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Archives for September 22, 2016

The Counterintuitive Way to Create a Gorgeous Garden

The Millbrook, N.Y., house and garden of self-avowed maximalist decorator, Katie Ridder, and her husband, architect Peter Pennoyer.

Ms. Ridder wanted the dense ebullience of a mature English garden right away, so she planted 1,000 specimens (about 40% more than she needed, one local pro told her), including 65 different types, 25 more than recommended.

Right angles lend calming geometry to a potentially anarchic, densely planted garden. A rectangle of hornbeam hedge circumscribes the area, its shape echoed by the central pergola.

The pergola, designed by husband Peter to have a minimal profile, serves as a support for climbing “New Dawn” roses, clematis, sweet pea, morning glory, and white wisteria. On the table are “Jane Cowl” dahlias.

brMass planting is another technique Ms. Ritter uses to counter horticultural clutter. “I’ve been gardening long enough to have lived through the dotty phase, where you have only one of each plant,” she

In addition to providing structure, the hedge serves as a clean, even backdrop against which an ever-changing play of textures and colors can pop.

Pictured here in spring, bluestone paths divide the garden into fourteen symmetrical beds.

“Foliage is more important than flowers, which stay for only a week or two,” said Ms. Ridder. Accordingly, the designer uses many so-called structure plants. They don’t flower but feature leaves in myriad shapes, colors and textures.

Here, white Echinacea “Virgin” complements the foliage of lime green Continus “Golden Spirit” and contrasting black-leafed Dahlia “David Howard.”

When Katie Ridder, a self-avowed maximalist, told her landscape-designer friends how many plants she wanted to cram into the flower garden she was setting up alongside her newly built country house, they all advised her to scale back if she wanted to relax on weekends.


“I didn’t take that advice,” said the New York interior designer, whose Millbrook, N.Y., home and garden are featured in “A House in the Country” (Vendome Press), the new book by Ms. Ridder, her architect husband, Peter Pennoyer and author Anne Walker. “I figured, that’s what I’m doing in Millbrook: gardening.”

So she planted the 1,000 plants she’d bought (about 40% more than needed, one local pro told her), including 65 different types (25 more than recommended). Though she was advised to space the plants, she wanted the dense ebullience of a mature English garden right away. “At this time of year, you can barely make it through the path because everything is billowing out,” Ms. Ridder recently said of the garden, now three years old. “I love that.”

‘At this time of year, you can barely make it through the paths. Everything is billowing. I love that.’

The decorator said of her more-is-more interiors, “I use a lot of color and pattern, and my spaces tend to be happy looking, with a lot of depth.” Indeed, the dominant colors of the Georgian-inspired house’s décor, pink and purple, are hues that less-audacious designers reserve for accents. Yet the home is neither cacophonous nor fussy. “I try to make my interiors interesting without being cluttered,” she said.

The weekend gardener, who had practiced flower husbandry on a smaller scale in her home in Bronxville, N.Y., adapted many of her decorating techniques to organize her 70-by-40 foot garden. But what of the 10-hour weekend days she had been spending in the garden? “I’m incorporating more grasses and shrubs that require less care,” said Ms. Ridder, which cuts down on hours. Good thing, because despite ruthless editing of plants that turned out to be susceptible to bugs or disease or simply didn’t look pretty when not in flower, she still tends to as many plants as she started with. “I can’t go to a nursery without filling my car,” she admitted. “I still have the sickness.”

Here, four landscaping principles she uses to keeps her teeming garden from descending into chaos.


Order in the courtyard In the Millbrook, N.Y., plot of interior designer and weekend gardener Katie Ridder, right angles lend a calming geometry to a potentially anarchic, densely planted garden. A rectangle of hornbeam hedge circumscribes the area, its shape echoed by the central pergola. Bluestone paths impose a regular grid between the 14 beds. Meanwhile, the repetition of bright orange Tithonia “Torch,” or Mexican sunflower, helps unify the diverse plantings. “It’s like carrying a color throughout a house so there’s a thread against which you can add color without its being chaotic,” said Ms. Ridder.


