Patrick Dougherty's work in progress
Agastache rupestris and Gomphrena globosa
The Cranford Rose Garden
Rose Abraham Darby
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden at 7:15 AM
I spent a soft muted morning at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden wandering around among the trees and flowers all by myself. These stolen moments of just looking at flora and greenery have always made me very happy. I thought about the primordial need we all have for some contact with nature, which led me to think about James Hitchmough's work in developing new planting designs for the urban environment based on ecological science. As a professor of Horticultural Ecology at the University of Sheffield, Hitchmough makes the overarching connections between horticulture, ecology, and culture. As he states on his website, "until the late c.19th beautiful examples of semi-natural meadows, steppe and prairie were relatively common in many parts of the temperate world, but have mostly now been eliminated by agricultural intensification and urban development...Most urban people have no actual or even cultural memory of this vegetation other than as a photographic image in 'nature' calendars." Using his horticultural knowledge of plant communities from all around the world and combining it with sociological and psychological research, Hitchmough aims to create new and sustainable plant communities for the urban environment. He's done some amazing urban meadows in the industrial city of Sheffield. What distinguishes his work from most ecologists is his commitment to the human context. "I am interested in the human culture I live in, where context is important." I think the landscape of our cities are changing, and thanks to people like Hitchmough, the future looks bright.