DDdigitalFriday, January 12 at 7 p.m. in The Cube at Centerbrook Architects

In recent years, the effort to use native plants has become a subject of such great controversy among the landscape architecture community that it’s become something of a flashpoint, a source of such disagreement that merely hearing the words ‘native’ and ‘plants’ in the same sentence can cause reasonable, seasoned professionals to curl their lips in disdain.  New York Landscape Designer Diana Drake hopes to use this opportunity to share why she considers it important, from an ecological standpoint, to use native plants, and to talk about some of the differences inherent in designs that take advantage of using them.

Diana Drake has worked as a landscape designer for two decades, managing large and small public projects with the firms of Judith Heintz Landscape Architecture and Wallace Roberts & Todd in New York City, specializing in selecting the best-suited plants for outdoor spaces, whether campus, park, public plaza, rooftop garden or residential property.  Since 2013 she’s been working cooperatively with Judith Heintz and Napat Sitisara as sassafras55. Her commitment to using native plant species deepened as she taught planting design at Columbia University with Darrel Morrison, adding to her earlier stint at the Center for Plant Conservation, and her hands-on training at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum.  With sassafras55, Ms. Drake currently is involved with the all-native plantings of East Midtown Plaza in Manhattan, the Queens Borough Municipal Parking Field, and the Kearny Point Industrial Park Landscape in New Jersey. Throughout this entire period, she’s been learning first-hand via her experiments in her garden lab in Old Lyme. She holds a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design.

This Essex Library program is free and open to the public. Centerbrook Architects is located at 67 Main St. in Centerbrook. Please call the Library at 860 767-1560 to register or for more information.

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NancyBallekMackinnon

Thursday, March 16th at 7 p.m.
Edible, Native, & Sustainable are the three themes that keep reoccurring in the 2017 gardening narrative. Nancy will discuss these and other trends in garden design and horticulture. Explore new and old varieties for beautiful and productive gardens. This free and open to all event is co-sponsored with the Essex Garden Club.

Nancy Ballek Mackinnon is a partner in Ballek’s Garden Center in East Haddam, Connecticut, located on a farm that has been in the family since 1662. She received a degree in environmental horticulture and landscape design from the University of Connecticut graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1978, and joined Ballek’s Garden Center soon after. Nancy is the author of the “The Gardener’s Book of Charts, Tables & Lists: A Complete Gardening Guide” created to make it easier for horticulturists to select the right plant for the right place.

garden-talk-imageFriday, February 17th at 7 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects -67 Main St. Centerbrook

Gardens have captured people’s imagination for centuries. Jim Childress will illustrate the design ideas behind some of world’s best small gardens. He will explore how they are planned and how plants are integrated. And, to escape winter for an hour – there will be plenty of images of gardens in full bloom.

This program is free and open to the public. Ample free parking is available at Centerbrook Architects- 67 Main St. Centerbrook.

Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 2 p.m.at the Essex Town Hall
Every year plant breeders from around the world bJERUSS2011-11-11_25v2ring new varieties of plants to be tested in the gardens at White Flower Farm. Join us as we learn about the best new varieties for 2016 from White Flower Farm’s Nursery Manager, Barbara Pierson. Co-sponsored by the Essex Garden Club, this lecture highlights the most exciting new introductions for 2016, including annuals, perennials, veggies and shrubs. At home and in White Flower Farm’s trial gardens, Nursery manager Barbara Pierson tests varieties that are new to the commercial market and makes firsthand notes on their cultivation and performance. Using White Flower Farm’s top-quality photographs, Barb’s talk will give the audience advice on what to buy and what to avoid. She’ll showcase the top performing annuals, perennials and shrubs from the long list of introductions. Beautiful photography of the varieties as well as cultural information for each plant will be provided.

Nursery Manager Barbara Pierson has been with White Flower Farm for 17 years. A graduate of Cornell University, with a degree in floriculture and ornamental horticulture, Barb developed a passion for plants at an early age at her parents’ nursery. She’s now a frequent guest on national and local radio and television, and interviewed as a gardening expert by national publications.