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Layering wildscapes: designing with plant communities

When designing wildscapes, you need to think like a walnut, see like a squirrel, be like a bee and forage like a bird. Wildscapes replicate the layered structure of wild ecosystems to maximize biodiversity, habitat, resilience & beauty.

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Layering wildscapes: designing with plant communities

  1. 1. Layering wildscapes designing with plant communities
  2. 2. when designing wildscapes
  3. 3. think like a walnut
  4. 4. see like a squirrel Photo by Joel Sartore, National Geographic
  5. 5. be like a bee
  6. 6. forage like a bird
  7. 7. National Parks, Nature Ways Singapore Replicate the layered structure of wild ecosystems to maximize biodiversity, habitat, resilience & beauty
  8. 8. I live in a typical suburban neighbourhood
  9. 9. I once had a normal front yard full of asphalt, grass & cookie cutter foundation plantings
  10. 10. I want a normal front yard
  11. 11. But how we see normal is far from normal (and is an ecological disaster) .Brianna, Flickr
  12. 12. Photo by tquist24, Flickr
  13. 13. Photo by Ben Vander
  14. 14. Traditional garden design isolates plants “as individual objects in a sea of mulch. We place them in solitary confinement.” ~Thomas Rainer Photo by Thomas Rainer
  15. 15. I’ve never been a fan of normal, so wildscaped my yard (with a little help from my friends!) Photo by Yannick Menard on Unsplash
  16. 16. Meanwhile, early one morning back at my house I had a visitor
  17. 17. I share my home with a forest being
  18. 18. Walnut hickory oak maple forest this being is
  19. 19. Humans can speak to forests. And forests can speak back. The question is: What does it mean to speak? What does it mean to listen? ~Eduardo Kohn
  20. 20. How does this being see itself & its situation?
  21. 21. gifts How does this being see itself & its situation?
  22. 22. attributes behaviours needs How does this being see itself & its situation? gifts
  23. 23. behaviours
  24. 24. needs
  25. 25. attributes
  26. 26. What did I forget?
  27. 27. Trees talk, know family ties and care for their young Source: Intelligent Trees, directed by Julia Dordel & Guido Tolke
  28. 28. relationships spirit, soul, breath How does this being see itself & its situation? thoughts language
  29. 29. Designing wildscapes means combining western scientific knowledge
  30. 30. With traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) Photo by Jim Babb, Flickr
  31. 31. TEK approaches are based on the premise that “humanity” and “nature” are inseparable Source: Tending the Wild documentary
  32. 32. The white man sure ruined this country. It's turned back to wilderness. ~James Rust, Southern Miwok elder Photo by Dan Charles/NPR
  33. 33. MesoAmerican Research Center For centuries people used TEK for agroecology
  34. 34. Christopher Shein, The Vegetable Gardener's Guide to Permaculture Today permaculturists are applying TEK to design food forests
  35. 35. understory shrubs living mulches carpet the ground vines(wall) roots & tubers & bulbs fruits nuts berries leaves roots tubers bulbs sprouts shoots flower buds pods petals hips seeds design a layered food forest feeders (nitrogen fixers) protectors (insectaries) miners (minerals) edible (people or wildlife) biodiversity (resilience) enlivening beauty Think multiple gifts diversify edibles architectural mounding ferny grassy combine shapes erect spreading cascading perennial | annual | biennial | ruderallife expectancy canopy (roof)
  36. 36. Wild roses (Rosa spp.) Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) Mulberry (Morus rubra) Snowberry (Symphoricarpos) Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) Sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata) Spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata) Elderberry (Sambucus spp.) Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) Woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca) Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) Wild ginger (Asarum canadense) Eastern waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) Walnut Grove Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
  37. 37. The big shift ...in horticulture over the next decade is a shift from thinking about plants as individual objects to thinking about plants as social networks--that is, communities of compatible [beings] interwoven in dense mosaics. ~Thomas Rainer Photo by Saxon Holt, PhotoBotanic.com
  38. 38. Each plant has different strategies for thriving in community Canada milkvetch (Amorpha Canescens) Photo by Guy Henderieckx, Flickr
  39. 39. Thomas Rainer and Claudia West: Designing plant communities using layers Some plants are more sociable than others
  40. 40. Keith Hawkins, FlickrThomas Rainer and Claudia West: Designing plant communities using layers
  41. 41. Have you ever thought “the overall feel of the prairie was just… off”? Meadows-in-a-can are a myth, Vince Gresham
  42. 42. One plant is just a single note; no matter how beautiful on its own, it needs other notes to form a melody. That’s where the real music can begin. ~Roy Diblik, author of The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden
  43. 43. Photo by Saxon Holt, PhotoBotanic.com
  44. 44. Start by analyzing the existing structural layer: trees, shrubs, buildings, fences...
