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The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes

By Rick Darke

A must for any grass-loving gardener. ... This book is not only a knockout, it inspires as well as educates.

Detroit News

In this new book noted grass expert and advocate Rick Darke addresses both the aesthetic qualities of grasses in private gardens and the opportunities and challenges of using them in wild and constructed public landscapes. All the true grasses, sedges, rushes, restios, and cattails that possess ornamental merit or that can contribute to ecological plantings are described, and practical matters of propagation, growth, and maintenance are also covered. More than 1000 stunning photographs show details of individual plants and hundreds of gardens and landscapes in which grasses play a prominent part. This new book completely eclipses Darke's previous Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses in scope and content, with twice as many photos and words. It is a new type of design reference that sets a standard for inspired, sustainable use of grasses.

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Media reviews

"A scholarly encyclopedia of ornamental grasses, the most comprehensive and well-researched book on the subject, and one that will remain the most important reference on ornamental grasses for decades."

—John Hoyland, BBC Gardens

"Just what the plant doctor ordered. It's a tonic for the eyes with more than 1,000 color photographs."

—Irene Virag, Newsday

"This book is a must for any grass-loving gardener on your gift list. ... This book is not only a knockout, it inspires as well as educates."

—Nancy Szerlag, Detroit News

"Any plant book with the word 'encyclopedia' in it obviously has at its heart detailed plant descriptions. This is no exception, but it's so much more. Almost half of its 487 pages deal with the usefulness of grasses in the landscape and how to place them effectively. ... The result, [Darke's] fourth book on the subject, elevates these plants to the level they deserve."

—Kym Pokorny, Homes + Gardens Northwest

"Darke's impressive achivement should stand as the definitive resource for grasses for some time to come."

—Alice Joyce, Booklist

"A wealth of ideas and information. ... A plethora of design ideas."

SciTech Book News

"It is ever so much more than just big and beautiful. It is comprehensive, up-to-date, and mature. Darke shows us grasses ... as bonafide denizens of the modern garden and, further, places them in the forefront of the movement to develop ecologically functional, 'natural' landscapes."

—Bob Hornback, Pacific Horticulture

"A wonderful guide to the beauty and functionality of grasses in a home's surroundings."

—Jennifer Chance, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles

"There's a new love song to grasses, and its notes range up and down the entire scale, from the highs of a grass's simple, natural beauty, to the lows of the cultural requirements to grow each one successfully. ... Darke completely supercedes his previous book."

—Jane Berger, Garden Design Online

"The detailed descriptions of ornamental grasses and evocative examples of their use in the landscape offer something for gardeners of all levels of expertise and experience."

—Carole Ottesen, American Gardener

"What a beauty. Rick is one of the best of all time; passionate about gardening and plants, so talented and a good guy. Really knows his grasses."

—Bob Hill, WFPL-FM, NPR

"When touting their latest garden releases, publishers often include the word "definitive," but it is a descriptive I rarely use. However, in my opinion, this book fits the bill. ... An advocate of preservation and sustainability, [Darke] also addresses the issue of native versus exotic with sensitivity and intelligence. Darke is truly a gifted photographer, and this book is lavishly illustrated with more than 1,000 of his stunning photographs. ... Whether you garden on an acre or are restricted to pots on a patio, you can be sure Darke has a selection of grasses that are perfect for your spot."

—Nancy Szerlag, Detroit News

"Lucid and inspiring work from one of the world's leading experts in ornamental grasses."

—Frank Ronan, BBC Gardens

"Darke's accuracy in listing and describing ornamental grasses reflects his scholarship on the subject. ... The subject is overwhelming to cover in one reference, but Darke has done it with great clarity here."

—Joel M. Lerner, Washington Post

"Has a far more global perspective than his earlier books. ... This new book opens its boundaries to welcome plants from other parts of the world if they can thrive without water, fertilizer and pesticides; if they are not invasive; and if they can harmonize with the surrounding landscape."

—Anne Raver, New York Times

"The author is a passionate explorer and connoisseur of grasses, and the knowledgeable text and stunning photography will entice you to share his appreciation for this very large family of plants."

—Erik van Lennep, Cultivate.ie

"Phenomenal photography and rich descriptive phrasing. ... An excellent reference book brimming with ideas, information, and inspiration."

—Sarah Robertson, Albany Democrat-Herald

"Darke writes about his beloved grasses with a passion and eloquence that occasionally borders on poetry."

—Ethel Fried, Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer

"[Has] lucid descriptions of what grasses are, why they matter, and how to use them effectively and appropriately in home landscapes."

—Mary Lahr Schier, Northern Gardener

"Even if you have Darke's 1999 version, you will want a copy of his latest work, a meatier and more contemporary exploration of some of our most beloved and useful plants, the ornamental grasses."

—Tara Byler, Oregon Land

"Gorgeously photographed, this comprehensive resource is a delight to read."

—Maia Eisen, Tacoma East King Trailhead

About the author

Rick Darke

Rick Darke is a landscape design consultant, author, lecturer, and photographer based in Pennsylvania who blends art, ecology, and cultural geography in the creation and conservation of livable landscapes. Darke served on the staff of Longwood Gardens for twenty years, and in 1998 he received the Scientific Award of the American Horticultural Society.

Read more about Rick Darke

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