PHYLLIS ODESSEY

state of the union

THOMS RAINER photo courtesy of New York Botanical Garden

THOMS RAINER
photo courtesy of New York Botanical Garden

Three times is not a charm, but TWO times could be redundant.  Hearing Thomas Rainer twice in the same year, months a part, might have been boring, even insipid.  NOT SO.  Rainer managed to give a lecture on Native Plants, altered for a new audience, which engrossed me, even the second time around.  He dissected the ideology of the  native plant movement, turned the mythology built around native plants on their head and proposed an alternative to the local vs. exotic debate.

Great Dixter photo by Phyllis Odessey

Great Dixter
photo by Phyllis Odessey

In the plant world, I am not a proponent of any one movement.  The “devil plants exotics” is something I couldn’t care less about.  When Rainer questions the hype around native plants: too many promises, too little delivered, I don’t get upset.  His point is to use all plants in an aesthetic way.  To understand how plants interact, how to generate a plant community through layering and ultimately how to create harmony in a landscape.

Sussex Prairies UK  photo by Phyllis Odessey

Sussex Prairies
UK
photo by Phyllis Odessey

Rainer repeated many of the “lessons,” I learned in the UK working with James Hitchmough.  Fertile soil is not what you want in a garden.  The “black gold” we are taught to yearn for in garden soils is actually problematic:  weeds become dominant.  The gravel mulches being used by the Dutch, Germans, Swiss and British are what we should covet.

Turf_Durer

Albert Durer
The Great Piece of Turf
botanicillustration.blogspot.com
Rainer’s opening example of a layered planting

It’s hard to turn your head around.  After all my head has been on my shoulders for a good long time.  Jettisoning a truism or what you thought were truisms about gardens is tough work.  Rainer’s underlying mission is convince his audience that creating a community, a plant community is the journey all gardeners take.

THOMAS RAINER
Designing with Natives
New York Botanical Garden
March 20,1 2014

Rainer’s blog:  Grounded Design

Resources Rainer mentioned:
federaltwist.com
wgarysmith.com
emmamarris.com

Blog James Golden Federal Twist

Blog
James Golden
Federal Twist

51ulSZRGumL._SL500_AA300_
9781604693348f cover1 9780881929737f

One comment

  1. I wholeheartedly agree. I heard Thomas speak on the same subject (for one hour) at the New Directions in American Landscape conference at Temple/Ambler in January, then I heard him for two hours at New York Botanic Garden last week. It was a very different presentation, and I think I prefer the two-hour version. He never lost my interest. It was a fascinating lecture on an important new subject.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: