Lessons Learned when Field Botany Meets Design

Uli Lorimer, Curator of the Native Flora Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

March 2018

Looking to nature for inspiration, and connecting field botany to horticulture, is very useful when designing managed landscapes that support a rich ecology. It is also complex, and insights gained from observations in the wild don’t always translate directly into a cultivated garden. Uli Lorimer uses the recently expanded native flora garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a cultivated pine barrens and coastal plain grassland, as a case study— sharing valuable lessons learned along the way as the project evolved from a concept to reality. There were surprises, and he concludes that flexibility in design intent is a valuable strategy because things do not always work out as planned.

Uli Lorimer was the Curator of Native Flora at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for over a decade. He was instrumental in the expansion of the Garden’s native plant collection, using only material sourced from the wild and grown from seed. As the Field Chair at BBG, he coordinated fieldwork with regional botanists and led botanical expeditions for naturalists and horticulturists. Since giving this lecture he joined the Native Plant Trust as their Director of Horticulture.