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Voices of the West: New Science on Lift in the Garden

Voices of the West; New Science on Life in the Garden, a consequential article series by Frederique Lavoipierre (author of Garden Allies).  

If you are familiar with the work of entomologist Dr. Doug Tallamy, His best-seller, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard, makes a powerful argument for encouraging insects that feed on native plants in our gardens.   

Have you ever wondered who speaks to these powerful food-web garden relationships here in the West? There is a cadre of rising scientists you will soon get to know. 

The Potrero Hill Eco-Patch

The Potrero Hill Eco-Patch by Field Collective (Alex Harker and Nikki Copley)

Native, biodiverse, and ecologically functional planting creates a foundation for resilient ecologies in the face of anthropogenic mass extinction. Yet we cannot rely on conservation land alone to perform this role. We need to look to our cities, suburban areas, gardens, parks, and leftover spaces to fill the void. Recognizing this, the need for functional planting in urban landscapes is steadily growing, both in high visibility spaces like roof gardens and parks, and in the underutilized fragments of urban land such as utility easements (Rainer and West 2016). Home gardens are also becoming biodiversity hotspots as residents become more attuned to their potential role as land stewards.  

The opportunity for us to advance our work with native planting began when we volunteered our services…A group of Potrero Hill neighbors—consisting of folks from the Dogpatch and Northeast Potrero Green Benefit District (GBD) and from the California Native Plant Society Yerba Buena Chapter—had discussed building a San Francisco native plant demonstration garden for their neighborhood. In early April 2020, we led the design and volunteer-coordination process of the Potrero Hill Eco-Patch, taking the first step in our vision to rewild the urban landscape of California.

Climate-Ready Detectives Select Plants for the Future

Climate-Ready Detectives Select Plants for the Future by Erica Browne Grivas

Amid the tumult of rapidly shifting climate conditions, gardeners at every level are asking, “What can I plant now?” From drought to wildfires, floods, and frosts—weather events throughout the Pacific region are increasing in severity, frequency, and unpredictability, creating vivid ripple effects for our plants. 

Here public garden curators, nursery professionals, extension agents, and designers from the Pacific region share their perspectives. 

Understanding the microclimates of your garden makes all the difference to the success of your plantings, from temperature, rainfall, and soil properties. High elevations tend to have better drainage in the soil, but also experience higher winds. On the other hand, the base of a hill can form a frost pocket, where both the cold air and the rain linger in plantings. House or retaining walls can help trap sun and warm air, helping the soil warm (and dry out) faster. 

Multidisciplinary Approaches to Resilient Landscapes Series

Garden Surrealism: Color, Contrast, and Structure for a Postmodern World with Kurt Wilkinson 

Kurt Wilkinson, a professional gardener and topiarist in Adelaide, South Australia has gained notoriety for constructing diverse plant mosaics he describes as “garden surrealism for a postmodern gardening world.” With a background in self-taught formal gardening techniques, Wilkinson creates striking gardens of tough and resilient climate selections integrated with highly controlled elements (enter his topiary background).

Designing for Year Round Interest in a Mediterranean Climate Garden with Imogen Checketts and Kate Dumbleton

Imogen Checketts and Kate Dumbleton run a planting design business near Carcassonne in South-West France where they also have a small nursery of plants grown from their demonstration garden.  

In this webinar, they will present a palette of plants for year-round interest that have thrived in their dry summer climate garden. There will be an emphasis on how they use colour, light, movement and structure to create gardens that are easy to maintain and require little or no watering in the medium- and long-term. 

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