Important steps Landscaping hierarchy demands that shorter specimens be installed in front, with other plants gradually increasing in height behind them. “When plants flow into each other, it’s more elegant,” explained Ms. Ridder. The players in this cascade start with the tall white and purple Phlox in the top left, with Achillea“Coronation Gold” standing at about the same height and mauve Salvia “Endless Love” spiking below that. Lower still are the petite white Nicotiana “Limelight,” with Artemesia “Valerie Finnis” falling onto the path, the shortest plants in the grouping. This stepped-down approach allows widely different sorts of plants to peacefully coexist within a different kind of order than Ms. Ridder’s bluestone paths create.


The beauty of commitment Mass planting is another technique Ms. Ritter uses to counter horticultural clutter. “I’ve been gardening long enough to have lived through the dotty phase, where you have only one of each plant,” she said. By grouping small plants, as she has here with coral Dianthus and silvery Artemesia, and complementing those groups with larger single specimens, like the rounded boxwood in the foreground, you can simplify a design, and create the floral equivalent of a room furnished with a few large pieces. “Lots of little tables and chairs and pictures and frames muddy a vision,” said Ms. Ridder.


Greens that harmonize “Foliage is more important than flowers, which stay for only a week or two,” said Ms. Ridder. Accordingly, the designer uses many so-called structure plants. Many don’t flower but feature leaves in myriad shapes, colors and textures. In this spot next to the house, Sambucus “Black Lace” establishes a dark backdrop for bright green Persicaria “Fat Domino,” with yellow-green Hakonechloa “All Gold” in the foreground. “It’s like being able to throw lots of patterned pillows on a solid sofa. You have nice green backgrounds against which you can have crazy colors”—in this case the flower known as magenta Allium sphaerocephalon—“and it’s somehow restful.”

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Key to good garden design

Boorowa Garden Club hopes to establish Friendship afternoons with other clubs as a calendar event each year.

Last Sunday, Boorowa Garden Club hosted 53 people for a Friendship Afternoon at the Boorowa Ex-Services Club. 

Garden clubs from Harden, Yass and Young were guests of the Boorowa Club. Guests and members listened to local horticulturalist, Craig Southwell, give a talk on garden design. 

Craig spoke of the principles involved in designing a garden, whether it is a new garden or an established garden. Key to good garden design is more than buying a plant and plopping it in the garden with a bit of lawn he indicated. Craig advised gardeners to consider a plan, analyse the site, work out your needs and desires for the garden, draw a functional plan encompassing the functions and space of the garden. Next meeting at the Recreation Club 7pm, October 6. All welcome.

Garden Design: Boorowa Garden Club President, Denise Evans, horticulturalist Craig Southwell and Garden Club member Jeanette Bonner.

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Garden design for drought

Drought-tolerant landscaping

Walkways and other permeable surfaces that do not need watering are one part of designing a landscape that can tolerate drought.

Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 1:43 pm

Garden design for drought

By Amir Zahedi

Golden State Newspapers


California’s ongoing response to its five-year drought has been guided by a series of executive orders. The governor’s latest drought-related executive order established a new water-use efficiency framework for water use.

The order bolstered the state’s drought resilience and preparedness by establishing longer-term conservation measures that include permanent monthly water-use reporting, new targets for cities, reducing system leaks and eliminating clearly wasteful practices, strengthening urban drought contingency plans and improving agricultural water management and drought plans.

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      Wednesday, September 21, 2016 1:43 pm.

      | Tags:

      Green Thumb,


      Water Conservation,

      Energy-efficient Landscaping,

      Environmental Design,

      Drought Tolerance,

      U.c. Davis Arboretum,

      Master Gardeners,

      University Of California Agriculture And Natural Resources

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      Plants behaving badly? Don’t believe the naysayers

      Anyone who works in retail will tell you that the general public (that’s us!) is an odd lot of people. We get some crazy ideas. I know I’m in that pack, too, so I’ll poke fun at myself as well.

      My little niche in all this is urban horticulture, and I hear some unusual ideas thrown forth demonizing certain plants in our landscapes. I’m here to set the record straight — to release them from the confinement of ignorance. Here is my collection of plants with undeserved bad reputations.

      • Goldenrod. Many people mistake this handsome fall wildflower for ragweed, but the truth is that they look and act nothing alike. Goldenrod produces showy yellow flowers that draw bees from all around. Its pollen is sticky, which means that it doesn’t blow in the wind. Which in turn means that you won’t get it in your nose.

