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Befriend Bugs; Design for Everyone with Garden Futurist Kate Hayes

Articles: Befriend Bugs; Design for Everyone with Garden Futurist Kate Hayes

Spring 2023

Listen to the Podcast here.

What happens when a landscape architecture firm started by an ecologist becomes a force for community change? Garden Futurist talks to Kate Hayes from Miridae about building immersive nature experiences that support plant communities, wildlife, and neighborhoods by embracing community science and gardening.

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Pacific Horticulture’s DESIGN FUTURIST AWARD elevates the beauty of garden designs that are climate resilient, steward biodiversity, and connect people with nature. 

Sarah Beck: You’re listening to Garden Futurist. I’m Sarah Beck, here with Mary Muszynski. Hi, Mary.

Mary Muszynski: Hi, Sarah.

Sarah Beck: Mary, I’m so glad you’re here with us today. You are principal landscape architect and founder of Landible, which is a landscape architecture and art practice in the Bay Area, and importantly, you’re a planning committee member for our Design Futurist Award. We’re going to talk about that a little bit later.

The conversation with our guests today is focused on ecological design. Something that I think you and I are both really intrigued by from this conversation was that the designer was referencing the wild landscape that was around where the design landscape would be.

Mary Muszynski: This is such a great way our guest has of exploring place, and looking at her explorations of nearby protected natural habitats is such a great way to ground design ideas in the local. Her practice of observing while hiking is one that’s there for all hikers. and she’s looking not just at the plants, but also how the land has formed over time, in particular with ephemeral flow of water and creeks.

Sarah Beck: Oh, I really like that, too, because especially, the elements where people are really interested in having something that feels like a creek bed in a landscape, a designed landscape. There was that realistic context for it.

Mary Muszynski: Right, right. So she’s not trying to make an exact replica. It’s a recreation and she can’t do it exactly because gardens are made from rocks from rock yards and nursery-grown plants, but it’s the way she’s using the overall presence of ephemerality as a garden reference.

Sarah Beck: Yeah, I really like that. So as a designer, you take these inspirations, and you create an interpretation of wildness.

Mary Muszynski: That’s so true. I think when you can hold to the local, like our guest is going to talk about—and her term of organizing the wild, which is such a useful phrase—it provides a new perspective on a new kind of design aesthetic that supports ecology and isn’t an exact replica.

Sarah Beck: Oh, I really want to talk more with you about this new aesthetic and what that means.

I spoke with Kate Hayes. She’s the design principal at Miridae, which is a design-build landscape architecture firm whose nonprofit arm also engages in research and STEM education, and there’s a mobile nursery. They do a lot of things.

The Miridae Mobile Nursery. Credit: Kate Hayes

Sarah Beck: I believe your founder is an ecologist, and I’m guessing that the name Miridae has something to do with that.

Kate Hayes: Definitely, yes. Miridae is the word for a family of insects called plant bugs, or mirids.

And Billy Krimmel, our founder, studied mirids for his PhD. Mirids are special because they’ve co-evolved with native plants, California native plants, for forever. So it’s really an appropriate name for our company, which specializes in native plants, right? Our mission is to strengthen the connection between people, native plants, wildlife—through design, construction, outreach, and research.

Sort of another part of this story is that Billy started the company instead of essentially going into research, because he realized the bugs he wanted to research and the landscapes he wanted to research weren’t as readily available, and so he wanted to create the landscapes that he could then research, which is exciting.

Sarah Beck: I had no idea of that backstory. That is such a fun story, and I love the idea of an ecologist creating landscapes in order to have more places to spend time with a particular group of insects, in a sense.

Thank you for mentioning your mission, which I think is a fantastic mission. It also, really emphasizes the fact that you are not only a design build company. I mean, you have a couple of different arms, which we’ll get to in a few minutes. But this idea of strengthening connections between people and native plants and the wildlife, this is a big part of your design work. So I’d love to jump into that aspect of your business first.

You’re very upfront about the ecological and native plant emphasis in your design work. I would love to hear a little bit about some of your recent work, in gardens or larger landscapes, that you’ve been doing. Just what have been some of your goals recently in the food web habitat piece?

Kate Hayes: It’s important to really start out with sort of the bread and butter of our firm, which are residential projects of all shapes and sizes. Each client is super unique. We definitely cater to those clients’ needs, but from our perspective, we really think about all these residential projects as a whole—like a cumulative whole—tying into the ecological theory of patches and corridors, to create a matrix, thinking about how there’s so much habitat fragmentation in our urban and suburban environments.

