Book Review: Natural Garden Style

Kingsbury, an internationally known author on plants and gardens, presents thoughtful insights and observations on the nature of planning, planting and maintaining eco-friendly sustainable gardens. In a refreshing departure from the frequently stilted arrangements of formal gardens, Kingsbury advocates observing the interactions of flora and fauna in the “natural” world that encourages biodiversity. Instead of forcing plants to grow in set patterns, Kingsbury advocates working with the needs of the plants in context with their surroundings. Meadows, prairies, woodlands, water forms and more create lively, beautiful grounds without abusing finite resources as shown through Browne’s excellent color photography.

Especially fun and surprisingly different, are the playful sculptural elements created from a variety of natural materials. Wicker woven globes, terracotta forms reminiscent of birds of paradise, shady willow arches and fanciful twig fences add warmth while creating habitat for birds and small animals. Sage advice for selecting and maintaining lush foliage plants, assorted grasses and trees provide home gardeners with the tools to create their own lovely spaces. While there is some advice and examples of natural gardens in drier climates, it would have been nice if there had been more information included about arid conditions such as those in the American southwest. Kingsbury has done an excellent job of showing how easy, beautiful, dramatic natural garden spaces can be and how each of us can become better custodians of the land.

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