Prairie Gardening

Popular style, ambiguous terminology?

  • Katherine Taylor


The paper attempts to unpick the real meaning of the term ‘prairie gardening’ and to explore its popularity in a European context. Establishment and maintenance techniques are also considered. The term is, however, applied without discrimination to a wide range of styles, from large-scale traditional prairie restoration or re-creation projects through to highly stylised prairie interpretations. Research included a literature review to assess the main ecological features of, and threats to, native North American Prairie and an examination of the origins of contemporary ‘prairie gardening’ in both the USA and Europe. Primary data was gathered from eight UK gardens associated with this planting style. The evidence suggests that the spectrum of styles encompassed by this term is broad even within the UK, a clear indication that its usage is over-simplistic and potentially ambiguous. The author offers her own classification of the genre under the umbrella term ‘prairie-style gardening’ in the hope of further clarification. The paper is a summary of a project which was carried out as part of the second-year project of the HND in Horticulture with Plantsmanship at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Author Biography

Katherine Taylor
Head Gardener Wormistoune House


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How to Cite
Taylor, K. (2012). Prairie Gardening. Sibbaldia: The International Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture, (10), 21-44.