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

Native Plant Podcast: The New Perennial Hour

If my last post was long and winding, I’m keeping this one short and sweet.

I was recently asked to be a guest on the star-spangled Native Plant Podcast to talk about all things New Perennial. The show is quite a hoot with a native spin on plants and garden design, hosted every week by amiable landscape designer and plantsman, John C Magee with co-host artist/designer Preston Montague filling in this time around.

Podcasts are a happening thing. In many ways, they feel like an audio throwback to the days of vintage radio and theatre of the mind.

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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.
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