Synopses & Reviews
Ornamental Grasses: Wolfgang Oehme and the New American Garden
by Stefan Leppert is an interesting mix of biography, history lesson and landscape design primer. For a landscape designer, like myself, previewing the book was like eating a big bowl of my favorite ice cream a guilty pleasure.
In case youre not familiar with the New American Garden movement, suffice it to say that Wolfgang Oehme and his design partner, James van Sweden, are the fathers of the movement. A New American Garden is filled with wide swaths of ornamental grasses and perennials such as black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia), goldenrod (Solidago) and sedum to name just a few. It is an anti-lawn movement that finds beauty in wide open expanses of prairie plantings rather than turf grass.
Ornamental Grasses looks at the professional life of Wolfgang Oehme - how he was influenced by Karl Foerster, his friendship with Kurl Bluemel and his collaborations with James van Sweden. All names any gardener interested in ornamental grasses and the New American style knows well.
Stefan Leppert tells Oehmes story through the many public and private gardens he has designed. The book is full of breathtaking photos of these wonderful gardens that have indeed influenced so much of what we do as gardeners today. I found it so interesting to read how Oehme created the market for ornamental grasses because they were unavailable here in the US.
The book ends with a list of Wolfi-Plants. These are plants Oehme has used over and over in his designs. According to Leppert, Oehme looks for four qualities in a plant: stability, robustness, flowering duration and competitiveness. Based on those qualities, Oehmes benchmark plant is Periscaria polymorpha.
If youre thinking about turning an area of your lawn into a version of Oehmes New American garden then youll want to check out Ornamental Grasses for inspiration (and the extensive plant list). —From Gardenofpossibilities.com
Wolfgang Oehme is one of the most important garden designers of the last 30 years. In partnership with James Van Sweden, who contributes an essay to this book, he ushered in the revolutionary garden style known as the New American Garden. Eschewing previous conventions such as vast lawns, clipped shrubs, and dreary beds of annuals, the New American garden embodies the simple beauty and grandeur of the prairie, defining itself with large sweeps of herbaceous perennials and grasses. The feeling of sheer beauty and calmness that pervades Oehme's gardens is a reminder of our connection to nature. Ornamental Grasses chronicles Oehmes professional journey, from his childhood in war-torn Germany to his immense success in the United States, all the while exploring his remarkable career, both solo and in partnership with Van Sweden. Over 200 gorgeous photographs depict dreamlike gardens, Wolfi” plants, people, and much more.