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.

The Curious Garden


Illustration from The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown

For a lovely, whimsical read for old and young alike about what a city could look like if its residents were to, en masse, transform its derelict spaces into green spaces, The Curious Garden is the book to check out. The retro-inspired illustrations alone are enough to hold one’s interest; but the storyline, with its emphasis on imagination and landscape – both the urban and the planted one – makes for a complete, readable, and green package. Additionally, you can spot a few illustrations of some fantastic topiary folded into the story. Enjoy.