I heard Claudia West speak this past winter at the ELA conference in Amherst, MA, and as a result, this became the first book in a long while that I was excited to read. It does not disappoint. Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West offers a glimpse at what landscapes around us could become. By observing naturally-occurring plant communities, whether native or not, and incorporating the principles seen there, we could turn conventional landscaping on its head and offer more plant diversity, lower maintenance, and ecologically-beneficial practices to our yards, civic spaces, parks, and every place we find green things growing without our help. By intentionally weaving plants together based on their needs and habits, we can find combinations that compliment each other’s growth and space requirements, suppress weeds, support wildlife, and create a tapestry of texture and color that is lacking in most of our gardens. This is a book for the serious gardener and professional who are looking to push landscapes beyond heavily-mulched, fertilizer-dependent, and homogenous landscapes that isolate individual plants. The authors encourage you to look at green open space as an opportunity to engage in adventure and playfulness with plant selections and combinations.
“It is our challenge to reimagine a new expression of nature — one that survives within our built landscapes, and at the same time performs vital ecosystem functions needed to ensure life. We must put aside our romantic ideas of pristine wilderness and embrace a new nature that is largely designed and managed by us… The question is not what grew there in the past but what will grow there in the future.”