DESIGN ON THE PRAIRIE
A walk through Darrel Morrison’s latest prairie restoration
reveals a world of complexity and natural beauty.
By Mary Myers
Much has been written about ecologically based design,
particularly about the need to understand scientific principles and to
integrate them into design. Many questions remain, however, about the form
ecological design should take. Will the public have to accept a “messier” look?
Will accepted and long-held aesthetic principles such as the English picturesque
need to be discarded or modified? What about the psychological aspects of
One answer, furnished by landscapes such as those designed
by Darrel Morrison, FASLA, a former professor at the University of Georgia’s
School of Environmental Design, is that the new landscape model will require
active engagement. It will require walking into more than just looking
at—purely visual engagement will not reveal the nuances of complex prairie or
forest landscapes. These new landscapes will need to be experienced through
touch and smell as well as sight.
Last July, I walked with Morrison through a recent project,
a native Wisconsin demonstration garden on four acres that are part of the
visitors garden at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison. The
process by which Morrison created this landscape, its sensitivity to its site,
and the creativity he brings to his evocation of a disappearing natural
landscape could help broaden the constituency for ecological design and expand
Americans’ notions of what is beautiful. “I always have had the optimistic view
that if it is pretty and is also scientifically accurate and appropriate,
people will gradually make the change,” says Morrison. “I think we are
educating for a new aesthetic.”
…To read the entire article, subscribe to LAM!
| Annual Meeting
Product Profiles & Directory