The idea of planting native plants to bring back the bees and butterflies who need them is not a new one, but there are some who would argue that what is really needed is beauty and functionality.
This concept is what drives Landscape Architect Thomas Rainer to do all he can to educate the public about their landscape designs.
“I really love native plants and just see their potential in a design setting…there are not a ton of examples of [native] gardens that are just stunningly beautiful.”
Planting in a Post-Wild World, the book he co-authored with Claudia West, has become a guidepost to landscape designers, architects, and home gardeners on the importance of ecological design. However, providing the inspiration for beneficial plantings is only part of what Thomas’ work is about. What he hopes is that people understand the importance of having ecologically beneficial plantings that are also beautiful.
“Aesthetics matter. These can’t just be for the bugs and pollinators, they have to look really good in human landscapes…it’s that overlap of ecology and horticulture.”
Thomas has this reverence for plants that really comes out in his designs, and living outside of DC has provided him with ample opportunities to introduce a bit of wildness to an urban setting.
As more people are living in more urban environments, there’s this separation from what is natural. Thomas hopes that designers and horticulturists understand the need for natural landscapes in cities so the public can interact with something other than bed plantings.
“People want a connection to a bit of wildness…to something that they don’t see every single day.”
For more information about Thomas, visit his website.
This episode was filmed by Leon Guanzon. Art is by Matthew Gillin.