Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Out of the Pennsylvania wild comes a palace of sticks, the collaboration of a nurseryman and a sculptor. BYOF (bring your own fantasy).


Visitors marvel at Patrick Dougherty’s “Summer Palace,” installed at the Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia, April 2009

Photo: Rob Cardillo, for the Morris Arboretum

By Allen Bush

Gardeners on the fringe are dirt dervishes who sometimes push the gate wide, wide open. They see the forest and the trees.

Bill Barnes, a self-styled nurseryman, has got his thick, calloused fingers in more pies than most. If research scientists are looking for germplasm of red mulberry, Morus rubra, chances are he will know where to find a peculiar phenotype. If special care and expertise are needed to move a huge balled and burlapped Acer wyuense - a very rare maple (try Googling this!)—from Washington’s National Arboretum to the The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, Barnes will be on horticultural speed dial. Who else would dream of breeding the eastern North American prickly pear cactus to western species? 

Bill and I talk every few weeks, and in mid-March I called and asked how he was doing.  The boundless Jack-of-all horticultural trades, and owner of Lorax Farms, who lives in Warrington, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, confessed he was dog-tired from collecting brush all week. The 2005 recipient of the Award of Merit from the Eastern Region of the International Plant Propagators Society (he is also their current president) is way beyond the daily grind of a yard boy. So I asked what’s with the brush? He said he’d gotten a contract from The Morris Arboretum. This brush pile—no ordinary one—was for artist Patrick Dougherty who limbs-up gardens like no other.


Continue Reading

Posted by Julie on 04/23 at 11:13 AM
Art & MediaGardening & LandscapePermalink