Feb. 11, 2022
Northwest Flower & Garden Festival #2
In February of 2022 I had the privilege of making two presentations at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival in Seattle, Washington. Despite of the COVID 19 protocols, it was a well-attended event and I thoroughly enjoyed myself there. My second presentation in Seattle was entitled Lessons From Mediterranean Landscape Design.
Let me start by saying I’m a designer, not a horticulturalist or a climatologist. In my high school years I lived in Western Washington and in college was trained in “temperate” landscape design and plant material. But I’ve spent my entire adult life in places like the dry side of Washington state or in northern Utah – both places that received less than 20 inches of annual precipitation and that also had long dry summers. While technically not ‘Mediterranean’ for a variety of reasons, they did fit the basic description of a “Mediterranean adjacent” climate: cool or cold wet winters and warm or hot dry summers. What I did learn while living in those drier and colder climes was that successful and sustainable landscape design had to take into account the same forces that drive Mediterranean design and that plant selection is the critical factor in design for gardens in those locations. I now live again in Western Washington and I’ve found that climate change has made it a lot like the places I used to live that were colder and drier. Because of climate change, Western Washington will likely receive more rain during our rainy season (November to April) but will likely be up to 30% drier in the summer. Example: where I lived on the Kitsap Peninsula in Puget Sound received no measurable precipitation between April and September of 2021 but then between September and December of 2021 had the wettest fall on record.
Paul Bonine and Amy Campion in their book “Gardening in the Pacific Northwest (2017 Timber Press) said this about climate change and gardening in the northwest:
“What a dry garden represents is the future of landscaping in the West…xeric gardens will be the way of the future…For many years gardeners were taught to adapt the soil and water to the plant; now the time has come to find plants that are adapted to the climate and conditions. It is incumbent on gardeners to take up this challenge.”
My presentation at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival was aimed at helping gardeners take up this challenge: find plants that are adapted to the climate and design accordingly. To that end, I recommend the following resources:
· Gardening in the Pacific Northwest by Paul Bonine and Amy Campion, 2017, Timber Press
· Gardening in Summer-Dry Climates by Nora Harlow and Saxon Holt, 2020, Timber Press
· Pretty Tough Plants by the experts at PLANT SELECT, 2017, Timber Press
· Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens by Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden, 2011, Timber Press
Next, books for both content and ‘eyewash’ (‘eyewash’ was one of my old professor’s description for books or magazines that provide visual stimulation and inspiration for design – not just plants but also hardscape, structure, and design aesthetics).
· Gardening the Mediterranean Way by Heidi Gildemeister, 2004, Harry N. Abrams Inc.
· Mediterranean Landscape Design by Louisa Jones, 2012, Thames and Hudson
· The Dry Gardening Handbook by Olivier Filippi, 2008, Thames and Hudson
· Sun Drenched Gardens by Jan Smithen, 2002, Harry N. Abrams