Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West (Sept 2020 Book) Zoom discussion

  • My synopsis of the book:  After reading/listening (kindle) of the book for about 12 hours, I give the book a 4 smiley face rating out of a possible 5….and here’s why:  I felt as though I was talking a college class on architecture Found out at the end of the book the author (Thomas Rainer) teaches at George Washington landscape design program author has big resume information was good and I enjoyed learning from the book.  It appeared that the book focused on macro-landscaping, I kind of practice micro-landscaping That’s the ‘downers of the book.  BUT…..I did find the book interesting  when it talked about compressed soil.  I’m a small and simple gardener… I’m not looking at the “big picture”.  The charts and pictures were good.  

preface:  talk about living in Birmingham Alabama.  Discussed the forest around their new house.  Wilderness is disappearing.  We need to focus on what we currently have.

  • East Germany was a gray and polluted world in 1980
  • It changed with the falling of the Berlin Wall
  • disturbed landscape can change quickly
  • story of nature lost and nature gain
  • North American is memory of wilderness
  • European is a entirely cultured landscape
  • we have drained the Everglades turning into grids of corn and soybeans
  • climate change and invasive species  (much work…like gardening
  • the third landscape the sum of human disturbed land  (French landscaper)
  • notice all the weeds “in a patch”
  • difference between garden and nature
  • each plant has different needs
  • plants need to interact with other plants
  • native plant community, like historic ecosystem
  • other type is natural cosmopolitan communities (which is thought of being weedy)
  • naturally occurring plants Vs. purely native
  • whats going to grow on the property in the future
  • Have we lost the ability to read our landscape
  • we need planting solution that’s resilient

PRINCIPLES OF DESIGNED PLANT COMMUNITIES

  • understand your site
  • Talk of being in a plant community
  • plant communities change sometimes in months
  • communities follow the gradients of environmental conditions
  • Essential Principles
    • related populations, not isolated individual  p.43
      • plant life is my definition communal
      • gardners plant species wide a part
      • need to be paired with compatible species
    • Stress As An Asset   p. 47
      • except the soil limitation
      • understand the tolerant of the plant
      • if a plant is not growing on  a site…maybe don’t select!
    • Cover the Ground Densely by Vertically Layering Plants  p. 49
      • if we don’t control dry spots…weeds will come!
      • so look out for bare ground
      • plant different plants for diversity
      • use spring bulbs for vertically layering
      • filling all niches with plants
        • for roofing  roof-tops
        • good for the plants
    • Make it Attractive and Legible
      • needs a design inspiration
      • give it an orderly frame
      • it’s important for the public for acceptance
    • Management, Not Maintenance  p.60
      • Using gas powered machines that the landscape resists change
      • one action is for all the plants
  • The time is right to start using these 5 principles
  • we need a deeper understanding of plant
  • The inspiration of the wild
    • evolutionary forces
    • personal memories
    • a collective memory of nature
      • emotion response from seeing landscape
      • patterns of layouts
  • Plant communities
    • make a pattern people understand
    • people turning to the garden for habitat restoration p. 69
    • must recreate the context of the plants
  • Grasslands
    • exist on every continent in the world
    • provides the ideal mix for designer
    • it’s open (the breeze)
    • grasslands show climate change
      • color
      • wetnss
      • foilage
    • Dry/Wet/Moist Grassland community
    • Grassland lacks trees horizontal view
    • Grassland plant communities have more species per square meter than many forests   p. 78
    • underground diversity
    • all has to do with layers
    • grasslands have many communities that strive throughout the year (these plant provide benefits to other after blooming)
    • use seasonal themes (like layers)
    • ground cover layers p.85  (allowing fixing nitrogen from the air to the soil)
    • bulbs like grasslands
    • early spring is for ground cover rules
    • Colobine self seed
    • filler plants have great value in early stages of planting
    • plants that work in several layers
    • need a consistent plant cover that’s good for the soil building function  p. 91
    • Problems in grassland  p.93
      • towering plants  (keep about waist high)
      • too little visual interest   (color matters)
      • jarring combination (mixing in plants)
    • Woodlands and Shrublands
      • COPPPING LIKE DESERT plants
      • trees are shorter than typical forest
      • trees end up being clustered in woolands and shrublands
    • Essential layers of woodlands and shrublands
      • canopy layers
        • plants grow year round
        • small number of species
      • woody layer
        • like ground cover
        • open canopy allows grasses on ground plans
      • Herbaceous layer
        • ground cover and taller structural layers
        • looks like a single expression
      • problems to avoid
        • maintain layers p. 101-2
        • woodlands when ground planes are well mixed
        • disringish layers (like low shrubs, natives, or ground cover)  p. 102
        • maybe have to high shrubs
        • high canopy
      • Forest
        • patchwork of many species
        • watch for shade density
        • also, canopy openings
        • forest seems well open
        • good for viewing
        • expression of the forest floor
        • smells earthly   p. 106
        • ethering oil of pin, fir, and cedar used for bathing salts
        • a hike in the forest sharpens our attention
        • vertical lines define a forest p. 106
      • The third life cycle P.110
      • In planting design limit bad views p. 112
        • no open soil
        • combining different species
      • Edges
        • man made
        • function of depths
        • edge of a woodland or water
        • usually by  man-made structure
        • for grassland edges
          • two feet deep
          • needs to be attractive
          • cover bear ground
          • create a border
      • THE DESIGN PRROCESS
        • Plant to plce
        • Plant to people
        • plant to other plants
      • Honoring the three essential relationships
        • understand plant
        • using layers when planting
      • Have the climate change variable  P. 121
  • Relating plants to place
    • look at your current landscape (Use site assessment)
    • come up with a palate of useful plants
  • Expliration before analysis
    • data collection
    • walk the site of the landscape (this will show what should stay or go)
  • The Art of Observation
    • what is needed at the site
    • know the land….walk it
  • Special Consideration
    • soil
    • sunlight
    • court yards
    • roof tops
    • etc
    • urban spaces are different from forest
    • soil volume
    • irrigation patterns
  • p. 131 shows a woodland in a shoebox space for the New York Times
  • Need to do a sketch of visual landscaping
    • removes the visual clutter
    • drawing is like thinking
  • Relating Plants to People (we are losing the wild to urbanization) p. 136
  • grasslands p. 137
  • Identify Human Needs and Context
    • planting exists to please people  p. 142
    • different plants of the world?
    • plants change over time
    • allow succession to akter goal of landscape
  • use reputation of key patterns of different processes
  • Staregy1:  use  high % of visual essence species p. 149
  • Strategy 2:  Make plant patterns visible.
    • create a tighter and denser as a designer
    • mass speciees together
    • some is masses of 19 to 20
    • sociability
      • 5 levels   p. 152
  • develop a Design Statement
  • conceptual framework for a designed plant community P. 153