So we really think about not just the individual residents, some of which are very small, and we think about them all together as one larger project. So when we design for a client, we make sure to situate that residential yard in this larger, bigger picture context.

Part of our residential journey, this ecological patchwork journey, we’re really focusing on encouraging and educating people to move away from those like same 10 to 15 generic plants that you see in most residential contexts. Most of those are non-native, but they totally dominate our residential landscapes. It’s really unsustainable, and it doesn’t support our wildlife and as many of our insects that have coevolved with our native plants, and there’s just not enough diversity. So we’re encouraging clients to get out and into their gardens more to play, to tend, to just sit and observe, and to sort of embrace this evolving garden.

So that’s sort of just like our whole residential context piece. It’s really just about exposure and education and being open to something new.

Sarah Beck: Do you find that most of the clients that are coming to you are already interested in being a nature patch among many? Or is that something that you’re also having a conversation for the first time with someone about?

Kate Hayes: I was just reflecting on that recently. A lot of people come to us because they want to convert their lawns into habitat. So I’d say the majority of our clients know that about us, and so they specifically come to us.

But I think some of the most fun and rewarding clients are those that don’t. They just want to redo a small area of their garden and they want to replace some of these ferns that aren’t native or camelias. And I’m not saying that all of those are success stories, but the ones that are, that we can educate, and share more about how important these California native plants are to their gardens and sort of open up their mindset, those are the really special clients.

Sarah Beck: I realize that what you’re talking about is something at Pacific Horticulture we talk about a lot, which is this idea of, “How do you have a conversation about a new aesthetic?”

Even with those who are probably very interested in being part of a nature patch or connecting to the ecology, I think there are some biases that run through the design experience. I think dormancy is a big part of the annual cycle. There are lots of assumptions about what native plants look like in a landscape. But I’m just curious how you work through—and maybe if you want to tell us about a specific project or two—just how you’ve worked through some of those issues of people not necessarily knowing how to look at a lot of these native plants in a seasonal cycle, for instance.  

Kate Hayes: Yeah, absolutely. Well, a couple things. One, along the lines of dormancy, educating people that the plants are going to turn brown in the summer. That’s just part of their natural cycle. They’re just going dormant and then they they’ll return and grow new growth and be green when the rains start.

I think in terms of this sort of as new aesthetic and changing mindsets and changing sort of perceptions of what a garden and yard should look like, when I talk to clients at the garden scale, I’m always throwing out this sort of term or phrase like “organized wild.” And that there, everyone’s like, “Oh yeah, yeah.” It kind of resonates with you.

Like you said, it’s all about giving sort of some structure, so that it looks intentional, but it also gives the plants the space to do their own thing. I talk about how California native plants are inherently wild, and their look, and their feel, and their texture, and that’s okay. That gives you a sense of place. It gives you a sense of the larger regional landscape that you’re in. But then I comfort and bring clients back and say, “but don’t worry, they’re wild, but we’re going to plant them in very intentional layers, maybe just even in a straight row or line, or within some sort of framework.”

This idea is grounded in Joan Nassauer’s essay, it’s titled “Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames.” Just the idea of, yeah, letting an ecosystem or a plant do its messy, organic thing within a structured frame—whether that’s something geometric or maybe it’s just something that’s more familiar, like a curb or a path. Just makes the whole landscape more palatable.

Sarah Beck: That makes a lot of sense. We had a conversation with some garden designers who are in the south of France recently, and they were sharing some images of just the surrounding ecology and landscape. It’s not that often, looking at designers’ work, that they share wild images of something that is just in the region. And they’re like, “Well, if you go over this hill, this is what the wild landscape is.”

It just gave me such an interesting sense of place. I think here in the Pacific region, we have this, like you were mentioning, this incredible opportunity. There are so many different microclimates and there are so many interesting plant communities that we could be inspired by.

I’m curious if you ever talk to clients about what is the context of this particular plant and would that be on the side of a coastal cliff? Would that be in the savanna? Like what is that space that plant evolved in, and then how do I imagine it fitting that aspect of what my own landscape looks like?

Kate Hayes: Absolutely. We talk a lot about plant communities and designing in plant communities, because say you’re designing a garden around a specific species. You go and you look at the other plants found within that community, and you just know that they’re all going to good together, and fit well together, and perform that biological function that you need it to perform.

