PHYLLIS ODESSEY

i want to download their brains

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Rebecca McMackin, Director of Horticulture Brooklyn Bridge Park

Why now? Why here? I knew Rebecca McMackin could easily answer my top two questions. Rebecca is the Directorof Horticulture for Brooklyn Bridge Park, and one of the catalysts behind the Ecological Landscaping Alliance Conference:  Creating Ecological Plant Communities: Digging Deep into Plant Knowledge with Masters.

In her usual succinct style, Rebecca responded.  “ELA (Ecological Landscape Alliance) is based in MA., We wanted to see if we could mobilize the New York City ecological horticultural community.  If this symposium is a success, we will think about making this an annual event and in time we might try to launch a New York City Chapter.”

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Roy Diblik, Northwind Perennial Farm

“I was inspired by hearing Roy Diblik at a Larry Weaner Conference.  Roy said all you really need to know is 35 plants – and you need to know everything about those 35 plants.  It’s an ongoing gripe of mine that conferences provide only theory.  When people talk about plants, other people make shopping lists.  They draw hearts next to the plants they want to buy.  It’s not what you want to buy that is important, but how plants grow.”  

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Claudia West laying out plants for a trial garden at North Creek Nurseries. Photo courtesy of North Creek Nurseries.

“For instance, staghorn sumac.  How do you stop this sumac from ripping up the sidewalk.  People are starting to write books about native plants.  But pubishers want to books that have national interest, not regional interest; obviously for sales reasons, publishers need books with broad theories”

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Ian Caton and his wife, Elizabeth run a native platn nursery, Enchanter’s Garden, West Virginia

“I want to know how roots grow, how plants work with other plants.  For this conference we’ve choosen speakers who are going to speak in great detail about specific plants.  I hope we don’t overwhelm people with too much information.”

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Andrew Bunting collecting sweetbay magnolia samples in Delhaas Woods, Bucks County, PA

Historically we’ve been making knocks off European gardens.  We now have a new wave of people looking at American plants.  We are trying to figure out how to make beautiful gardens with our native plants.  Beyond the horticultural aspect, I believe there is a new generation looking for meaning in their work.  We are beginning to view native plants as a way to restore environments on a small scale and sometimes, in large parks on a bigger scale.  Native plants are a potential method of environmental restoration and beauty.”

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Brooklyn Bridge Park

“We are continually learning how to manage these experimental landscapes.  It’s a large learning curve.  I love what Piet Oudolf recently said, ‘after a park is planted; is when the work really begins.'”

LET’S BEGIN… by attending  Digging Deep Into Plant Knowledge with the Masters.

Creating Ecological Plant Communities:
Digging Deep Into Plant Knowledge with The Masters

December 9, 2016
Ecological Landscape Alliance

Claudia West
Roy Diblik
Ian Caton
Andrew Bunting
Heidi Hesselein
Chris Roddick
Ronnit Bendavid-Val
Frances Reidy
Rebecca McMackin

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