Cover image for On the wild side : experiments in new naturalism
On the wild side : experiments in new naturalism
Wiley, Keith.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Portland : Timber Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
256 pages : color illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SB439 .W5445 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Inspired first by the flora and fauna of rural England, and later by the world's deserts, coastlines, mountains, and woodlands, Keith Wiley has distilled the essence of these wild landscapes into a single garden with breathtaking success. Much more than a book of new planting ideas, On the Wild Side challenges our whole understanding of what a garden is. Why strive for year-round color throughout the garden when small areas can seize the limelight at their seasonal peak? Change and evolution is at the heart of new naturalism -- is your garden ready for it?

Author Notes

Following his graduation with an honours degree in horticulture, Keith became head gardener at The Garden House in the south-west of England. Here, over a period of 25 years between 1978 and 2003, he created one of the most innovative gardens in Britain. Now he works as a freelance garden consultant and runs his own mail-order nursery called 'Wildside Plants'

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Natural" gardens are nothing new; the English landscape style has emulated scenes from nature since the early 1700s. Wiley's "new naturalism" takes the concept further, seeking "to capture only the spirit of wild plantings and never attempt to replicate exactly any landscape or combination of plants." Gardeners can achieve effects with form, color and placement by closely observing scenes as disparate as South African savannas, the Colorado Rockies, Swiss alpine meadows and New England roadsides. Wiley eschews overly intensive soil management in favor of "working with what you have got" to produce not a prize specimen but "a community of plants forming a harmonious picture." He encourages self-seeding and delights in serendipitous, if temporary, successes. Wiley chooses plants for their power to evoke the spirit of a natural scene, and he devotes the majority of the book to plants and plant associations grouped accordingly. (Most American readers will have to substitute hardier plants for many of those Wiley suggests; USDA hardiness zones are conspicuously absent.) As head gardener at The Garden House in Devon, England, Wiley practiced "Wild West, seat-of-your-pants, pioneering gardening" for 25 years, creating one of England's most distinctive gardens. His experience is reflected in ample practical advice, but he is not confined by it; he also offers many imaginative ideas for gardens he has yet to create. Over 200 color photographs provide additional inspiration. Wiley's aim is "freeing your own creative inner spirit from the straitjacket of horticultural tradition," and in that, he succeeds brilliantly. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Forewordp. 6
Prefacep. 8
Introductionp. 10
Part 1 The Plantsp. 30
1 Bulb meadows and woodland floorp. 32
2 Deserts and semi-arid landscapesp. 56
3 Mountain, coast and clifftopp. 84
4 Impressionism with perennialsp. 98
5 Meadow mixesp. 122
6 Prairie, scrub and grasslandsp. 140
7 Inspiration from the wild woodsp. 162
8 Shaping plants for effectp. 182
Part 2 The Garden Landscapep. 194
9 Shape and structurep. 196
10 Between rocks and hard placesp. 208
11 Going with the flowp. 232
Epiloguep. 250
Indexp. 252