  45. 45. “See in your site the wild beating heart that wants to be expressed through planting.” ~Thomas Rainer Photo by Benjamin Vogt, Monarch Gardens
  46. 46. Thomas Rainer and Claudia West: Designing plant communities using layers
  47. 47. Look for moments that knock your socks off & amplify
  48. 48. Start to think through how you can replace mulch with plant layers
  49. 49. Layers are a lot more like a sieve, or a slab of cartoon cheese, full of holes. A series of eruptions or localized uprising is a better way of thinking about it, rather than a uniform, homogeneous layer. ~Nigel Dunnett Image: Kinghorn Gardens
  50. 50. Thomas Rainer and Claudia West: Designing plant communities using layers tall anchors well behaved long-lived year round presence (die elegantly) mid-height satellite groups & drifts clumpers seasonal stars with flowers or textures that shine for a bit, then blend in
  51. 51. Architectural layer creates structure: switchgrass, rattlesnake master, joe pye weed (10-15%)
  52. 52. Photo of culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum) by Peter Gorman, Flickr
  53. 53. Maple leaf viburnum
  54. 54. “Plants that die elegantly”
  55. 55. Think about the structural plants as anchors
  56. 56. Moments erupt from the seasonal theme layer (25-40%): Rudbeckia, Salvia, Solidago
  57. 57. Think of these seasonal plants as satellites attracted to the anchors
  58. 58. Thomas Rainer and Claudia West: Designing plant communities using layers “the essence of the community” low growing increase biodiversity knit the community together living mulch possible spring colour
  59. 59. The missing layer… carpet the floor with a living mulch Photo by Mark Baldwin, NYT
  60. 60. Living mulch spreads quickly (~50%): Carex, Glandularia canadensis, Packera obovata
  61. 61. Fragaria virginia, Asarum canadense, tiarella cordifolia, geranium maculatum Photo by Prairie Nursery
  62. 62. Fillers populate gaps in the layers: native phlox, native columbine, cardinal flower (5-10%)
  63. 63. “You almost have to look at a plant from the vantage point of a chipmunk to see its shape” ~Thomas Rainer Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash
  64. 64. How to design a layered plan community Green Abundance by Design
  65. 65. Thomas Rainer and Claudia West: Designing plant communities using layers
  66. 66. Thomas Rainer, Grounded Design
  67. 67. Image: Jared Barnes, Meristem
  68. 68. To create a planting that’s readable and functional, start with a dozen plants 3 early spring, 3 late spring/early summer, 3 mid-summer & 3 fall richpope, Flickr
  69. 69. 5-7 plants short mix (sedges & low grasses legible layers tidier (designed) look less diversity = less wildlife large diversity tall mix mingled layers wilder (messy) look more diversity = more wildlife
  70. 70. 5-7 plants short mix (sedges & low grasses legible layers tidier (designed) look less diversity = less wildlife Image by Roy Diblik, The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden
  71. 71. Know your plants Image: Jared Barnes, Meristem
  72. 72. Colours erupt from the green matrix Image: Jared Barnes, Meristem
  73. 73. Intimacy is good Photo by Jared Barnes, Meristem
  74. 74. Bulbs offer seasonal moments Image: Jared Barnes, Meristem
  75. 75. Photo by John Roger Palmour A grouping of plants by sociability Foamflower (a very sociable Level 5) dominates, followed by wild ginger and trillium (Levels 2 to 3) and just a few ferns (more independent at Level 1)
