National Geographic : 1992 May
likely be banned by international agreement, a pumpkin that weighed . ... He wasn't ready to say. "It has a way to go yet," he told me as we drove off to see one of his five-pound tomatoes. OGERSON'S VEGETABLES are artistry in size, and at this time of hor ticultural resurgence others are making their mark on artistry of form. Just as there are superstars of architecture and interior design, so too are there leaders in garden design. Among them are Ryan Gainey of Atlanta, Georgia, James van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme of Washington, D. C., Edith Eddleman of Durham, North Carolina, and Ann Lovejoy of Bainbridge Island, Washington. They and others are giving the garden in America a new identity. They're bending the rules, and the results are something to see. There is most of all a new kinship between the plantings and the site. Plants native to a place and many varieties of ornamental grasses promoted by van Sweden and Oehme are given heavy play. Even the lowly hydrangea wears a new respectability. Edith Eddleman caught national attention with her design for a perennial border emphasizing native species at the North Carolina State University Arboretum at Raleigh. She began her work in 1983, gradually bringing life to the mammoth bed (300 feet long and 18 feet wide) that was as striking and innovative as any thing on the American scene. When she finished, it was a bor der with one thing or another in bloom for ten months of the year. Today she does not set out with any preconceived effect in mind. "In designing a garden," she said, "I start with one plant, then I connect other plants to it, and other plants to those. It's an organic thing. I like to think of myself as a plant chemist." It is not so much color that Eddleman strives for with her designs, although she certainly achieves that, but rather how a plant stands, how it is shaped and textured. She may start with ayucca, spiky and sharp as a sword, and end with the soft yellow button-like bloom of Moonbeam coreopsis, but there are no jarring transitions in the middle, only friendly foils. Farther south Ryan Gainey is much in demand as a gar den designer. He is a roman tic, and to him design involves not only the garden but the house and other surroundings as well. Indeed, I was along Vigilant protector Robert Sacilotto examines the "beau tiful and amusing" insect-eating pitcher plants he grows by the thou sands in Stanards ville, Virginia. To help fund a pres ervation project, his nursery distributes a dozen varieties of the plant, which has dwindled along with its wetlands habitat. A sweet, thick skinned watermelon grew from red seeds found by Arthur Combe in 1921 in an Indian cave in Arizona. Alycia Walsh, Combe's great-granddaughter, holds a descendant.