Feb 20th, 2016

5 Provocative Perspectives

What do gardeners do in the winter at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden? They plant themselves at the Winter Symposium!

The Winter Symposium appeals to a broad range of interest levels, from horticulture professionals to those who simply love gardens. It’s held each year in early February in conjunction with the Central Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association and we just wrapped up this year’s event. I was fortunate to attend the session Symphonic Masterpieces: Gardens that Inspire! and hear Troy Marden, a garden designer, writer and photographer, from Nashville, TN.

Marden was an excellent speaker, not surprising since he is also a TV personality and frequent contributor to national gardening magazines. He’s also the author of the book Plant This Instead! You have a treat to look forward to — we’re planning an upcoming blog post about his presentation of the same name.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few of Marden’s quotes with you, offering provocative perspectives on plants and design. His talk was much more in-depth, but these were the top 5 take-aways I jotted down:

  1. “Green is a color, too.” Marden encouraged the audience to look at plants and gardens in a different way. He urged people to think about the many different shades of green and also to enjoy the beauty of plants as they start to fade.


    Consider all the greens of the palette when planning your garden

  2. “I’m a color guy.” People are catching on to the idea of using tropical plants in the landscape for great color, but Marden pointed out natives can provide that punch, too. One of his slides showed a companion planting of Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) and Silphium perfoliatum (cup plant).
  3. “I want to see gardens that shock and inspire me.” Marden showed examples of some of his favorite landscapes, including images from Longwood Gardens, Chanticleer, and Cheekwood. As he explained: “I want to walk around the corner and gasp a bit. I may not want to do [the same] in my own yard, but I like to be inspired to do things differently than before.”
  4. “My pet peeve is when someone says ‘I live in a condo or a small space; I need little plants.’” Why do we think this way? Why not use a big plant for big impact? As Marden pointed out, with height, the sky’s the limit! Also, we tend to get hung up on a formula with borders: short plants in front, medium in the middle, and tall in back. He encouraged the audience to mix it up a bit and to think of size as relative, for instance using a big, bigger, biggest border planting scheme.
  5. “I never met a yucca I didn’t like.” My favorite quote of the day! I have never been a yucca fan, but Marden made an excellent point (no pun intended!) — yuccas looks good all the time, especially when you want something spiky and dramatic. Don’t like to get poked? He suggested Yucca rostrata as a choice that is not as spiky as other yuccas.

    Yucca in the landscape

    Yucca in the landscape at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Just like the landscapes he admires, Marden’s talk inspired me to look at things a little differently. I may even plant a yucca! Hang in there, the first day of spring is exactly one month away.

About Beth Monroe

Beth Monroe is public relations and marketing director at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She feels honored to be part of a team connecting people and plants to improve our community.

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