Claudia West might be considered a garden revolutionary. With co-author Thomas Rainier, West argues in Planting in a Post Wild World (Timber Press, 2015) that trying to re-create nature precisely in our backyards is a futile endeavor. Instead gardeners who also care about the environment should design gardens filled with plant communities that enhance each other and support native wildlife. The book has been described as “the universal guide to sustainable landscaping.”
West will be speaking Thursday, Oct. 10, as part of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Janet Sinner Endowed Horticultural Speaker Series. In her lecture, entitled “Wild & Neat: Bridging the Gap Between Design and Ecology,” she’ll talk about the design principles that wild plant communities exhibit and ways gardeners can use those principles in home garden design to create gardens that reflect the natural world but thrive in our human environments.
In their book, West and Rainier advocate using vertical layers in the garden to create a feeling of wildness—bare ground is not allowed in this approach. Their four vertical layers are tall plants, mid-level plants that are seasonal star bloomers, filler plants that grow and bloom quickly, and lots (50 percent of the space) of groundcovers.
West’s lecture will cover the joys and challenges of using native plants in the garden, how to create wild-plant communities and how to design smaller gardens that are ecologically and aesthetically outstanding.
Claudia West is the principal landscape architect at Washington, D.C.-based Phyto Studio. She holds a master’s degree of landscape architecture and regional planning from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. West is a sought after speaker on topics such as plant community based design and the application of natural color theories to planting design.
Tickets to the Wild and Neat event are available through the arboretum website or by calling 612-301-1210. Tickets are $10 for arboretum and MSHS members; $25 for nonmembers. Advance registration is strongly encouraged.