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Plant-Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place, and Spirit Hardcover – October 14, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The must-have (old school) garden book of the season.” —The New York Times

“As veteran horticulturists and designers, the Ogdens make an argument that is compelling. . . . This book is full of inspiring pictures of garden plant communities: plants for containers, perennials that still look good after the flowers fade, the orchard floored with daffodils, herbaceous foundation plantings. The authors also offer sophisticated plant lists that will have even seasoned gardeners Googling away.” —The Washington Post

“What the opinionated authors think doesn’t work is described as fully as what they like, and they don’t pull punches. . . . The strong point of view makes the book a better read than most of its coffee-table-worthy brethren.” —Landscape Architecture

“Lauren’s photography, alone, will inspire readers to a healthier and more stimulating approach to garden-making, where plants and nature take the lead.” —Pacific Horticulture

“This could be one of the best garden books of the first decade of the 21st century. Combining an ecological approach to plant selection with a strong sense of the aesthetic possibilities of plants, it adds an element that is all too rarely considered—that of how plants and gardens fit into and complement their surrounding landscape, and celebrate regional distinctiveness.” —Gardens Illustrated

“Champions the ‘plant-it-instead-of-pave-it’ point of view better than any book to date.” —American Gardener

“The Ogdens put plants first when designing gardens and have assembled a photo-rich book filled with plant ideas, where they’d best flourish and in what kind of gardens. Their holistic approach embraces people, places, and the natural world.” —Garden Design Online

“Focuses on how to bridge the gap between designers who can’t garden and gardeners who can’t design.” —Washington Gardener

“The first chapter sets out to secure a thought process that puts plants first in any approach to design. It then flows effortlessly into a gallery of gardens and plant portraits interspersed with useful listings of plants for every situation. . . . A great source of inspiration for anyone serious about designing a garden.” —English Garden

“Pushes toward the sensual and involved part of gardening, toward pleasure and intimacy. Gardens ought to be places of change: hourly, daily, seasonally and over years. It’s heartening to see a great big glossy book championing our urges to get out and touch our plants.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Places plants at the heart of the garden instead as afterthoughts of the design.” —Deseret News

“Gives plants room to flourish. . . . Packed with [Lauren Springer Ogden’s] lush photographs.” —Denver Post

About the Author

Scott and Lauren Ogden and their work have been featured on several television shows and in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Nature, Martha Stewart Living, Sunset, and Horticulture. Awards include two American Horticultural Society book awards and a landscape design award from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.Before making horticulture and garden design his life's work, Scott studied geology and paleontology at Yale.

Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden’s horticultural experience in the United States and Europe spans zones 4 through 10. They design public and private gardens, speak widely, and have written three books each, including their new award-winning joint book Plant-Driven Design. They seek plants and design inspiration in the wilds of the United States as well as Mexico, South Africa, and Argentina; several of their plant introductions are in the nursery trade. At home in the challenging climates of Fort Collins, Colorado, and Austin, Texas, they tend two intensive gardens together.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press; First Edition edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881928771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881928778
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 0.9 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Panayoti Kelaidis on December 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is not just Another Pretty Garden Book, although it is chockablock full of stunning images. Unlike cookie cutter coffee table books with the same plants and same rehashed notions, the Ogdens have filled the text with clear, compelling exposition that really elucidates the ways in to take advantage of the inherent ecological needs of plants to achieve stunning aesthetic ends. This book is utterly new and novel. Everyone talks about design, but the Ogdens deliver the goods: their stellar photography captures the most beautiful North American gardens and crystallizes their salient aspects (microclimate, hardscape, texture and light) showing you how you can recreate many of these artistic habitats in an urban or suburban setting. They have distilled two lifetimes of cutting edge gardening into their copious plant lists and designs--the best new plants used in fresh ways. These speak to all parts of our continent. I am especially excited by the sections on transforming dull lawn space into multidimensional, self sustaining meadows filled with year around color, attracting wildlife and safe for humans! Encyclopaedic in scope, intimate in feel, this is a handbook for creating sustainable, gorgeous, truly American gardens. Every serious gardener, designer or landscape architect in America should own and cherish this book.
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Format: Hardcover
On the plus side, the photos are undeniably beautiful. They have taken care to select the right time of day, the right angle, and the right exposure to really maximize the beauty of the gardens and plants. The paper and printing process enhances their beauty. Many, but not all, of the photos are from their own garden (I don't know how large their space is, but it is obviously larger than my own, and has a natural backdrop that my suburban home could never replicate). I have already learned a few lessons about garden design (daffodils point southeast, so plant them so they'll turn toward the viewing area, for instance).

On the negative side, I am on page 51, and have been struck already with how -- for lack of a better word -- catty they are about other designers and gardens. I am happy to read their ideas for what makes a garden beautiful, but I can do without their references to, for instance, a native plant garden director "piously" sharing her opinions with them (which they obviously didn't share) or statements like "[i]nsensitivity to this plant's spirit is exemplified by a planting along the south side of an east-west path at a prominent botanic garden". I am hoping this attitude will settle down as I progress through the book. It's very jarring to be reading their peaceful, nature-driven, perhaps even dare I say, "hippy-like" writing, and then have them suddenly stop to take a swipe at another designer or garden or gardening theory. Doing that exhibits the same arrogance for which they denigrate others.

I'll update as I continue through the book.

UPDATE: So it's November and I'm only at page 117. I kinda sorta took the spring/summer/fall off to actually go in my garden, instead of reading about them.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Gardening books tend to be easily classified - detailed reference books, encyclopedic treatises on individual plants, design how-to, or regionally-specific. Plant Driven Design transcends time, geographic boundaries and spirit. It is a book that evokes thoughtful consideration and compassion for our own backyards and a greater connection with the world at the same time.
Readers will not want to sit and read this all at one time - it's a book to return to again and again. The abundance of beautiful photographs and detailed, honest prose provide repose for stressed minds, offer inspiration for new garden concepts, encourage exploration of the natural world, and grant freedom to experience plants as the basis for all garden processes.
On the other hand, Plant Driven Design offers some of the most diverse and creative plant lists ever incorporated into a single gardening book, with hundreds of suggestions of a vast array of species and cultivars for a myriad of sites and conditions. I was especially intrigued with lists of Junipers to Love, Bulbs for Steppe Plantings, Designing with Light, and Matching Climates and Plants.
Gardeners of all flavors will appreciate the depth and breadth that these intelligent and creative gardeners bring forth - science, art, philosophy, travel, romance and nature woven purposefully throughout the pages. This is a book that will change the way you experience gardens forever.

Favorite quote:
In the chapter, Putting Plants First: "The earthly Edens we create are indeed poetic realms in which we are able to forget our modern-day divorce from the natural world. This renewal of our relationship with nature is the very essence of garden experience."
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Format: Hardcover
This book should be required reading for Landscape Architects and anyone else who wants to create beautiful gardens...As usual these two very knowledgeable plants-people have called our attention to putting the right plants in the right places so that one enhances the other. This will certainly become one of the great garden books of this century. With a list of features and plant lists right next to the contents they have made it easy to find specific types of plants...plants with big leaves, columner plants, hardy cycads and much more. Lauren's photos(mostly)and Scot's (occassionaly) light up the book perfectly. Give yourself and your favorite gardeners this book.
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