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

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