cloth, 160 p., $47.50
In a visually stunning photographic record of the subject, British nurseryman and landscape designer Roger Grounds has written a fascinating text in praise of ornamental grasses. A recognized authority on the subject, the author traces the use of grasses as ornamentals in gardens of the past, going back as far as 1782 when they first appeared in a catalog of a Dorset (England) nursery. In his discussion of their history during the twentieth century, his depth of global knowledge about journalists, nurserymen, and landscape designers who played a role in popularizing their use is evident.
The section on designing with grasses is one of the most complete studies of its kind. The author shows great artistic ability in his sensitive descriptions of the qualities of line, light, and color, and arrangements and groupings. He also describes companion plantings for ornamental grasses through the seasons. His literary style, occasionally technical, flows engagingly. The text differs from the usual monograph on a genus; rather than a vast taxonomic listing of all recognized species and cultivars, it contains representative portraits of what the author considers the best grasses, grouped according to their hardiness. The section on plant selection and care is complete, and there is a listing of display gardens that feature ornamental grasses as well as a directory of nursery sources for plants.
Highly recommended for all gardeners and professionals, this publication has raised the benchmark of gardening literature.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden