The Living Landscape

By: Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy.

Landscape design inspiration for beauty and biodiversity in the home garden. Gain great knowledge of how plants work in a landscape and why native plants are necessary in home landscapes.

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By: Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy.

Landscape design inspiration for beauty and biodiversity in the home garden. Gain great knowledge of how plants work in a landscape and why native plants are necessary in home landscapes.

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Author Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy
Page count 392 pages
ISBN 9781604694086
Copyright date 2014
Publisher Timber Press, Inc., Portland, OR
Edition 1st

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This is a great book if you found Bringing Nature Home to be an intellectual inspiration, and are now looking for design inspiration, especially in a more shaded landscape.

The range of information presented in The Living Landscape make it a difficult book to summarize. If you are familiar with the co-authors’ other books, Rick Darke’s The American Woodland Garden (among others) and Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home, the influences become a little more clear.

Doug Tallamy brings insightful knowledge about the interrelationships between plants and animals, particularly on how native plants are necessary to feed and house, insects, birds and on-up the food chain.

Rick Darke brings to this book his amazing landscape photography skills (this book is worth reading for the images alone) and knowledge of how plants work in a landscape from both the perspective of aesthetics and maintenance.

This isn’t a landscape design book per se, but instead pulls together many threads from how basic ecosystem science can influence our landscaping decisions to how particular native plants  fit into human-designed landscapes. When it does discuss design, it isn’t with numbers and diagrams, but more of the broad strokes that convey a feeling that a landscape is trying to express more than specific appearance.

The one complaint I have about this book is that it is very regionally specific to east coast. They do include recommended plants lists for various regions in the final chapter of the book, including one for the midwest, but the entire aesthetic of the book is from an entirely different ecosystem. There are some “meadow” plantings suggested, and I suppose the more mesic woodland type represented in this book would be a suitable model for habitats near Lake Michigan or near the shores of the Yahara chain of lakes here in Madison. It would be nice if they had included at least a few examples from various ecosystem types across the continent. I would love to see how Darke highlighted a prairie or oak savanna landscape with his fine photography skills.
Still, it is a beautiful book with a lot of great ecological information and design principals that could be applied to any environment, and for that reason I’d recommend it to anyone who’s trying to create a beautiful native landscape.

From the Publisher:

Learn strategies for making and maintaining a diverse, layered landscape; one that offers beauty, provides outdoor rooms and turf areas for children and pets, incorporates fragrance and edible plants, and provides cover, shelter and sustenance for wildlife. 

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