A Fresh Perspective on Landscapes

Kata Kreß Wallace
Kata Kreß Wallace

Seeing landscapes through someone else’s eyes can give us important insight. When we’re familiar with something, it’s hard to think about it differently or to make changes. That’s why we were thrilled to have Kata Kreß Wallace, our new Garden Coordinator, speak at an urban landscape design conference in Germany.

Kata was invited to talk at Bildungsstätte Gartenbau, a facility in Grünberg, Germany devoted to horticultural education events. The name roughly translates to Garden Education House, and it’s the go-to place for horticulture professionals in the German-speaking world. The facility hosts events year-round and structures them to encourage interaction among participants. The conference sizes are limited to allow for discussion at the end of each talk and easier networking during meals, which attendees take together.

Kata grew up in Austria in the nursery business, so this conference was familiar to her. It gave her a chance for her to share her experiences in the U.S. with a European audience. The conference topics ranged from green roofs to perennials for deep shade in urban settings. She gave two presentations: one on public green spaces in the Eastern U.S., and one on horticultural trends in the U.S.

She discussed how green infrastructure is shaping public spaces here in the U.S. Cities are looking for ways to manage stormwater in the face of increased development and severe weather events. In Europe, they’re familiar with the term green infrastructure, but the context is different. There isn’t much space for new development, so that’s less of a factor. However, they are losing green space, especially in the countryside, and do have problems with flooding. Kata explained how and why green infrastructure is becoming important in the U.S. and how grasses are playing a role.

Her talk on trends included a discussion of lawn alternatives, which was an unfamiliar concept for many in the audience. Europeans don’t tend to use turf grass as much as we do in the U.S., and they expend fewer resources on it when they include it. Using low-growing grasses, sedges, or herbaceous perennials to cover the ground is standard for them. It was interesting for her audience to realize how relevant an alternative for turf was for us.

European gardeners have long used grasses in their landscapes, but they aren’t trendy plants right now. According to Kata, gardeners in Germany and Austria use them more as background or on the side rather than in the spotlight. The attendees loved seeing images of our using grasses as focal points and in larger sweeps. Getting a different perspective on grasses in the landscape and green infrastructure was a real treat. Big thanks to Kata for bringing it home for us.

If you’re interested in hearing more about Kata’s talks and her experience in Germany, she’ll be at MANTS with the Hoffman Nursery team in January. Stop by Booth 412 and say hello!

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