The Living Landscape

Designing for beauty and diversity in the home garden

Reviewed by Georgie Kennedy

What a collaboration! Two of the most highly respected plantspersons in North America created The Living Landscape, Designing for beauty and biodiversity in the home garden, a gorgeous but practical guide to tending the land on which we garden. Rick Darke is a noted photographer, botanist and landscape ethicist. His multiple accomplishments are described on his website. Doug Tallamy is Professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at University of Delaware. He’s a leader in creating awareness of native plant species. For more information on is work click here.

The writers’ engaging style and glorious photographs lead the reader through each forest layer, from canopy to ground, and then on to edges, wetlands, meadows and grasslands. Their three central chapters focus on a scientific and visual appreciation of the complex interrelationships in a biodiverse ecosystem. A layered landscape has innumerable benefits for humans and wildlife, and exotic or invasive species can throw these systems out of balance. The last and largest chapter is devoted to the practicalities of incorporating native plants into the garden.

This is a rare find, a book to be perused for the richness of knowledge and ethics within but also to be exploited for the functional advice in the charts found in the final section. Delightfully symbolic icons demonstrate the ecological and landscape functions of recommended plants in the five sectors of the United States. Toronto gardeners can be guided by the New England list, along with reference to our Ontario Invasive Plants’ Grow Me Instead.

Here’s a book for those with large properties and those dreaming about them, stewards of the earth wanting to address our climate crisis by reintroducing native plants. You can visit the personal Pennsylvania properties of the authors and the famous gardens they’ve toured, as well as benefit from their depth of research and experience as you work towards improving our world. The Living Landscape, Timber Press.

Georgie Kennedy is a Toronto Master Gardener, a garden writer and an avid caretaker of her gardens in Toronto and Jamaica.


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