I personally get a lot of inspiration from hiking and exploring the different areas—the Sierras, Eastern Sierra. I resonate with a lot of clients who talk about that. They say, “Oh, we want to hike and we really like this.” We have a lot of precedent imagery, a lot of look-and-feel images as the initial part of our design phase.

A specific instance that we’ve struggled with a little bit are these dry creeks that people love to include in their front gardens.

Sarah Beck: Interesting.

Kate Hayes: And I think they are great when they’re performative, right? When they actually capture water or reroute a downspout.

Sarah Beck: You’re describing a bioswale, sort of?

Kate Hayes: A bioswale. But to a lot of people, they’re called dry creeks. It’s an accessible term that people associate a lot of these long conversions, “Oh, you have this rocky dry creek in here as well,” but they don’t understand it’s like meant to be some sort of ephemeral river creek bed, or bioswale when they’re more planted.

We actually went through an exercise, because we were a little frustrated with how they can look tacky, forced, and out of place. So we went on this exercise of finding local creek beds and of taking photos of them, sort of start to emulate, —not to copy, per se, but to get inspiration from what’s actually happening out in nature.

Sarah Beck:, I’d like to jump into talking a little bit about the people side of this. We’ve been talking about people really connecting with the story, but people connecting with the garden itself is sort of another whole layer. I imagine that presents another set of design challenges when you’re thinking about another pillar in your mission about connecting people with the nature experience.

Pacific Horticulture is right now in the inaugural year of our Design Futurist Award, so we’re really excited about being able to share examples of landscapes that show this idea of beauty and resilience and biodiversity, but also thinking about supporting humans.

I think it’s very much in the conversation right now, the human benefits, the health benefits of connecting with nature. I’m curious if you’re coming up with a playbook on this, what are the features that that help connect people?

Kate Hayes: At the most basic, paths and spaces to sit in a garden.

We’re always talking about immersive experiences. I think you get a lot out of just walking down the same path on a weekly basis through your garden, through all four seasons. That is the best way to be engaged.

Maybe you’re just walking to your car, and maybe only every three third walk are you paying attention. But it’s that continual daily experience that’s really going to be the most educational and informative. So there’s that like passive immersion, and we really just try to integrate that when we can in every project, large or small.

We’ve spent a lot of time working through and thinking about our design process and asking like, “How can our clients be more a part of the process?”

And so on a sort of, again, a basic level, we do ask clients sort of like right after signing the contract, “Start tracking the sun and shade in your yard.” We ask clients to really start to pay attention and observe and even track and mark down the different sun-shade conditions in their yard so that ultimately, right, we can design a more successful plant ballot for those specific conditions.

Another thing that we’ve been gearing up to do, and to integrate into our design process, is like a before and after garden monitoring project. It’s still very much in the works, and we did a pilot project a few summers ago, with some Reed College students and professor, and the idea would be to monitor wildlife and insects in the yard as you’re waiting for the build to happen, and then to monitor after, in the years after.

And I think it’s very easy to make this a complicated process, but our goal is to really keep it simple and straightforward and basic counts of wildlife, insects. We’re working out what those species are. The idea is to—at the beginning of the process, before the design has happened, before the build has happened—start to create these citizen scientists with our residential projects.

And remember, our residential projects are king of our bread and butter. So we have a lot of those. And the idea of the power of the individual adding up to like a collective, and the power of numbers, and the idea that the individual’s impact. It might seem small on an individual scale, but then together as a collective and thinking about these huge issues we’re dealing with, like climate change and how we can all help out.

Sarah Beck: I think the small-scale garden has the potential to be one of the most impactful things a person can be part of in terms of resilience.

I love that you’re collecting this because I think it’s going to be amazing to have really specific examples. It is very inspiring to think about, even on the scale of an individual garden, being able to say, “I have this baseline experience. What was I seeing? What was visiting my garden in terms of birds or in terms of insects before the project starts?” Then to really be able to track that, I think that’s incredibly exciting.

Kate Hayes: We do do a lot of community-based, outward-facing public realm projects and signage. Everyone wants to do interpretive signage.

Sarah Beck: Nice.

Kate Hayes: We’re getting on board. In fact, we just purchased a laser cutter to do more in-house signage.

