This week officially ushered in Spring. In the New York area, forsythia, snowdrops and willows are hinting at revealing themselves soon. Until Spring’s fervent arrival, I have Stephen Orr’s new book, Tomorrow’s Garden, to rely on for inspiration of “what could be”.
I first got to genuinely know Stephen, the gardening editorial director for Martha Stewart Living magazine, through music. On his garden blog, whatweretheskieslike, Stephen, will seasonally post his play lists. I listen while working and while looking at the site’s wonderful photography and varied posts about such subjects as mushroom hunts, Sissinghurst Castle and small nepenthes.
In his new book Tomorrow’s Garden, he presents gardens in 14 American cities that have been scaled
back and simplified without sacrificing beauty or innovative design.
A devoted supporter of the organic gardening movement, Stephen says in his introduction, “this book is an exploration of what I think are the gardens of the future.” Tomorrow’s Garden approaches the subjects of Garden Where You Live, Consider the Materials, and my very favorite, Edible Gardens and Community.
The book introduction, The Education of a Responsible Gardener, gives the reader insight into his childhood in Texas, nurtured by a culture of growing things, a 15-year roof garden rental and a cabin upstate, while telling a story of how a definition of beauty evolved and sustained this veteran gardener and editor.
Stephen has said, “don’t waste money, time, water and effort.” By subscribing to sustainable practices, this thoughtful and responsible approach to gardening will usher our world into many more rapturous Springs.
Enjoy The Good Company of Stephen Orr.
D: Best lunch spot?
SO: The terrace behind my upstate lake house on a sunny June day.
D: Best social party of the year?
SO: The Wave Hill Gardeners’ Picnic in September. All my favorite garden people come and there is so much energy when everyone gets to see one another in such a beautiful space.
D: Biggest thrill in your life?
SO: Most recently, holding my first book in my hands.
D: Favorite color combination?
SO: Black, dark green and blue. The colors of Black Watch Plaid.
D: Favorite weekend activity?
SO: Watching old movies especially post-War British cinema like anything from Ealing Studios and reading or sleeping in the country.
D: What is your idea of the perfect weekend?
SO: More than two days and no plans made in advance.
D: What makes you belly laugh?
SO: The comic timing of Margaret Rutherford, also known as Miss Marple.
D: Where did your creative journey begin?
SO: In my elementary school library.
D: Who are your current design icons?
D: Words to live by?
SO: “I dwell in possibility”—Emily Dickinson
D: Favorite charity?
SO: Lately, I have been trying to keep NPR up and running in my small way.
Portrait of Stephen Orr used by permission, copyright © Dana Gallagher
All other photographs used by permission, copyright © Stephen Orr