Design Class for the Future of Landscape Design in America

“Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they be not altered for the best designedly.”  Francis Bacon

My amanuensis was far afield this week.  His presentations at the New Jersey Landscape Design School were focused on the future of the art Landscape Design into the Future and the practice of  Sustainability.  The classes are held over two days with a third day devoted to study and an examination that tests the student’s retention of the material.

Rutgers Gardens, The Chair Garden, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The chairs in the garden were empty. All of the people were in the classes devoted to the New Jersey Landscape Design School

Mr. Brown’s passion for the subject of saving the world leaves me somewhat perplexed.  He talks a very good game but a slide on the uses of “The Little Green Bag…” will not go far to solve the problem of what’s been defined as Global Warming.

New Jersey Landscape Design School, Rutgers Gardens, Holly House, John Bartram Kirk R. Brown

The Little Green Bag was a subject of some heated discussion.

His presentations were on the second day for the education of a group looking to become certified in their love of gardening.  I congratulate them on their dedication.  The search for continuing education in the world of botany is a far-reaching one.  It is education that will return a restorative sense of health and well-being to seeker.  I am a living testament to its life-giving qualities.

Sustainability and the American Dream, John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, New Jersey Landscape Design School, Rutgers Gardens, Holly House

Audience response was varied to "Sustainability and the American Dream." this response was unexplained at press time.

Denise and Eric Mattes are a husband and wife team of Landscape Architects who began the second day of the event with back-to-back, hers-then-his presentations on the history of their profession since the second world war.  His talk gave illumination to the practice of the science of recent design architects in a contemporary idiom. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, New Jersey Landscape Design School, Rutgers Gardens

The Mattes team of landscape architects presented history of the art and science of the craft since WWII.

Bruce Crawford, Director of Rutgers Gardens, delivered a brilliant close to the proceedings with his discussion of the relative growth and development of arboreta in America.  He demonstrated an almost life-long commitment to his own garden.

Bruce Crawford, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram Rutgers Gardens, Holly House

Bruce Crawford wrapped up the day with a discourse on developing "Community" around a botanic garden.

I had been with him on many previous occasions when his connection was an almost palpable topic in his speech.  His garden is growing and changing.  He is connecting with a wider community and using the examples of many other spaces to develop his own sense of place and space.

New Jersey Landscape Design School, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The audience seemed to enjoy all of the presentations on the last day of the design school.


I struggled all of my earlier life trying to connect people to my botanic garden.  I recognize a similar vitality in the work that Bruce brings to the green spaces at Rutgers Gardens.

Rutgers Gardens, Holly House, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram

The Rhododendron Collection was at the height of its seasonality. Beautiful color.

 Other botanic gardens that he used as exemplars include The High Line , The Atlanta Botanic Garden and my personal favorite of this and any group:  Chanticleer, A Pleasure Garden

Rutgers Garden, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram, Lilac Collection, Holly House

The Lilac Collection added another texture to the garden plantings: that of the sense of smell.

Time was scheduled during the day to take advantage of the beautiful spring weather and get some photos of the changes that have been wrought in the garden’s many rooms.  The hardscape that’s been added has expanded the bones of the spaces.  The new rain garden was an exciting new space that connected the sustainable theme of the day with the reality of green in a garden.

Rutgers Gardens, Rain Gardens, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram, Sustainability and the American Dream

The new rain garden makes contemporary sense and adds remarkable sustainability as a topic on the design table.

Rutgers Rain Garden, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram, Sustainability and the American Dream, Rutgers Gardens

The bluestone paving in the rain garden adds elements of texture, line, form and space to the overall design achievement.

It was a stunning day for an appreciation of the art of garden design and the growth and development of a public green initiative.  Congratulations for the success of the planning goes to Nancy Schmaltz and her dedicated crew of volunteers. 

Nancy Schmaltz, New Jersey Landscape Design School, Kirk R. Brown, John Bartram, Rutgers Gardens, Holly House

Nancy Schmaltz introduced my amanuensis, Kirk R. Brown to the participants in the New Jersey Landscape Design School.

Gotti Kelley is to be commended for her control of a camera lens with which she was not familiar.  And as a final thought on the scenes of the day:  I want to acknowledge the beautiful presence of the native poppy in the distant fields of the garden.  Stylophorum diphyllum was the Latin nomenclature for such a