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Sara-Jane & Alica at Virens Studio

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5 Exciting Books to Inspire the Naturalistic Planting Designer in You

Mar 8, 2020

Some people might suggest that I have a bit of a gardening book problem. The truth is that I do love a good read (and look) and I'm pretty much a sucker for anything to do with plants. So I thought that in the interest of sharing I'd list a few of my favourites. Because although there are a ton to choose from, there are a few that I always come back to.

great gardening books

Drought-Resistant Planting by Beth Chatto

The classic story of Beth Chatto's enduring legacy; her famous Gravel Garden in Essex. This book is a must have for anyone that is interested in dry gardening and the Right plant - Right place movement. Not only does it have great reference photos but it contains Chatto's actual notes of her experiences building and maintaining this section of her gardens from conception to near present times.

beth chattos book
beth chattos book
Planting in a Post-Wild World

Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer & Claudia West

Building on the concepts explored by Chatto, this book is it's present day equivalent. West and Rainer guide you through modern science-based sustainable landscape ideals. Filled with inspiration and careful thought, this book will give you plenty to consider from the big picture to the small details.

Planting in a Post-Wild World

Planting: a New Perspective by Piet Oudolf & Noel Kingsbury

Piet Oudolf is the designer that is responsible for many of the most highly successful public green spaces in the world and this book is an invaluable window into his process. It takes us through many of his top designs, discussing his thoughts on: plant choice, planning, installation and maintenance. It is a must have for any hort nerd that loves perennial gardens and the best in current design.

Planting a new Perspective

New Nordic Gardens by Annika Zetterman

This book is pure inspiration for anyone that is interested in the clean naturalistic designs that are at the forefront of modern Scandinavian horticulture. Breathtakingly beautiful, the visuals and text in this volume are a celebration of the very best in current perennial garden design.

New Nordic Gardens

The High Line by James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio & Renfro

There are loads of great books highlighting New York's High Line park, but this one is my personal favourite. Not only is it well designed and laid out, but it tells the complete story of the creation of this amazing green space from conception to present day. It is filled with design drawings, beautiful photos and thoughtful interviews with all of its major players (including Piet Oudolf). It is an inspirational story of seemingly ordinary people saving a forgotten urban space and repurposing it into one of the greatest public green spaces in the world.

The High Line

© Virens Studio 2023 (all photos are used for demonstration purposes and do not necessarily belong to us.)


Picture in your mind, your ideal woodland landscape. Perhaps there are loose grasses and wildflowers that slowly morph into small, multi-stemmed trees. Open canopies, allowing a gentle breeze and sunlight to flow through. It’s the kind of space that might evoke folkloric fairy gatherings or perhaps the ultimate sacred grove where one might encounter mythological…

A New Twist (on the Ancient Copse) : Multipurpose Landscape Design

delos at sissinghurst

I watched a seminar given by Dan Pearson earlier today. Detailing the renewal and redesign of the Delos garden at Sissinghurst. And, as you can imagine, it’s conception, construction and planting, are all fascinating to hear about. But what struck me as a particularly interesting moment, was when the lauded landscape architect spoke about training…

Garden Disturbance: How to Think Like a Goat & Build Resilience

urban terrazzo

We like to keep up on current gardening trends, especially those that match up with our ethos as ecological and therapeutic landscape designers. So, I’m sure that you can imagine how our interest peaked when we came across, Horatio’s Garden, as a part of this years RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Cleverly conceived, by Harris Bugg…

Urban Terrazzo: a New Eco-Twist on the Landscape Classic