A New Perspective


By Piet Oudolf

By Noel Kingsbury

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$49.95 CAD



  1. Hardcover $39.95 $49.95 CAD
  2. ebook $17.99 $22.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 9, 2013. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

“Indispensable.” —The New York Times Book Review

Piet Oudolf’s gardens—unique combinations of long-lived perennials and woody plants that are rich in texture and sophisticated in color—are breathtaking and have deep emotional resonance. With Planting, designers and home gardeners can recreate these plant-rich, beautiful gardens that support biodiversity and nourish the human spirit.
An intimate knowledge of plants is essential to the success of modern landscape design, and Planting shares Oudolf’s considerable understanding of plant ecology, explaining how plants behave in different situations, what goes on underground, and which species make good neighbors. Extensive plant charts and planting plans will help you choose plants for their structure, color, and texture. A detailed directory shares details like each plant’s life expectancy, the persistence of its seedheads, and its propensity to self-seed.


The agenda for planting design in the twenty-first century
The former nursery at Piet and Anja Oudolf’s at Hummelo in the Netherlands. It is now a boldly experimental area where a range of robust perennials grow amidst a sown mix of wild pasture grasses along with various spontaneously arriving species. Only time will tell how it will work out.

Plants are increasingly being recognized as a vital part of our urban and domestic environments, not just a luxury or an unnecessary—if pleasant—bit of decoration. It has long been established, for example, that the mere view of plants through a window has a beneficial effect on the human psyche, and that plants can play an important role in cleaning and purifying the air of buildings and built-up environments.

Gardening, whether on the most intimate private level or the most extensive and public, involves an appreciation of and involvement with the natural world. For many people, plants may be their only point of contact with nature apart from feeling the effects of the weather. Private gardens offer the opportunity for personal choices to be made about what plants to grow and how to manage them, while designers of civic landscapes have always had the responsibility of serving the wider public interest. There is, however, a new and additional agenda for gardeners, both private and public: sustainability and the support of biodiversity. Sustainability demands that we minimize irreplaceable inputs in gardening and reduce harmful outputs, while the support of biodiversity brings a demand for wildlife-friendly planting and practices.

The use of long-lived perennials in conjunction with woody plants—the approach Piet Oudolf and I have always supported—genuinely offers improved sustainability and support for biodiversity. Reducing the amount of regularly mown lawn and the unnecessary trimming of woody plants for unclear motives is surely a step forward. Creating rich garden habitats offers natural beauty close at hand, provides resources and homes for wildlife, and improves the sustainability of management.

Deciding what plants to use and how to arrange them is covered by the field of planting design, which brings together a combination of technical knowledge and artistic vision. This book looks at some of the recent trends within planting design, and is aimed primarily at home gardeners, garden design and maintenance professionals, and landscape architects. There are, however, important lessons for others, such as architects, who do not use plants directly but often have to situate their work in close proximity to them, or ecologists, whose profession does not involve much design but who increasingly have a role to play in the creation and management of designed plantings.

While the role of plants—and therefore planting design—is well established in the domestic garden, and is indeed absolutely crucial to its aesthetic and functional success, it has not been so well established in landscape design. Or perhaps more accurately, plants have often played a minor role in urban landscape design. Historically, for centuries the only plants used in cities were avenue trees; the nineteenth century saw the growth of urban parks, the late twentieth a much wider use of plants in urban areas—a practice to a large extent pioneered in the Netherlands. Now, however, the use of plants is increasing, particularly that of perennials and ornamental grasses, requiring greater access to technical information about plant establishment and management, and to ideas about the visual aspects of their use. Before I discuss in more detail what this book is about, it is perhaps worth looking at these new trends.


  • “Indispensable. . . . an impassioned plea for packing beds tightly, interlacing species lightly, choosing plants that survive multiple stresses, [and] letting seed heads stand through winter.” —The New York Times Book Review

     “Luscious photographs and meticulous explanations of techniques and methods make this an essential reference guide and constant source of inspiration.” —Booklist

    “In Planting: A New Perspective (Timber Press), written with fellow landscape architect Noel Kingsbury, Piet Oudolf details for the first time the specific ingredients that go into his horticultural alchemy, and even includes original plans and plant charts.” —Elle Décor

    “This is a thoughtful, insightful guide that deserves serious consideration.” —Library Journal

    “It treads a well-pitched line in providing gritty information to the professional and the amateur alike…  It is fascinating to see this pinnacle of public naturalistic planting explained and contextualized.” —The Guardian

    “No one does ecology-based plant harmonies better than these two, and it’s just so sweepingly, stunningly beautiful…A fascinating and technical exposition of how Piet has changed the way plants are used.” —The Telegraph

    “In Planting: A New Perspective, Oudolf and Kingsbury detail what it takes to design, plant, and maintain the new nature-like landscapes. This is a how-to book that will leave you with the information, courage, and enthusiasm to approach your own landscape in a new way…The authors leave no doubt about the importance of natural beauty to human life, and they show how to reproduce aspects of it successfully.” —Landscape Architecture Magazine

    “A fascinating insight into Piet Oudolf’s approach to design.” —Gardens Illustrated

    “Features groundbreaking design principles that can be applied to the home garden.” —Garden Design

    “For anyone who wants to emulate and understand what is happening in [the High Line’s] naturalistic designs.” —Highlands Current

    “The book includes an extensive plant directory, which covers detailed information about each plant mentioned in the book; from the plant measurements, flowering season and spreading ability to the foliage architecture (plus lots more). It is a great guide for anyone wishing to try out the style Piet Oudolf uses in his magnificent gardens.” —The English Garden

    “A wonderful primer for the home garden.” —Chicago Tribune

    “No one does ecology-based plant harmonies better than these two, and it’s just so sweepingly, stunningly beautiful.” —Pacific Northwest Magazine

On Sale
Apr 9, 2013
Page Count
280 pages
Timber Press

Piet Oudolf

Piet Oudolf

About the Author

Piet Oudolf is among the world’s most innovative garden designers and a leading exponent of naturalistic planting, a style that takes inspiration from nature but employs artistic skill in creating planting schemes. Oudolf's extensive work over 30 years of practice includes public and private gardens all over the world. He is best known for his work on the High Line and Battery Park in New York, the Lurie Garden in Chicago's Millennium Park, and Potters Fields in London.

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Noel Kingsbury

Noel Kingsbury

About the Author

Noel Kingsbury is a researcher, writer, and teacher. A gardener since childhood, he has run a nursery, designed gardens and public spaces, and done doctoral research at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape on the ecology of ornamental perennials. He lives and gardens in the Welsh Borders near Hay-on-Wye.

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