Supernaturalistic: A West Coast Tale

Well, I was definitely out there.

It took me over half a lifetime to return to the supersized environs of British Columbia. And while off exploring the massive old growth coastal forests of Tofino surrounding the westernmost edge of Vancouver Island, I couldn’t help but wonder aloud to the sky-capped cedars… What took me so long?

I was lured out to the West Coast by an invite to speak in Victoria as part of The Hardy Plant Study Weekend – a grand annual convergence of hort societies in the Pacific Northwest. The event is truly pan-American, rotating between Portland, Seattle, and Victoria – routinely selling out to a crowd of over 400 serious gardeners and plantophiles. Continue reading

Wild-ish at Heart: Naturalistic garden hacks

If you’re curious to try out a more naturalistic approach to planting design, here are some practical hacks to help you get the root ball rolling

Since many gardeners are likely working with a current gardens vs. the freedom of a fresh canvas, these ideas can help you test out some smaller projects and experiments over time.

In Part One of this post, I talked about the concept of seeing plants differently: in terms of beauty and purpose, and the roles they can play within a biodiverse plant community. Continue reading

Wild-ish at Heart: Naturalistic planting design

It’s about setting aside our desire for control to instead work in partnership with nature. This is essentially the guiding principle behind the naturalistic garden, a plant-driven approach to landscape design that has been around in one form or another since Englishman William Robinson first published his first edition of The Wild Garden in 1870.

But now with signature projects like the High Line in New York City and Chicago’s Lurie Garden, a growing global movement in planting design has found a bolder, modernist expression of this ideal with a collective dream to re-wild our nature-deprived urban worlds. Continue reading

Enter the Matrix: New Perennial Planting Stratagems

It feels like forever since I’ve been able to post photos of an actual garden of my own.

Let me change all that with spring fresh images from the past few weeks of my new pond garden up at our cabin in Mono, Ontario. It’s zone 4b at elevation, so we’re a month or more behind Europe.

There’s been ceaseless rain in a cool extended spring, helping my young woodland garden find its feet. I’ve been planting up adjoining areas and getting busy with my Dutch hoe while watching this section burst to life. Continue reading

Tempest in a Flower Pot: The New Perennial Debate

It’s that special time when newspaper columnists and writers like to stir the pot with predictions of ‘What’s Hot & What’s Not’ for the coming year.

While they compile such trend lists for the world of gardening, I rarely pay attention because making a garden is really more of a long-term affair.

Coming into 2017 though, I’ve noticed a definite trend in the ether: A few garden writers have surprisingly declared that the New Perennial trend of naturalistic gardening along with its trademark use of ornamental grasses, is on its way out.

Are they right? Or are they wrong? Continue reading