Our letter on bee die-offs featured in StarTribune

beehive, EPA report, StarTribune, bee die-offs, letter of the day, John Kamp, PRAIRIEFORM

The EPA recently released a report on declining bee populations and potential causes. Their conclusions were perhaps more than disappointing: multiple causes, some human-made (re: neonicotinoids and other pesticides, habitat loss), some not (mites), so there’s really not much we can do. The Minneapolis StarTribune has been doing great ongoing coverage not simply of bee population decline but also on the vanishing prairie in Minnesota, and thus they did cover this story. We wrote a letter in response, not really to what the journalist wrote (which was great), but rather in response to the EPA’s conclusion that we can’t ban any of the pesticides called out, and the problem’s basically too vast, so let’s all just plant flowers and hope for the best. In short: a ridiculous cop-out. Anyway, the letter was featured in the StarTribune as their Letter of the Day, and you can read it here.

The science of urban gardening

There is much talk surrounding urban gardens and their potential benefits to habitat, water conservation, minimizing the heat island effect, and so on. Some of these said benefits are grounded in research, while some are not. There is something to be said for not caring whether every element of one’s garden has withstood the microscope of scientific inquiry, as it is a garden after all, and it is supposed to provide space and time for relaxation and enjoyment and not always a forum for cerebral head-scratching. In any case, if we are to make claims that an urban garden can and does achieve a whole host of goals pertaining to sustainability, a bit of science to back them up would serve the cause well. Enter the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and their new endeavor to create a peer-reviewed guide to urban gardening that offers current gardeners and potential new ones advice rooted in real research and literature on what you can do and not do to ensure that your garden is a true beacon of green goodness and not simply one that has the veneer of being green. This effort to create outdoor spaces that are truly sustainable as opposed to ones that merely present a veneer of sustainability is something we strive to do in all of our work, so this report we could not be more excited about. The initial summary is available to read on their website, with the full, peer-reviewed report to come out in fall. Happy reading, everyone.

PRAIRIEFORM on the Fine Gardening site


PRAIRIEFORM landscape featured on the Fine Gardening site

Fine Gardening magazine is currently featuring small-scale residential gardens and landscapes around the country on their blog – and they’ve chosen one of ours for one of their daily slots! You can check out the photos and the project description on their site here. Many thanks to Associate Editor Michelle Gervais for selecting us. Enjoy.

Thoroughly worthy of reading


A view of Beth Chatto’s gravel garden, courtesy of the BBC

At first glance, Beth Chatto’s Drought-Resistant Planting Through the Year, may appear skimpy on photos, and heavy on text, and thus not worthy of picking up. This, however, would be a mistake. This is a landscape book that is meant to be read, not simply flipped through. Chatto’s prose thoroughly plants the reader in her garden and takes that reader on a journey across the seasons in the driest region of the UK, Essex. Her interest is selecting a plant palatte that requires no water, but whose aggregate visual effect is lasting, enduring, and constantly evolving. Even for those who do not live in a Mediterranean-type landscape, the seasonal approach she takes to landscape design is instructive and indispensible. We love this book.