The Crevice Garden
by Kenton Seth and Paul Spriggs
Filbert Press, 2022
Review by Joseph Tychonievich
I’ll be honest. Despite being an avid gardener, a lover of books, and writing about gardening for a living, I have a pretty small library of gardening books. Lately, that collection has been shrinking, not growing. There are lots and lots of beautiful books about plants and gardening out there, many that I have read once with pleasure, but there are less than a dozen gardening books on my shelf that I actually refer to time and time again.
The Crevice Garden has instantly joined those ranks.
I would recommend this book to a novice who has never made – or even seen – a rock or crevice garden before. I also whole-hearted recommend it to the many members of this society who have been making these types of gardens for years. The clear prose – wonderfully assisted by beautiful and informative photos and illustrations – takes the reader right from the very basics into advanced details of constructing gardens, placing stones, and cultivating plants. It is no small feat to write a book that won't lose beginners or bore experts, but Seth and Spriggs have managed it.
I particularly appreciate that there is equal emphasis placed on making a crevice garden that is a good home for plants to thrive and creating one that is aesthetically pleasing and beautiful. Much of the advice I’ve heard or read on placing rocks amounts to “make them look natural,” without very many specifics on how to actually do that. This book, however, gives specific advice and guides the reader through thinking through every details of the material, size, shape, and placement of each stone, and how those factors impact the look of the garden and how plants will grow in it.
The book is arranged into ten chapters, starting with three chapters on the basics of what a crevice garden is, the natural inspiration for this style of gardening, and its history. Chapter four, “How a Crevice Garden Works,” is one of my favorites, giving a clear conceptual grounding to all the practical information that follows in chapters five through eight as they detail ever step of planning, creating, and maintaining the crevice garden.
Chapter nine is a tour of over a dozen different crevice gardens, showcasing a huge range of styles, types of stones, climates, and settings for these gardens. If you are a crevice garden novice or skeptic, I’d recommend starting here, as the gorgeous photos clearly communicate the enormous appeal of this style of gardening. I particularly appreciate the diversity of gardens featured. Whatever your gardening situation, you’ll find ample inspiration in this chapter.
The final chapter, plant profiles, is a good introduction to rock garden plants for a beginner, but probably has the least interest for more experienced rock gardeners.
Throughout the book, the photography is consistently gorgeous and informative, complementing the points made in the text. Even more useful are the frequent drawings by Kenton Seth, which quickly illustrate everything from how root systems grow through crevices to the aesthetic impacts of different stone-placement choices.
The Crevice Garden is an instant classic and an essential addition to any rock gardener’s library.