School (2001), and she covers it briefly in The Ann Lovejoy Handbook of Northwest Gardening (2003). She called it sandwich planting, but it's the same as matrix planting.

Peter Thompson's book provides more depth, guidance, and rationale on the topic. I use his book to complement and enhance Ann's books. The practice of layering or intermingling site-adaptive plants really makes a lot of sense.

In response to reviewer, MuffieNH, below: I didn't notice the size of the font until I read her(?) review. The font is a bit smaller than some other books, but it didn't bother me. She denied herself all the helpful information in this book...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By allanbecker-gardenguru on March 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
We are in the midst of a multi-faceted historical development in gardening that has been propelled by social change. In our era, time available to maintain a garden has become as precious as water in the desert. Consequently, alternative styles of landscaping are evolving; styles that require fewer resources. In one way or the other, all of the alternatives politely ignore traditional gardening philosophies. The self sustaining garden is one option.

The author submits that a self sustaining garden requires less effort because the plants do the work. The key to success is not to attempt to grow ones favorite plants. Instead, one must select those that are best matched to local ecological conditions. In such situations, what goes on in the garden will be controlled not by the gardener but by the relationship between the plants that are happy growing together.

The author refers to this kind of self-sustaining landscape as matrix planting and offers wildflower gardens as an example: Wildflowers grow all over the world with no help from humans. They survive by forming self-sustaining communities-broadly know as vegetation- which shelter and protect the plants within them, while excluding outsiders. They are successful because the plants within each community have established a balance with one another which enables each to obtain a share of resources, living space and opportunities to reproduce...Matrix planting is based on this natural model...

Matrix planting requires less energy and resources as it contradicts traditional garden maintenance methods. For example, tilling and amending the soil is no longer required. Regular use of fertilizer is unnecessary; weeding of self seeding plants is discouraged.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RedBoa on December 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Don't waste your time with this book. Being the green-minded person I am I checked it out form my local library becuase I thought it would have some useful insite into establishing a stable sustainable garden. The premis is alluring promising an alternative to the usual backbreaking gardening style we are use to. Wrong. After sifting through 5 Chapters of Mr. Thompson's pontifications on things he sees us all doing wrong of not noticing in nature he still has not let us in on what exactly a matrix garden should be or end up as. He does give lists of plants and a number of case models of gardens others have established but in the end he blows his own premis for the book away by recomemding the use of herbicides, fertilizers and black poly sheeting to control weeds. He gives no hints as to how to control weeds or other undesirables in the garden without the usual tools chemical or otherwise and ferquently recomends the usual tools and chemicals. One might learn something about matrix gardening from the case studies in the book, they are on nice green pages within it's flods but the bottom line is one will have to do some work to establish their desired garden. I can sum this review up by giving you the secret, not contained with this book, to sustainable gardening. Plant what grows in your area, match your plantings to the seasons/weather for your climate, look for creative ways to not use chemicals and over-watering and finaly observe what works in your garden and what doesn't. I for one use weeds against weeds becuase some are nice flowering plants and crowd out others. This lets me go back and remove sections of those same weeks in favor of other things I want later. Also remember weeds are weeds only in definition.Read more ›
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13 of 30 people found the following review helpful By MuffieNH on September 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Sounds like a good idea; plants that are right for your area will want to thrive and grow. But talk about your fine print! Very tiny fonts were used throughout this book. Even if you look at the photos, you can barely read the captions. My guess - this book was supposed to be larger than 8" x 10" but the publisher cheaped out.
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