It's about plants and people. We are inextricably linked to the natural world. Yet modern landscapes fail to connect, sustain, or nourish us.

Today half of the world's population lives in cities. By 2030, two-thirds of the world's population will live in urban centers. We are urbanizing at a pace unprecedented in human history.  Large portions of the skin of the earth--once covered in a green blanket of forests, prairies, and shrublands--have been scraped bare for development, agriculture, and resource extraction. As the landscapes of our childhood change before our very eyes, we yearn for what is lost. We long to feel small in the midst of an expansive meadow, to witness the miracle of a moth emerging from a cocoon, or to absorb the glow of morning light on beech leaves. Our grandparents experienced these events as a regular part of their days. But now our children learn these moments through YouTube. 

To address these problems, many landscape architects promise urban green spaces as a way of connecting people to nature. But too often, these green spaces are over-programmed rec rooms or hardscape-dominated plazas fringed with thin beds of plants set in a sea of mulch.  We reject the notion that one can have "green design" without plants. When planting is done right--when artistry meets functionality--an immersive experience is possible. This is why the High Line is the most visited site in New York City.  Great planting and place-making can transport and transform.

As urbanization becomes ubiquitous, it is time for a new way of thinking. We look at our degraded built landscapes with unjaded eyes, seeing the confetti of leftover land--suburban yards, utility easements, parking lots, road right of ways, and public drainage channels--not as useless remnants, but as territories of vast potential. We envision meadows growing on top of skyscrapers, elevated roads covered with connected forests, and vast constructed wetlands that purify our drinking water. But to get to this vision of the future requires plants. Lots of plants working together as functional systems. 

We are the experts uniquely qualified to design those systems. Our mission is simple: to apply the technologies of plant systems to bring essential natural functions back into our cities and towns. And to create spaces for people--gardens--set among those plantings. Only then will we reach the goal of truly livable cities.


The front lines of the battle for nature are not in the Amazon rain forest or the Alaskan wilderness; the front lines are our backyards, medians, parking lots, and elementary schools. The ecological warriors of the future won’t just be scientists and engineers, but gardeners, horticulturists, land managers, landscape architects, transportation department staff, elementary school teachers, and community association board members. Anyone who can influence a small patch of land.
— Thomas Rainer