      Ragweed flowers, like those of oaks, pines, junipers (cedars) and pecans, produce pollen that is carried long distances on wind currents. That’s where our allergies begin. Don’t blame the goldenrod. In fact, grow it in your fall garden. It’s gorgeous.

      • Oaks. People say, “Oh, no. Those trees are way too slow-growing for my taste.” But given the same care that you’d be forced to give their high-maintenance sisters like fruitless mulberries, silver maples, willows and Bradford pears, oaks will grow two-thirds as fast and live 30 times longer with far fewer problems. Start with a large container-grown specimen of live oak, Shumard red oak, chinquapin oak or, fastest of them all, bur oak, and you’ll have a great tree within 10 years if you’ll just water and feed it on schedule.

      • Virginia creeper. It looks vaguely like poison ivy, but on closer inspection you’ll see that its leaves are made up of five leaflets, while poison ivy leaves have three. Hence the old saying, “Leaves of three, let it be.” Virginia creeper is a rampant vine that will sprawl all over trees, fences and houses, so you may not want it anyway. But don’t kill it solely because you mistake it for poison ivy.

      • Vines that adhere to brick and stone surfaces. This would include Boston ivy, English ivy and the aforementioned Virginia creeper. These vines stick to the surfaces by special rooting structures. They do no harm to the masonry or mortar, although they can trap moisture and debris behind them, and that can lead to staining of light-colored surfaces. Whatever you do, don’t let them grow across window screens, wood or siding. Those suction cups are almost impossible to remove.

      • Ground covers. “Oh, no. Those will attract snakes.” That’s what I’ve heard many times. We have lived along a rural creek for 38 years, and we’ve had our share of snakes, both poisonous and nonvenomous. But I’ve never seen even one in a bed of ground cover like Asian jasmine or wintercreeper. It’s probably because the masses of stems hinder their movement, although I also haven’t seen them in my big beds of mondograss, either. They’re going to be around water and in densely wooded or rocky areas instead.

      • Mushrooms and toadstools. (There are hundreds of types with all kinds of interesting shapes and colors.) These are saprophytic fungi, which means that they live off decaying organic matter such as bark mulch or dead tree stumps and roots. They present no danger to your healthy plants, and they’ll be gone within a day or two anyway. No harm, no foul. No call to action. Enjoy their novelty.

      • Hollies. “I hate their stickers.” I plea to you: You’re not going to be sitting in those shrubs. You’re going to be looking at them, so don’t panic so easily. I have made almost my entire landscape with more than 30 types of hollies, most with some kind of spines on their leaves. In 38 years of gardening actively, I have never one time been hurt. Nor have my children.

      I also don’t stick my hands in the eggbeater, and I’m careful not to get my basketball jersey hung up on the rim when I’m dunking. Common sense, people! Hollies are some of our finest landscaping plants. Don’t be timid about using them!

      • Plants that attract bees. “They scare me. I just don’t want bees. I’ll spray them if I see them.” Whoa! Dial it way down! First of all, unless they’re provoked, bees aren’t going to hurt you. I have flowers that attract bees all over our landscape, and I haven’t suffered a bee sting in probably 40 or 50 years.

      Plus (make that “PLUS!”) bees are critical to our existence. They pollinate our critical food crops, and bee populations have been dropping. Don’t ever spray bees in your landscape unless they present a clear and present danger to you and your family. If you have swarms of bees, call a professional, or give them a few days to move on. Save the bees!

      Article source:

      Waterville residents get early look at proposed waterfront walkway

      WATERVILLE — Area residents got a first look Wednesday night at a proposed $500,000 river-walk project at Head of Falls that is to include new lighting, a long “kid friendly” railing, a lookout point and art and cultural displays in a loop along the Kennebec River with four-season possibilities.

      City Manager Mike Roy, in introducing representatives from Mitchell Associates, landscape designers from Portland, said the proposed Waterville River Walk will be an important part of “what’s happening” in downtown Waterville with space some day for three commercial buildings inside the Head of Falls loop.

