Gardeners I’d invite to dinner

I accepted the challenge of our “across the pond garden pal,” Veg Plotting. Who would I invite to dinner, gardeners that is? Hmmmmmm. I spent a few days on this, and I had a list so long, decided I would have to do a buffett. Lots of booze and food to keep the conversation LIVELY.

I’d drag out my Portmeirion Botanical Garden dishes for the occasion. (I’d stashed them for awhile because it seemed like everything around me was botanical in nature.) I really like to use green glassware with them, especially my German hock wine glasses, meant for German white wines, but hell, I use them when I feel like it because they are pretty and make me happy. I like to use a big kind of coarse textured inexpensive natural colored painter’s drop cloth for the buffet table. Enough housekeeping.

I’ve decided to invite these fellow gardeners:

Mein Rhys, inspiration for Piet Oudolf, Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden and many other designers working today. Although I’ve only seen a few pictures of her garden creations they’ve all been compelling. She was a Dutch woman and daughter of a plantsman.

Robert Irwin, not a gardener or plantsman but the creater of the magnificent gardens of the new Getty Center in Malibu. I still hold, in my mind’s eye, the purple, rust, eggplant, lime color combinations. The man created quite a stir when he was chosen to design the garden precisely because he was not a landscape architect but a mere painter. An artist. Oh, to have the luxury of saying, “I need something smashing to show off that rust colored wall, what works here?”

Thomas Jefferson, President of the US, a gardener extraordinaire, collector of plants, lover of food and wine, international man of vision. Of course, he had plenty of help, but that was then.

Piet Oudolf, a man whose just leaves me in amazement. Famed international designer, Dutchman, creator in part of the Lurie Garden in Chicago and the Battery Park Memorial Gardens in NYC, I would love to tell him how much I admire his work.

James van Sweden and his business and creative partner, Wolfgang Oehme of DC. I can almost certainly identify one of their gardens when I come across one in a magazine. I venture to say, their New American Style of Gardening was in place before Piet came to town, but I could be mistaken. All three men work with a similar, native plant inspired, ecologically minded aesthetic that I adore.

Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, the team of designers for the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. I have been twice and can’t get enough. The design is based on archetypal Pacific Northwest plant groups, and overcomes the obstacle of a former petroleum industrial site, dangerous and contaminated.

Nancy Goslee Power, whose work I have adored for years. I had the good fortune to visit her private garden a few years ago, where we were led through her gracious, humble, gorgeous home, to one of the most welcoming outdoor living spaces I have ever encountered. I have met Nancy a couple of times and love her work on other projects. She is lively, feisty, and talented.

And many many more. I think we will just have to make this an annual gathering. Maybe even potluck.