Rick Darke Keynote Speaker In May

This is your chance to imbibe the spirit, learn the reasons, and grow to new heights as a gardener: Rick Darke is going to be one of the keynote speakers at the Florida Native Plant Society's 31st Annual Conference in Maitland, May 19-22.

Mr. Darke is a man who has been studying and listening to the heart of the green growing world all his life, and he has applied what he knows to books, photography, the design of gardens, and teaching. His website says,

"Blending art, ecology, and cultural geography, Darke is dedicated to the design and stewardship of the livable landscape." I don't know about you, but that sounds right on the mark for the myriad issues and challenges that keep me searching for answers in today's world.

His book The American Woodland Garden: Capturing the Spirit of the Deciduous Forest received the American Horticultural Society's Book Award, the Garden Writers Association Golden Globe Award for book photography, and the National Arbor Day Foundation's Certificate of Merit. He's also ahead of the pack on the subject of grass, being an internationally recognized authority on the use of grasses in designed landscapes, and having written The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes. 

So much for the official and prestigious recognition.

It was the work of a homegrown Floridian, Carl Terwilliger,  that first brought Mr. Darke to my attention. One day while I was admiring one of Carl's naturalistic and harmonious designs - he was digging, I was standing idly by - he began to tell me about Rick Darke and how his book The American Woodland Garden, had influenced his own philosophy and design.

I remembered that conversation when I found out that Mr. Darke would be coming to the conference. I went back to my Carl and asked him to try to explain exactly what had so inspired him about Darke's book. Here is the story, as I heard it.

"I grew up in an area of Pennsylvania where I spent time in gardens Darke had helped design, like Scott's Arboretum at Swarthmore College. One day while I was in Longwood Garden (where Darke spent 20 years) I saw his book. I saw pictures of Scott's Arboretum in it and I wanted to know how he did it. His gardens looked great, but he broke all the rules. I wanted to know why he put trees where he did. His gardens had clean places, maybe nothing but stone work, and places just right to sit in. Even in big spaces there were enclosures and a sense of privacy. There were single trees, clumps of trees, but nothing predictable. After you had spent time in them, you just looked at things differently."

Wow. I think this must be one of the things I am most looking forward to from hearing Mr. Darke's keynote speech. The ability to look at things differently. I will definitely be there, and I hope to see you, too.

You can go to his website RickDarke.com and enjoy the information about him, and by him there. He has an awesome video of the Highline in NYC, radio podcasts and lots more.  And please, Watch This:

sue dingwell


Anonymous said…
Love the video!

V. Avery

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