Explore Gardening's Wild Side With These Tips for Your Homefront

In his new book, Garden Wild, Andre Baranowski urges gardeners to explore gardening’s wild side for a better world. We offer ideas for making it happen on your homefront.


When Andre Baranowski photographs a garden, he immerses himself in the land. The bond begins before he even brandishes his camera, when he walks the landscape, learning its message, soaking in the ambiance, watching the light. The relationship strengthens as he returns again and again, documenting the garden.

Although he has visited innumerable gardens over the years, he has a special affinity for naturalistic gardens, or “wild gardens” as he calls them. Sustainably created, crafted to evolve with nature and for nature, these landscapes are the future of this country, he says. In his new book, Garden Wild, published by Rizzoli, Baranowski shares his vision of the way gardens are growing.

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In Garden Wild, Baranowski shows 12 gardens photographed over several years in various seasons. “A wild garden is always changing,” Baranowski says, “but the beauty of photography is you can capture the garden and document it in a certain moment in time.” The gardens are both large and small, professionally designed as well as created by homeowners. They encompass all styles.

By returning again and again, not only does the photographer reveal the overall splendor of wildness, but he also delves deeply into the gardens, sharing the intimacy acquired through total submersion. He creates beauty and the gardens speak to him, asking him to share their message. As he explains: “The goal was to inspire people to set a garden free.”

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Here are some of the ideas that anyone can incorporate into their garden wild.



Go for Mass Appeal

Plant a meadow with lots of flowers. Not only does a sea of blooms impress the eye, but it also allows pollinators to efficiently collect nectar. Just think how magnificent a meadow of bee balm could be.

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Try Amber Waves

Ornamental grasses give a sense of volume while covering ground throughout the seasons. They provide a great alternative to a lawn.


Think New Foundation Plantings

Change your definition of foundation plantings from the typical boxwood hedge to groupings of berry and flowering plants.



Mind the Gap

Rather than let space go to waste, garden around pools and outdoor terraces. Make those fieldstone patios hard-working happy spaces.


Make Getting There Half the Fun

Rather than connecting outbuildings with lawn, create pathways through plantings. Not only will the journey be exciting, but you’ll save on your mowing bill.



Water It Down

Water features create restive spaces within a landscape. They also nurture birds who love to bathe and bees that need to sip. Plus, they will also give you the chance to see delighted dragonflies zooming around.


Eat This Garden

Plant fruit trees, berry bushes, and vegetables. Not only is it fulfilling to grow your own dinner, but pollinating insects also benefit. The bonus is a bounty of blossoms before trees produce their harvests.


Go for Lax

Even if you love formality, consider something loose and airy in your garden. Counterpoints create interesting dialogue and poetic textural interplay.



Deck the Walls

Rather than leaving walls naked, clothe them with vines that climb up and soften the stone. If you grow a noninvasive native vine that produces berries, birds will benefit.


Blur the Boundaries

Include the edges of your property in the dialogue and feature soft transitions between woodlands and gardens.


Grow Like a Native

Tuck indigenous plants such as asters and mountain mints into outskirt pockets as a warm handshake with local flora.



Take It Slow

Rather than removing goldenrods, dandelions, and other native “weeds” when they pop up uninvited, welcome those plants into the scene.


Let It Be

Rather than tidying up all your woodlands and periphery spaces, leave wild alone to give birds and wildlife habitats where they can nest, seek shelter, and forage. Tree stumps and fallen branches are a boon to critters large and small.


Leave It Standing

Don’t rush to clean up your property. When plants go to seed, let pods and remnants remain. Not only do birds forage on seeds, but beneficial insects lay eggs on stems.

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