The New Perennial Garden

Reviewed by Brenda Korchinski for the Saskatchewan Gardener, Spring 1997

The New Perennial Garden by Noel Kingsbury, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1996

This book has much that will assist prairie gardeners in the responsible use of available resources to create beautiful and self-sustaining plant communities.

The book focuses on how to use perennials in a way that works with nature to form stable plant communities that minimize the maintenance tasks of gardening - weeding, watering, mowing, and pruning. And who isn't interested in that?

Noel Kingsbury is a young British garden designer who advocates an ecologically friendly approach to gardening that looks to nature for inspiration rather than planting from a strictly aesthetic point of view.

Options that can make a positive contribution to the environment include wildflower lawns, wildflower meadows, prairies, open beds, ponds, and wet- and dry-land plantings. Theories and techniques (including how to reduce soil fertility) for this new style of gardening are outlined, as well as plantings for shade, sun, moist and dry areas. There are extensive plant tables for all these areas. Plant zones are included, but plants are listed in tables only by their botanical names.

Colour photographs illustrate the free, more blended form of informal plantings, based on plant communities as they exist in nature.

Although he is British, the author includes North American plant zones, metric and imperial measurements, and is aware of the North American problem with purple loosestrife (Lythrum salcaria).