Books By Benjamin
Our landscapes push aside wildlife and in turn diminish our genetically-programmed love for wildness. How can we get ourselves back into balance through gardens, to speak life's language and learn from other species?
Vogt addresses why we need a new garden ethic, and why we urgently need wildness in our daily lives. He examines the psychological issues around climate change and mass extinction as a way to understand how we are short circuiting our response to global crises, especially by not growing native plants in our gardens. Simply put, environmentalism is not political, it's an ethical rewiring of our animal brains -- and social justice for all marginalized species facing extinction.
By thinking deeply and honestly about our built landscapes, we can create a compassionate activism that connects us more profoundly to nature and to one another.
Listen to Benjamin on Iowa Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Radio
Buy the book at New Society Publishers or Amazon
"This book is about so much more than gardening: Vogt shows how we can begin to heal our own wounds and those of our planet by opening ourselves to the value and beauty of the everyday wild, and the native plants that root us in place. A powerful and transformative work, written with honesty and grace. "
"A New Garden Ethic is an outstanding and deeply passionate book. Benjamin Vogt makes it clear that we need to expand our notion of 'garden' to include all interconnected communities of all voiceless flora and fauna. We must rewild ourselves, reconnect with all of nature, and expand our compassion footprint.... This book is a game changer...."
A passionate and eloquent [...] exploration of the ethical case for native plants and its philosophical implications."
This is a cathartic piece of literature that goes beyond telling people how to garden."
Thoughtful and complex, A New Garden Ethic will challenge you to rethink your assumptions on what the purpose of a garden really is."
[Vogt’s] statements about the need to connect our gardening effort to larger ethical and moral questions are timely, thought-provoking, and urgent…. His discussion of grief and mourning, in the context of environmental degradation, and his discussion of empathy and compassion in the context of native plant gardening, are particularly interesting and propel familiar arguments into new territory."
Advocating for compassionate activism, A New Garden Ethic is at times reminiscent of Aldo Leopold’s style and an enjoyable read for those who take pleasure in more classic nature and garden writing."
In the garden traditions of our time, Benjamin Vogt sees both the worst kind of hypocrisy perpetuating the decline and degradation of other cultures, species, and the environment, and the best kind of bridge for overcoming and transcending such destructive short term thinking and actions."
[Vogt's] arguments for becoming literate in plant communities and elevating them equally with the mammalian community cover ecological, aesthetic, and social realms that make his arguments compelling."
"With beautiful description and insight, he explores how gardens can create social responsibility to a more-than-human world that is constantly speaking. Even as a person who has considered and questioned my own gardening goals, prior to reading this book I never imagined gardening could be so radical. Now I know. I’ll never again look at any garden, or the planet, in the same way."
Using family photographs from the last century, Afterimage moves from the southern to northern Plains and the eastern Midwest, where the natural world calls out through open fields and dark woods, then through transient moments framed by gardens: a butterfly nectaring on a coneflower, planting lavender with his future wife, or autumn leaves crashing against a morning window. In a rich array of forms and evocative imagery, the poems in Afterimage reach through prairie history until grass becomes skin, and light becomes shadow.
"Afterimage is an unsentimental but heartfelt elegy for the landscape and the people of the twentieth-century Midwest. The poems preserve the lost place, the lost time, and lost inhabitants, but Benjamin Vogt also celebrates the earth's own ability to flower and return, with human assistance and without. These firm and carefully measured poems are a thoughtful delight, one that should not be missed." -- Andrew Hudgins
"Benjamin Vogt's rich, transporting gift is to see deeply, generously considering moments and scenes that preceded and sustain the lives we know, to dig curiously and calmly, alert for clues and remnants--to harvest more than any seed promised. " -- Naomi Shihab Nye
Book Contributions -- Gardening
Homeowners spend billions of hours—and dollars—watering, mowing, and maintaining their lawns. You don’t have to be one of them. Free yourself with Lawn Gone!, a colorful, accessible guide to the basics of replacing a traditional lawn with a wide variety of easy-care, no-mow, low-water, money-saving options.
