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Plant-Driven Design: Creating Gardens That Honor Plants, Place, and Spirit

By Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden

A powerful argument for letting the plants lead the design.…to be dipped into, savored, consulted for advice and lived with, like an old friend.

New York Times

For too long, garden design has given pride of place to architecture, artifice, and arbitrary principles. The results? Soulless landscapes where plants play subordinate roles.

With passion and eloquence, Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden argue that only when plants are given the respect they deserve does a garden become emotionally resonant. Plant-Driven Design shows designers how to work more confidently with plants, and gives gardeners more confidence to design. The Ogdens boldly challenge design orthodoxy and current trends by examining how to marry plantsmanship and design without sacrificing one to the other.

Supported by extensive lists of plants adapted to specific purposes and sites, Plant-Driven Design explores how plants interact with place. In addition, the authors' experience gardening and designing in a wide variety of climates gives their perspective a unique depth. In ideas, scope, and detail, this book both embraces and transcends regionality. By reclaiming gardens as a home to plants, this groundbreaking work will restore life-affirming vitality to garden design and profoundly affect how we understand and experience gardens.

Awards for this book: American Horticultural Society Book Award

Media reviews

"What the opinionated authors think doesn't work is described as fully as what they like, and they don't pull punches. ... The strong point of view makes the book a better read than most of its coffee-table-worthy brethren."

—Linda McIntyre, Landscape Architecture

"As veteran horticulturists and designers, the Ogdens make an argument that is compelling. ... This book is full of inspiring pictures of garden plant communities: plants for containers, perennials that still look good after the flowers fade, the orchard floored with daffodils, herbaceous foundation plantings. The authors also offer sophisticated plant lists that will have even seasoned gardeners Googling away."

—Adrian Higgins, Washington Post

"The must-have (old school) garden book of the season."

—Dominique Browning, New York Times

"Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden celebrate a whole new focus of gardening. ... Whether landscaping a Northern cottage garden or a suburban Arts and Crafts bungalow this is a perfect book for gardeners looking for natural garden design inspiration."

—Nancy Szerlag, Detroit News

"[A] fascinating book. ... The Ogdens explore how a garden can engage the senses, and seduce and enchant one with a sense of arrival and discovery. Through it all, they aim to help gardeners create gardens that play to their plant's strengths."

—Nancy Schoeffler, Hartford Courant

"A terrific book ... one that is going to be a welcome addition to my library of well-used garden references."

—Ethel Fried, Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer

"A treasure trove of photographs and ideas for ecological and glorious home landscaping."

—Pam Locker, Evansville Courier and Press

"Lauren's photography, alone, will inspire readers to a healthier and more stimulating approach to garden-making, where plants and nature take the lead."

—Maggie Lee, Pacific Horticulture

"In ideas, scope, and detail, Plant-Driven Design embraces and transcends regional differences. By reclaiming gardens as a home to plants, this groundbreaking work will restore vitality to garden design and profoundly affect how we experience gardens."

Sierra Heritage Magazine

"I devoured this book, and I'm sure I will be rereading portions of it again. Aside from its fresh design ideas, well-written text, and eye-candy photos, the book reminds us of the sensuality of plants, the evocative beauty of a garden, and even why we started gardening."

—Pam Penick, Digging

"Brimming with more than 300 of Lauren's lush photographs, the thought behind this book is that landscapes are emotionally successful only when plants are given the respect they deserve."

—Sarah Robertson, Corvallis Gazette-Times

"Champions the 'plant-it-instead-of-pave-it' point of view better than any book to date."

—Scott Calhoun, American Gardener

"The first chapter sets out to secure a thought process that puts plants first in any approach to design. It then flows effortlessly into a gallery of gardens and plant portraits interspersed with useful listings of plants for every situation ... A great source of inspiration for anyone serious about designing a garden."

—David Andrews, English Garden

"A powerful argument for letting the plants lead the design. ... These experienced designers offer a range of suggestions for plant combinations for everything from dry shade to sunny stone walls, hillsides and meadows, woodlands and high chaparral. ... [This book] is meant to be dipped into, savored, consulted for advice and lived with, like an old friend."

—Anne Raver, New York Times

"This could be one of the best garden books of the first decade of the 21st century. Combining an ecological approach to plant selection with a strong sense of the aesthetic possibilities of plants, it adds an element that is all too rarely considered — that of how plants and gardens fit into and complement their surrounding landscape, and celebrate regional distinctiveness."

—Noel Kingsbury, Gardens Illustrated

"Pushes toward the sensual and involved part of gardening, toward pleasure and intimacy. Gardens ought to be places of change: hourly, daily, seasonally and over years. It's heartening to see a great big glossy book championing our urges to get out and touch our plants."

—Ron Sullivan, San Francisco Chronicle

"The Ogdens put plants first when designing gardens and have assembled a photo-rich book filled with plant ideas, where they'd best flourish and in what kind of gardens. Their holistic approach embraces people, places, and the natural world."


"Focuses on how to bridge the gap between designers who can't garden and gardeners who can't design."

—Ursula Sabia Sukinik, Washington Gardener

"Places plants at the heart of the garden instead as afterthoughts of the design."

—Larry A. Sagers, Deseret News

"An excellent book to add to your library. ... Great advice for gardeners of all levels."

—Honey Milligan Strait, Greenwich Time

"Boldly challenge[s] current design trends by examining how to marry plantsmanship and design without sacrificing one to the other. ... No matter what part of the country you (or the gardener on your gift list) may call home, this book is sure to offer plenty of inspiration."

—Sarah Robertson, Albany Democrat-Herald

"Gives plants room to flourish. ... Packed with [Lauren Springer Ogden's] lush photographs."

—Susan Clotfelter, Denver Post

About the author

Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden

Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden lecture internationally, emphasizing plant diversity and ecological attunement. They draw inspiration from studying wild plants in the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Europe, and South Africa. They have spoken at most major botanic gardens, public gardens, and arboreta in the United States.

Read more about Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden

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