February 21, 2012 | David Rubin

The following review comes to us from Maggie Lee, a New Mexico-based garden designer quite familiar with drought-tolerant plants.

In their new book, "Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens," Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden offer a unique resource of 200 adaptive plants ranging from trees to cacti. Accompanying the introductory page to each section, the authors’ beautifully-photographed garden vignettes illustrate accomplished examples of textural tapestries and well-proportioned compositions; gardens rich in species and relationships. I find this book both refreshing and useful.

The symbols included with each plant, from site preference to pollinator partner, help organize and define choices. Cultural/habitat descriptions, design suggestions and general guidelines on watering, mulching and maintenance are garnered from, as they say, “three decades of experience designing and tending gardens in zones 4 through 10.”

These trailblazing horticulturalists introduce a diverse range of accommodating plant choices. In the section on trees a few of the selections offered include Juniper virginiana Taylor, Pinus bungeana-Lacebark Pine and Prosopis glandulosa-Honey Mesquite. In the shrub section are Juniperus ‘Grey Owl’ and Amorpha canescens-Leadplant. Under grasses is Achnatherum calamagrotis-Silver Spike grass or Muhlenbergia reverchonii-Autumn Ambers Muhly. The fiber plants section offers Yucca rostrata-Blue Tree yucca and Yucca harrimaniae-Doll House yucca. The palette array continues with perennials, vines, bulbs, succulents and cacti and short-lived flowering plants, as with gems like Opuntia cacanapa 'Ellisiana'- spineless Prickly Pear or with a favorite selection I've planted often, Glaucium corniculatum-HornedPoppy, with its bright burnt orange flowers skirted with scalloped silvery blue-green crinkly leaves. Whether suggesting more imaginative combinations for well known materials or sought-after newer varieties, the Ogden's garden design ideas navigate us through new terrain artfully.

So sally forth and see why these authors have long been regarded with high esteem. Their dynamic and pleasing gardens are created from a refined aesthetics coupled with distinctive signature selections. The gardens display a visual cohesiveness inviting a sense of reference to there surroundings, while revealing expressively the spirit of the regions identity. They emote and echo the feeling of spontaneity all around us in Nature.


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