      “Here’s what it looks like today, folks,” Roy said as a picture of the area was displayed on a large screen. “It’s what it’s looked like for 46 years.”

      Roy also noted that Waterville is fortunate to have river frontage and such a rich, cultural history that will be incorporated into the area of the walkway, which already features a plaza that was completed in 2010.

      “People may be coming to the city to go to the walkway and then say, oh, let’s take a look at Waterville’s downtown and see what there is to offer,” Roy told a group of about 25 people.

      Sashie Misner from Mitchell Associates offered the first public presentation on the project in city council chambers Wednesday night. The ambitious project promises a walkway along the river with a railing and a 900-foot-long concrete trail with landscaping and lighting.

      The railing will be decorative but also will serve safety purposes, Misner said, offering photographs of the different types of railings that would be “kid friendly.” The railing itself may be among the most expensive parts of the project, she said.

      There will also be at least one lookout point on the river walk.

      Misner described future space for a full range of possible activities within the loop for people of all ages, from a logging display, picnic tables and a section representing the industrial aspect of that part of the river to “playful” areas for children and plenty of parking.

      Roy said earlier that there are some elements of the design that the city is not proposing at this time, such as a new gazebo and wooden walking paths, but other ideas within the scope of the first phase would include lighting, natural plantings and benches.

      The total cost of the walkway is expected to be around $900,000, but an advisory committee is proposing a project at approximately $500,000 for now, and leaving out pieces of the design that could be added later.

      At this point in time, there’s no plan for any city funding to be part of the construction, Roy has said.

      Roy said the Waterville Rotary Club has pledged $150,000 toward the project to celebrate the club’s centennial anniversary, and the City Council will be asked to approve sending an application to the state for $300,000 in federal grant funding.

      Roy said the city also hopes to get private contributions to help construct the river walk.

      The city’s Riverwalk Advisory Committee has been meeting this year to come up with the river-walk design, but the group will not make any recommendations regarding the land at Head of Falls that is not part of the river walk, according to Roy. The city hopes construction of the river walk will start next year and be completed in 2018, he said.

      The next step will be asking councilors to authorize the city to apply for the $300,000 grant. The deadline for submitting the grant proposal is Nov. 18.

      The city several years ago installed underground water, sewer and electricity at Head of Falls and cleared the property at a cost of a little over $1 million. In 2010, the city built a plaza west of the Two Cent Bridge that includes benches, trees and other plantings, as well as an informational kiosk and lights.

      Doug Harlow — 612-2367

      [email protected]


      Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

      Send questions/comments to the editors.

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      Landscaping Center move complete – DeSoto Times

      Landscaping service leader Michael Hatcher and Associates is completing its move across the border from Tennessee to DeSoto County with the opening of what Hatcher terms, “The Landscape Center.”

      The 22-acre facility that encompasses four buildings was welcomed to its new home on Center Hill Road north of DeSoto Road in Olive Branch with an event that attracted local and state dignitaries, including Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert.  

      Hatcher and Associates is relocating from a smaller Hacks Cross Road location just inside the Tennessee state line in Memphis.  

      “We believe that government does not create jobs, but government’s role is to create an environment which encourages those of you in the private sector to invest capital and create jobs,” Reeves told a crowd of several hundred government and business leaders. “What today says to me more than anything else is that we are creating that environment in DeSoto County. I know your tenure in your company across the state line was a good one, but welcome home! Welcome back to Mississippi!”

      The centerpiece of the complex for visitors will be a 10,000 square foot administration building that will also house creative design and production. Hatcher said that building will do more than just be the control center of the business.  

      “We have a training room in the back that will also be room for community service and worship service on Sundays,” Hatcher said. “We plan to use long-distance learning. We have the technology and the resources already installed in this building to be able to work back through Mississippi State University in training and classroom projects.”

      Hatcher said plans are also to work with the DeSoto County School District, and Center Hill schools in particular.    

      “I’m working with the schools to provide supplies, materials for garden planters, for their landscaping needs,” Hatcher said. “There’s a big push now and we’re going to continue to work closely with the Center Hill School District in developing learning gardens specifically for food production and sustainable, edible landscapes.”  

      The new facilities comprise the “best of the best” ideas and concepts in the landscaping industry, Hatcher said.  

