Monday, May 17, 2010

PREVIEW: Groundbreaker--Brilliant Planting Design

I am dedicating a handful of upcoming blogs to highlighting some of the world’s most outstanding planting designers in a series entitled Groundbreakers. I want to focus on great planting design, not because I think it should be a separate discipline from landscape architecture or garden design, but because so little critical attention is given to this aspect of environmental design. Planting design is a subject that unites the separate but related fields of landscape architecture and garden design, a fertile ground for conceptual exploration.

I have chosen these designers because their work elevates design beyond the conceptual confines of traditional vs. modern and geometry vs. naturalism. For centuries, design style has swung between these two pendulums, fed by an impulse that is often more reactionary than critical. The designers featured in Groundbreakers pay homage to the past while freshly expressing a modern consciousness.

A critical discourse about what constitutes great planting design is needed more than ever. For too long, great planting design has been relegated to oversized coffee table books and interior design magazines. It is time to get beyond the domination of the glossy photo. Whether you are a professional designer, or an amateur gardener, we need to better understand why we arrange plants in the ways we do. These designers challenge our assumptions about how, what, and why we plant.

I've selected five designers whose work are stylistically different, yet each reveals an inspiring direction for the future of design.  Be sure to stop by in the next few weeks!


  1. The graphic design for Groundbreakers is beautiful.

  2. Thomas, I am very much looking forward to this series. -Jean

  3. "Why do we arrange plants the way we do?" An excellent and complex question.


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