Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Hot or Not" Hits the Road

This Friday December 2, I will be speaking at the fourth annual "Turning a New Leaf Conference" in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  My talk is entitled "Hot or Not: How Making Sustainable Landscapes Fashionable will Revolutionize the Movement."  The talk was inspired by my original post found here.

Here is the abstract:

The sustainable landscape movement has advanced significantly over the last decade, gaining in acceptance among homeowners and designers. But many remain skeptical of sustainable practices, and there is even evidence of a backlash against using native plants. Has the push to make landscapes more sustainable hit a rut? Is the message being drowned out? How do we reach a broader audience?

The single best way to expand the appeal of sustainable landscapes is to make them fashionable. Until sustainable landscapes are shown to be beautiful, they will never be fully embraced by the American public. This talk will explore how to create a new aesthetic for sustainable landscapes that will make them more desirable. We will examine model projects that are not only ecologically productive, but strikingly original, cutting-edge designs. We will look at how the European garden scene has blended sustainability with an artistic ethos. Most importantly, we will examine strategies that CCLC members can use to create more beautiful, original, and ecologically-rich landscapes.

There's still time to register.  For more on the conference, including other fascinating speakers and discussions, please visit the site's homepage:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Garden Designers Roundtable: Horticultural Idols

Plants are a particular passion of mine, but what fascinates me most is the way we design with plants. I’ve dedicated my professional life to the study of how we arrange and compose living plants. Planting design is not just about the plant as a horticultural or ornamental object; instead, it is a window into our culture, our beliefs about beauty, and perhaps most importantly, our relationship with nature.

For several years now, I’ve wrestled with what it means to develop my own style as a designer. I was fortunate enough to spend the better part of a decade working for Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, apprenticing and learning their iconic New American Garden style. Since leaving the firm in 2009, I’ve wondered how to adapt what I learned there and make my own contribution to the development of a uniquely American garden style, one rooted in the patterns of the American landscape.

It was this quest that led me to a study of the great plantsmen, designers who changed the way we think about plants. I teach a class in planting design for George Washington University, and in preparation for a lecture, I sought to select a list of groundbreaking plantsmen. Of course, one could spend an entire year studying all the great planting designers of history, but I wanted to focus on those who have most influenced the current moment. I wanted to share my personal list of ten great plantsmen, a mix of past and current designers whose designs are, in my opinion, the most relevant for today. This list includes both iconic designers of the past, brilliant contemporary plantsmen, and even emerging talent that has not been fully recognized.

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