Crew cuts on people: Cool. Crew cuts on juniper: Cruel.
Billy Goodnick has a word of advice for landscapers compelled to carve plants into submission. Don’t do it. “People go into adversarial mode in trying to show the plant who is boss,” he said. The result is tortured topiaries: meatball bushes, lollipop trees and cubed shrubs.
Goodnick – award-winning landscape architect, blogger, horticultural comedian, rock drummer – will present two gardening lectures at Descanso Gardens on Saturday, Oct. 6. The programs will serve up nuts and bolts advice spiced liberally with humor. The lectures are:
· “Design Like a Pro,” 11 a.m., in the Under the Oaks Theater.
· “Crimes Against Horticulture,” 2 p.m. in Van de Kamp Hall
In “Design Like a Pro,” he will deconstruct how a landscaper envisions a design project, considering factors like practicality, sustainability and beauty. Hankering for a cottage garden? Goodnick will explain how to achieve a specific look while substituting plants that suit the climate. The goal is outdoor living space that elevates the yard to “garden” status. “My tagline is beautiful, sustainable gardens,” he said.
“Crimes Against Horticulture” is subtitled “When Bad Taste Meets Power Tools.” He will present a slideshow that exemplifies one of his pet peeves – weekend warriors who slice and dice shrubs with the enthusiasm of a Ginsu knife pitchman.
Goodnick doesn’t mind topiary – in the right place. But many of these “crimes” seem to be reaction to a good plant in a bad location. “Every plant has its genetic destiny,” he said. “You have an obligation to understand how big that plant will get.” Rather than shear a plant into submission, he suggests planning before you plant.
Goodnick was an in-demand studio drummer when he caught the “bonsai bug.” His interest in the miniature plants sparked further study and a new career. For 22 years, he was the City Landscape Architect for the City of Santa Barbara. He continues to design gardens for clients, while lecturing across the country about horticulture, blogging and writing the upcoming book, “Yards.”
Goodnick’s lectures are free with Gardens admission: $8 adults, $6 seniors and students with I.D., $3 children 5-12, free for members and children 4 and younger. Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge 91011. Information: (818) 949-4200.