We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Native Landscape Reader

edited by Robert E. Grese

Publication Year: 2011

In this volume Robert E. Grese gathers together writings on nature-based landscape design and conservation by some of the country’s most significant practitioners, horticulturalists, botanists, and conservationists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Written with a strong conservation ethic, these essays often originally appeared in obscure, short-lived publications and are difficult to locate today, comprising a rich but hidden literature. Over many years of pioneering research into the work of Jens Jensen, O. C. Simonds, and other early landscape architects who advocated for the use of native plants and conservation, Grese encountered and began collecting these pieces. With this volume, he offers readers his trove. Purposely avoiding literature that is widely available, Grese shares as well his experience of discovery. His introduction provides perspective on the context of these writings and the principles they espouse, and his conclusion illuminates their relevance today with the emerging emphasis on sustainable design. This collection will appeal to general readers interested in the issues of sustainability, horticulture and gardening, and landscape design and preservation, as well as to historians, practitioners, and specialists.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (55.4 KB)

Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (67.2 KB)

read more

Series Editor’s Preface

pdf iconDownload PDF (102.1 KB)
pp. ix-xii

The Native Landscape Reader edited by Robert Grese is the inaugural volume in the series Critical Perspectives in the History of Environmental Design published by the Library of American Landscape...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (96.6 KB)
pp. xiii-xiv

Assembling this book has given me the opportunity to revisit many of the authors whose writings have helped to shape my views and approaches to landscape design and conservation. One of the writers whose work greatly influenced my initial...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (788.1 KB)
pp. 3-22

Growing concerns about the depletion of resources and global climate change have propelled many people, from landscape architects to professional stewards to home gardeners, to reexamine how we design and manage the land. From backyards to...

read more

Part I: Appreciation of Nature

pdf iconDownload PDF (96.4 KB)
pp. 23-81

The authors in this section explore various ways of appreciating the native landscape at different scales, ranging from measured critiques of landscape scenery to fascination with an individual tree...

read more

“Essay on American Scenery” (1835)

pdf iconDownload PDF (164.5 KB)
pp. 27-36

It is a subject that to every American ought to be of surpassing interest; for, whether he beholds the Hudson mingling waters with the Atlantic—explores the central wilds of this vast continent, or...

read more

“In the Company of Trees” (1892)

pdf iconDownload PDF (282.5 KB)
pp. 37-39

If one wishes to be taken into the intimate confidence of a great tree, and to get the full enjoyment of its strength and beauty, he should lie upon his back on the greensward beneath it, cross his arms under his head by...

read more

“The Love of Nature” (1892)

pdf iconDownload PDF (103.6 KB)
pp. 40-43

One of the noticeable characteristics of this century is a growing love of natural scenery, but it may be questioned whether the love of nature is also growing, for a distinction must be made between the two...

read more

“Appreciation of Natural Beauty” (1898)

pdf iconDownload PDF (104.2 KB)
pp. 44-47

If people could realize and enjoy the beauty around them, they would be happier and better, and the earth would gradually improve in appearance. They would see with pleasure the brightening tints of the...

read more

“Influence of Parks on the Character of Children” (1898)

pdf iconDownload PDF (93.9 KB)
pp. 48-50

The following paper was read by Mr. C. M. Loring, of Minneapolis, who gave the following interesting incidents in Mr. Cleveland’s Life...

read more

The Outlook to Nature (1911)

pdf iconDownload PDF (219.6 KB)
pp. 51-66

I sat at the window of a hotel chamber, musing at the panorama that comes and goes in a thousand cities. There were human beings pouring in and out, up and down, as if moved by some restless and...

read more

“The Value of Natural Areas to Literature and Art” (1926)

pdf iconDownload PDF (191.2 KB)
pp. 67-69

Some few early American poets wrote of the skylark and the nightingale. They followed the easy path of inherited literary tradition, and did not seem to realize the wealth of new natural material at their very doors...

read more

“The Value of Natural Preserves to the Landscape Architect” (1926)

pdf iconDownload PDF (93.2 KB)
pp. 70-72

Inasmuch as one of the chief interests of landscape architecture is the preservation of beautiful landscapes, nothing can be more evident than the importance to the profession and to those deriving benefits...

read more

“The Value to Silviculture of Reserved Areas of Natural Forest Types” (1926)

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.3 KB)
pp. 73-75

The setting aside of vestigial units of the various forest types has three important objects in view: First, to supply the means for studying the laws which control the distribution of different species of trees...

read more

“The Value of Aquatic Preserves to Fisheries” (1926)

pdf iconDownload PDF (85.8 KB)
pp. 76-77

There are few “natural” environments for freshwater fishes in the United States. Artificially stocked streams, lakes, and ponds seldom produce such desirable fishes as are found in localities where the...

read more

“The Importance to Geography of the Preservation of Natural Areas” (1926)

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.3 KB)
pp. 78-79

At least four of Geography’s several subdivisions will be aided by the preservation of natural areas. These are (1) Descriptive Geography, (2) Historical Geography, (3) Ecological Geography, and (4) Economic...

