American Plants for American Gardens

American Plants for American Gardens

Foreword by Darrel G. Morrison
Copyright Date: 1929
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    American Plants for American Gardens
    Book Description:

    Undeservedly out of print for decades, American Plants for American Gardens was one of the first popular books to promote the use of plant ecology and native plants in gardening and landscaping. Emphasizing the strong links between ecology and aesthetics, nature and design, the book demonstrates the basic, practical application of ecological principles to the selection of plant groups or "associations" that are inherently suited to a particular climate, soil, topography, and lighting. Specifically, American Plants for American Gardens focuses on the vegetation concentrated in the northeastern United States, but which extends from the Atlantic Ocean west to the Alleghenies and south to Georgia. The plant community settings featured include the open field, hillside, wood and grove, streamside, ravine, pond, bog, and seaside. Plant lists and accompanying texts provide valuable information for the design and management of a wide range of project types: residential properties, school grounds, corporate office sites, roadways, and parks. In his introduction, Darrel G. Morrison locates American Plants for American Gardens among a handful of influential early books advocating the protection and use of native plants--a major area of interest today among serious gardeners, landscape architects, nursery managers, and students of ecology, botany, and landscape design. Included is an appendix of plant name changes that have occurred since the book's original publication in 1929. Ahead of their time in many ways, Edith A. Roberts and Elsa Rehmann can now speak to new generations of ecologically conscious Americans.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4056-2
    Subjects: Botany & Plant Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-X)
    (pp. XI-XXX)

    I was first introduced to American Plants for American Gardens in 1963, while working as a fledgling landscape architect in the Washington, D.C., area. At that time, the book had been published more than three decades earlier, in 1929, and was authored two faculty members at Vassar College: Dr. Edith Roberts, professor of botany, and Elsa Rehmann, landscape architect, writer, and lecturer on landscape gardening. Now, at a time when we often lament the loss of a sense of place, and as “sustainability” becomes an increasingly popular catchword in landscape design and management, this volume has a message that is...

    (pp. 1-8)

    The beauty and variety of plants native to America have ever been recognized and have made a deep impression upon the plant lover. Plant ecology, a comparatively new study of plants in relation to their environment, contributes toward a keener understanding of this natural vegetation and its use in garden making. It draws attention to the native plants as they appear in the landscape and suggests their inherent appropriateness to grounds and gardens.

    It is almost unbelievable that the native plants should ever have been overlooked. Yet little use of them was made in the seventeenth century gardens where plants...

    (pp. 9-23)

    Each uncultivated field or meadow is a natural garden covered over with many different kinds of flowers gathered together in lavish numbers. It is this wealth of plants that the farmer struggles against when he sows his grasslands. Because of them he has to till year after year. As soon as he stops they immediately begin to reëstablish themselves and in a few years come back into their own.

    All of these flowers thrive in the open fields. They are controlled, however, by varying conditions of soil and moisture. Some are found only on rocky out-crops and in thin soil;...

    (pp. 24-34)

    The dry sunny hillside is so rocky and exposed that only a few plants are able to adapt themselves to its rigorous conditions. Among them the red cedar, Juniperus virginiana, is the most prominent. They scatter over the hillside; they crown the knolls; they mount the slopes in groups of varying numbers; they assemble on the ridges in long, closely gathered masses. They are always striking in form. As young trees they are slender and columnar and branched to the very ground. As old specimens they are looselimbed and broadly conical with a strong brown trunk showing below wide up-curving...

    (pp. 35-38)

    Wherever there are gray birches, Nature is in one of her lightest moods. These gray-white trees of slender form gather together in fairy-like groves. Their slim grace is accentuated by the way they often spring up in fives and sixes from a single root. When young they are gray-brown but later on they are phantom-white with black twigs and black notches. The effect is full of that mystery that etchings and delicate pencil drawings have. The gossamer quality is ever present; in the spring when their filmy foliage is light-filled, in summer when their green is soft, in autumn when...

    (pp. 39-42)

    White pines are lordly evergreens. Within the forest they have trunks of marvelous straightness that rise without side branches to a great height. The infinite repetition of the vertical lines expresses their stateliness. On the edge of the woods, however, the branches are stretched out horizontally in wide-spaced tiers that droop and sway with restful rhythm.

