Ed Hollander is an award-winning landscape architect whose incredible work can be seen all over the world. He is also a super-cool guy whose love for plants is instantly apparent.
Ed is our first professional interviewed for the EXPERT section of (it.s) PLANTPORN, and he set the bar very high. I thoroughly enjoyed our meeting and left his office obsessed with his knowledge, his gardens, and his new book,The Good Garden, which will be released this Tuesday, June 30.
iPP: What's your background and what led you to landscape design?
EH: I studied horticulture at the New York Botanical Gardens for a couple of years, but realized I didn’t want to be a gardener. So I went down to the University of Pennsylvania and got a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture, finally graduating after about 10 years of school and, you know, kind of–if you will excuse the expression–“blossomed” since then.
iPP: Did you have a mentor?
EH: A guy who was the chairman of the department at Penn was a fellow by the name of Ian McHarg. And back in the '60s, Ian was at the forefront of ecological planning…and is, you know, almost the father of the modern environmental movement in the United States. An incredibly cool guy.
If there was anyone it was Ian, because Ian is a pretty special human being and really did more for the world–the environmental world–than almost anyone and is not well-known for doing it. His first book was called Design with Nature, which really changed the way people look at the world.
iPP: Tell us about your new book.
EH: My first book was called The Private Oasis, and that really focused on the built elements of the landscape. And this new book, The Good Garden, is kind of the second volume companion to that, if you will, that deals with gardens and the living landscape. And so it looks at all the various areas of a property.
We did these books differently than a typical architecture monograph–we did these more based on areas [of] a property. Seating areas, dining areas, living areas, pool areas…so that, while they still show the work we've done on whole properties throughout the Northeast, it's broken down into different possibilities for different areas. And how you plant, how you look at plantings, different types of gardens, different types of space, planting as architecture, natural landscapes, things like that…so, it's cool.
"The inspiration for the book is really our love for the landscape."
Central Park or Prospect Park?
Palm tree or pine tree?
Single orchid or a dozen roses?
Croissant or cupcake?
BBG or NYBG?
Grand Cayman or Grand Canyon?
MOMA or MET?
Spring or Fall?
Stones or Beatles?
iPP: What is your spirit plant and why?
EH: Catalpa Tree. They love to grow by the beach and I love the beach. They are a little rough on the outside, under appreciated, are as tough as can be, and beautiful. They get these great, white, almost orchid-like flowers in the middle of summer and they're strong and they're funky and very unknown.
There’s one other landscape architect in the country that plants them besides us.
"It's fun doing these things [landscapes]...you get to make people's dreams come true."
On June 22, Ed hosted a book party to celebrate the release of The Good Garden. The lively scene drew a diverse crowd of uptown clients and downtown plant lovers to Indochine in New York City.
Partygoers sipped passion pomegranate margaritas and Rosé, and snacked on shrimp summer rolls. We all marveled at the gorgeous centerpieces, bursting with palm fronds and birds of paradise.
When I commented on how fun the party was, an anonymous fan of his responded, "It's Ed. He's the Godfather of landscape architecture. He draws a crowd." #itsplantporn
Thanks, Ed, for the lovely chat, and congratulations on your beautiful book!
The Good Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Edmund Hollander Designs is available June 30th at all major bookstores.