thought of open areas and closed canopies   Eh?

  • shape of planting beds
    • any size or shape
    • have orderly frames
  • Look at planting so you are always looking over plant (less challenging than eye level)
  • studies have shown restrain the height of planting
    • use height control
    • people like spaces best when they have long views over them
    • not above waist height
  • Create a frame around plantings
    • use cobblestones
    • could be plants themselves
    • vegetative frames
    • it helps define context

Relating Plants to other Plants

  • put plant on each other achieve a fantastic density
  • combine with similar species
  • relationship between plants create a community
  • Plant selection tools
    • science
    • empirical
  • similar habitats could mean longer living plants
  • behavior of plants in nature  p. 162  3 category   Grime’s C-S-R strategy
  • put plants and their relationships first
  • its all conceptual
  • There are two categories of layers:
    • design
    • functional
  • functional layers describes the mix of low ground covering species
    • no one sees it
    • it’s purpose is to hold the ground
    • shade tolerant
    • self seeding
    • fix nitrogen
    • grows at base of tall growing plants
  • Layers of a designed plant community
  • Designed layers
    • structural plants
      • like trees
      • tall perennial
      • plant form
      • think of its silhouette
      • must be long lived (plant longevity)
      • long-lasting species are often slow to stablish
    • use clump forming in spreading species
  • Layer 2:  Seasonal theme plants
    • act as companions for the structural layer
    • doesn’t have to be in a “designed Frame”
  • Layer 3 :  Ground-covering plant
    • holds plant community together
    • even prevents erosion
    • receivers full sun in the spring (as plants grow it becomes shaded)
    • think of soil building (like legumes)

Traditional Planting Plan vs Designed Plant Community Plan  good visual on P. 182

  • Layer 4:  filler species
    • 5 to 10% of your mix
    • creates color schemes
    • distribute evenly throughout
    • it’s like inbuilt insurance
    • visual aids on P. 183-4
    • visual aid for trees and shrubs on P. 185
    • deer has hurt ground cover

Creating and Managing a Plant Community

  • you need to have site preparation for planting
  • use soil building and plant competition
  • temporary action needs to be established for youg planta
    • Change PH
    • change compost/fluff up soil  (high nutrient levels led to all plants dying)
    • so monitor the soil
  • Plants are essential for the health of the soil
    • more roots makes more humus
    • use legumes
    • stored carbon in soil
    • more roots/better the soil
  • Disturbance creates the need for management
  • Clearing a site
    • limit other competition
    • maybe new top soil
    • know your weeds
    • remove all parts of a weed
    • spray before the seed is about to sprout
    • watch out for heavy equipment
    • burning brush could be good
    • Weed tools is vital
  • Identify compaction
    • with compaction roots will not grow or provide need water
    • issue with microbes
  • carbon dioxide p. 205
  • plant smaller plant size….it saves money
    • maybe use plugs with an auger  could need less water (only for a few weeks)
    • could take a couple years to be established
    • seed for filler plants
    • look for transition into your landscape
  • Lay out your plant communities
    • use mature plant size
    • create several vertical layers p. 213???
    • mabe 8 to 12 inch?
  • plant spacing
    • tall plants are placed further apart
  • Laying out plants  layers
    • step 1:  Place structural plants
    • step 2:  Arrange seasonal theme plants
    • step 3:  fill with ground covering
    • step 4:  Fill in dynamic species; add bulbs  (for a couple of years)

EFFICIENT AND SUCCESSFUL PLANTING

  • PLANTING TIPS;
    • Planting in tilled soil
      • irrigate tilled soil well
      • roots might be exposed
    • tools like a Japanese hook
    • water “plants in” after planting
  • Al planting needs management
    • what plants do we keep?
    • managing the layers:
      • keep frame clean and neat
      • preserve the structual layers
  • plant communities can grow about anywhere
    • why?
    • as population expands p. 253 plants need to do double duty
      • provide food d=for pollunators
      • cleaning our storm water
      • create diversity
  • plants need to be relatable to humans
  • use plant communities as moels
    • great inspiration
    • can have to have a spiritual experience (p. 254) of nature

uses th eword crap on page 257

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