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Designing with Plants

By Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury

Stretches your imagination to see plants not just for their flowers but also for their shape, form, color, size, and texture in all seasons.

National Gardener

Piet Oudolf's gardens excite the senses and stir emotion with an approach to gardening that emphasizes form, texture, light, movement, and color. Designing with Plants is both inspirational and instructive — an informative and visually breathtaking study that shows readers how to create the same effects in their gardens. This paperback reprint includes four main parts. "Planting Palettes" shows the range of plant choice available in form, texture, and color. "Designing Schemes" shows how to combine these elements to create stunning and sculptural gardens. Through stunning photography, "Planting Moods" shows how to create a particular atmosphere. And "Year-Round Planting" emphasizes the importance of choosing plants that have value throughout the seasons.

Awards for this book: New York Times Editor's Choice - Best Books for Gardening

Media reviews

"Stretches your imagination to see plants not just for their flowers but also for their shape, form, color, size, and texture in all seasons."

—Maggie Oster, National Gardener

"Piet Oudolf [has] ... an uncanny eye for plant combinations."

—Anne Raver, New York Times

"No-nonsense gardeners who disdain the gloss of coffee-table books might be tempted to pass up Designing with Plants, but that would be a mistake. Oudolf is a major figure in contemporary garden design, and this book shows why. Read it, ponder it, then go tear out that mildewed rose bush, and plant some grasses."

—Thomas Fischer, Horticulture

"A perennial border that doesn't require soil amending, lots of deadheading, watering and cutting back sounds too good to be true. In his new book, Designing with Plants, written with Noel Kingsbury, Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf explains how."

—Sally Ruth Bourrie, Oregonian

"A good introduction to the informal style."

—John Van de Water, Newark Star-Ledger

"Designing With Plants is a sumptuous look at gardens that depend upon the form, texture and even the movement of plants as much as color. Oudolf is a cutting-edge Dutch designer, Kingsbury an equally bold English designer."

—Robert Smaus, Los Angeles Times

"The beautifully photographed book offers a trove of valuable advice that promises to help gardeners achieve the delightfully moody character of an Oudolf border."


"Piet Oudolf is a serious gardener who has brought the theme of plant formation to its ultimate splendor."

—Richard Prentice, Connecticut Horticultural Society Newsletter

"A must have!"

Hoosier Organic Gardener

"An excellent design primer for both beginner and experienced gardener."

Ontario Gardener

"The methods and the plant materials that have made Oudolf famous as a forward-looking designer are here set out clearly for all to understand — and copy or adapt as appropriate."

Traditional Home

"The layout of this stunning book is as picturesque as the gardens it describes. Nature is presented as art with plants as the medium."

American Herb Association Quarterly Newsletter

"The book is not only a lesson in unusual designs but really makes you look at these important aspects of the plants ... Fabulous illustrations will inspire you."

—Marty Figley, Michigan Observer and Eccentric

"Designing With Plants by Pierre Oudoff is a big and beautiful guide. Chock-a-block with glorious examples."

—Marilis Hornidge, Rockland Courier-Gazette

"Perceptive, unconventional, informative, and beautiful. Reading this book is like touring the world's most exclusive private gardens with a master gardener whispering in your ear."

—Corinne Erly, Iowa Source

"It is a lovely, well-photographed book about design and garden philosophy, as well as a guide to the newest perennials and grasses and how to place and grow them."

—Valerie Easton, Garden Notes

"This work by designer, photographer, and horticulturist Oudolf beautifully and lavishly presents the aesthetic quality of plants."


"This is a superbly analytical book, giving detailed, step-by-step advice on the planting of borders of flowering perennials and grasses in the new Dutch naturalistic style."

—Stephen Lacey, Daily Telegraph (London)

"In Designing With Plants, he (Piet Oudolf) has teamed up with British designer and writer Noel Kingsbury to produce a handsome book of practical planting ideas and inspiring seasonal images."

—Steve Whysall, Vancouver Sun

"One of the nicest things about Designing With Plants is that it teaches all aspects of the sometimes-complicated design process by giving actual examples illustrated amply with many full-color photographs."


"It is wonderfully illustrated with splendid color photographs stunningly printed."

—Allen Lacy, Homeground

"I learned a great deal about garden design from this book, mostly about all the mistakes I have made in my own garden."