We’ve been working with a tribal community up in Auburn, and we designed and built with them this living workbook native plants garden. A big portion of that project was signage, like plant identification signage, questions that the tribal community, the tribal school could use in their curriculum, plant communities. We were thinking, “Well, we can draw all the plants that could into this signage,” but we ended up commissioning an artist, one of the tribal members, to draw up all the different species that are represented in the garden. And then we translated them to digital vector format and laser-cut them in. Then of course, there’s a QR code to link to more information about that plant.

But signage has become a very big part of these more public-facing gardens, and so I think that’s a really great way to engage people as well.

Sarah Beck: Talking about some of your community work leads me into this conversation about some of the work you do with your mobile nursery.

One of the things that I think we often talk about when we talk about plants and propagating native plants is just availability constraints. Propagating native plants is not quite the same as some of those big-box-style propagation techniques. So I’m curious how this idea came to be and how you all invented the taco truck of nurseries. I’m sorry, I love that so much. Tell me how that evolved.

Kate Hayes: Well it started with Billy showing up in Sacramento with a graffiti-covered box truck.

We had sort of started to try to set up a nursery in the typical sense. And it was just, we quickly realized it was too much, but we still wanted to find a way to sell these plants, which sometimes we even have trouble sourcing.

So Billy and I essentially designed this truck. We carved out sides on it that would pop open or pop down. And the idea, originally it was going to be the ice cream truck, and it would have like a little jingle, and the idea would be you drive it around and people would flag it down. We do have a jingle.

Sarah Beck: That’s super fun.  

Kate Hayes: With a bunch of birds and chirping and nature sounds. It’s very catchy. But we quickly realized, it’s not quite as effective to stop here and there. It’s more efficient to have a place you stop and then let everything down because it takes like half an hour to get all set up.

Sarah Beck: Gotcha.

Kate Hayes: We thought of this pre-COVID, and then COVID hit and the world shut down and we thought, “Well this is a great activity to do outside. Everyone is outside. Everyone’s appreciating their yards, public spaces even more.” So we fast tracked the project, got it finished and opened up for business.

It’s all about making these native plants more accessible to people. Not only the species that you can’t find at these other locations, but also, design and ecology and plants. Not everyone can afford to redo their entire yard so the idea is, “Hey, come DIY, come buy some plants.”

Originally, we staffed the truck with ecology PhD students or landscape architecture students. We ask neighbors to host the mobile nursery and we ask neighbors to invite the mobile nursery to their home. And then they market it. They tell all their other neighbors, they put up posters saying, “Hey, come this time, this week! Native plants!”

And so we have a lot of residents hosting in their neighborhoods, and it’s just a great way to meet your neighbors, also, and talk about community. But we also have community gardens host, we have breweries host, we have restaurants host.  

Sarah Beck: We are all influenced by what our neighbors are doing when they’re growing plants. This idea of you bringing the taco truck of nurseries to someone’s house or to the neighborhood and allowing everyone right nearby to come and participate in that.

Miridae has an education arm that’s specific to the living labs part of your organization. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you’ve been working through—You all must not sleep, that’s all I can think of. You’re doing so many different things.

Kate Hayes: We launched Miridae Living Labs, I don’t know, almost two years ago as a nonprofit wing.

It’s interesting, right? Miridae’s been around like seven, eight years. and we’re finally getting to the point of Billy’s original goal, which was—we’ve been creating the landscapes, and that’s great, and now that business is steady and we’re really now bringing the research more and more into it.

That’s what Miridae Living Labs is all about. It’s about how can we integrate research into our design-build practice. There are all sorts of goals of Miridae Living Labs. So I think at this point it’s like, how can we bring these together? The feedback of Miridae Living Labs and the data that we collect and the results that we get are ultimately going to inform how we think about and design our landscape. That’s the ultimate goal that we’re trying to eventually, hopefully get to.

We do have a couple of projects going on with Miridae Living Labs. The seed pile project, which is our really big project, which is ongoing right now. The goal of this project is to better understand the dynamics of native plant seed dispersal in human-dominated landscapes. A lot of these annuals, you think like poppies and lupines and fiddlenecks, they’re not as common in the garden setting. That is for a variety of reasons, starting with availability, moving to maintenance and understanding how they operate. The goal of this project is to see how they disperse in sort of unmaintained human-dominated landscapes.

And so the project, we ask basically people to become citizen or community scientists. Each person gets three little bags of seed and put them in little piles, seed pile project, in specific areas in their neighborhood or along their commute. We’re focusing on transit corridors this year, because we think that’s like a huge gap in opportunity for these annual seeds to disperse through wind, trucking, all sorts of things.

