University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial Publications : Book of the Month

Gardening with Grasses
Michael King, Piet Oudolf.  1998.  Timber Press.  152pp, hardcover.

Both authors are designers in Holland, the former based in Amsterdam and the latter in Arnheim with a small nursery as well.  M. King spent many years at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.  P. Oudolf over the last 25 years has become known throughout Europe for his park and garden designs in the "new European garden style."

This garden style is reflected in the first part of the book, discussing grasses for different landscape situations such as lawns, meadows, specimens, to create moods, in association with water, in containers, and others.  It is this part that in particular makes this reference different from other ornamental grass references which merely discuss the individual plants.  Beautiful photography captures these uses and moods.  Each of these sections has some text, giving examples of uses and combinations, and then a listing of appropriate grasses.

Other chapters, also different from some other texts, dicuss perennials and other plants to combine with grasses--for harmony, for contrast, umbellifers, in autumn, and in winter.  A couple grass borders are interpreted, followed by a few pages on general grass culture.

Individual grasses are then covered in the usual A-Z fashion, with for each height, spread, zones (adapted for the US from the original European publication, and seemingly accurate), flowering period, some text on particulars of culture, then some of the better cultivars.  They're broken into annuals, perennials (including such as rushes, sedges), and bamboos.

A good reference either to add to an existing collection on grasses, or if interested in ecological and sustainable landscaping, or if just looking for one reference to cover both design and culture/cultivars.

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