In a Dark Time: The Skeletal Garden

These are dark days indeed.

All traces of life slowly fade from the landscape as the hours shorten and shadows lengthen.

The autumnal dance now done, the trees lie brittle and bare to the sky. The last perennials splay and shiver like a ghost army defeated by the rain and wind.

But with this kind of darkness, there is nothing to fear. Continue reading

Allure of the Lurie: Piet Oudolf returns to Chicago

My first morning in Chicago, I found myself inside a giant silver bean.

Actually, it was a rare moment of solitude inside Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate on my way to see Piet Oudolf and his urban masterpiece, The Lurie Garden.

Not just any public garden, the Lurie is built atop a massive parking garage roof, transformed by architectural sleight-of-hand into a slice of incandescent prairie in the heart of the downtown’s Millennium Park. Continue reading

Designing with Remarkable Plantsmen: Piet Oudolf & Roy Diblik

Over the past six months, I’ve been utterly absorbed in the making of a woodland garden on the edge of our one-acre pond in the rolling hills of Mono, Ontario.

Early in the process, I was doubly fortunate to get advice on my plans from two maestros of modern planting design, Piet Oudolf and Roy Diblik.

My last post on this topic introduced them as plantsmen and people. This time, it’s about the design process and how they helped push my ideas forward with some stellar advice and insights. Continue reading

Small Mercies: Denizens of the Woodland Floor

Out of nowhere, the ice storm hit. Freezing rain for two days straight in late March that encased entire forests in an icy prison of frozen glass, well over an inch thick.

Legions of ice-laden trees were toppled, crushed, and tossed about like the toys of an impudent child – leaving a scene of devastation as deathly as it was beautiful.

How strange then to hike into the forest a few weeks later and looking beneath the battlefield of shattered branches and limbs, find the forest floor surging back to life.
Continue reading