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The Self-Sustaining Garden: The Guide to Matrix Planting

By Peter Thompson

Drawings by Josie Owen

Practical, how-to advice combined with cutting edge ideas.

River Falls Journal

This book explores the theme that the plants themselves can do much of the hard work gardeners believe is an essential part of gardening. The Self-Sustaining Garden advocates using plants as partners in self-sustaining communities to create low maintenance gardens rather than being a slave to spades and hoes. In a series of compelling case studies, Peter Thompson shows how to transform a conventional garden into a self-sustaining garden. Updated from the original edition (published in 1997), The Self-Sustaining Garden brings together an explanation of the universal principles of matrix planting with specific applications and informative chapters on soil health and biological controls, and shows how to pull all the ingredients together into a strong, self-sustaining design.

Media reviews

"The message ... is one that can be adapted to gardens anywhere: look to the natural models and plant accordingly."

Pacific Horticulture

"A perfect gift for any gardener who wishes to reduce the amount of time spent on chores."

—Ethel Fried, Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer

"Plenty of inspiration to transform your conventional garden into a self-sustaining one. ... If it seems that the more you work in your garden, the more problems are created, then perhaps your garden could use a matrix-makeover."

—Lynette Walther, Camden Herald

"If you are unable or unwilling to devote a great deal of time to your landscape, this might be the book for you."

—Steve Jones, Pine Cone Press-Citizen

"Practical, how-to advice combined with cutting edge ideas make The Self-Sustaining Garden a handbook and a manifesto for a new way to garden."

—Ted Beverly, River Falls Journal

"An interesting and useful garden book, especially for environmentally conscious gardeners and those of us who wistfully dream of a lower-maintenance garden."

—Madeline Caliendo, Washington Gardener

About the author

Peter Thompson

Peter Thompson graduated in Horticulture and holds an M.Sc and Ph.D from London University. He was Head of the Physiology Department at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, for many years before becoming a nurseryman and establishing The Garden School.

Read more about Peter Thompson

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