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Nurturing the Natural Landscape

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Here is an essential reading list to start you on a path to become a garden ecologist. Observe the habitat around you and learn to enjoy the natural processes as they evolve. Take your gardening practice to a new level as you develop a dynamic style of garden and landscape design based on understanding nature. By replacing labor intensive and destructive traditional gardening practices with more ecological principles, we can create landscapes that are alive with biodiversity, microhabitats and vibrancy. Authors like Rachel Carson and J A Baker influenced many current writers when they wrote their seminal books about the need to reverse harmful habits affecting our environment.

Planting in a Post-Wild World

This groundbreaking guide presents a powerful alternative to traditional horticulture - designed plantings that function like naturally occurring plant communities. Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, two leading voices in ecological landscape design, reveal how plants fit together in nature and how to use this knowledge to create landscapes that are resilient, beautiful, and diverse. As practical as it is inspiring, Planting in a Post-Wild World is an optimistic manifesto pointing the way to the future of planting design.

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Dark Ecology

Timothy Morton explores the logical foundations of our current and ongoing ecological crisis, which is suffused with the melancholy and negativity of coexistence yet evolving. Dark ecology puts us in an uncanny position of radical self-knowledge, illuminating our place in the biosphere and our belonging to a species in a sense that is far less obvious than we like to think. Morton hopes to reestablish our ties to nonhuman beings and to help us rediscover the playfulness and joy that can brighten the dark, strange loop we traverse.

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The Peregrine

J A Baker's extraordinary classic of British nature writing, The Peregrine, is set on the flat marshes of the Essex coast, where J A Baker spent a long winter looking and writing about the visitors from the uplands - peregrines that spend the winter hunting the huge flocks of pigeons and waders that share the desolate landscape with them. Including original diaries from which The Peregrine was written and its companion volume The Hill of Summer, this is a beautiful compendium of lyrical nature writing at its absolute best. Such luminaries as Richard Mabey, Robert Macfarlane, Ted Hughes and Andrew Motion have cited this as one of the most important books in 20th Century nature writing.

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The Living Landscape

Combining the talents of an outstanding horticulturist and designer with the ground-breaking research of a leading scientist, 'The Living Landscape' inspires readers to create a home landscape that performs many essential functions, including providing beauty, maintaining environmental integrity, and, most importantly, providing shelter and sustenance for a wide variety of wildlife.

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The American Meadow Garden

The time has come to look for new ways to create friendly, livable spaces around our homes. For Greenlee, a meadow is a shimmering mini-ecosystem, in which regionally appropriate grasses combine with colorful perennials to form a rich tapestry that is friendly to all life - with minimal input of water, time, and other scarce resources. We've reached a stage where we can no longer follow past practices unthinkingly, particularly when those practices are wasteful and harmful to the environment. 

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Silent Spring Revisited

American scientist and author Rachel Carson is said to have sparked the modern day environmental movement with the publication of Silent Spring in 1962. She made vivid the prospect of life without birdsong. But has her warning been heeded? Fifty years on, Conor Mark Jameson reflects on the growth of environmentalism since Silent Spring was published. His revealing and engaging tale plots milestone events in conservation, popular culture and political history in the British Isles and beyond, tracing a path through the half century since 'zero hour', 1962. Around this he weaves his own observations and touching personal experiences, seeking to answer the question: what happened to the birds, and birdsong, and why does it matter?

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Here are a few of the essential writings, past and present, to guide gardeners through the new thinking of using natural processes rather than battling them to create healthier, sustainable landscapes. 

Julia is a Sydney based writer covering sustainable living, innovation, books and art.

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