My professor recently told a story about an individual that was picking out trees for a landscape design he was working on. Of all the trees available to him at the nursery, he chose ones that had been improperly planted so that the soil and mulch covered the root flare and was piled too high on the trunk. This person commented that his design would look better if the tree didn’t widen at the bottom; basically he wanted trees that looked like poles.
Realizing the unhealthy placement of these trees within the ground, what should our intentions be when designing with living things? How much control should we try to exert over design elements that have a life of their own? How far into the future do we plan when envisioning the finished landscape, or do we see it as a perpetual work in progress?
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln produces a weekly show on the local public education station, NET, called Backyard Farmer. The main focus of the program is to educate the public about gardening and the landscape, as well as assist in answering viewer questions. They cover a wide range of topics from landscape design to pests.
I find this to be a very useful source of information, which has included topics such as addressing changing landscapes due to realities such as shifts in environmental conditions and disease. While this Backyard Farmer program is geared toward Lincoln, Nebraska, and the surrounding region, many county governments and universities offer extension programs as well. The UNL extension service offers online videos of past Backyard Farmer episodes on its website to reach as many individuals as possible, and even utilizes social media for extended presence.
Some other resources available include:
- City Farmer News;
- Local Harvest;
- eXtention that includes a Cooperative Extension Search;
- UT Extension;
- UMass Extension.