    The weathered brown of the bark and the soft green the foliage is repeated on the earth under the trees the thick mat of dried needles and the many little ground-covers. There are partridge berries with tiny-leafed, tiny-berried vines. There are bunchberries with little...

    (pp. 43-56)

    Oak woods are found on uplands. They rise above the streams and ponds, surround the sunny fields, fringe the juniper slopes, and cover many a hillside. Sometimes, on the one hand, there are aged white pines left among them on the ridges, and on the other hand the oaks themselves are left on the sides of ravines among beeches, maples and hemlocks.

    There are many different kinds of oaks, white oaks and red oaks, scarlet, black and chestnut oaks. The white oaks and the red oaks grow side by side in about equal numbers and sometimes become great gnarled wide-branched...

    (pp. 57-65)

    Beeches, maples and hemlocks are found growing together in old and stately woods. The hemlocks are tall evergreen trees with seal brown trunks, drooping branches and short flat needles. The maples are sturdy round-topped trees. Their trunks are furrowed and gray-brown, their strong branches are noticeably upright, their leaves are deeply lobed. The beeches are broad symmetrical trees. Their smooth trunks are steel gray, their horizontal branches are placed in widespread tiers, their slender buds and pointed leaves are arranged far apart on spray-like stems.

    These three trees occur in varied proportions according to the quality of the soil, the...

    (pp. 66-74)

    Hemlocks grow on the side of deep ravines. Their roots find foothold between big boulders. Their tall dark trunks tower beside great cliffs. Their soft branches throw shadows over fern-covered rocks. In the deep hollows water trickles over mossy ledges. All is dark and cool and green. Even at noon-day when the sun is high the wood is held in lavender light.

    In the rich moist ravines of the north, the ground is covered with yews. These low shrubs with their short-needled branches repeat the delicate structure of the hemlocks above them. Farther south, throughout the Alleghanies, rhododendrons grow in...

    (pp. 75-87)

    Many kinds of trees, a great variety of shrubs and innumerable herbaceous plants grow along streams and rivers. The ever-present supply of water and the moisture-laden atmosphere give them an ideal environment. And, as the stream meanders between low margins, under high banks, below gentle slopes and through flat low-lying areas, the varying amounts water in the soil influence the selection and arrangement of the vegetation.

    Elms sometimes define the course of the stream and grow on the well-drained slopes on either side. They are found as single specimens with tall graceful shapes, and as thickets where they are tangled...

    (pp. 88-97)

    Aquatics are plants that thrive in quiet water and sunlight. Many kinds of native aquatics, water shields, water lilies and water crowfoots, arrowheads, pickered-weeds, arrow arums and water plantains, sweet flags, wild callas, bur-reeds, sedges, rushes and cat-tails can be effectively used in planting a water garden.

    This planting may be started with cat-tails. Their erect sheaths and reed-like stalks can edge the water grow out into it in strong phalanxes. Typha latifolia, the common cat-tail, with broad leaves and stout spikes, is in scale with large ponds, while the familiar Typha angustifolia, with narrow grasslike leaves and thin cylindrical...

    (pp. 98-102)

    A typical bog is a perfect circle with the plants arranged according to a definite plan into a series of concentric zones. In the very middle there is often a pool of water which is surrounded by a broad band of sphagnum. This moss is springy and spongy and so treacherously unstable that it is dangerous even to try to step upon it. It is difficult to tell how deep it is. Sometimes it is a thin layer, barely a foot thick, that seems to float on the top of the water. Then again it is a soft mat of...

    (pp. 103-116)

    Along the North Atlantic coast with its far look to sea and with its great sweep of the sky, with its shelving rocks, undulating dunes and sandy flats, a small group of trees, shrubs and flowers grows with rugged vigor.

    Here pitch pines are the stalwart trees. Their stout trunks, rough bark, angular branches and short needles make it possible for them to hold their own valiantly. The early settlers found them in great forests on the high cliffs of Maine, on the shores of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey, in fact all along the coast as far south...

  16. INDEX
    (pp. 117-132)
    (pp. 133-145)