So then we ask our participants or community scientists to monitor those seeds on a month-to-month basis. This is the second year we have done it. last year was interesting because it rained a ton. The seeds were thriving and then it didn’t rain at all, and they all died.

Sarah Beck: Right.

Kate Hayes: So data was pretty consistent. And so this year we’re hoping for slightly better results. But the goal is to really see just which species are most resilient. We asked people to put them down in spaces that aren’t maintained, so do not put them in your garden. Do not put them at the UC Davis Arboretum. Put them in a crack in the pavement, or in a back alley or on the side of a road or median and to track it.

Stay tuned for results.

Sarah Beck: Now, how are you collecting, some of these data once the seeds have been dispersing?

Kate Hayes: Right now we’re using an app called CitSci. It’s a free app, for just this type of projects.

So it’s been a process working with the app and we’re just still very much in beta phase figuring it out, because of course there’s some technology issues. We get folks of all ages and ranges and technological abilities.

So I think that’s just part of the process.

Sarah Beck: Many of us just need children to help us, is what this really comes down to.

Kate Hayes: Yeah. We’re just in this for the long haul. Knowing that this takes time, growth, practice, and so we’re hoping that people stick with us for this whole process.

Sarah Beck: Are there some species that you’re especially excited by their success? I’m really curious about what’s doing well in some of these hell strips or medians or places that are untended.

Kate Hayes: Yeah, well, poppies, of course, just tend to thrive. The lupines are doing surprisingly well, which is great, and fiddlenecks and Phacelia. Those species have really done the best. This year, we also have a Clarkia in there. They’re all listed on our Miridae Living Labs and Miridae website, and you can check out the exact species there.

Sarah Beck: I would ask you if you have some advice for the gardener, especially if someone moving toward integrating some of these concepts more into their landscape. Perhaps someone who’s making a bold change, or someone who’s just working along this process of adding in more plants that perform ecosystem services. I think people who are really sophisticated plants people tend to think they’re going to kill things and they’re not as worried about it. But I think mortal humans who are in love with gardening take it personally when plants die.

I’m curious just if you could give some advice around making some of these decisions and adding in endemic species into your garden?

Kate Hayes: It’s very much a process and you can’t rush it. And it’s, it’s not. architecture, it’s not as permanent, right? You can move plants around if you realize, “Oh, I planted this too close to this other plant. It got huge, 150 percent size that the label said.”

You can move things around, and so don’t be afraid to just be experimental. Be your own sort of citizen scientists in your garden.

Also about size, it doesn’t matter the size of the space. I lived in New York City for many years, and I was a fire-escape gardener with pots. That is, honestly, incredibly valuable, not just habitat but also for exposure for yourself, as a gardener.

For someone who doesn’t have a yard or a big space or maybe can’t afford to get plants, going to neighbors and sharing plants and splitting plants. We like to put sometimes succulent on the edges of sidewalks, the idea that they’re sharable and people can collect.

Sarah Beck: Totally, totally.

Kate Hayes: So I think there’s that aspect of the neighborhood, too. I think maybe that’s a future aspect of like, “Okay, first let’s get a bunch of neighbors sharing ideas and transforming lawns into habitat. And then let’s also share the actual plants.”

If it seems like a daunting task, just take a small area of your yard and work and start there and then expand as you become more comfortable. But yeah, don’t be afraid to, to mess up.

Sarah Beck: Could you give advice to landscape architects and design firms who are looking to increase the amount of biodiversity-supporting landscapes that they’re working on? And again you have definitely demonstrated that this does take education and communication. Do you have any advice for someone who’s transitioning to doing more of this work and how they might communicate with potential clients around this change?

Kate Hayes:, My answer’s twofold. The first is reaching out to ecologists or Californian Native Plant Society or Pacific Horticulture. Just start to research and get to know the plants in your region where most of your projects are being designed. I think if you can learn about the local native plants, the regional native plants, that education process is step one.

But I think this is where, actually, it causes a lot of problems. It goes back to accessibility, because then maybe as a landscape architect, you’re specifying all these plants, but some might be rare or hard to find. And so the second part of this is also connecting and talking with your local nurseries, specifically the ones that sell native plants, to make sure that these species are available.

Something I ran into early in my career, where I was working at a firm where you’re finding all these amazing cultivars and you’re like, “I want these ones and this and this.” And you put them all together in a perfectly designed project, and then you go out tope to find them and the contractor comes back with a massive list of subs. And you’re like, “I spent all this time finding these very specific plants, but none of them are available.”

