Loren Russell: Losing It! Why did all my Alpines Die?

Date: 7:30pm, Mar 13, 2013

Speaker: Loren Russell:

Topic: Losing It! Why did all my Alpines Die?

Loren Russell

I allow "Losing It" to be a play on my own unreliable memory, my short temper, or perhaps the near invisibility of some of our most prized plants.  In this talk, I use a riff on the late Geoff Charlesworth’s witty poem, “Why did my plant die?” (You walked too close, you trod on it. You dropped a piece of sod on it…”) to frame my take on the practices and beliefs of rock gardening -- how we focus on, and try to make our own, the legions of small plants that we see in the mountains, admire in garden visits, or perhaps that we have only glimpsed in slide shows, or found in seed lists and dusty old books. We build bogs in deserts, deserts in rain forests, and generally move mountains into our back yards, and yet many of us seem to take pride in “mausoleums” of old labels ("I did bloom it, once!"). Surely this is yet another example of a human tendency to follow hope over experience.  Geoff’s poem implies that we do all this because we think our errors are correctable, that we can recognize why our plant dies, and that we will learn to do better the next time. In that spirit, I show my current garden projects – a tufa cliff and alpine house, where alpines will at last prosper and bloom.

Dr. Russell has been a NARGS member since 1985 and writes and lectures on many aspects of rock gardening.  He has been active in NARGS, serving as National Speaker (2000), planning and co-leading the NARGS Expedition to northeast Oregon (2003), and NARGS Recording Secretary (2005-2008). He took the lead in organizing the 1998 Annual Meeting and 2003 Western Winter Study Weekend. Among his publications are chapters in Bulbs of North America, Rock Garden Design and Construction, and several articles in Rock Garden Quarterly. He has also co-written articles on the aesthetics of nature with his wife, Flo Leibowitz.