The New York Botanical Garden has embarked upon a two-phase program to document Myanmar's incredibly rich plant life and train botanists there to undertake research and promote sustainability in the country's forests.
The NYBG says that due to decades of isolation, the country probably has the most poorly studied flora in the Northern Hemisphere, despite the fact that it is a major hotspot for biodiversity.
NYBG CEO Gregory Long says that as Myanmar opens up for business, tourism, and research, the country is at a "pivotal" moment for conservation. "The Garden has decades of experience in exploring difficult and poorly understood habitats and helping countries build critical scientific capacity," he said.
Vine Bridge - Myanmar
First, the NYBG will create a baseline of botanical data while training local botanists how to document flora and also work with local communities on conservation and the sustainable use of forest resources.
The progam is similar to an NYBG model in Brazil that was established more than 20 years ago and that is now being used in various tropical areas and in Southeast Asia. Douglas Daly, Ph.D will direct the Myanmar program. "It's an integrated approach," he said, "that considers human and institutional resources as much as it does natural resources." He added that the flora of Myanmar is almost completely unknown and that it therefore needs more than just botanical exploration. Dr. Daly has worked in tropical forests for more than three decadaes and he specializes in the frankincense and myrrh family.
I never see a swath of ornamental grasses without thinking of Kurt Bluemel, who died last week at the age of 81. Bluemel, known as the "King of Grasses," was largely responsible, along with the late landscape architect Wolfgang Oehme, for popularizing grasses and wildflowers in natural landscape settings throughout the United States.
Bluemel established a nursery in Maryland (Kurt Bluemel, Inc), imported varities of perennials and grasses little used before in the United States, and grew them on by the tens of thousands.
Some years ago, I had the privilege (just before the dawn of digital cameras) of touring his own garden near Baltimore with a small group of plant aficionados. Kurt was there, and he was, of course, a fount of knowledge about what was in the garden, which he graciously shared with all of us. Read about his fascinating life on the company's website here.
Readers ... My host, Typepad, suffered an attack over the past few days (of what kind I don't know, or from whom) ... but I was unable to post any articles. Hope to be back soon. And we all hope the problem is fixed
It's back, and it's going to be much better than ever -- a magazine for true design aficionados, packed with articles on top designers; photos by Roger Foley, Marion Brenner, Rob Cardillo and other craftsmen behind the lens; and a celebration of great AMERICAN gardens. Yay!
As you may recall the sad story, the Bonnier Corporation folded Garden Design magazine in April of 2013. Jim Peterson, owner of the Landscaping Network and the Concrete Network was so distressed to see the magazine go that he decided to buy it himself and put it back in business.
Peterson says the original idea was to publish a digital version of Garden Design for the ipad, but everyone he talked to -- designers, editors, photographers, and others -- said they missed the magazine. So he finally decided to publish a magazine that is, as he describes it, "a hybrid between a soft-cover book and a magazine." The new Garden Design will be ad-free, supported by subscriptions only, along with sales at garden retailers. It's to be published quarterly, 132 pages in each one with beautiful photos and 10 to16-page spreads on gardens. "We want to talk about the makers of gardens," said Peterson," and "focus on a designer" in every issue.
There will be standard features in every magazine. Among them are STYLE: garden decor. MAKER: a new product or idea and the person behind it. LANDSCAPE SOLUTION: in-depth solutions to devilish problems. GROUNDBREAKER: innovative leaders in landscape design. PLANT PALETTE: how to grow them, how to design with them.
And much more. This new magazine sounds a lot like the original Garden Design published in Washington DC by James Trulove. I wasn't around back then to subscribe to that version, but I've seen copies of it, and there hasn't been anything like it since that celebrates residential landscape design.
The new Garden Design ships on May 15th. I can't wait for mine to arrive.
If you're a professional landscape designer, you should be a member of APLD -- the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. If you join the organization by April 1st, you'll get three months of free membership. And if you become a "certified" designer (a peer-review process), you'll have an edge over other designers who do not. Clients will also appreciate the fact that you're a member of professional organization.
If you go to an APLD annual conference, you'll meet other pros from across the country, all of whom are willing to share advice, tips, techniques, and much more. Local chapters also offer workshops to further your education and local meetings where you can meet other designers in your area. Great people ... great fount of knowledge, and great fun. One other thing: don't forget to sign up for a free digital subscription to APLD's quarterly, The Designer. Free to anyone.
I've been a member for almost 10 years, and the decision to join is one I'll never regret.
Check out the video here of what some of our members are saying about membership in APLD.
Allan Armitage, generally considered the country's top expert on perennials & annuals, has now released an app that can be downloaded to your phone - Android or iOS.