So it’s part one, educating yourself by talking with ecologists, horticulturists, people who are closer to plants than you are. And then two, making connections with local nurseries that specialize in native plants.

Sarah Beck: I think you can relate to this idea that native plants often get a bad rap, and there’s a lot of bias about this idea that they are, oh, everything. They’re messy or they’re dormant, or there’s all these things that people just assume is going to be the case when it comes to including native plants in a designed landscape.

So I’m curious just what you took away from Kate’s comments about seasonality.

Mary Muszynski:  Right, yeah, I think her approach on seasonality really hits the mark that gives some logic to gardens.

Here in Central California, we have a natural seasonal pattern that’s different than the rest of the United States, just broad brush. It’s been obscured in gardens because historically, we’ve tended to pour water onto a certain number of plants that are selected to stay green most or all of the year, and especially in the summer, when our native plants go dormant, which makes sense, because it’s our dry season.

So in trying to recreate the look of a summer season from another climate through a style with these green plants and lots of irrigation, it’s not specific to our summer-dry mediterranean climate. So our gardens are out of sync with the natural way California looks. And so it was great to hear that part of her mission is to open minds about what a garden looks and feels like.

Sarah Beck: Well, I think, this is a meaningful part of Pacific Horticulture’s role. In talking about design and sense of place, because we’re working to support this idea that there are ways in which gardens are supportive to ecosystems, climate resilience, and human health, and that these elements are as valuable and important as beautiful plants and beautiful design.

And really that brings us to the Design Futurist award. Because that’s what this is all about. We really want to spotlight inspiring design that’s applicable to intimate-scale gardens. And I’m selfishly thinking about our gardening and professional audience that will really be benefiting to see the incredible examples of people who are pushing the edge of these types of design methods. There are a lot of great designers working in this area.

I actually did want to ask you, Mary, do you perceive a little bit of a gap in recognition here for people who are working this way?

Mary Muszynski: Oh, yes. And I am so happy that the Design Futurist Award is starting a new discussion around the value of an ecological place-based design for home landscapes.

There are many people—designers, professional landscape architects, home gardeners—who work with care to make gardens that contribute to our wellbeing and the wellbeing of the non-humans on the planet.

Sarah Beck: Right.

Mary Muszynski: So I think this design award is just such a great opportunity to expand the definition of beauty, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be a traditional style that’s bound into a generic approach. Anywhere in the world, but more local, more hyper-local even, and more accepting of local native plants and the seasonality in microclimates.

It feels like change is happening, and with this award, it’s a way to bring a collectiveness or a collective mindset to all of us who are doing our own thing. And in aggregate, we actually make a big difference.

Sarah Beck: That’s absolutely true. It’s just incredible to see the scientific evidence of the impact we’re having in creating ecological patchworks that connect to each other.

Mary Muszynski: It really is. And the Design Futurist Award is really stepping into the conversation in a way that hasn’t really taken place, and it’s looking at all these tremendously positive impacts that gardens can have on climate and ecological resiliency, even a modestly scaled residential garden. It’s a special collective moment I think we’re in.

Sarah Beck: You know, it’s funny, it also really reminds me of some conversations we’ve had within the committee about how do you demonstrate some of these principles. Something came that came up was really fabulous, beautiful photography and really glamorous-looking designed gardens can sometimes cause you to miss some of the things that we, it’s almost like the inner beauty conversation, right? Like, “Oh, you’re beautiful on the inside.”

But in some ways, a beautiful garden in terms of all of these principles and these themes that the design award is very interested in, sometimes they are on the inside. Like super healthy soil, for instance, it’s not something that you necessarily see exposed and hopefully it isn’t exposed when you’re walking past it.

Mary Muszynski: Yeah, that’s so true. And it’s really interesting because a lot of the awards are at the mercy of photography, which loves straight lines, hard lines.

Actually gardens aren’t about that one split second snapshot. They’re something that’s living across time. I loved the discussions that we had as a group and I felt like we were really in a new territory when we didn’t have an answer easily accessible.

Sarah Beck: You can find details on the Design Futurist award at pacifichorticulture.org/design-futurist, or find it on our homepage pacifichorticulture.org. The deadline is July 26th, and we will showcase the winners in a fall article series.




Miridae Living Labs

CitSci App

Nassauer, Joan Iverson. 1995. Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames.Landscape Journal 14 (2): 161-170.




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