Saturday, July 23, 2011

My day with Roy Diblik

Plantsman Roy Diblik in Lurie Gardens

I haven't been this excited to spend the day with a man other than my husband for a long time!

A few of my horticulture classmates and I had the unique opportunity spend the day with Roy Diblik, well-known plantsman and owner of Northwind Perennial Farm of Burlington, WI. Diblik leads our Perennial Plant Communities class, and worked closely with Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf to propegate and grow the plants used in the Lurie Gardens of Milennium Park in Chicago.

Diblik had much experience providing plant material for the traditional mass-plantings of species like rudbeckia, sedum, and miscanthus (as was the trend in Chicago in the 70's, 80's, and 90's) with poor long-term results. In the mid-90's, he was inspired by Oudolf's book, Gardening with Grasses, and started designing and installing "stylized prairie" gardens in Lake Geneva, WI. After hearing of Diblik's work, Oudolf visited Northwind, and immediately asked that Diblik be the plant provider for Lurie.

Diblik had two years to grow 16,000 plants that were installed in the Lurie Gardens in 2003. He says that we are in a period of great change, and Lurie is the beginning of the future of horticulture. Gone will be the hundreds of varieties of daylilies, hostas and dahlias brought to the industry each year. The trend will be to grow plants that live together in communities, thus reducing their inputs, especially of water and labor.

I was thrilled to get an inside look into the design process and construction of Lurie, and Diblik's other showpiece, the gardens at the Art Institute of Chicago. I am so inspired by Diblik's and Oudolf's style, and am so thankful to be able to learn from these masters.

Limonium latifolium and Liatris spicata

Echinacea purpurea, Allium 'Summer Beauty', Calamintha nepeta var. nepeta

Hemerocallis 'Chicago Apache'

Love this combo: Agastache 'Blue Fortune' and Knautia macedonia 'Mars Midget'


  1. What a great experience!

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