Designing the Naturalistic Landscape
I have now been practicing horticulture professionally for 20 years, during which my focus was almost entirely on the design, installation, and long-term maintenance of naturalistic landscapes. These thoughtfully crafted gardens (see plan above) are often influenced by elements found in nature. Naturalistic garden plans utilize a wide range of native flora, in order to service various ecological functions including habitat creation, pollination support, and water conservation. The end products often appear to be the creations of Mother Nature, when in fact many hours of planning, design, and implementation went into the project.
Planning and Plant knowledge
Many people downplay the intricacies of native plant gardening. Simply thinking, all you have to do is walk out the door and spread a few seeds and you will have a thriving ecological garden soon after. They claim that little weeding, watering or tending of any kind will be necessary to get a great native plant garden humming with birds and bees.
My experience designing and constructing such spaces has been quite the opposite. Native plants in the right place do have advantages when compared to high input horticulture endeavors such as roses, turf grasses or fruit trees, which require many types of inputs to control nutrition, diseases and pests. However, natives do still require quite a bit of labor and plant knowledge in order to create the best gardens possible.
Practicing the Skills
There are no shortcuts to mastering a skill and ecological gardening is no exception. WLCT invites you to join me this winter for a three part design series that will take the enthused homeowner, Master Gardener, or burgeoning amateur through a step by step process to create a fully rendered landscape design. I will teach students the art of drafting by hand so each student can create a unique design of their own by the end of the course. We will be using the office building at Westport Woods as an example to show students how to create base plans, create plant lists, draw bedlines, understand scale, bloom calendars, maintenance plans and more.
Each student must come to the class with a personal project from their home or work that will be their focus for the course. They will take what they have learned from each class and complete a homework assignment prior to the next class. All drafting materials will be included in the course. At the end students will go home with a fully colored landscape design for a garden section they have selected at their own property, ready to implement come spring!