by Ben O’Brien
Landscapes that mimic natural systems deliver important ecosystem services and are also aesthetically pleasing. Guided by principles that reduce resource consumption, ecologically designed landscapes provide natural solutions when land is disturbed by the construction of buildings or roadways, and they support landscaped communities from tiny rooftops to grand urban parks.
Contributors: Andi Pettis, Sarah Saltino, Chris Sawicki
After autumn winds strip foliage from deciduous plantings, new colors, shapes, and textures gain prominence in the landscape as berries, bark, and seed heads gain visibility. We invited a few ELA members to comment on plants they especially appreciate in the winter.
by Sam Hoadley
Mt. Cuba Center’s mission is to inspire an appreciation for the beauty of native plants and a commitment to the native habitats that protect them. Over the past several years the Mt. Cuba Center Trial Garden has become an influencer to the nursery industry and to native plant enthusiasts. Learn about their trials, designed to identify the top performing species and cultivars within the genus that are best suited for the Mid-Atlantic region.
by Krissy Boys
Four years after replacement of a streambank water control structure, native grasses, sedges, and forbs planted at the site have become well established. Most species are thriving and have propagated themselves by self-sowing in the streambank gardens. Only two species out of 58 genera completely failed.
by Maureen Sundberg
A campus wildflower meadow tucked onto a slope at Greenfield Community College was designed as part of a larger outdoor learning lab that includes a botanical garden, wetland garden, permaculture garden, and raingarden. Two years after planting, the meadow has become an oasis of learning for students across the academic spectrum.
by Angela Laws
Why is photosynthesis relevant to climate change? Because it is the process by which plants remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it – a process known as carbon sequestration – and they’re very good at it, especially trees.
As demand grows for plants that support pollinators and other wildlife, ELA reached out to a few experts to find out which species they recommend including in every landscape design.
I can’t figure out how to have a shade bed complement the sun bed directly across from it – it’s not that things have to be matchy-matchy, but the brickwork makes them a symmetrical pair of beds. I am having trouble finding shade plants that I can combine into an ecological design, except low groundcovers and short woodland plants, and I am having a hard time visualizing what would work right across the bed of climbing roses, lambs ears, baptisa, gaura, japanese anemones, euphorbia, and salvia. ANY suggestions would be so, so appreciated. I am completely stumped!
by Ethan Dropkin
Many designers and horticulturists have the unique and challenging task of greening our cities where growing conditions are less than favorable. Too often they resort to using a limited palette of largely exotic species, but by looking to native plant communities, they can develop landscapes that thrive in and contribute to the urban environment.
by Larry Weaner
The elements that make a landscape design “natural” are difficult to define. A landscape with curved bed lines, informal plant arrangements, and no pyramidal yews does not always qualify as a natural landscape. And advocates of natural design are not necessarily eager to banish a host of beautiful exotics from the plant palettes of American landscape designers, replacing the plants with a motely crew of straggly natives. The basic concept behind natural design, however, is fairly simple – to incorporate native plant communities into the designed landscape. But their successful incorporation requires a basic understanding of how native plants operate in nature.
by Meg Herndon and Sandra Nam Cioffi
Since post-industrial urbanization drew people off the land, we’ve lost a personal connection with farms and with the natural world. Those of us with experience need to connect new generations of gardeners with their landscapes in ways that recognize the challenges of modern life.
by Maureen Sundberg
ELA member Marie Chieppo initiated a collaboration with the Town of Needham to install a native plant demonstration garden at a busy public park. With the help of local volunteers and her own teenage children, the installation took place over six weeks this spring, and she continues to maintain the site.