The new perennial movement: “Transient trend or adaptable style?”

Part 1 …

The what Gay?

This day last month the garden and and landscape designers association held their 19th International seminar sponsored by an Bord Bia, Bloom and, to a lesser extent amongst others, yours truly. Regular readers will remember it rather inconveniently clashed with the Ireland v Italy rugby match. Wasn’t outplaying The English only mighty?!? Thankfully the squad have a 2 week break before Wales to recover from such a bruising encounter.

I still went along though. Now that’s dedication. Here’s a bit of a summary of what it was all about.

Yes. Okay. You are right. Not a clue did I have before hand. Nothing new in that but I’ve never-the-less attended for the last probably 8 years and have always gone away with some new insights and inspiration. If nothing else the slides of beautiful gardens created by the speakers are always nice to look at.

This year was to explore the trendy Dutch wave/ prairie planting style – a naturalistic combination of swathes of grasses and herbaceous perennial planting that has taken hold internationally in the last couple of decades. It was Peter Stamm, seminar coordinator, who came up with the title. In contrast to this trend he had been trained in Holland to use the widest range of plants possible. Hence his intrigue I suppose. Intersecting he found on coming to Ireland some time ago that we had a limited selection of plants available despite a favourable climate and, surprise surprise, a conservative planting tradition.

Plantsman Piet Oudulf and American James van Sweeden are credited with pioneering this style.
Ali Rochford, gardening writer with the Sunday business post wrote an enticing preview which also featured in the GLDA’s Compass magazine. Even there it was the pictures that sold it to me. Splendid stuff indeed. There were 4 eminent speakers including one, as usual, from Ireland.

In part 2, I’ll look at what they had to say. Doing a review 4 weeks later gives one a healthy sense of perspective but also increases the chances of losing ones notes. I’ll conclude today by urging you to occasionally go along to such things. See what the thought leaders in our Industry are saying. It’s always useful to jizz up ones own thinking, to give one material with which to bamboozle or bluff clients with, but perhaps most importantly to meet an shoot the breeze with an array of talented gardening people.

I contend that landscaping is a largely solitary and lonely enough profession and seminars like this and ALCI events really do help build both knowledge and solidarity.

Not that everyone agreed wholeheartedly with the speakers. Far from it.

…To be continued…

Mark 🙂