coup d’état


Heidi Heiland greets us with appropriate foot wear.

You say you want a revolution
Well You Know…
You should have been at the Perennial Plant Association Symposium in Minneapolis this past week.  An insurgency is brewing among plant geeks.  The first indication was on the shuttle bus from the airport to the conference hotel.  A longtime member of PPA said to me, “Don’t you think the definition of a garden is changing? YEAH!

Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin opened the conference with this quote from Jesus:  go where the  sinners are.  In other words, give it up for ecological strategies, plants that perform and sustainable practices. Die hard horticulturists are slowly being converted to the insect lives matter movement.  Don’t forget the bees, wasps and flies.  If you plant it, they will come.

Olympic Park North American Planting James Hitchmough

Olympic Park North American Planting by James Hitchmoigh in London.


Sign from Dan and Heidi Heiland private garden. “The signage and labeling promotes continual learning and encourages folks to keep spreading the message.”

Debra Knapke  of The Garden Sage queriedDo you want to be a creator or a destroyer?  It’s always best to ask a question that can will be answered in the affirmative. Beginning at 8 AM, there were two full days of talks.  My goody bag was full of prairie plant lists, a 4/color print out of some of the 3,600 known bee species, plants for Bees and new perennials for Northern Gardens.


As fantastic as all the speakers were; my favorite aspect of the symposium were the tours to private gardens.  I’ve gone on so many garden tours.  You drive up an impossibly long driveway, maybe through a set of gates, view a beautiful large house and walk endlessly through the many, many gardens that have been created by a garden or landscape designer.


This was not the case on the Perennial Plant tour.  We visited modest houses with large backyards, gardened by the couples, who live in them. No landscape architects here.  No crew.  Just two people devoted to tending the earth.


Sign from Dan and Heidi Heiland’s private garden. “When Dan and I married, we wanted to transform this property into our training grounds and work portfolio.”

“We quickly learned two things – (1) There is never too much empty space for gardens and (2) There will be disappointments.  The third thing  we learned took a bit longer to sink in, but was nonetheless crucial to our gardening contentment and that was, gardens that are installed and tended at early middle age look much larger as early old age approaches”. Arla Carmichel and Steven Kelley owners of Kelley and Kelley Nursery

Oudolf_1Botanically wonderful, these private gardens  exemplify best management practices: eliminating neo-nics and petro-chemicals, focusing on bio-diversity, and using the right plant in the right place.  In spite of all these lofty goals, I still go old school.  Piet Oudolf has accomplished all of the above, as well as creating great beauty.  My conclusion, it takes a master to move us in extraordinary ways.



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