  76. 76. Even in boulevards and traffic strips, plants prefer to live in layered communities The Grey to Green project in Sheffield, UK. Image by Nigel Dunnett
  77. 77. Streetscape meadow matrix City of Vaughan
  78. 78. Tectonic Safari
  79. 79. Tectonic Safari
  80. 80. Benjamin Vogt, Monarch Gardens
  81. 81. Green Abundance by Design
  82. 82. Green Abundance by Design
  83. 83. Green Abundance by Design
  84. 84. Multi-stem Amelanchier paired with perennial herbaceous layer by Nigel Dunnett
  85. 85. Trentham woodland modeled on North Eastern forests by Nigel Dunnett
  86. 86. The Grey to Green project in Sheffield, UK. Image by Nigel Dunnett
  87. 87. Barbican Estate by Nigel Dunnett
  88. 88. Piet Oudolf-designed grass matrix using Sesleria autumnalis
  89. 89. Park in Leuvehoofd Rotterdam designed by Piet Oudolf, photo by Jared Barnes
  90. 90. Image: Gatsbys Gardens
  91. 91. Image: Gatsbys Gardens
  92. 92. Photo by Claire Takacs of a Larry Weaner garden
  93. 93. Photo by Saxon Holt, PhotoBotanic.com of the Frey Garden
  94. 94. travel locally explore plant communities near you
  95. 95. Map your yard, neighbourhood or a local forest being using iNaturalist
  96. 96. Becoming an explorer helps you understand plant communities & how they change over time
  97. 97. Mapping the seasons reveals treasures such as the late fall beauty of zigzag goldenrod
  98. 98. Introduces you to a wealth of sedge species who would happily carpet the floor of your wildscape
  99. 99. And beings you might attract if you learn their preferred plant community
  100. 100. For me, future travel destinations include the walnut savanna at Clear Creek Forest Photo by Larry Reis, Flickr Started from walnuts from trees along the nearby creek. Nuts were planted by squirrels and quickly grew into trees, creating a black walnut forest. Plants thriving within the grove in the spring and early summer are wild blue phlox, false mermaid-weed, white trillium, red baneberry, northern waterleaf and Virginia waterleaf. In the summer, after the spring wildflowers become dormant, a lush layer of silky wild rye and Virginia wild rye takes over. Growing among the grasses are the beautiful tall bellflower and the unusual wild coffee. Sweet cicely is also very common in the summer. The dominance by this single tree species, the spacing of the trees, the lack of a shrubby understorey and the tall grasses led to the nickname walnut savanna.
  101. 101. The black walnut forests of Nith River floodplain Black walnut, black maple (Acer nigrum), white ash (Fraxinus americana), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) and bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa). Understorey includes wild ginger, toothwort, zig-zag goldenrod, common blue violet, Dutchman’s breeches, running strawberry vine, common wood sedge, Pennsylvania sedge and graceful sedge... Unusual plants include Gray’s sedge, green dragon, twinleaf, moonseed, wild coffee and wahoo.
  102. 102. And the tallgrass prairie at Ojibway Prairie Complex Dan Cetinic, Flickr
  103. 103. From the very beginning of the world, the other species were a lifeboat for the people. Now, we must be theirs. ~Robin Wall Kimmerer coniferconifer, Flickr
  104. 104. joyce_hostyn@yahoo.com rewildmycity.com rideau1000islandsmastergardeners.com lakesidecommunitygarden.org