Monday, March 29, 2010

San Francisco Garden Show Lectures-Part 1

I like John Greenlee. He cares about the snakes.

His lecture may have been my favorite of the SFGS lectures. The author of The American Meadow Garden by Timber Press, yet I could always picture him as the kind of guy that would enjoy being on his riding lawnmower most weekends. :) You know, one of the Guys. But his sensitivity and passion surprised me as he expressed his concern for the environment and how we are doing so much damage with our lawns. He contends that lawn is what most Americans do when they create a "garden". And that everyday in the LA area alone, 22 tons of air pollution are created from blowers, mowers and edgers to take care of that lawn. During his pulpit pounding sermon he explained that as a designer he is interested in "how God does it" and that grass is found in just about every type of ecological system. It just takes finding the appropriate type of grass for the locale, not amending the soil to temporarily suit an inappropriate grass or plant. "Work with the planet, partner with the planet. Find plants that want to be there."

While he creates healthy ecosystems he is also "painting with movement and light" using "brushstrokes" of grass to create beauty in this new way of gardening. The ecosystem is then enriched by layering additional plants, including many bulbs that work so well with grasses. He kept his audience rapt and many an "amen" and "hallelujah" escaped the crowd. I was especially struck by the group of industry "Guys" standing at the back of the room. Probably not the type to come to many lectures by snooty designers, yet John Greenlee was getting his message out to them. And that makes me happy to see.

As John humorously described in his talk, snakes don't deserve our ire. They deserve a habitat and John Greenlee is doing his part to return that back to them while creating a beautiful landscape for us to enjoy as well.

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