the wise man leaves no trace

ruddickcover-finalfrontWhat’s her claim to fame?  Being fined for planting her yard as an ecological low-maintenance ‘forest.’   Margie Ruddick called her landscape a ‘Garden of Eden’; the authorities in Philadelphia called it an eyesore.  Thursday night, Margie Ruddick and Wendy Goodman talked about her new book Wild By Design, as well as issues related  “wildness in landscape design”.  If you want to hear what Ruddick had to say about her book, Wild By Design, click on this link:

Goodman started off with a quote from Piet Oudolf:  ” Wildness is a dream.  A garden may appear to be “wild” but it takes a lot of time and care to create wildness.”



Queens Plaza Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project, Margie Ruddick, Marpillero Pollak Architects, Michael Singer Studio and WRT

Everything Ruddick accomplished at Queens Plaza:
public art
a constructed wetlands
489 native trees and grasses
noise mitigation and reduction in traffic pollution
creation of sound barriers
bicycle lanes
a place for the public to gather in groups,
a place for individuals to sit
All of the above meets the goals of transforming urban sprawl into a productive, ecological environment for people.


courtesy of Michael Singer

Go to Queens Plaza today and you will not see; what you see in these photographs.  The lack of maintenance has created a jungle of weeds and trash.  Ruddick:  “People always complain, it’s so messy.  Mess is where life happens.”  Metaphorically speaking, I believe this true.  In the public realm, mess means uncared for.  James Hitchmough, Head of the Landscape Department at the Unviersity of Sheffield, UK, has conducted extensive research around the topic of how “ordinary people” react to planted public spaces in blighted neighborhoods.


Bank of America courtyard, New York City. Design Margie Ruddick

Goodman asked Ruddick how this “wild” movement started.  Ruddick:  “We all need a place to get away.  We need an immersive experience. We need to re-set.  I think sometimes you just need to be away from all your stuff …. from your life.”  Who can disagree with that?












Margie Ruddick and Wendy Goodman
Wild by Design
Garden Conservancy
92 st. Y
November 3, 2016
gateway to Long Island City
from tangle of urban infrastructure to lush, navigable landscape

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