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The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition

By William Robinson and Rick Darke

With new chapters and photography by Rick Darke

Rick Darke proves that Robinson's groundbreaking vision of the wild garden is a model for truly sustainable landscapes.

Cole Burrell, Garden designer and author

William Robinson's revolutionary book, The Wild Garden, envisioned an authentically naturalistic approach to gardening that is more vital today than ever before. First published in 1870, The Wild Garden evolved through many editions and remained in print through the remainder of the author's lifetime (1838–1935). In the book, Robinson issued a forceful challenge to the prevailing style of the day, which relied upon tender plants arranged in rigidly geometrical designs. In sharp contrast, Robinson advocated for the use of hardy, locally adapted native and exotic plants arranged according to local growing conditions. Robinson's vision was inspired by his first-hand observations of natural habitats in Europe and North America, and he put his ideas into practice in his own garden at Gravetye Manor in West Sussex. The Wild Garden was ground-breaking and hugely influential in its day, and is stunningly relevant to twenty-first century gardeners and landscape stewards seeking to adopt sustainable design and management practices.

In addition to the complete original text and illustrations from the fifth edition of 1895, this expanded edition includes new chapters and 112 color photographs by award-winning photographer and landscape consultant Rick Darke. His new material places wild gardening in modern context, underscoring Robinson's importance in the evolution of ecological design and illustrating an inspiring diversity of contemporary wild gardens.

The potent combination presented here makes this new edition of a timeless classic an essential resource for all who wish to know how we have arrived at our present understanding of gardens and what opportunities lie ahead. As will be immediately clear to anyone who leafs through this book, Robinson's urgent message continues to resonate.

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Media reviews

"I'm giving a big Thumbs Up to Rick Darke's updating of William Robinson's classic The Wild Garden."

—Susan Harris, Garden Rant

"If there was but one book on our garden library shelf, William Robinson's The Wild Garden would be the single tome, at once revolutionary and oozing charm. ... With photographer and writer Rick Darke's added chapters and insight, we understand more than ever the wisdom and urgency of Robinson's garden gospel."

—Barbara Mahany, Chicago Tribune

"Rick Darke retains all the original's beautiful engraved illustrations while augmenting them with his own rich color photographs."

Martha's Vineyard Times

"Rick Darke could well be Robinson's reincarnation."

—Ailsa Francis, Ottawa Citizen

"Will truly inspire you. Originally published in 1870, [it] remained in print for more than 50 years with a message that is just as revolutionary today."

—Doug Bergstrom, Wenatchee World

"In his new book, The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition, Darke teams up across the ages — time-machine style — with a kindred spirit: William Robinson. ... Both men were ahead of their times."

—Bill Marken, Garden Design

"This new edition is two books in one, and a handsome volume at that. Henry Mitchell said it all when he claimed gardeners owe all to William Robinson. We do, and this book is the perfect way to appreciate that statement."

—Mary Keen, Gardens Illustrated

"This new, expanded edition ... is essential reading for today's ecologically minded gardens."

Landscape Architecture

"Robinson's seminal work set forth a vision of the naturalistic approach that informed gardening for generations. ... With photographer and writer Darke's added chapters and insight, we understand more than ever the wisdom and urgency of Robinson's garden gospel."

Tuscaloosa News

About the authors

William Robinson

William Robinson (1838–1935) emigrated from Ireland at a young age and was rapidly welcomed into the top echelons of British horticulture and botany. Robinson was just thirty-two when he first published The Wild Garden, which has proved to be the most insightful, influential, and enduring of his many books and journals. Robinson's brilliance and enormous personal energy enabled him to become one of the most accomplished gardeners, editors, and publishers of his era, and he is often referred to as the Father of the English Flower Garden.

Read more about William Robinson

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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