Grass, Gras, Graser, Siergrassen, Prachtig Gras
These are just some of the titles of books and articles about ornamental grasses that I have written over the past twenty years or so.
This was my first book, co-authored with Piet Oudolf, with a title that everyone in Holland found very funny. It translates into Glorious Grass, but the funny part was hearing an englishman trying to pronounce it. With a “g” at the end of the first word and at the start of the second, it could easily sound like I was choking. Today it roles off my tongue like any native!
For the rest of the world the English edition appeared a year later and helped establish “Gardening with Grasses” as a trendy gardening activity.
Once trendy, ornamental grasses are now a standard part of most experienced gardener’s planting palette.
With their rise in popularity many other books on grasses appeared, but few contributed anything very new. The exceptions were the encyclopaedias of grasses written by Rick Darke which offered an ever increasing assortment for gardeners to consider using. For european gardeners the danger was that many of those listed were not hardy enough, but the hardiness zones made that clear enough.
Today the two books I would recommend you read on grasses are:
Designing with Grasses by Neil Lucas (Timber Press)
The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes by Rick Darke (Timber Press)
These are up to date and offer lists of the best new cultivars. You can read more about these books in an earlier post on this blog if you have time.
Rather than repeating everything that I and the others have already published on grasses I decided to create a masterclass on grass in the eBook format.
GRASS KING is the result.
eBooks offer new opportunities for presentation as well as their challenges. No longer do we have to bend to the needs of the printing press. Pages can be filled to the edges to maximise their impact, but reading on a monitor or tablet is very different form turning and flicking through pages. To make the book manageble and accessible I have decided to issue it as a two book bundle GRASS KING 1 and GRASS KING 2.
I have not produced an encyclopaedia of grass, but rather tried to show how to make the most use of them when creating a garden.
GRASS KING BOOK 1
Here I introduce the world of ornamental grasses and try to investigate what it is about these plants that sets them apart from other plants in our gardens. With this knowledge we can move forward and start find different ways to use them in our planting designs.
My survey of recommended grasses focuses on the best of the best. It is not intended to be comprehensive, but aims to show what to look for when making choices. Knowing the best you can assess the rest.
BOOK1 concludes with something you rarely find in other publications; a summary of the negative aspects of gardening with grasses. They are not always the best plants to use for certain jobs and many are hardly better than weeds. Like good friends you need to appreciate their strengths and work around their weaknesses.
GRASS KING BOOK 2
Now we are in a position to start using grasses in our planting schemes. A quick summary of how easy they are to plant and maintain is followed by a discussion of how to combine them with other plants in flower borders. The key points are not difficult to grasp, but the danger is over using these visually powerful plants.
Flower borders are only part of the use of planting in garden designs, and the role of grasses as design elements throughout a landscape’s design is the final subject of this second book. Focal points, ground cover and living architecture are just some of the topics and not forgetting perennial meadows.
My aim is to enable you to grasp the essence of gardening with grasses and to use them in your planting designs with skill and confidence.