Designing in the Prairie Spirit: A Conversation with Darrel Morrison

Darrel Morrison, FASLA. Courtesy Florentine Films/Hott Productions
Darrel Morrison, FASLA. Courtesy Florentine Films/Hott Productions
Designing in the Prairie Spirit: A Conversation with Darrel Morrison is a lovely thought-provoking 11 minute landscape film to be found on http:/lalh.org/films/designing-in-the-prairie-spirit/ produced by Robin Karson of the Library of American Landscape History.  Darrel Morrison grew up on an Iowa farm.  He was influenced by the movement of the grasses and the clouds over the soy bean fields. After graduating from Iowa State with a Bachelor's in Landscape Architecture he furthered his studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in ecology.  There he found the Curtis Prairie restoration, a unique restoration of the prairie ecosystem which had been established in 1933 with 200 Civilian Conservation Corps men who planted native seedlings in America's heartland. He was also influenced by O. C Simpson and his use of plant species in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago and by the native plantings used by Frederick Law Olmsted in the World Columbia Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Library of American Landscape History www.lalh.org
Kids play at the Native Plant Garden designed by Morrison at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.  Courtesy Florentine Films/Hott Productions
Kids play at the Native Plant Garden designed by Morrison at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. Courtesy Florentine Films/Hott Productions
Library of American Landscape History, www.lalh.org
Library of American Landscape History, www.lalh.org

Poplar Island

Poplar Island At a Glance video overview - 37 seconds Poplar Island, a 1140 acre island in the mid-1800s, whittled down to 3 acres in the late 1900s.  It is being restored from beneficial dredged material from the shipping channels of the Chesapeake Bay the lead to the Port of Baltimore.    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Maryland Port Administration, the MD Department of Natural Resources, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies are partners to rebuild lost habitat so important to the Chesapeake Bay's ecology.
Poplar Island Marshes, Courtesy: Carlisle Hashim
Poplar Island Marshes, Courtesy: Carlisle Hashim

National Public Lands Day Celebrated at Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site

National Public Lands Day National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance our public lands. Join us locally as we work to improve the trails at the FDR site. Saturday, September 29, 10:00am-3:00pm WHERE: Meet in the Wallace Center parking lot at the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site PLEASE BRING gloves, sturdy shoes, tick repellent and a bagged lunch. Drinks and snacks will be provided. For more information, or to sign up, please call the Hyde Park Recreation Department at 229-8086, ext. 5 National Public Lands Day is a Free Fee day at all National Historic Sites.

Sabine Hall and the Chesapeake Falling Garden by Mollie Ridout

Sabine Hall, Courtesy Mollie Ridout
Sabine Hall, Courtesy Mollie Ridout
Mollie Ridout, Director of Horticulture for the Historic Annapolis Foundation and of the William Paca House in Annapolis, Maryland, writes of the distinctive style of gardening found in the mid-18th to early 19th century, the Falling Garden. Her article which appears in the quarterly newsletter of The Southern Garden History Society (Fall 2011, XXIV) describes the terraced gardens of Sabine Hall in Virginia overlooking the Rappahannock River as slopes between terraces or flats.  Ms. Ridout notes that the landowner Landon Carter who built his garden in 1710-1778, was probably influenced by the English garden writers of the day, Philip Miller and Batty Langley.  The Tidewater style of gardening was more formal than naturalistic.  The falling terraces were "...steeply sloping landscapes ... a series of flats and falls ... with a central path six feet wide ... (which) ...connected the levels by a grass ramp." The landowners of the times "wanted a high order of control of the landscape, the ongoing struggle of American land-owners to overcome chaos of nature," Ridout concludes.

“The Prairie Spirit” Landscape Architecture June Celebration in Chicago

Graceland Cementary, A Design History
Graceland Cementary, A Design History by Christopher Vernon

Library of Landscape Architecture History Books Anchor June Festivities in Chicago

Chicago resident and LALH Board member John K. Notz Jr. has organized a series of events in June to celebrate the publication of two new titles from LALH, Graceland Cemetery: A Design History by Christopher Vernon andThe Native Landscape Reader, edited by Robert E. Grese. Both books illuminate little-known aspects of important trends in landscape architecture that started in Chicago, particularly the “prairie spirit” that shaped significant landscapes such as Graceland Cemetery between 1900 and 1930. The first series, spanning June 13–16, honors the sesquicentennial anniversary of Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery as well as the new Vernon book. The next series, unfolding June 17–20, focuses on The Native Landscape Reader and includes the world premiere of the first LALH documentary film, Designing in the Prairie Spirit. Contact the hosting venues for more information.

The Library of American Landscape History, Inc., founded in 1992, is a not-for-profit organization that produces books and exhibitions about North American landscape history.

LALH books are written by leading historians in the field. Richly illustrated, they appeal to general readers as well as specialists. LALH touring exhibitions reach large and diverse audiences in museums, galleries and botanical gardens across the nation.

Both LALH books and exhibitions are intended to educate and thereby encourage thoughtful stewardship of the land.

The study of North American landscape history is a fledgling field, and we need your support. Your tax-deductible contributions help underwrite LALH book and exhibition programs.