Northern Plains plant recommendations
Pollinator Friendly Gardening identifies the most visible and beloved pollinators: bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, as well as some more unlikely candidates such as ants, wasps, and beetles. It then explains the intriguing synergy between plants and pollinators. This vital information makes it a unique sourcebook to share the ways that anyone can make a yard a more friendly place for pollinators.
Plant selection, hardscape choices, habitat building (both natural and manmade), and growing practices that give pollinators their best chance in the garden are all covered in detail. Plant lists organized by category, helpful tips, and expert spotlights make it a fun and easy book to read, too.
This optimistic call to arms is packed with everything you need to create a beautiful, beneficial, butterfly-filled garden. Gardeners will learn why butterflies matter, why they are in danger, and what simple steps we can take to make a difference. You'll learn how to choose the right plants, how to design a butterfly-friendly garden, and how to create a garden that flutters and flourishes with life.
The Less Is More Garden shows you how to take advantage of a small yard. Designer Susan Morrison offers dozens of savvy tips on how to personalize a space to match a specific lifestyle, draws on her years of experience to recommend smart plants that will provide seasonal interest, and suggests hardscape materials that match many different aesthetics. Throughout, tips are supplemented by inspiring photographs that show a variety of successful designs from around the country.
Book Contributions -- Essays and Poetry
The tallgrass prairie of the early 1800s, a beautiful and seemingly endless landscape of wildflowers and grasses, is now a tiny remnant of its former expanse. As a literary landscape, with much of the American environmental imagination focused on a mainstream notion of more spectacular examples of wild beauty, tallgrass is even more neglected. Prairie author and advocate John T. Price wondered what it would take to restore tallgrass prairie to its rightful place at the center of our collective identity.
Focusing on autobiographical nonfiction in a wide variety of forms, voices, and approaches—including adventure narrative, spiritual reflection, childhood memoir, Native American perspectives, literary natural history, humor, travel writing and reportage—he honors the ecological diversity of tallgrass itself and provides a range of models for nature writers and students.
The American Midwest provides the ideal landscape for literature exploring the intricate evolution of American ideology and culture from the earliest frontiersmen and settlers to present day citizens. In celebration of this region's inherent importance to American identity, Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland presents a myriad of Midwestern-focused literature in three sections of literary styles: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Each writer investigates, challenges, and redefines the varied perceptions of the Midwest, and, most importantly, their literary art invites us to gaze with renewed appreciation on the environmental beauty, nourishing agriculture, and innovative and creative people of the American Heartland.
A salivating collection of poems on food, cooking, and celebration, accompanied by each poet’s favorite family recipe for you to try at home. Bon appétit!
Poem & peppernut (pfefferneuse) recipe
The first anthology of its scope, Nebraska Poetry encompasses 150 years of the state’s literary history, featuring 80-plus poets and more than 180 poems. This landmark collection includes poems by authors best known for their prose—like Willa Cather, Loren Eiseley, and Tillie Olsen—as well as some remarkable but relatively forgotten writers from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Among the contemporary writers, it includes poets of Nebraska’s renowned “second renaissance” along with a rich array of younger writers who are redefining what poetry from and about the state might represent. A broadly inclusive as well as diverse anthology, Nebraska Poetry celebrates the state’s brilliant contribution not only to Great Plains literature but to the broader traditions of American letters.
Manuscripts in Progress
Turkey Red : Memoirs of Oklahoma
Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain lies a microcosm of western progress. For one author, both hating and loving this place means embracing who he is, and how his life is a reconciliation addled with guilt, loss, and purposeful joy. From prairie to Mennonite homesteaders, forced migration of Native Americans to oil booms and outlaw gangs, Turkey Red explores the complex social and ecological history of the great American experiment through one family's history.