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Books

The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening

Wilhelm Miller
Reprint of 1915 edition, with a new introduction by Christopher Vernon

The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening  Cover Image

About the Authors


Wilhelm Miller

Wilhelm Miller (1869–1938), influenced by the horticulturalist Liberty Hyde Bailey, began his career as an associate editor for Bailey’s Cyclopedia of American Horticulture and went on to become a prolific writer on landscape-related topics as well as the founder of Garden Magazine. He was an early advocate for the use of native plants in landscape design, and publicized the work of O. C. Simonds, Walter Burley Griffin, and Jens Jenson.

Christopher Vernon

Christopher Vernon, an associate professor in the School of Architecture, Landscape, and Visual Arts at the University of Western Australia, is the author of Graceland Cemetery: A Design History, and of the introduction to the LALH reprint edition of The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening by Wilhelm Miller. His extensive publications address topics including the landscape architecture of Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin; the designed landscapes of Canberra, Australia; and the Prairie School in American landscape architecture.

Film

Designing in the Prairie Spirit

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The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening

Wilhelm Miller
Reprint of 1915 edition, with a new introduction by Christopher Vernon

Library of American Landscape History

ISBN: 978-1-952620-04-1 Page Count: 72
Price: $35.00 | Cloth Published: 07/10/2002
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A volume in the ASLA Centennial Reprint Series

In 1915, Wilhelm Miller, an influential author and editor, published The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening, a profusely illustrated book that championed the “prairie style” of landscape gardening. It was the first book to address the question of a truly American style of landscape design and remains one of the most significant early treatises on that topic.

This handsome volume features several projects by Jens Jensen, a Danish immigrant whose ecologically based, conservation-oriented approach to park and residential design had a strong impact in Chicago and formed the foundation of the stylistic school Miller was promoting. The book also features photographs of O. C. Simonds’s designs for Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery and Midwestern landscapes by Walter Burley Griffin, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Warren H. Manning, among others. Before and after images vividly demonstrate Miller’s taste for abundant use of hardy native plants in landscape design. His emphatic captions—”Away with Gaudy Foreigners and Artificial Varieties!” and “Restore the Native Vegetation!”—leave little doubt about his aesthetic position.

Christopher Vernon’s new introduction links the prairie style to Wright and other architects of the Progressive Era, arguing that Wright’s use of prairie landscape elements actually preceded that by Jensen, Simonds, and their peers. Vernon shows how prairie imagery provided design ideas for some and also provided a label—prairie style—that helped promote naturalistic work generally. Architects, landscape architects, and garden enthusiasts will be intrigued by Vernon’s insights and inspired by Miller’s impassioned call to celebrate, replicate, and conserve the Midwestern landscape.

“Miller’s book provides a still-practical handbook for Midwestern gardens that lends a strong historical basis for linking such work today with its precedent.”

Robert E. Grese, Journal of the New England Garden History Society

About the Authors


Wilhelm Miller

Wilhelm Miller (1869–1938), influenced by the horticulturalist Liberty Hyde Bailey, began his career as an associate editor for Bailey’s Cyclopedia of American Horticulture and went on to become a prolific writer on landscape-related topics as well as the founder of Garden Magazine. He was an early advocate for the use of native plants in landscape design, and publicized the work of O. C. Simonds, Walter Burley Griffin, and Jens Jenson.

Christopher Vernon

Christopher Vernon, an associate professor in the School of Architecture, Landscape, and Visual Arts at the University of Western Australia, is the author of Graceland Cemetery: A Design History, and of the introduction to the LALH reprint edition of The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening by Wilhelm Miller. His extensive publications address topics including the landscape architecture of Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin; the designed landscapes of Canberra, Australia; and the Prairie School in American landscape architecture.

Film

Designing in the Prairie Spirit

Watch Film