Plant Talk | Science Talk

Thomas Rainer Brings Native Plants Home

Thomas Rainer designing with native plants new yok botanical garden winter lecture series 2014

Thomas Rainer

This Thursday, March 20, is the exciting culmination of our 14th Annual Winter Lecture Series. Our final speaker will be Thomas Rainer, an accomplished landscape architect who teaches planting design for the George Washington University Landscape Design program. He has worked on projects such as the U.S. Capitol grounds, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and The New York Botanical Garden, but he is happiest puttering in his small garden at home in Washington, D.C.

It’s true, Thomas Rainer isn’t crossing any oceans to visit the Garden as our previous two speakers did, but professional and amateur gardeners will relate to Rainer’s personal journey. On Grounded Design, his award–winning blog, Rainer charts his process of discovery towards ever-better planting designs and methods. Click through to see his impressive designs.

Rainer advocates bold, modern composition based on artful interpretations of native plant communities, and his lecture will offer a critique of the current approach to designing with natives. To quote his blog, he believes that we should all “use more natives, plant in humongous masses, and loosen up that landscape, for crying out loud.” But don’t think he’s a crusader. In fact, Thomas Rainer is an optimist, who believes that gardening is entering a golden era of contemporary naturalistic design.

thomas rainer georgetown winter lecture series nybg

Even a limited palette can have the emotional power of a large landscape when it evokes our deeper associations with plants. This process of distilling native communities into striking, adaptable patterns—particularly in urban and suburban sites that have little in common with the native plants that once flourished there—provides an inclusive road map for creating lush, dynamic plantings that can be replicated in any setting.

Brian Huntley took listeners to a botanic treasure in the middle of South Africa, and Kim Wilkie displayed otherworldly landforms on ancient estates, but Thomas Rainer’s talk on Thursday will show the eye-popping potential of our own backyards. Rainer’s presentation takes place in the Ross Hall on March 20, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Click here to learn more and register before seats fill up!

  1. Jack says:

    What is the name of the grass and periwinkle flower by sidewalk?

  2. Lansing Moore says:

    Beautiful, aren’t they? The grass is Nasella tenuissima and the light purple flower is Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’. Good question, thanks for asking!

  1. […] up, after this month-long interregnum in blog posting, will be a meditation on Thomas Rainer’s March lecture at the New York Botanical Garden. The subject? Designed plant […]

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