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Ornamental Grasses: Wolfgang Oehme and the New American Garden

Ornamental Grasses: Wolfgang Oehme and the New American Garden
Stefan Leppert
Frances Lincoln
Publication Date: 

cloth, 143 pp., $45.00

Champion of ornamental grasses, Wolfgang Oehme is the embodiment of the dedicated landscape gardener. In this biographical sketch by German landscape architect and writer Stefan Leppert, the author describes the career of this German native who immigrated to the United States after World War II. Settling on the East Coast, Oehme was dismayed by the "boredom of the lifeless lawn" and became a powerful proponent of landscapes that employed masses of ornamental grasses and perennials as replacements. After teaming up with landscape architect James van Sweden in 1975 to form a new firm, Oehme promoted the gardening style they termed "the New American Garden." Heavily illustrated with photographs of public and private landscapes they created, the book provides rare insight into the character of Oehme and his staunch advocacy of ornamental grasses and other favorite plants. Just as the Prairie Landscape School of Gardening's leading advocate, Jens Jensen (1860–1951), employed drifts of native plants to symbolize nature's design, Oehme echoed this planting scheme to refelct the grandeur of American scenery. A helpful directory of the designer's favorite plants accompanies the text.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden