Photo courtesy Hott Productions


Designing in the Prairie Spirit
A Conversation with Darrel Morrison

Designing in the Prairie Spirit features internationally renowned landscape architect Darrel Morrison, who reflects on his life and the impact of Jens Jensen, Aldo Leopold, and other environmentalists on his career. Growing up on a small farm in southwestern Iowa, Morrison was transported by the subtle beauties of the native prairie landscape—the movement of grasses in the wind, clouds across the sky, their shadows over the plain. As a graduate student at University of Wisconsin–Madison, he encountered the Curtis Prairie, one of the first places in the world where ecological restoration was practiced. There he saw the beauty inherent in ecological diversity.

For more than six decades, Morrison has drawn inspiration from the Midwest and other landscapes that figured importantly in his life—from Texas prickly pear scrub to the banks of the Oconee River in Piedmont Georgia. In native plant gardens throughout the country, Morrison has blended communities of native plants in distillations of prairie, woodland, and coastal meadow. These ever-evolving compositions were designed to reintroduce diversity, natural processes, and naturally occurring patterns—the “beauty of the wild”—into the landscape.

You can read more about the prairie spirit in North American landscape design in Beauty of the WildThe Native Landscape ReaderThe Prairie Spirit in Landscape GardeningLandscape-Gardening, and A Genius for Place.

Created in association with Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc.