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Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes

By Thomas Rainer and Claudia West

A real-world guide for creating beautiful, ecologically connected landscapes. There is not a designer or property owner that would not benefit from their approach.

Larry Weaner, APLD, founder of New Directions in the American Landscape

This groundbreaking guide presents a powerful alternative to traditional horticulture: designed plantings that function like naturally occurring plant communities.

Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, two leading voices in ecological landscape design, reveal how plants fit together in nature and how to use this knowledge to create landscapes that are resilient, beautiful, and diverse. As practical as it is inspiring, Planting in a Post-Wild World is an optimistic manifesto pointing the way to the future of planting design.

Media reviews

"This lavishly illustrated manifesto…applies broadly to everything from water features to rooftops and vast acreages to urban backyards. Using detailed examples and simple graphics, Rainer and West make a convincing case for rethinking our relationship to plant design."

Architectural Digest Online

"Offers strategies for more resilient, self-sustaining landscapes, especially welcome after our drought-plagued summer.…The gardens in the book are compelling in a more naturalistic, wilder way than typical beds and borders…the advice on creating harmonious communities of plants suited to the conditions where you live transcends style."

Seattle Times

"A useful and thorough guide to ecologically oriented designers."


"An important book. It has potential to change the way we make gardens and landscapes.…This is a ‘how-to’ book that leaves other ‘how-to’ books in the dust; I found it hard to put down."


"A beautifully written and illustrated guide to how we should be designing our landscapes from now on out.…Thank heavens someone has finally written this book."

Root Simple

"Inspires us to design plantings that function like naturally occurring plant communities. It also instructs how to manage them, not doing painstaking and often impractical garden maintenance, plant by plant, as in traditional horticulture."

—Margaret Roach, A Way to Garden

About the authors

Thomas Rainer

Thomas Rainer is a landscape architect, teacher, and writer who lives in Arlington, Virginia. He has designed landscapes for the United States Capitol grounds, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the New York Botanical Garden. He has been featured in a range of publications including the New York Times, Landscape Architecture Magazine, and Home & Design.

Read more about Thomas Rainer

Claudia West

Claudia West has an extensive background in horticulture, ecology, and environmental restoration. She is a consultant for North Creek Nurseries and has also worked for landscape architects Wolfgang Oehme and Carol Oppenheimer and for Sylva Native Nursery.

Read more about Claudia West

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