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

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.

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

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