read more

“The Importance of Natural Areas to Biology and Agriculture” (1926)

pdf iconDownload PDF (91.2 KB)
pp. 80-81

Some biological subjects are of course only remotely related to habitat questions; others can hardly proceed to certain conclusions without reference to habitat relations. An adequate interpretation of...

read more

Part II: Our American Flora

pdf iconDownload PDF (80.2 KB)
pp. 83-105

This section chronicles the discovery of the value of our native flora which evolved through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of these authors advocate for increased use of native species in...

read more

“The Neglected American Plants” (1851)

pdf iconDownload PDF (97.0 KB)
pp. 85-87

It is an old and familiar saying that a prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and as we were making our way this spring through a dense forest in the State of New Jersey, we were tempted...

read more

“American Trees for America” (1897)

pdf iconDownload PDF (205.9 KB)
pp. 88-90

Looking at the matter broadly, comparatively little, in northern countries at least, has been accomplished toward beautifying the earth’s surface by transferring trees from one region to another, although a...

read more

“Native Plants for Florida Gardens” (1894)

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.9 KB)
pp. 91-93

The hummock woods and swamps of Florida are rich in ornamental trees and shrubs, and the sandy Pinelands and flatwoods are rich in perennial and herbaceous plants. The beauty of the evergreen...

read more

“The Wild Gardens of the Sierra” (1896)

pdf iconDownload PDF (99.7 KB)
pp. 94-96

Our California Sierra is five hundred miles long and seventy miles wide. The elevation is from 6,000 to nearly 15,000 feet. No great mountain range is more easy of access or better adapted to outdoor life...

read more

“Prairie Woodlands” (1894)

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.8 KB)
pp. 97-98

When pioneers began to settle in our primeval forests, the natural impulse to plot in right lines led to the clearing of rectangular spaces, so that the surviving pieces of woodland are mostly bounded by straight...

read more

“The American Hawthorns” (1892)

pdf iconDownload PDF (105.5 KB)
pp. 99-102

Our American forests are rich in Hawthorns, nearly one-third of the forty species which are now known being found within the territory of the United States. They are scattered from Newfoundland to...

read more

“I Like Our Prairie Landscape” (1920)

pdf iconDownload PDF (170.7 KB)
pp. 103-105

My first impression of the prairie country was of its richness in flowers. It was one grand carpet of exquisite colors such as is fit for a Forest Cathedral, and such as nature only knows how...

read more

Part III: The Native Landscape as a Source of Inspiration

pdf iconDownload PDF (83.3 KB)
pp. 107-161

Reconciling landscape design with the forms and patterns of nature is clearly one of the central challenges of creating “native gardens.” The essays in this section...

read more

“A Few Hints on Landscape Gardening” (1851)

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.2 KB)
pp. 109-111

November is, above all others, the treeplanting month over the wide Union. Accordingly, everyone who has a rood of land looks about him at this season to see what...

read more

“Landscape Art—An Inspiration from the Western Plains” (1906)

pdf iconDownload PDF (187.7 KB)
pp. 112-114

Broadly speaking this is the beginning of the American Renaissance, the constructive period in more than one art. From a western view it is pioneer life. The composer tries...

read more

“The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening (1916)

pdf iconDownload PDF (173.7 KB)
pp. 115-118

In matters of Art our country has borrowed prodigiously from the Old World. Coming from across the seas our ancestors brought with them ideals foreign to the new continent. These ideals have...

read more

The Natural Style in Landscape Gardening (1917)

pdf iconDownload PDF (257.2 KB)
pp. 119-129

All the older men and women now living whose recollections of garden matters run back, say into the seventies, will remember the violent controversy then raging between...

read more

“Thoughts on Planting Composition” (1929)

pdf iconDownload PDF (394.5 KB)
pp. 130-139

The frame of mind that is prone to classify things, that is, to group them in their proper relationship, is constructive and helpful so long as this is done to promote thought, but...

read more

“A Juniper Landscape” (1931)

pdf iconDownload PDF (391.4 KB)
pp. 140-145

Anyone with an eye for landscape beauty has sometime, perhaps frequently, been arrested by a hillside covered with old junipers. Such striking pictures are most abundant in the eastern seaboard states...

read more

“Natural Plant Groups” (1931)

pdf iconDownload PDF (240.6 KB)
pp. 146-150

If we will look about on an open hillside or upland pasture until we find an undisturbed group of sumac (Rhus typhina, R. glabra, or R. copallina), we shall be able to make some interesting...

read more

“Nature as the Great Teacher in Landscape Gardening” (1932)

pdf iconDownload PDF (125.0 KB)
pp. 151-156

There is a saying which you have no doubt read or heard many times and yet you may not have taken it to heart and made it a part of your lives as you should. It is often applied to other arts as well...

read more

“An Ecological Approach” (1933)

pdf iconDownload PDF (122.6 KB)
pp. 157-161

Plant ecology is a comparatively new science. It had its origin at the turn of the century.* Scientists seemed no longer satisfied with the taxonomic study of plants nor even with a wider segregation...

read more

Part IV: Natural Parks and Gardens

pdf iconDownload PDF (84.2 KB)
pp. 163-203

The authors in this section believed in the importance of educating people about native landscape design and wrote essays for both popular magazines and professional...

