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.
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Meetings w/ Remarkable Plantsmen: Piet Oudolf & Roy Diblik

I’ve been doubly spoiled over the past month by inspiring encounters with exceptional plantsmen.

First up, I reconnected with über designer, Piet Oudolf in the form of a two-hour transatlantic Skype call to Hummelo, which turned into a one-on-one masterclass in planting design.

This was followed by a three-day visit from American plantsman, writer, and prairie whisperer Roy Diblik, who came up from Northwind Perennial Farm to speak to the Canadian chapter of the Garden Writers Association at our annual meeting here in Toronto.

I’ve learned to never quarrel with serendipity. Continue reading

Winter Sowing: Visitations & Workshops

Yoo-hoo winter. Where are you? Can you come out to play?

Here in Toronto, you’ve been pretty much a no-show. Temperatures yesterday shot up to a record-breaking 15.5C for this date in February. The only snow in town are Snowdrops (Galanthus), which are strangely starting to bloom– months ahead of schedule.

For gardeners, winter is anything but dormant. It’s a season to dream, learn, think, and plan. Literally sowing the seeds for a new season of possibility. Continue reading

Hello and Goodbye: Agents of Change

What a week.

Like so many others, I’m devastated by the death of cultural lodestar, David Bowie. So much more than a pop icon, he sparked a generational spirit of transformation that inspired and dared us to experiment with a whole new sense of self and the possibilities of life.

He exerted a special power among outliers, artists, androgynes, and the demimonde. There was always a dark side to the soundtrack.

What does this have to do with a planting design blog? Well, perhaps more than I first realized. Continue reading