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Prairie Up—4.4 Stars


This book is a complete guide to reducing lawns and moving toward a more sustainable environment in our yards

“This book is honest, approachable, and dispels myths by making complex ideas actionable in smaller bites.” – Benjamin Vogt (author)

The RCMG Book Club read and discussed Prairie Up: An Introduction to Natural Garden Design by Benjamin Vogt for the May discussion. Master Gardener volunteers read the book in early spring and shared their thoughts in a small group discussion.

Readers’ Summary

Master Gardeners were engaged with the text and images in the book, noting that “it all made so much sense.” Broken up into historical and ecological content, the book led readers to reconsider what they’ve typically thought and practiced about organization and density. People appreciated the many photographs that represented the book’s concepts in visual form and even suggested visiting some of the places! Readers learned interesting new words - phytoremediation, for example - and considered matrix garden design as something to be recommended to others.

Reader Poll

  1. Enjoyable—4.3 out of 5 stars

  2. Educational— 4.8 out of 5 stars

  3. Recommended—4.4 out of 5 stars

Reader Comments

What the readers said about this book:

  • As an introduction it's necessarily a bit basic, and it's a very slim book that could have more information. But it seems useful, and would be a good book to recommend to beginner native gardeners.

  • This book was accessible (assuming basic gardening knowledge) and was a good introduction to prairie planting. The pictures and charts were better than many other similar books I have seen.

  • Very well organized chapters including history and a wealth of information about creating prairie gardens. A must read for all lovers of plants.

  • Loved the idea of challenging cultural norms around lawn care and taking time to thoughtfully plan a prairie garden instead with the how to, successes and failures, and long term management guide. While the work is front loaded, it pays off dividends.

  • Gave me a good background on prairie gardens so I can steer gardeners I meet toward planting more natives, without sacrificing a gardener’s need for their favorites, which are not pollinator friendly but teach them how to incorporate these plants.

  • It's a complete guide to reducing lawns and moving toward a more sustainable environment in our yards.

  • Contains LOTS of information on prairie restoration and natives gardening. Several helpful lists, pictures, references. In preparing a small native garden, "we have to use more of the same at higher density" to make a "readable" version of a prairie.

  • The book offers many ideas for choosing diverse plants for design and ecology and helps gardeners find middle ground. His discussion of plant communities and the layers to consider was helpful, as were the garden design approaches (random, modular, and block planting).

Next Book Club Discussion – July 2024

The July Book of the Month is The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly.

When landscaper Emma Lovell takes on the project of restoring the gardens at Highbury House, designed in 1907 by famed garden designer Venetia Smith, she little expects to become embroiled in a mystery spanning several generations. The place exerts a pull on her, as it did on the women who came to the garden before her: ambitious Venetia, who is changed by the gardens and the residents of the Warwickshire town; Diana Symonds, widowed mistress of Highbury during World War II, when her home is requisitioned as a convalescent home for wounded soldiers; Stella Adderton, reluctant cook at Highbury House, who dreams of escape; and land girl and artist Beth Pedley, who joins forces with Stella and Diana when the garden is threatened. Emma discovers multiple stories of love, heartbreak, and ambition, all revolving around the gardens she is restoring as she slowly uncovers the majesty of the gardens and their secrets.


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