Community is the word of the moment. It’s almost impossible to listen to a broadcast, read an article or watch TV without the word community being mentioned. This use or over use of the word community is also the word du jour of horticulturists. Cassian Schmidt was the speaker last night at the annual Andrew Carnegie Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by the New York Botanical Garden. Schmidt is a master of the matrix style of plant communities.
I heard Cassian Schmidt speak at NYBG in Feb 2017 and blogged about his talk. So was there anything new in last night’s lecture?
Schmidt’s mantra: “Be an observer of nature, but do not imitate nature. A garden is a stylized version of nature.”
- Some plants are social and some plants are not. A plant that forms a group is always social. “Knowing a plant’s habit is a guide to developing a planting matrix, not a planting plan”.
2. The lack of a fixed concept is a problem for maintenance staff. “We have an open system, which from a maintenance stand point is intuitive gardening rather than clearly defined weeding and edging”.
3. “We keep track of how many minutes per square meter it takes to maintain any given area in the garden.” I would like to calculate maintenance time in my own garden. I doubt I can come anywhere near Schmidt’s time.
4. At Hermannshof plants are cut down before winter, the debris is shredded and left on the ground, to feed the soil. In spring, bulbs poke through.
5. Schmidt referenced Piet Oudolf many times and the planting of The High Line. For those who are engrossed in the native vs. non-native argument; Schmidt is not your man. He is a believer in mixing plants from different geographic regions. The High line has 40% european plants and 60% North American plants. This is to a certain extent the globalization of planting design.
The plants pictured in this blog are some of the plants Schmidt called out as some of his favorites. Malus hupehensis is worth mentioning for its common name, tea crab apple, originates in Central China where the leaves are brewed to make tea. Malus hupehensis was found in western China in 1900 by Ernest Wilson. He believed it was the finest flowering tree that he ever introduced.
I would like to go Hermannshof myself and see how Schmidt pulls off all this magic.