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The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition Hardcover – December 18, 2009
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“This new edition is two books in one, and a handsome volume at that. Henry Mitchell said it all when he claimed gardeners owe all to William Robinson. We do, and this book is the perfect way to appreciate that statement.” —Gardens Illustrated
“This new, expanded edition. . . . is essential reading for today’s ecologically minded gardens.” —Landscape Architecture
“I’m giving a big Thumbs Up to Rick Darke’s updating of William Robinson’s classic The Wild Garden.” —Garden Rant
“If there was but one book on our garden library shelf, William Robinson’s The Wild Garden would be the single tome, at once revolutionary and oozing charm. . . . With photographer and writer Rick Darke’s added chapters and insight, we understand more than ever the wisdom and urgency of Robinson’s garden gospel.” —Chicago Tribune
“Rick Darke retains all the original’s beautiful engraved illustrations while augmenting them with his own rich color photographs.” —Martha’s Vineyard Times
“Rick Darke could well be Robinson’s reincarnation.” —Ottawa Citizen
“Robinson’s seminal work set forth a vision of the naturalistic approach that informed gardening for generations. . . . With photographer and writer Darke’s added chapters and insight, we understand more than ever the wisdom and urgency of Robinson’s garden gospel.” —Tuscaloosa News
“Will truly inspire you. Originally published in 1870, [it] remained in print for more than 50 years with a message that is just as revolutionary today.” —Wenatchee World
From the Back Cover
“Rick Darke captures in text and brilliant photography the essence of Robinson's philosophy, now practiced virtually worldwide.” —Peter Herbert, consultant and former proprietor of Gravetye Manor“Rick Darke has done a great service to all gardeners in showing how Robinson's nineteenth-century classic is alive and relevant to us and our time.” —Noël Kinsbury, garden designer, author, lecturer
William Robinson’s revolutionary book, The Wild Garden, envisioned an authentically naturalistic approach to gardening that is more vital today than ever before. First published in 1870, The Wild Garden evolved through many editions and remained in print through the remainder of the author’s lifetime (1838–1935). In the book, Robinson issued a forceful challenge to the prevailing style of the day, which relied upon tender plants arranged in rigidly geometrical designs. In sharp contrast, Robinson advocated for the use of hardy, locally adapted native and exotic plants arranged according to local growing conditions. Robinson’s vision was inspired by his first-hand observations of natural habitats in Europe and North America, and he put his ideas into practice in his own garden at Gravetye Manor in West Sussex. The Wild Garden was ground-breaking and hugely influential in its day, and is stunningly relevant to twenty-first century gardeners and landscape stewards seeking to adopt sustainable design and management practices.
In addition to the complete original text and illustrations from the fifth edition of 1895, this expanded edition includes new chapters and 125 color photographs by award-winning photographer and landscape consultant Rick Darke. His new material places wild gardening in modern context, underscoring Robinson’s importance in the evolution of ecological design and illustrating an inspiring diversity of contemporary wild gardens.
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American garden writer and landscape designer Rick Darke provides an introdution to the new edition. He says, "For all of us seeking creative, practical approaches to today's challenges and opportunities, William Robinson's inspired response to the same issues more than a century ago offer historical perspective and suggest current strategies."
Darke traveled to Gravetye, Robinson's home south of London, to include in the book several photos from Robinson's home. The new images clearly reflect the words of Robinson as you read the book.
Robinson wrote to voice his disapproval about current garden trends in England, like carpet bedding or borders with annuals that demanded intense maintenance, and at the same time created an artificial or unnatural look. He wanted a return to a garden where the plants could just grow as they wanted, with minimum pruning, no staking, and generally less demand for garden maintenance.
Robinson confronts the issue of what are native plants and how exotic plants, or those brought from other cultures, may well become part of the landscape. He suggests beginning with local flora, but also makes allowance for exotics as part of the garden.
The setting that Robinson describes for the wild garden, or placing plants where they will thrive, could be any place on a property's landscape, but especially where one might have woods, meadows, or near water. Plant choice in such places is important to create a more natural look as the plants mature.
The plants he lists include spring bulbs like narcissus that could blanket a wooded area before the leaves of nearby trees appear. Also, he describes shrubs, trees, and vines that would fit the wild garden concept. He suggests a meadow on the property where possible rather than mowing. In the meadow you could plant perennials, and mow as infrequently as once a year.
Robinson prefers plants where a barrier might be needed rather than iron fences. In the book he lists trees and shrubs that would provide what he calls "a living fence".
He likes to see the ground covered so that there is no need for weeding or raking of leaves. He writes, "Never show the naked earth; clothe it."
The theme of Robinson's book seems quite relevant today. He calls the kind of planting he recommends, the wild garden or naturalizing, a term popular today. The lily of the valley is an example of a hardy plant he suggests for taking over an area. Just let it spread to create a delightful springtime look.
"The Wild Garden" speaks to today's gardener who is confronted with limited use of water and yearns for less maintenance in the garden. Robinson's book would be a welcome addition to any gardener's library.
The philosophy becomes quite clear - to plant hardy perennial (or reseeding) specimens in their ideal soil and site conditions, in masse, and turn them loose! The listed plants are often more suited to the British climate, and not as helpful to those residing in the Southern US, who must look outside this text for more adaptable specimens (see Michael Dirr or Alan Armitage).
Hopefully Rick Darke will come out with a newer edition with much more photography; the old text is charming, but the photo examples speak loud volumes!
Chris Strand, Winterthur, Delaware