William Robinson and Rick Darke, ‘The Wild Garden’


WGfrontLExpanded and revised, with new chapters and photography by Rick Darke, William Robinson’s classic, The Wild Garden, is arguably the book that gave the concept of naturalistic, low maintenance gardening its birth.

Although the book was first written for a fussy British gardening audience, Robinson boldly recommends a practice of gardening that gives nature a freer hand by selecting and placing plants “where they will thrive without further care.”

Writing well before science began to learn about the deleterious effects of invasive exotic species, Robinson nonetheless extols the virtues of numerous native English plants. He also shares with his readers a good number of North American woodland and meadow species of merit, and how to use these plants in a more naturalistic way.

Written during the beginning of the British Arts and Crafts movement, this book resonates for me, with its ethic of “linking beauty with utility and promoting an appreciation of local materials and patterns.” I also always draw inspiration from Rick Darke’s sumptuous photography of woodland scenes at Mt Cuba Center, his own local landscapes in Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.