The wild and sustainable look is the trend in garden design

Whether on a huge estate or outside of a tiny home, the modern garden aims for wild landscapes, native species and harmonious transitions to a natural environment, according to a new book showcasing the work of prominent designers from contemporary gardens.

In “Garden Wild: Wildflower Meadows, Prairie-Style Plantings, Rockeries, Ferneries, and Other Sustainable Designs Inspired by Nature” (Rizzoli), photographer Andre Baranowski explores a dozen very different gardens – all mostly devoid of manicured lawns. and difficult sizes. .

The emphasis is instead on sustainability and plant diversity. Featured garden designers include Oehme van Sweden, Fernando Caruncho, Jorge Sanchez and Piet Oudolf.

Each chapter explores a single garden, explaining the designer’s approach, the challenges posed and the strengths of the garden, with the aim of inspiring home gardeners to try their hand at this more natural approach.

“Tons of money is still invested in fertilizers and weedkillers for traditional style manicured lawns, but I’m trying to show people that weeds can be very beautiful. the weather is easier to maintain, ”says Baranowski, who has visited the 12 gardens hundreds of times, looking for the most evocative images.

“This wilder look is absolutely eye-catching,” he says.

The book begins with a garden in Water Mill, New York, designed in the 1980s by pioneer landscape designer James van Sweden, co-founded with Wolfgang Oehme of the Oehme van Sweden company. Stepping away from the hedges, boxwoods and perennial borders that dominated Long Island’s East End at the time, von Sweden planted low-maintenance grasses and other native plants, as well as plants adapted to the seascape. like lavender, sedums, willows and magnolias. .

Bringing native herbs to the edge of the pool was considered revolutionary at the time, says Baranowski.

In a garden in East Hampton, New York, Eric Groft of the Oehme van Sweden company blocked traffic using ornamental grasses, which have the added benefit of deterring deer, according to the book.

Plantings have focused on green, golden, and purple shrubs, perennials, and grasses that thrive in the local microclimate, with annuals only appearing in pots. Old mature elms, flowering dogwoods and locust trees were left in place to give the garden a more established look.

Meanwhile, in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley area, landscape designer Kathy Moreau designed and refreshed several gardens on a sprawling property, creating in one area a garden meant to be walked on, ideally barefoot. While stepping stones suggested the walking trail, ground covers like sedums, mosses and periwinkles (to add color) were chosen specifically to delight the feet.

Throughout the property, Moreau replaced invasive plants with native or sustainable plantings – “sustainable in the sense that they attract pollinators and don’t require a lot of water or additional nutrients,” she says in the book. .

“With every garden, you have the opportunity to do more than provide a practical solution – for example, something pretty to look at, or a neighbor’s screen,” she says. “The best landscaping does this and more: it must be environmentally friendly and also artistic to fully engage both those lucky enough to enjoy the garden and the expanse of other living things that depend on it. “

Most of the featured gardens are in New York or New Jersey, with the addition of one in Ashley Falls, Massachusetts, and one in Wilton, Connecticut.

The most public of the gardens featured is the High Line in New York City, inspired by the self-seeded landscape that developed between the tracks after trains stopped in the 1980s.

Baranowski notes that despite the trend toward more natural gardens, many American suburban spaces continue to run toward well-manicured lawns and hedges.

“If that could change, just a little bit, it could be so much more beautiful and wild,” he said wistfully.

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