Wednesday, June 13, 12:15 p.m.: Christopher Vernon, lecture and book signing Chicago Architecture Foundation Lecture Hall, 224 S. Michigan, Chicago Contact: Barbara Gordon: bgordon@architecture.org Wednesday, June 13, 5:30 p.m.: Christopher Vernon, lecture and book signing Newberry Library, 60 West Walton St., Chicago Contact: Rachel Bohlmann: bohlmannr@newberry.org; Thursday, June 14, 5:30 p.m.: Christopher Vernon, lecture and book signing Hosted by the Society of Architectural Historians, Chicago Chapter. Charnley-Persky House, 1365 N Astor St., Chicago Contact: Judy Freeman: Jrfree3500@aol.com Saturday, June 16, 10:00 a.m. Symposium with guest landscape architects and historians Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago Contact: Russell Lewis: lewis@chicagohistory.org Sunday, June 17, 3:00 p.m. Christopher Vernon; Robert Grese; Robin Karson, author and LALH executive director; and Arthur Miller, author and Lake Forest College librarian, panel discussion, “The Landscape Design Heritage of Chicago’s North Shore.” Reception following. Hosted by Lake Forest College Archives and Special Collections, Donnelley and Lee Library, and Environmental Studies Program. Co-sponsored by Lake Forest–Lake Bluff Historical Society. Lake Forest College (Middle Campus, Hotchkiss Hall, Meyer Auditorium), Lake Forest Contact: Arthur Miller: amiller@lakeforest.edu Tuesday, June 19, 6:30 p.m. Christopher Vernon, Robert Grese, and landscape architect Darrel Morrison, lecture program and film screening. Morrison will introduce the world premiere of the LALH film about his work,Designing in the Prairie Spirit. Co-sponsored by LALH. Chicago Botanic Garden (Regenstein Center, Fairchild Room), 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe Contact: www.chicagobotanic.org/calendar/ or 847-835-5440 Wednesday, June 20, 12:15 p.m. Robert Grese, lecture and book signing Chicago Architecture Foundation Lecture Hall, 224 S. Michigan, Chicago Contact: Barbara Gordon: bgordon@architecture.org Wednesday, June 20, 6:30 p.m. Christopher Vernon, Robert Grese, and Robin Karson, lecture and book signing, “The Pioneering Prairie Spirit in Landscape Design.” Co-sponsored by LALH. Morton Arboretum (Sterling Morton Library), 4100 Illinois Rt. 53, Lisle Contact: Rita Hassert: rhassert@mortonarb.org.

Coleus Sunshine

Sunshine Coleus, CarlisleFlowers permission
Sunshine Coleus, credit:CarlisleFlowers
It's Mother's Day weekend and the gardening mother is taken by the non-gardening father to Cylburn Arboretum's Annual Market Day.  We went directly to the hothouse where it was single file down the line of annuals propagated by the City of Baltimore's citizens, friends and staff.  The choice of coleuses was overwhelming.  My husband stood tall and guarded our picks because swooping hands were flying low.  I asked for his advice trying to arrange a tall center plant, a medium size spreading plant and a trailer for my containers.  Yet my dear one spied the hot lick of the day, the Sunshine Coleus.  Going against all the rules I bought three for each planter and will have only a mounded grouping.  They are so gorgeous I'm not sure anything could pair with them.
Cylburn Arboretum, Baltimore, MD, Courtesy: Cylburn Arboretum Association
Cylburn Arboretum, Baltimore, MD, Courtesy: Cylburn Arboretum Association
Upon leaving (with dollars to spare!), I happily told hubby that these coleuses, brassy bold, were favorites of the Victorians.  He asked if they were annuals.  "Yes," I said.  "Can we get them back?" he wanted to know.  "Only if we come to Cylburn next year.  And hon, (so Baltimorese) I'm so glad you picked them out."  "See," as people admired our cache on the way out, "all gardeners smile at each other.  They don't need to talk about anything else but flowers and trees.
1870 English Victorian Garden, Courtesy, The Flower Museum, London, England
1870 English Victorian Garden, Courtesy, The Flower Museum, London, England
St. Louis Victorian Garden, Courtesy: Missouri Botanical Garden
Victorian Garden, Courtesy: Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO
www.cylburnassociation.org www.gardenmuseum.org.uk

The Peabody Ducks, Memphis, Tennessee

Peabody Ducks, Memphis, TN
Peabody Ducks and Duck Master, Memphis, TN
A trip to Memphis, Tennessee is not complete unless you gather at the grand Peabody Hotel around 4:00 pm to get a front row seat in the resplendent lobby for the Duck March.  There is a balcony overlooking the "parade" if you are a late arriver.  The anticipation builds as the "Duck Master" tells the story of how the ducks came to live in the hotel.  Some pranksters decided that instead of live decoys swimming in the hotel's fountain, they would replace them with mallard ducks.  They floated to stardom from the start.
Peabody Ducks Take to the Red Carpet
Peabody Ducks Take to the Red Carpet
The crowd leans closer.  The red steps draw near.  Then when the music starts the ducks stop their circular laps in the Hotel's fountain and file one by one down the red carpet steps.  The crowd is charmed.  The ducks walk down the steps and so well trained as they are, they pause in the middle of the red carpet for pictures! Then the paparazzi swarm. The cameras click. "Oh darlings, we really must go," they tell their adoring fans.  They waddle to the elevator.  "Rooftop please."  Their home is the marble laid Duck Palace from where they descend at the comfortable hour of 11:00 am to begin their daily constitution until the crowds pack in. The beautiful flower arrangement is replaced each night while the hotel's guests and residents sleep.