UK’s Assemble Studio chips sculpture out of urban rock

Tasmanian Angel

Its not very often that I’ve received a note from someone from Tasmania (never, actually). I did a month or so ago, from Sara Proud, project developer/coordinator for the Museum of the Old and New (MONA) in Berriedale, Tasmania, who introduced me to Maria Lisogorskaya and Paloma Strelitz of Assemble studio, London, UK so that we could meet and discuss their awesome design project.

Last Tuesday we met in New Orleans Ninth Ward and I was given an intro to The School Project on site. From there we made our way to City Park where we toured my prairie garden at Scout Island and then off for a flash-tour of the Botanical Garden to see cool plants.

It was a great day spent talking plants and gardening ideas. Thanks Prisca Weems of the City of New Orleans’ Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability for recommending me as a horticultural consultant. Its so fun seeing my home city through the eyes of others. Go Team School!!


Dr. Vidrine’s grassy garden – Eunice, Louisiana – in full November plummage

colors and textures – in tones un-noticeable from the ground


seed and stuff

Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Mississippi volunteer prairie planting crew – reporting for duty! Dr. Kevin McKone (third from left) spearheaded the planting of seed at the Oswalt Nature Trail on campus last week. This is the second planting – inspired by Brady Dunaway – a student who has a passion for natural areas vegetation. Thanks for your interest and for your seed purchase!

Dr. Mac Vidrine with a handful of Mamou seed – a gift to me from his garden.

seed head of Andropogon Moorei – one of the fluffier inflorescenses of the many Bluestem grass types, at the Covington, La. Nature Trail park.

above – full bags of seed of La. endemics Rudbeckia grandiflora (top) and Rudbeckia texana var. nitida – I have some seed cleaning to do……  🙂

seed (fruit) of the locally familiar Mirliton (Chayote Squash), a tropical vine commonly grown in New Orleans and traditional food for Thanksgiving dinner – this heirloom variety is called Ishrael Thibodeaux – unusual for its white color – its normally green.


Pinkish plumes of inflorescence at the Lamar Advertising company headquarters on Corporate Blvd in Baton Rouge. design by Spackman-Mossop-Michaels and Pastorek Habitats from 2009


That’s a wrap!

Project designs that are wrapping up –

Just finished the Mirabeau Water Garden design, New Orleans, a 25 acre park designed for the general public – a public park – featuring and focused on a 12-acre grassland landscape – a stormwater retention basin. Thanks to Waggoner and Ball Architects and Jeff Carbo Landscape Architects but especially to Shannon Blakeman and Amy Carter for their assistance in bringing this project design to fruition. Again, an amazing garden that will further protect on of the lowest lying neighborhoods in the Crescent City from flooding by diverting rain water from mechanical pumps used to keep the City “high and dry”.

Done also is the Baton Rouge Riverfront Project garden re-design, gardens focused on native grasses and wildflowers via local genetic seed and by propagation of plugs, small plants grown especially for the garden.

Just completed collaboration with Reed-Hilderbrand Landscape Architecture on the New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture Garden design, under construction very soon.


Ornate Bella Moth – photo by Charles Allen

ever see this pretty thing? Many hundreds of them at the farm every year this time of the year due to their liking of Crotolaria species – their host plant. As you walk through the seed fields, they flutter about by the hundreds – getting out of the way, basically – little pink dashes of life.


Got a call and was talking plants with a legendary (unnamed) landscape architect last week and he/ she mentioned a project they had planted where Little Bluestem grass was used – non-local-gene Bluestem grass plants – and so in curiosity, I ducked in on my travels to see it. Pretty sad story. This is why local genetics matter, folks. Some northern and western “genetic sisters” of our locally native plants have genes hate our extremely long, hot, humid and very wet central Gulf coastal summer weather. The contractor lost  about 90% of the planting and the 10% that survived are looking a little green around the gills if you know what I mean. ouch!


Dicanthelium/ Panicum laxiflorus at the Seed Farm in Pearl River CountyMississippi

Dr. Charles Allen has said for years said that Dicanthelium laxiflorus is a good candidate for native turfgrass and you can see by the photo, why. This is a native grass that gets no taller than a freshly mowed lawn and stays that way year-round. Hopefully someone will harness this idea one day and we’ll have panic grass lawn instead of Bermuda – wouldn’t that be nice. 🙂

above – the fire-managed south savanna at Crosby Arboretum, Pearl River County, Mississippi from above. The brightly colored square is the new Quaking Bog exhibit – not sure if it actually quakes yet or not. Design by the late Ed Blake. I spent 20 years assisting with burns here, first with Senior Curator Bob Brzuszek and then with Facilities/ Burn  Manager Terry Johnson. Crosby is a great model for design using natural principals and practices – combining art, architecture, and biological sciences.

above, the Pond Journey trail with its featured Faye Jones pavillion at Crosby Arbo – November 16, 2017.




4 thoughts on “UK’s Assemble Studio chips sculpture out of urban rock

  1. Marc, So happy that you have so many projects in the works! Was wondering on the location of the Mirabeau Water Garden. My mom lives in the Mirabeau Gardens subdivision in the Gentilly section of New Orleans. Also, if you ever need any volunteers, you probably would be able to recruit some of the Pearl River County Master Gardeners for some of your projects. I would love to learn more about our native plants and would love to hear about the use of panic grass.

  2. Marc I’m so happy to see that you succeeded with the white millions again. I have a vine barely hanging on and will be visiting my friend in Husser to try try again next year.

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