Plant life, long regarded in cities as an amenity, has throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries also become an accepted necessity integral to the urban fabric. Yet, there are multiple challenges facing plants and planting design in urban areas. Pollution, climate change, increasingly restricted space, and insufficient or nonexistent public budgets for plants are only some of the factors that make it difficult for vegetation in our cities to survive. Yet numerous new public urban parks have been created, tree planting programs persist, new plant cultivars are developed, spontaneous plant growth is studied, and new planting design paradigms are proposed. In a series of short presentations and a moderated discussion, landscape architects, planting designers, and ecologists will assess the current state of the art in planting the public realm.
The event seeks to draw out ideas for how plants can be used in the future design of urbanizing areas to create healthy, sustainable, inclusive, and appealing environments. What is the importance of planting the public realm today, and what are its biggest challenges? What are the roles of landscape architects, designers, ecologists, and plant scientists in accommodating plant life in cities and in areas that are becoming urbanized, and are we beyond botanical xenophobia? Moderated by Sonja Dümpelmann, associate professor of landscape architecture, with Steven Handel, visiting professor in landscape architecture; Noel Kingsbury, writer and garden designer; Norbert Kühn, TU Berlin; Doug Reed MLA ’81, lecturer in landscape; and Matthew Urbanski MLA ’89, associate professor in practice of landscape architecture.