Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thomas Rainer to Speak at LAHR Symposium

I'm pumped about attending this year's annual LAHR Symposium hosted by the U.S. National Arboretum.  I will be speaking on "Contemporary Planting Design Using Native Plants."  It is a part rant and part how-to speech that looks at how to artfully abstract native plant communities into bold, modern garden spaces.

This year's theme for the symposium is described as "Inspiring New Directions."  Here is the official blurb:

The 26th annual Lahr Symposium explores the work of landscape architects, authors, and gardeners who were inspired by native plants to change their career paths to pursue unique callings. From journalist turned naturalist to researcher turned native fruit aficionado, these individuals explain how native plants have influenced their work. Learn how native plants can foster creativity in the garden and inspire new insights into nature and landscape design.

For complete program details, including a map and directions, see the Lahr Symposium brochure .  Registration fee includes lunch and early access to the Native Plant Sale. Fee: $89 ($71 FONA) Registration required.

Note: This year the symposium will be held at the Beltsville Area Research Center at 10300 Baltimore Blvd, Beltsville, MD.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Fever

It happens every year about this time. The soil warms and roots begin to stir. The slant of light from my window grows a bit longer. A few subtle shifts—a few degrees of warmth, a few minutes more of light—and I erupt into a fit of howling lunacy.

When the earth shifts, it is like some enzyme gets triggered in my brain that tips everything off balance. I become plant obsessed, soil obsessed, garden obsessed. Yes, I am fully aware that when it comes to plants, I am already borderline obsessive. Already I write, teach, speak, and make my livelihood with horticulture and landscape. But in spring, my seemingly controlled curiosities turn into wild hysteria.

Remember how Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk, right? It feels exactly like that, except without the muscles (could have used those . . .) Mild mannered landscape architect turns into raving plant lunatic. The other night, I awoke at four in the morning thinking about the soil in my garden. Did it have too much organic matter? Should I move some leaf mulch over against the house? Which edging should I use for the path I’m planning in the border? Fieldstone? Can I get it square enough? How would I set that so that it looks crisp? And what plant would work best with those brown colors in the stone? It needs to pop, so maybe orangish—no, that won’t work next to all those red blooming plants.

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