I'm picky about garden books. It's hard to find a resource that offers something new yet relevant to our erratic climate. Kelly Norris's, The New Naturalism, hits the mark providing the reader with new perspectives on what a garden can be with sound advice on selecting plants and designing varied spaces for an aesthetically pleasing yet wild look pollinators will love. While it might be more technical than some readers desire, you'll learn more looking up the plants' common names and gain a new appreciation for their ecological niches. It's the book I wish I read before tearing up my lawn. If nothing else the pictures are worthy of display on anyone's coffee table
Recreate the wild beauty and thriving ecology of meadows, prairies, woodlands, and streamsides in your own garden.
In New Naturalism, horticulturist and modern plantsman Kelly D. Norris shares his inspiring, ecologically sound vision for home gardens created with stylish yet naturalistic plantings that mimic the wild spaces we covet—far from the contrived, formal, high-maintenance plantings of the past. Through a basic introduction to plant biology and ecology, you’ll learn how to design and grow a lush, thriving home garden by harnessing the power of plant layers and palettes defined by nature, not humans.
The next generation of home landscapes don’t consist of plants in a row, pruned to perfection and reliant on pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides to survive. Instead, today’s stunning landscapes convey nature’s inherent beauty. These gardens are imbued with romance and emotion, yet they have so much more to offer than their gorgeous aesthetics. Naturalistic garden designs, such as those featured in this groundbreaking new book, contribute to positive environmental change by increasing biodiversity, providing a refuge for wildlife, and reconnecting humans to nature.
In the pages of New Naturalism you’ll find:
Planting recipes for building meadows, prairies, and other grassland-inspired open plantings even in compact, urban settings
Nature-inspired ways to upgrade existing foundation plantings, shrub beds, and flower borders to a wilder aesthetic while still managing the space
Inspiration for taking sidewalk and driveway plantings and turning them into visually soft, welcoming spaces for humans and wildlife alike
Ideas for turning shady landscapes into canopied retreats that celebrate nature
Creative ways to make an ecologically vibrant garden in even the smallest of spaces
New Naturalism approaches the planting beds around our homes as ecological systems. If properly designed and planted, these areas can support positive environmental change, increase plant and animal diversity, and create a more resilient space that’s less reliant on artificial inputs. And they do it all while looking beautiful and improving property values.
About the Author
Kelly D. Norris is an award-winning author and plantsman, and the director of horticulture and education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a revitalized public garden in Des Moines, Iowa. Over his career, his work has been featured in The New York Times, Organic Gardening, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Garden Design, and in numerous local and regional media appearances. In 2019, Kelly joined Cottage Farms Plants on QVC as a guest host.
As a writer and photographer, he regularly contributes to popular gardening magazines like Country Gardens, Fine Gardening, The American Gardener, and a variety of industry trade publications. As a speaker, he has garnered acclaim for his high-energy, zealous presentations on the national stage, leading many to call him one of the rising stars of American horticulture.
Kelly has been fortunate to earn recognition for his work from a variety of organizations including three awards from Iowa State Horticultural Society (2009–2011) for his service and contributions to horticulture in Iowa; early career and young professional awards from the Perennial Plant Association (2011), GardenComm (2018) and the American Horticultural Society (2018); the Iowa Author Award for Special Interest Writing (2013), the youngest Iowan to be recognized in the history of the awards program; and a fellowship from the Chanticleer Foundation (2015) for his curatorial and plant exploration work at the Botanical Garden.
“New Naturalism…is a well-written and beautifully illustrated book on naturalistic garden design and how to achieve a garden that is both aesthetically pleasing and ecologically functional.” —Joe Lamp’l, joegardener.com and host of Growing a Greener World on PBS
“Mr. Norris is a dynamic and inspiring speaker who represents a new generation of horticulturists.” —Maureen Karl, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“An invaluable tool for ecologically oriented gardeners, this book is as relevant for residents of Eastern woodlands or Western mountains as for gardeners in Kelly’s own Midwest.” —Thomas Christopher, Growing Greener podcast
“This beautiful book is undoubtedly worth a read.” —Garden Culture Magazine
“New Naturalism is a great look into what the future of gardening can be.” —Steve Natchez Glen House Stories
“There are plenty of advantages to gardening this way, and Kelly’s new book helps illustrate them.” —Kylee Baumle for Paulding Progress
“This mouth-watering book unveils an understanding of how to encourage biodiversity in our gardens, bringing us closer to a world where gardens, ecologists, landscape designers, and planners can unite – working together to blur the lines between ecology and horticulture”—Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener, Great Dixter House and Gardens, East Sussex, England
“Kelly Norris has translated plant community design for the scale of the garden. Free of ecological jargon, this book brings a horticulturist’s perspective on how to create legible, high contrast, and emotionally resonant plantings for small spaces. The planting palettes in the second half of the book make this idea accessible for any designer or home gardener. A must-have book for the naturalistic planting bookshelf!”—Thomas Rainer, landscape architect and co-author of Planting in a Post-Wild World
“A new perspective on naturalistic gardening … Loaded with gorgeous photos of unique gardens, it’ll inspire you to rethink your own way of growing plants more sustainably.”
—Garden Gate Magazine
“I sat down and read the whole thing cover to cover. (..) Normally when I read gardening books, I kind of just skim them because a lot of them have the same thing to say. This is not one of those. (...) One of the best books to come out this year.” —The Gardenanglelists Podcast
"This book really digs into the grit of how to achieve a successful naturalistic planting in a variety of growing conditions...Norris illustrates his points with stunning photographs. He builds on the pedagogy of perennial plant design by contributing his own phrases and insight to the current canon of terms." —The American Gardener
“The new wave of gardening.” —Colorado Gardener
"This is a beautiful and practical book that shows how to partner with nature in creating a garden—rather than attempt to direct nature."—Horticulture Magazine
“New Naturalism is a companion for us in cultivating a caring consciousness… In a gardening moment where there is a lot of potential anxiety around the urgency of the biggest concepts like climate change and pollinator decline, Kelly provides just enough of a tweak in perspective on how we approach our gardening impulse to grant us easier access into this conversation about the role of gardeners through the fortitude and best intentions of our already established gardening passions and habits.” —Jennifer Jewell, Cultivating Place Podcast
“[Kelly] guides us down beautiful pathways where place, plants, and wildlife interact.”
—Central Texas Gardener (Austin, TX PBS)
“Although there is a strong emphasis on sustainability, the author recognizes the need for legible beauty in the home garden and addresses ways to increase wildness while maintaining the intentional look of our gardens.”