Designing Gardens With Flora of the American East

Cover & Overview

Author: Carolyn Summers
Illustrations: Michele Hertz
Rutgers University Press

About the Book

The beautifully illustrated Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East approaches landscape design from an ecological perspective encouraging professional designers and backyard enthusiasts alike to intensify their use of indigenous or native plants.  These plants, ones that grow naturally in the same place in which they evolved, form the basis of the food web. Wildlife simply cannot continue to survive without them—nor can we.

Carolyn Summers introduces our wild flora into designs for common garden landscapes, such as foundation plantings, mixed borders, even formal knot gardens. Emphasizing the importance of indigenous plant gardening and landscape design, she provides guidelines for beginning gardeners as well as experienced designers.

Buy your hardcopy or ebook today on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or local indie bookstores. For a personalized copy, contact Carolyn Summers directly.

Book Highlights

  • In-depth scientific, coherent argument for the necessity of using indigenous plants in cultivated landscapes
  • Concrete design guidance – including actual designs coupled with trees, shrubs, ground covers, and other showy substitutes for invasive plants
  • Best practices and examples on how to use exotic plants responsibly including:
    – Controlling plant reproduction
    – Choosing cultivars and hybrids
    – Explore the joys of “safe sex in the garden”
  • Practical issues of finding and purchasing native plants

Gardeners are endowed with love for a hobby that has profound potential for positive change. Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East lays the “gardenwork”— for by preserving natural areas through the thoughtful planting of indigenous plants, we may bask in the knowledge that it is possible to have loads of fun at the same time we are growing a better world!


Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East is a long overdue, in-depth look at the paucity of indigenous American plants in gardens in the United States, and the importance of correcting this situation. It is an explicit guidebook for garden professionals to enable them to help sustain our wild floral heritage, rather than allowing its not-so-slow destruction.
Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East is the most complete publication on the practical challenges associated with native plant gardening and fills this need very well for eastern gardeners. What Carolyn Summers tells us about indigenous plants and wildlife is critical to our sustainable future.
This book is a must-have for anyone interested in the natural history of eastern native plants and their uses in gardens. The author combines thorough research with a clear, thoughtful viewpoint gleaned from her own personal experience. Very well written, it is an enjoyable read, as well as a valuable tool for garden designers.