Michael Tortorello has just written a wonderful NY Times article about Thomas Rainer, garden blogger extraordinaire. His blog, Grounded Design takes a stand against the dogma of green landscaping.
|Thomas Rainer and son|
“The native plant movement is, in part, this Protestant idea that it has to hurt in order to do good ..... Sustainability should be more hedonistic, more pleasurable.”
Let's hear it for hedonism in the garden! All the green movement people should embrace their inner 'peony lover'. I, for one, feel we should include as many native plants in our garden as we can (for the bees, butterflies, birds) but I also agree with Thomas when he says, "Don’t be dogmatic about native/exotic, straight species/cultivar".... I think we cannot deprive ourselves of some glorious dahlias or exotic Japanese ferns.
|Japanese Painted fern|
"When it comes to plant selection, great plantsmen are often pragmatists, not crusaders.
....What makes a garden-worthy plant is not the plant’s pedigree, but its performance.
This kind of ruthless meritocracy only allows the most vigorous, interesting, and worthy plants into a design. "
|Hakonechloa macra & Echinacea pallida are superior straight species, while the cultivated Monarda is more garden-worthy|
So we should all be pragmatic hedonists in the garden! I concur.....
The exotic hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass) can be planted next to a native azalea...a native winterberry, next to an andromeda. This works for Mr. Rainer because he obviously loves all sorts of plants..here are 2 pics of his small home garden:
|Thoma Rainer's garden|
|Thomas Rainer's garden|
For more photos of Rainer's garden click on this link.
I think gardening is like art - you might like one painting and I another; You like bee balm and I like Siberian iris; you like 'Get Shorty' and I like 'Moulin Rouge'. But we all must honor Mother Earth and not put pesticides, willy nilly, in our soil, water and air. That is a truism that cannot be bent.
|Siberian Iris from Bluestone Perennials - not a native but I adore this plant. deer resistant.|
Mr. Rainer offered a shortlist of what he feels we should not do. This is from the NYT article. The red text is my commentary.
STOP MULCHSCAPING As an alternative to dumping mulch under shrubs, try ferns and sedges to hold the ground. “Any place you can see mulch, you can add another species underneath it,” he said. No mulch mountains!
RELINQUISH CONTROL "In order to create that natural look, you have to work the design to death.” One alternative: self-seeding. A bed without mulch will find its own serendipitous ways to fill the holes. Yes..and then again, no.
DON’T RUN TO THE BORDER “If people would just pull out their foundation plantings 8 or 10 feet, that alone would create a more garden-esque landscape,” he said. I think he means makes the beds wider...I agree.
FORGET NOAH’S ARK “Buy small and buy a lot, especially with perennials and grasses,” ... establish them early in the season, so they have time to grow. Don't buy too early in the season because more varieties are available later in the year.
DON’T GO BIG pick dwarf cultivars that grow to scale. Agreed! Use 'Little Lime' Hydrangea instead of 'Limelight'.
DON’T MAKE TROUBLE FOR YOURSELF “I think the American idea of ground covers are these nasty invasive plants like English ivy and pachysandra” Am I the only person left who likes pachysandra?
CANCEL THE CROQUET TOURNAMENT “We use lawn as wall-to-wall carpeting, and I think it works better in most yards as an area rug.” Love that comparison - area rug.
|garden by Jan Johnsen - not native plants and with lawn and mulch. Hedonistic pragmatist, am I.|
One point for discussion: in his blog he writes:
"One minor post-publication quibble:
The print edition of the Times refers to me in two bylines as a "horticulturist."
I am, in fact, a licensed landscape architect.
.....Though both professions deal with plants to a degree, they are two entirely different professions."
Rainer means - I think - that he is trained and works with the design end than the plants end. Architectural design in the landscape is his profession and training. Toward that end, what do you think of his garden from a design standpoint? this is another photo of Rainer's garden:
|Thomas Rainer's garden|