Christine Ten Eyck
Noel Kingsbury, author of more books than you can count, and friend of all "cool" garden designers, talked about making the garden mimic nature in its diversity and complexity. No more drifts, no more design; instead high density, intermingling, habitats and communities.
"Chic Plants for Hip Gardeners" was the title of Kelly Norris's rant. He was on a mission to put passion back into the horticultural world. He recently returned from the GWA conference in Arizona. Appalled by the suggestion that in order to attract younger gardeners, we need to dumb down gardening Norris argued, it's all about creating a fashionable plant palette: Sanguinaria canadensis 'Muliplex', Corydalis nobilis, Tellima grandiflora, Eucomis 'Kilmanjaro' and Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri.
For me the star of the line-up was Ken Smith, landscape architect. He gardens in urban spaces with conditions antithetical to making gardens: shade, wind, lack of soil, weight load requirements, steam and water utilities under the ground. People hire him to solve these problems and still create something they can call a GARDEN.
A private terrace with limited weight loads and a requirement that all the features on the terrace be movable on a periodic basis, so that window washing operations can take place would send most designers running. Smith developed a program that appealed to the owners interest in Japanese gardens, mimicking their love of scholar rocks and raked sand. This is a lesson in how to market an idea.