It costs 4.99 and contains info on his favorite annuals & perennials (plus photos); a list of independent garden centers in the US and Canada where you can buy the plants; and his advice for dealing with deer. Armitage actually rates all the plants on a scale of one to five, one being the plants that deer will not eat, and five being their favorites.
You can search for plants by zone, by shade or sun, and features such as plants grown for flowers or foliage. There are also links to his many videos on You Tube that show you how to plant, etc.
You can also leave a comment on the app -- or a question that he'll answer.
The app is by no means as comprehensive as his books ... so I hope that it will be updated one day (even if it would cost more) to include a lot more plants and nurseries. But he does add to it, so maybe a good investment for the future.
It's a great app for homeowners and amateur gardeners. The professionals would likely prefer to wait for another app that includes a lot more knowledge.
ASLA Honor Award: Sonoma Retreat by Aidlin Darling (photo by Marion Brenner resized)
An annual survey by ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) says consumer demand remains strong for outdoor landscapes designed for relaxation and entertaining, and for low-maintenace and sustainable gardens.
In the 2014 Landscape Architecture Trends Survey, gardens and landscaped spaces received a popularlity rating of 94.2 percent, while outdoor living spaces (kitchens and entertainment spaces) got 92 percent.
ASLA CEO Nancy Somerville said homeowners are aware that designed landscapes add value to their properties and to their lives. "They're interested in livable, open spaces that are both stylish and earth friendly," she said.
Popular elements included lighting at 98.3 percent, seating/dining areas at 97.7 percent, fireplaces or firepits at 95.4 percent, grills at 94.3 percent (is there anyone who'd want an oudoor space without a grill?), and installed seating (benches, seat walls, ledges, steps, boulders) at 89.6 percent.
Consumers are also in favor of terraces, patios, decks and fencing; outdoor furniture; and decorative water elements. As far as plants are concerned, native plants got a rating of 84 percent, food and vegetable gardens 76 percent, rain gardens 58 percent, rooftop gardens 53 percent, and reduced lawns 72 percent.
Items low in popularity (less than 50 percent) included gazebos, awnings, columns, solar-powered lighting, vertical gardens, along with outdoor showers, heaters, and hammocks. Strange that hammocks are so unpopular ... the perfect place for summer reading.
The New York Botanical Garden has established a new Humanities Research Institute within its LuEsther T. Mertz Library. And it's a great idea. The institute will bring together NYBG staff, visiting scholars, and graduate student fellows to study landscape and garden design and history; art history; cultural anthropology; environmental policy; urban social history; and urban ecology and the changing nature of cities.
The mission is to promote new ideas about humans and their relationship with nature and the environment. NYBG CEO Gregory Long noted that the NYBG's focus has been on botanical exploration in the wild and cultivation through horticulture. "With this new Institute," he said, "we are expanding our scope to include broader research topics that the LIbrary is fully equipped to support, and we are looking forward to interacting with scholars in disciplines that sit adjacent to our traditional interests."
In the next three years, the NYBG will sponsor year-long fellowships for emerging pre-and post-doctoral students from a number of disciplines, and the fellowships are open to graduate students from around the world. The Institute will also sponsor one symposium every year. The first one, "Women and the City: From the Landscape Perspective," will take place on June 20th of this year. It is tied to two exhibitions this year, Groundbreakers: Great American Gardens and the Women Who Designed Them (May 17-Sept 7) and The Changing of Nature of Cities (November 7).
Photo: Douglas Daly, Ph.D., NYBG - click to enlarge
The New York Botanical Garden has established a major program to conserve Amazonian trees. Perhaps it will help alleviate that sinking feeling I get every time I see a landscape design using lots of Amazon hardwoods, the reason being the photo above, showing deforestation in Brazil.
Program director Douglas Daly, who's been studying Amazon flora for more than three decades, said a key factor in preserving the Amazon is the proper identification of trees. "The accurate assessment of the region's biodiversity, including the correct identification of tree species, has profound implications for the fate of the forests, from sustainable management to estimates of the carbon that is locked in the trees -- or released as greenhouse gases by deforestation," he said.
Working with Brazilian scientists, the NYBG will take an inventory of Amazonian trees, as they currently estimate that 50 to 70 percent of tree species in the region have been misidentified. They will also train Brazilian forest workers in proper tree ID; develop long-term programs to preserve knowledge of Amazonian resources; and expand research in southwestern Amazonia, where forests are severely threatened by new development, including agriculture, mining, and hydroelectric projects.
The Amazon watershed covers in excess of two million square miles and is home to at least 40,000 species of trees, ferns, and flowering plants. And despite new settlements and deforestation, it is still the world's largest forest, with more than 16,000 species of trees alone.
The project is supported by a major grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, with previous support from the Beneficia Foundation, the JRS Biodiversity Foundation, the Overbrook Foundation and the Tinker Foundation.