read more

“An American Garden” (1899)

pdf iconDownload PDF (124.3 KB)
pp. 165-170

What else is a garden in America? Yet there are in our broad land not many real American gardens. Few realize that the trend of rural decoration and lawn adornment in our country has been...

read more

“The Two Kinds of Bog Garden” (1908)

pdf iconDownload PDF (264.6 KB)
pp. 171-175

I was greatly rejoiced when buying my summer home in Massachusetts, to find that the old farm included part of a sphagnum bog, and after maneuvering for several months...

read more

“What is the Matter with Our Water Gardens?” (1912)

pdf iconDownload PDF (217.9 KB)
pp. 176-182

What a pity it is that Americans, who have such good taste in many other matters, have such low standards of beauty in gardening! Take the treatment of water, for instance. I presume that a hundred...

read more

“Making a Small Garden Look Large” (1924)

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.6 KB)
pp. 183-185

This is the story of how an unpromising city lot was developed into a unique garden and landscape. The property is 100 x 300 ft. extending from the city street to the Rock River. The contours are what...

read more

“Natural Parks and Gardens” (1930)

pdf iconDownload PDF (386.1 KB)
pp. 186-199

It will probably be news to most people who have driven over the extensive park system of Chicago that as late as 1885 little seventeen-acre Union Park that lies over on the West Side not far from the scene of the...

read more

“A Story for Ravinians” (1936)

pdf iconDownload PDF (84.4 KB)
pp. 200-201

West of Chicago lies a bungalow and cottonwood suburb with a catalpa tree, or a distorted mulberry, or a round bed of cannas, in the exact center of each front...

“On Improving the Property” (1980)

pdf iconDownload PDF (88.7 KB)
pp. 202-203

read more

Part V: Restoration and Management of the Native Landscape

pdf iconDownload PDF (97.6 KB)
pp. 205-294

In recent years, we have recognized the need for greater attention to ongoing management as well as restoration in our efforts to preserve the ecological integrity...

read more

The Culture and Management of Our Native Forests (1882)

pdf iconDownload PDF (358.4 KB)
pp. 209-223

Man’s progress from barbarism to civilization is indicated by the degree of skill he has attained in the cultivation of those products of the earth which minister to his necessities and comfort. As long as the...

read more

“The Use of the Axe” (1889)

pdf iconDownload PDF (114.3 KB)
pp. 224-228

It has been said of our frontier settlers that they seemed to bear a grudge against trees, and to be engaged in a constant, indiscriminate warfare with them. If this were so, a strong reaction has since set in, of which a...

read more

“Landscape Forestry in the Metropolitan Reservations” (1896–1897)

pdf iconDownload PDF (430.7 KB)
pp. 229-249

Wherever Nature has herself glorified a country, and made a picture bounded only by the horizon, as in many parts of Switzerland, Italy, Southern Germany, and even our own Silesia, I am strongly...

read more

Report of the Landscape Architect (1904)

pdf iconDownload PDF (155.0 KB)
pp. 250-258

The movement for the acquisition of large forest park areas within Cook County is in embryo. This fact is evidenced by the absence of surveys defining the existing forest areas...

read more

“Parks as Preservers of Native Plants (1915)

pdf iconDownload PDF (115.8 KB)
pp. 259-263

In the making of parks no material is of greater importance than plants. Even in parks, whose space is utilized for playgrounds, some trees and shrubs are essential, the trees for the purpose of...

read more

“The Dunes of Northern Indiana” (1917)

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.8 KB)
pp. 264-266

The world is full of things that add to human intellect and life. Perhaps least consideration and least appreciation are given to those things that form an interesting part of Mother Earth herself...

read more

Testimony at the Hearing on the Proposed Sand Dunes National Park (1917)

pdf iconDownload PDF (104.8 KB)
pp. 267-270

Mr. Secretary, ladies, and gentlemen, I certainly heartily second all that has been said in regard to Mr. Mather’s very large part in making our national parks useful. I feel, however...

read more

“The Last Stand of the Wilderness” (1926)

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.9 KB)
pp. 271-276

How many of those whole-hearted conservationists who berate the past generation for its short-sightedness in the use of natural resources have stopped to ask themselves for what new evils the next...

read more

“Ecological Garden and Arboretum at the University of Wisconsin” (1937)

pdf iconDownload PDF (240.3 KB)
pp. 277-286

Fair and fruitful, Wisconsin ranks high among the best of the agricultural states in the union. Abundantly blessed with fertile soils, productive valleys, matchless...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (360.5 KB)
pp. 287-294

This collection of writings about the native landscape is by no means complete. In making my selection, I strove to represent a diversity of ideas and people who advocated for greater...


pdf iconDownload PDF (137.2 KB)
pp. 295-298

Works Cited

pdf iconDownload PDF (158.7 KB)
pp. 299-305


pdf iconDownload PDF (1.0 MB)
pp. 307-317

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (406.8 KB)

E-ISBN-13: 9781613761847
E-ISBN-10: 1613761848
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558498846
Print-ISBN-10: 1558498842

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2011