—Allen Lacy, Homeground

"(Piet Outdolf's) views about which perennials look best in fall and winter, along with inspiring photographs of late-season gardens he has created, can be found in Designing with Plants, written with Noel Kingsbury."


"Designing with Plants lets the average gardener in on Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf's ideas for creating naturalistic landscapes."

—Kristene Moe, Seattle Times

"In Designing with Plants, Oudolf and co-author Noel Kingsbury share the principles and techniques behind Oudolf's most successful gardens."

Country Living Gardener

"This book is very user-friendly for anyone interested in all that's green and flowery. If, as a rule, April showers bring May flowers, why not try and orchestrate the blooms?"

—Miriam Drennan, BookPage

"Throughout the book are wonderfully sensitive and artistic photographs of his [Oudolf's]garden design."

—Joanne S. Carpender, National Gardener

"This important book could be a revelation to serious perennial aficionados who despair of trying to maintain constant color in their gardens."

Boston Globe

"A garden designer and plant breeder, Oudolf designs gardens that use perennials exclusively, eschewing the current trend toward high-maintenance mixed borders of perennials, annuals, and shrubs ... His approach is novel and thought-provoking."

Library Journal

"Worth buying or checking out just for the photos of beautiful, casual gardens."

—Stephanie Bruner, Des Moines Register

"Indispensible planting and design tips."

Gardening Life

"An informative and visually breathtaking study of Piet Oudolf's planting theory and practice, providing all the necessary advice to create the same effects in your own garden."

Wisley Bookshop

"This has to be one of the best books to convey the design principles that so many other horticultural books overlook today."

—David Daehnke, Gardening Guru

"Oudolf's 'Designing with Plants' expertly delivers what is promised: a sophisticated primer for a perennial planting palette."

—Julie Siegel, Chicago Botanic Garden

"This is what Piet Oudolf does best: an artist with plants, in this book he explains in a simple way how he creates his wonderful effects ... Mouthwatering pictures and plant information make this book of interest to gardeners of all levels."

—Isabelle Van Groeningen, Garden (Peterborough)

"For this book takes you leaping forward to a new style and a new way of thinking. It is an exhilarating ride and on its way it overturns a lot of conventional teaching."

—Christopher Bradley-Hole, Gardens Illustrated

"This is 'New Wave' garden design. Throughout the book are wonderfully sensitive and artistic photographs of his garden design."

National Council of State Garden Clubs Book Reviews

"Stunning combinations of color and texture"

Weedpatch Gazette

"For a fresh and strikingly beautiful approach to garden design, try Piet Oudolf's Designing with Plants."

—Lynn Lustberg, Garden Showcase

"Designing with Plants may be gorgeous enough to grace a coffee table, but it is also a fresh and exquisitely insightful treatment of the first principles of gardening ... As in Gardening with Grasses, which he co-wrote with Michael King, it is obvious that Piet Oudolf is a brilliant and utterly inspiring garden-maker. His gardens have great breadth and scope, yet are full of fine detail. ... No one has ever written more tellingly on these topics — or more lucidly."

—Allen Lacy, Homeground

"His ideas are considered revolutionary by some who are only too aware of the typically stodgy pace of innovation in landscape design. We think the revolution is long overdue!"


"The sumptuous photographs bring everything into sharp focus."

—Karen Baar, Diversion

"Designing With Plants may be gorgeous enough to grace coffee tables, but it also is a fresh and exquisitely insightful treatment of the first principles of gardening."

—Allen Lacy, Homeground

About the authors

Piet Oudolf

Piet Oudolf is among the world's most innovative garden designers and a leading exponent of naturalistic planting, a style that takes inspiration from nature but employs artistic skill in creating planting schemes. Oudolf's extensive work over 30 years of practice includes public and private gardens all over the world. He is best known for his work on the High Line and Battery Park in New York, the Lurie Garden in Chicago's Millennium Park, Potters Field in London, and his own private garden at Hummelo in the Netherlands.

Read more about Piet Oudolf

Noel Kingsbury

Noel Kingsbury is a well-known designer, commentator, and writer on plants, gardens, landscape, and the environment. A a passionate advocate for sustainable plant combinations, he trials plants and gardens at his home on the border between England and Wales and travels widely.

Read more about Noel Kingsbury

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