      “What’s unique about this is that I’ve toured the country and I’ve taken the best ideas from the best companies in the United States and have compiled them here,” Hatcher noted. “It’s about efficiency, it’s about vehicular flow, it’s about being able to have the employees in an area that is convenient for them to work and yet be conducive to visitors, school children and adult seniors.”

      A total of 104 employees work for the employee-owned company, Hatcher said. Groundbreaking was held in February and the move into the new home should be complete in about a month.

      A Mississippi native, Hatcher said he was glad to be back home in the Magnolia State. “Tennessee was a great spot,” Hatcher said. “I had a lot of good years up on Hacks Cross Road, but this is a vision and a dream that I’ve had since I graduated from Mississippi State 35 years ago.”

      Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.    

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      Back to nature

      Foliage began its return to the modern design palette in the early 2010s in the form of the succulent, which in its compact aridity embodies the decade’s enthusiasm for the desert and its associated spaciousness and minimalism. The opening of the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs in 2009 presented a kind of inhabitable showcase of this emergent aesthetic, its renovated 1960s motor hotel grounds decorated with spare succulents framing a view towards the succulent-and-rock-covered San Jacinto Mountains.

      Ace Hotel Palm Springs.
      Douglas Lyle Thompson

      From stylish Southwestern hotels, succulents as decor spread to shelves and tables in cafes and hotels across the globe, as if to suggest that the desert’s sense of spare focus could be accessed by anyone, anywhere, regardless of their distance from the Mojave. This happened at a time when the interiors of third-wave coffee shops were being converted to the urban equivalent of homestead cabins; their hard wooden walls called for some kind of contextual Western accent, which cacti readily supplied. As a design element, cacti accord with the vogue for minimalism and empty space, since desert plants tend to develop slowly and predictably, without wild growth spurts or transformations in shape. At the same time, their spines and hardiness even in drought evoke a self-sufficiency and durability that are especially appealing in precarious times.

      The plants, in this case, become a beautiful, unruly introduction to our fate as a civilization overtaken by the nature that we once sought to shape and control.

      But while succulent accents have already become a hallmark of the 2010s, the concept of plants as a major architectural focus is a feature of midcentury modernism that is only now being (grandly) explored. Modernist architecture of the 1960s and 1970s often featured large plants framed by atriums and other architectural elements in a manner approaching sculpture, which could be viewed from various angles within and without the building.

      According to Los Angeles landscape architect Lisa Gimmy, who recently restored the gardens of Neutra’s landmarked Hafley House in Long Beach, “There’s always this kind of thrilling moment when you go into anything Neutra-designed, where you are really given this opportunity to experience your own body in relationship to the house and the surrounding landscape.” At the Hafley House, this sublime moment, for Gimmy, is spurred by a “polished soffit that reflects the landscape design and light back into the house.”

      Newly renovated gardens at Hafley House by Lisa Grimmy Landscape Architecture.
      John Ellis Photographer

      William Cody’s seemingly windowless 1972 Palm Springs Library similarly impresses with a foliage-sprouting koi pond at its skylit center, orienting an otherwise heavy concrete building around a surprisingly lush green centerpiece. And one can even find landscaping featured prominently in projects that are famed for their bleak brutalism, like London’s Barbican Center, whose courtyards and balconies sprout striking green ferns, vines, and other foliage to transform acres of tiered concrete into something like a giant planter.

      As the decorative cacti trend reaches saturation, this larger-scale aspect of modernist landscape architecture is gaining momentum. At Platform, an outdoor mall that opened in Culver City this year, landscaping is the primary visual element, offsetting the complex’s Donald Judd-ish gray concrete walls with a series of drought-tolerant but still verdant gardens, complete with stylized lawn furniture for seating. The lawn furniture is sold along with a variety of other aestheticized versions of traditional garden furnishings—like a chain garden hose holder reminiscent of a Lanvin handbag—by Platform shop owner and furniture designer Ilan Dei, whose modern garden accessories mark a sharp transition from the Smith Hawken garden aesthetic of the 1980s and 1990s.

