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The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes


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About the Author

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. His projects include scenic byways, public gardens, corporate and collegiate campuses, mixed-use conservation developments, and residential gardens. Darke served on the staff of Longwood Gardens for twenty years, and in 1998 he received the Scientific Award of the American Horticultural Society. His work has been featured in the New York Times and on National Public Radio. Darke has studied North American plants in their habitats for over three decades, and his research and lectures have taken him to Africa, Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Japan, New Zealand, and northern Europe. His books include The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes (2007), The American Woodland Garden (2002), and In Harmony with Nature: Lessons from the Arts & Crafts Garden (2000). For further information visit


What a beauty. Rick is one of the best of all time; passionate about gardening and plants, so talented and a good guy. Really knows his grasses. -- Bob Hill WFPL-FM, NPR 20070223 Darke's impressive achivement should stand as the definitive resource for grasses for some time to come. -- Alice Joyce Booklist 20070409 [Has] lucid descriptions of what grasses are, why they matter, and how to use them effectively and appropriately in home landscapes. -- Mary Lahr Schier Northern Gardener 20070501 There's a new love song to grasses, and its notes range up and down the entire scale, from the highs of a grass's simple, natural beauty, to the lows of the cultural requirements to grow each one successfully. ... Darke completely supercedes his previous book. -- Jane Berger Garden Design Online 20070509 The detailed descriptions of ornamental grasses and evocative examples of their use in the landscape offer something for gardeners of all levels of expertise and experience. -- Carole Ottesen American Gardener 20070501 Has a far more global perspective than his earlier books. ... This new book opens its boundaries to welcome plants from other parts of the world if they can thrive without water, fertilizer and pesticides; if they are not invasive; and if they can harmonize with the surrounding landscape. -- Anne Raver New York Times 20070531 Phenomenal photography and rich descriptive phrasing. ... An excellent reference book brimming with ideas, information, and inspiration. -- Sarah Robertson Albany Democrat-Herald 20070602 Darke writes about his beloved grasses with a passion and eloquence that occasionally borders on poetry. -- Ethel Fried Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer 20070526 A wonderful guide to the beauty and functionality of grasses in a home's surroundings. -- Jennifer Chance Colorado Homes & Lifestyles 20070601 Even if you have Darke's 1999 version, you will want a copy of his latest work, a meatier and more contemporary exploration of some of our most beloved and useful plants, the ornamental grasses. -- Tara Byler Oregon Land 20070401 Darke's accuracy in listing and describing ornamental grasses reflects his scholarship on the subject. ... The subject is overwhelming to cover in one reference, but Darke has done it with great clarity here. -- Joel M. Lerner Washington Post 20070804 It is ever so much more than just big and beautiful. It is comprehensive, up-to-date, and mature. Darke shows us grasses ... as bonafide denizens of the modern garden and, further, places them in the forefront of the movement to develop ecologically functional, 'natural' landscapes. -- Bob Hornback Pacific Horticulture 20071101 The author is a passionate explorer and connoisseur of grasses, and the knowledgeable text and stunning photography will entice you to share his appreciation for this very large family of plants. -- Erik van Lennep 20070901 Gorgeously photographed, this comprehensive resource is a delight to read. -- Maia Eisen Tacoma East King Trailhead 20070101 A wealth of ideas and information. ... A plethora of design ideas. SciTech Book News 20071201 This book is a must for any grass-loving gardener on your gift list. ... This book is not only a knockout, it inspires as well as educates. -- Nancy Szerlag Detroit News 20071208 Any plant book with the word 'encyclopedia' in it obviously has at its heart detailed plant descriptions. This is no exception, but it's so much more. Almost half of its 487 pages deal with the usefulness of grasses in the landscape and how to place them effectively. ... The result, [Darke's] fourth book on the subject, elevates these plants to the level they deserve. -- Kym Pokorny Homes + Gardens Northwest 20071201 Just what the plant doctor ordered. It's a tonic for the eyes with more than 1,000 color photographs. -- Irene Virag Newsday 20071216 Lucid and inspiring work from one of the world's leading experts in ornamental grasses. -- Frank Ronan BBC Gardens 20071201 When touting their latest garden releases, publishers often include the word "definitive," but it is a descriptive I rarely use. However, in my opinion, this book fits the bill. ... An advocate of preservation and sustainability, [Darke] also addresses the issue of native versus exotic with sensitivity and intelligence. Darke is truly a gifted photographer, and this book is lavishly illustrated with more than 1,000 of his stunning photographs. ... Whether you garden on an acre or are restricted to pots on a patio, you can be sure Darke has a selection of grasses that are perfect for your spot. -- Nancy Szerlag Detroit News 20080223 A scholarly encyclopedia of ornamental grasses, the most comprehensive and well-researched book on the subject, and one that will remain the most important reference on ornamental grasses for decades. -- John Hoyland BBC Gardens 20080901

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