The Rites of Spring: Awakenings

Up in our neck of the northern woods, you catch the first signs of spring in the mosses on the forest trails. On a dank cloudy day, they appear to glow like emerald velvet clouds come down to earth to hug the rocks.

By the time you hit mid-April, life has erupted in micro with the first ephemerals and sedges poking their heads up from the tapestry of the woodland floor. 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

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