      Platform, the outdoor mall in Culver City.
      Katie Gibbs

      Ilan Dei Studio furniture at Platform.
      Courtesy of Ilan Dei Studio

      In place of the haute-suburban wood benches of the now-defunct chain, which ceased operations in 2009, new wave garden stores like Ilan Dei sell pieces that seem designed to compete with nearby plants for sculptural status, as if the garden is not in a backyard, but an urban gallery. “That desire for sculptural pieces actually transcends plants. We’re noticing that our customers are looking for strong statement pieces like unique fountains and furniture,” Dei says.

      The rise of the sculptural garden has roots in another midcentury movement that is being revived alongside the return to midcentury architecture—1970s Earthworks artists like James Turrell and Robert Smithson deployed landscaping as art rather than mere accompaniment. Recent exhibitions of earthworks, like LACMA’s 2013 James Turrell retrospective and the museum’s 2012 installation of Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass” have widely influenced contemporary design, for example in the emerging popularity of patterned deployments of gravel and rocks alongside plants.

      After a half-decade of arid, minimalist interiors, the recent plant profusion is freshly cooling and soothing, transforming interior spaces into strange, dank atmospheres reminiscent of subtropical caves.

      Robert Irwin’s 1998 “Central Garden” work at the Getty Center—which was originally controversial due to Irwin’s status as an artist and not a gardener, and for his intent to create “sculpture in the form of a garden”—can be seen as another foundational text for this revival. Composed of circular plantings set in a pool surrounded by gravel paths and metal sculpture, “Central Garden” evokes the hedge mazes grown in the gardens of wealthy 19th century captains of industry, as well as the spiraling form of Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty” in Utah, and—to my eye—the hazardous waste symbol.

      Xaman Bar, Mexico City.
      ©LGM Studio – Luis Gallardo

      This transformation of public space into walls, wells, and copses of plants also has an interesting precedent from the 1980s that is scarce in the internet historical record (searches often turn up only one or two photographs of various examples from the period). In the 1970s and 1980s, hotels composed of many levels of tiered concrete hung with vines were all the rage, following on the success of John Portman’s 1967 modernist masterpiece, the Atlanta Hyatt Regency, as well as his Entelechy Residences, all of which made use of lush greenery appropriate to Georgia’s humid climate.

      Today, the many atrium hotels influenced by Portman have mostly been renovated into plain, corporate spaces devoid of organic matter, but the atriums originally served as multi-level terraces for hanging vines, which fell in lush curtains from ceilings many floors up. Oddly enough, given Palm Springs’s reputation for midcentury desert chic, what is now the Palm Springs Hyatt was originally built in 1987 as a concept atrium hotel by Pierre Cardin, the French fashion designer. Maxim’s de Paris featured veils of vines hanging from the hotel’s six indoor stories into a palm-shaded courtyard. Observed in the scarce few photos available online, the look is newly intriguing, a ghost example of the recent turn to overgrown foliage, sculptural shapes, and brutalist concrete.

      Today, the ex-Maxim’s de Paris and its atrium brethren bear almost no documentation of their past as modernist jungles. At the Palm Springs Hyatt, the atrium foliage is gone and the only trace of Pierre Cardin’s cosmopolitan excess is an elevator blinking in golden lights, while the rest of the atrium has been redone in the vague minimalism of 2010s business hotels. Up the road, the Ace Hotel remains a by-now classic portrait of spare 2010s desert modern style. But the new, wilder turn to unrestrained indoor-outdoor plant overgrowth may mean that the next cutting edge hotel restoration will return a large-scale atrium space to its lush, post-civilized prime, perhaps with some innovative 2010s water-reuse measures.

      The atrium at Maxim’s de Paris in 1988.
      Leonora Enking

      The connections between the resurgence of plants and our moment of environmental reckoning are palpable enough that they have become a subject for younger artists. Artist Zoe Crosher created a piece for the Los Angeles Nomadic Division in 2015 that depicts, in a series of billboards along the I-10 from Palm Springs to Los Angeles, a profusion of tropical foliage in various stages of health and decay. “There is definitely something ‘end times’ about the growing interest in plants in art and design,” Crosher says, suggesting that the profusion of plants has become a medium to contain and express our anxieties about environmental disaster.

