WHAT MAKES me happy is talking to landscape architect Thomas Rainer about what makes plants happy. I did just that in a Q&A in “The New York Times,” a story headlined “Understanding What Makes Plants Happy” that’s online now and will appear in print in Thursday’s Design Special Section.
You may recall my previous conversations with Thomas, the co-author with Claudia West of the provocative 2015 book “Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes.” Even though we both have worked around plants for many years, it’s as if Thomas sees them differently from the way I do, in a sort of super-savvy botanical 3-D. He doesn’t see them as mere decorative objects, but astutely reads their body language for clues to who they want to grow with (or not) and how to put them all together successfully.
I love how he sees, and thinks, as you can glean from our lively Q&A, where he says things like this:
‘First, we have to understand that plants are social creatures. Our garden plants evolved as members of diverse social networks.’
‘The big shift in horticulture in the next decade will be a shift from thinking about plants as individual objects to communities of interrelated species.’
Though not intentionally so, the Times article turns out to be especially timely—and not just because it’s early spring, and we gardeners need to make smarter choices of plants to add and what to combine them with in our beds and borders. Claudia and Thomas and fellow landscape architect Melissa Rainer (who is also married to Thomas) have just announced they are leaving their current positions and forming a new collaboration. I expect many big things from this exciting new trio–and many more happy plants.
my happy conversations with thomas rainer
- Our latest Q&A, in “The New York Times” (which I hope you will share, thank you very much)
- On “Planting in a Post-Wild World” (here on A Way to Garden)
- On his being inspired by the layers that nature plants in (also on A Way to Garden)
- Visit Thomas’s website