      Most immediately, Crosher says, “plants are healthy, they clean the air,” which has clear appeal in a time when pollution increasingly stresses the urban environment and global warming is making weather patterns go awry. In Mexico City, for example, the Vertical Greenway project has been encircling freeway columns with vines as a direct air-scrubbing measure.

      Zoe Crosher, LA-LIKE: Shangri-LA’d, 10 billboards, Palm Springs, CA, 2015. A LAND Exhibition: The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project.

      Public spaces in the U.S. are increasingly planted not just with modest, space-conserving succulents, but also verdant and uncontrolled walls of foliage, where plants stop being accent pieces and become the outlines of the structure itself, or even overtake it. In the new green facade designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios for the IAC building in West Hollywood, a trellis of more than 11,000 plants breaks with the original 1980s structure to create something like a wireframed slope that masks the plain building behind it. Runoff from an underground stream—which had for decades been a nuisance the building’s owners had to manage—waters the facade, keeping it from having to use any of the city’s water resources.

      After a half-decade of arid, minimalist interiors, the recent plant profusion is freshly cooling and soothing, transforming interior spaces into strange, dank atmospheres reminiscent of subtropical caves. Even the newly renovated airport in Rio de Janeiro features full walls of greenery, a departure from the standard airlocked airport aesthetic that would have seemed unimaginable even a few years ago. As the green wall trend evolves further, one can imagine interiors eventually covered on all sides by vines, creating spaces not unlike the cenotes, or sunken subterranean pools, of Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula.

      The trend for increasing volumes of plants indoors and out may be a kind of reckoning with our civilization’s eventual return to the water, when the buildings we now inhabit have been flooded by rising tides. The plants, in this case, become a beautiful, unruly introduction to our fate as a civilization overtaken by the nature that we once sought to shape and control.

      Editor: Adrian Glick Kudler

      Article source:

      Let Me See Your Garden, And Your Home, Grow

      Photo by April Tobbe

      When it comes to the future of landscape architecture and design, you needn’t look further than your own backyard. According to a 2016 survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), there is a growing demand in the industry for extended outdoor living spaces and design elements: fireplaces, lighting, internet connectivity and even sleeping spaces. Consumers are eager for creative and luxurious solutions for outdoor entertaining and living, outspreading their homes into nature.

      Louisville landscape architect Josh Myers, owner of Myers+Co. Landscapes, concurs that he has seen that demand increase among his local clientele. “Fortunately,” he says, “there are beautiful and functional ways to extend the use of your outdoor entertaining spaces long after Labor Day.” Most notably, incorporating full-service kitchens, grills, brick ovens, ample counter and food prep space, televisions and refrigerators is no longer a desired afterthought for homeowners and is a design service that extends beyond what many may initially interpret as landscape architecture.

      Photo by Cameron Whaley

      “My ultimate goal as a landscape architect,” Myers notes, “is to bring the architecture away from the walls of the home and make it look like it belongs there.” This extends beyond traditional yard or garden maintenance but certainly includes those ambiance-enhancing services as well. Lighted landscapes are an additional outdoor living trend that has found an embrace in the local market. “The tech-savvy customer is willing to explore dramatic and creative ways to light their outdoor space,” he explains. “LED lighting is more cost-upfront to install but is one of the easiest things that can result in long-term savings.”

      Whether a project is large or small, Myers has noticed that almost all busy clients are striving for low maintenance when it comes to their outdoor space. This includes materials chosen for outdoor living areas. “More and more people are approaching these environments as they would interior design and looking to replicate indoor materials, choosing tile that is consistent with the appearance of hardwood floors or porcelain tile flooring. Of course there are time-tested natural materials for these surfaces, but with traditional pine or cedar decking, you are looking at yearly maintenance as opposed to other composite options. Ipe decking is extremely popular right now.” The two most important deciding factors in making material decisions, he says, are cost and maintenance, with maintenance typically emerging as the decision-maker.

      Photo by Cameron Whaley

      While water issues tend to be a hot landscaping topic nationally, Myers indicates that conservation projects are still slow to gain interest in Louisville. “While I am approached about using plants that are tolerant to the local humidity and reduced lawn area, which are sustainable elements to a project, I only see pockets of rainwater harvesting or water-efficient irrigation projects. These aren’t yet embraced by most consumers locally. I hope to see the demand for that increase.”

      With so many talented local artists in Louisville, Myers does see a trend toward incorporating garden art into more formal spaces whether that be a sculpture piece or fountain. Also – in keeping with the trend of low-maintenance – container gardens and, in some cases, edible landscapes, continue to grow in popularity and, he says, are the perfect way to add seasonal color to the front of a home. “More homeowners wish to represent the fall holidays within their seasonal landscaping. It’s grown beyond just placing a few pumpkins at your doorstep.”

      One place that Myers hopes we will all soon be able to look toward for landscaping inspiration is the Waterfront Botanical Gardens for which he is on the planning committee. The vision to create a garden and conservatory of extraordinary beauty may be only in the early stages of planning and fundraising but will serve to engage Louisville with plants and nature and promote an appreciation for a sustainable world. VT

      Myers brings a unique perspective to any project as a designer, site engineer and landscape architect. For more information about his portfolio and company, visit

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      Get a garden program growing at your school with these tips

      (BPT) – As a parent, you probably spend a lot of time trying to keep your kids clean and healthy, but sometimes a little dirt is just what the doctor ordered.

      Research shows a direct link between children’s current and future health and their participation in gardening. In fact, kids who garden are more likely to stick with the hobby as adults, have a higher likelihood of excelling in group work and are typically more inclined to eat healthful fruits and vegetables when given the option, according to a compilation of research summarized by the Children and Nature Network.

      School garden programs

      While some children develop a green thumb at home, research by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program indicates a growing number of kids are learning about gardening in school — a tactic that’s proving to be a popular, effective way of teaching children important life and nutritional skills.

      A survey by Tractor Supply Company, which sponsors the “Dig It” school garden program, found 75 percent of polled adults believe hands-on learning is more effective than memorization and 97 percent believe hands-on activities help kids develop a more positive outlook on learning.

      Starting a program

      If you’re a parent or teacher whose elementary school doesn’t yet have a gardening program, Tractor Supply offers some tips on how to get one started:

      1. Grow support

      Successful gardening programs require collaboration from school administrators, teachers and parents, as well as support from the community. Start by including all stakeholders in the conversation. Express the value of a school gardening program, share information about success stories in other schools, and look for sponsorship opportunities from the corporate community. For example, Tractor Supply’s “Dig It” program, designed for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, is available for schools in California, Pennsylvania and Utah this year.

      The program, which launched last year in Tennessee and New York, provided 88 schools with an enriched, hands-on curriculum and $500 grants to start or sustain a school garden program. More than 17,000 students were involved in the program. Upon completion, each student received a kid-friendly garden tool set and Master Gardener Certificate. To learn more or apply for a 2016–17 grant, teachers in qualified states can visit

      2. Choose a location

      Whether your school has a large plot of land or just a sunny windowsill, it’s always possible to grow a garden. With the help of things like raised planter beds and container gardens, almost anything—including a section of parking lot, an unused play area, even a rooftop—can be transformed into a viable, healthy space for plants to thrive. When selecting a location, consider spots that receive at least six hours of ample sun per day, can be easily watered, and can be protected from rodents or deer. Most importantly, though, remember to choose an area that’s safe and easy for children to access.

      3. Keep kid-friendly design in mind

      In addition to finding a safe and accessible location for your school’s garden, it’s also important to create an atmosphere that’s appealing to youngsters. Start by getting students involved in the design process. If you’ll be using raised beds, ask children for their input on the materials and colors; conduct a poll to determine what vegetables and/or flowers they would like to grow; and plan for decorative touches, such as plant markers or garden stepping stones that students can create on their own or in art classes.

      4. Seek and use guidance

      Tractor Supply’s Know How Central offers a wealth of information about gardening. You can also find guidance and assistance—such as soil testing services—from local cooperative extensions. Reach out to parents or teachers who are home gardeners to help coach kids through the process of growing and harvesting crops.

      “Getting kids outside the traditional classroom setting can be a wonderful, fun way to help them learn important skills and lessons,” said Lisa White, Director of Store Marketing at Tractor Supply. “The value of school gardening programs has been proven repeatedly through programs like Dig It, and the great thing is it’s never too late to begin one at your school.”

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