A B O U T   R I C K  D A R K E   L L C

                          35mm camera early 1970's
Rick Darke, President of RICK DARKE LLC, is a widely published author, photographer, lecturer and consultant focused on regional landscape design, planning, conservation, and enhancement. Blending art, ecology, and cultural geography, Darke is dedicated to the design and stewardship of livable landscapes. He has studied and photographed North American plants in their habitats for over 30 years, and this work is reflected in his articles and books including The American Woodland Garden: Capturing the Spirit of the Deciduous Forest , which received the American Horticultural Society's Book Award, the Garden Writers Association Golden Globe Award for book photography, and the National Arbor Day Foundation's Certificate of Merit. A broadly knowledgeable horticulturist, Darke has traveled extensively in both hemispheres, exploring diverse ecologies and cultural landscapes in search of ideas to enrich the global garden. He is an internationally recognized authority on the use of grasses in designed and managed landscapes and his book, The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes is the world's most complete individual reference on this topic.

His book The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition (2009 Timber Press) places William Robinson's classic concept of wild gardening in modern ecological context and illustrates its relevance for today's gardeners and landscape stewards. (click here for more info and a video link) and is available through bookstores and online stores including Amazon.com  

Darke's writing and photography was included in three multi-author books published in 2011: The New American Landscape: Leading Voices on the Future of Sustainable Gardening (Timber Press) and Fallingwater (Rizzoli) and in Annik La Farge's book On The High Line: Exploring America's Most Original Urban Park, published in April 2012 by Thames & Hudson, NY.  

In 2012 his essay "My Time Machine", about the temporal dimension of gardening, was included in The Roots of My Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden, published by Timber Press.

Darke's newest book, The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden, co-authored with Doug Tallamy, will be published by Timber Press in June 2014.  

Rick Darke is available for concept, design, and management consulting on public and private landscapes.
Contact design@rickdarke.com

Rick Darke at Carrie Furnace June
                          2011 by Ralph Vittucio 
cedar framed sunrise
Darke's own garden, made with Melinda Zoehrer, his wife and co-horticulturist, comprises 1.5 acres in the rolling piedmont of Landenberg, Pennsylvania, and features locally native and adapted plants and regional relics. The garden has been published in Horticulture Magazine, Delaware Today magazine, in Ken Druse's award-winning books The Collector's Garden (1996) and Ken Druse: A Passion for Gardening (2003, co-authored with Adam Levine), in Fine Gardening Magazine, December 1998, The American Gardener , May-June 1999, in the July-August 1999 issue of HGTV Ideas: The Magazine of Home and Garden Television , and in Peg Streep's Spiritual Gardening: Creating Sacred Space Outdoors. The garden was featured in the September 2000 issue of The Garden (The Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society) and in a May 2007 New York Times article by Anne Raver. Darke's work with deciduous forest ecology, stewardship, and landscape design was featured on Ketzel Levine's National Public Radio program.  Click here for the NPR link including full audio.   The September 2008 issue of Gardens Illustrated includes an interview with Rick Darke by John Hoyland, with photography by Charlie Hopkinson. 

After initial forays into mechanical engineering, art, cultural geography and anthropology, Darke graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Science from the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware in 1977. He subsequently completed graduate coursework in plant taxonomy, botanic garden management, and public policy. Darke received an honorary degree from the Conway School of Landscape Design in July 2009.

When not gardening, Darke maintains his machine interests by restoring and writing about vintage motorcycles, their history in Japan, and other relationships involving The Machine in The Garden (thanks, Leo Marx). 

Darke served on the staff of Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania for 20 years, beginning in 1977 as Taxonomic Assistant.  As Curator of Plants from 1986-1997, Darke played a major role in developing the Gardens' indoor and outdoor displays, and was directly responsible for the identification and data management of the nearly 10,000 different plants comprising Longwoods' grounds and conservatory collections. His work with international plant exploration and introduction has taken him to Japan, South Africa, England, Germany, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, and the Canary Islands.

black swallowtail on sunflower at
                          Montgomery Farm

Darke has served as a horticultural consultant for diverse public landscapes and gardens including 21st Century Parks (Louisville, KY), the Adkins Arboretum (for the Eastern Shoreway, route 301), Carrie Furnaces National Historic Landmark (managed by Rivers of Steel), Delaware Greenways (for the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway), the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Rio Grande Botanic Garden, Mt. Cuba Inc., and the City of Baltimore's Druid Hill Conservatory. 

Projects include:

Montgomery Farm, a 500-acre conservation development in Allen, Texas that has employed a diverse team to create an essentially livable landscape.

Enhancing Delaware Highways project for the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT). This cooperative research project conserves and enhances the beauty and ecological diversity of Delaware's regional landscape through inspired management of roadside rights-of-way. Enhancing Delaware Highways was featured in the August 2003 People Places and Plants magazine article "Roadside Attraction"  Along with Susan Barton and Gary Schwetz, Darke co-authored and photo-illustrated DelDOT's Concept and Planning Manual: Enhancing Delaware Highways. The complete manual is available as a The complete Concept and Planning Manual is available in PDF  free of charge through this link on the Delaware Department of Transportation website.   Darke, Barton, and Scwhetz recently completed DelDOT's Establishment and Management Manual, which is available in PDF free of charge from this link on the DelDOT website.

Darke worked with W. Gary Smith in 2006 on the design of the Woodland Entrance Corridor for the Botanic Garden of Western Pennsylvania, now known as the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Darke and Smith previously worked together on the design of Peirce's Woods at Longwood Gardens. In 2008, Darke, Smith, and Darrel Morrison participated in a
design charrette, for the Native Flora garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Working with Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation since 2013 Darke initiated the Addition by Reduction project at Carrie Furnace, employing editing techniques to organize and enhance the site's beauty, biodiversity, and functionality.

In 2014 recently began work on the conservation-based design of a layered woodland garden in the Floyds Fork watershed for 21st Century Parks of Louisville.
celebrating cultural and ecological
                          diversity at Montgomery Farm

walking The High Line,
                          with the Empire State Building at left
Darke's longstanding studies of cultural landscapes and regional ecologies led him to join designer Paul van Meter and co-team member Tim Mountz in the submission of a design entry for The High Line, a long-derelict elevated rail line along New York City's West Side that has since become one of 21st Century's most imaginative public spaces. The team entry, one of over 700 submitted by participants from Tokyo to Berlin, was a Jury Selection. Click here to see some of Rick Darke's photos of The High Line  ....OR........................................................>

OR.....turn your sound up loud and click on this link to watch a HD streaming video of the High Line in process
: http://www.livablelandscape.org/HL.wmv

OR....watch Rick Darke's September 2011 lecture for The High Line's Rail Yards Talks on the High Line's YouTube channel at:
...go to NIGHT SHOTS of the High Line October 23 2009.....
go to October night images of the
                              High Line

Darke lectures internationally on sustainable landscape design, planning, conservation and the ethical underpinnings of all of these. Special areas of focus include ecological and cultural landscapes of North America, deciduous woodland ecology and garden design, grasses for sustainable global gardens, Arts & Crafts period gardens, roadside/ruderal landscapes, and regenerative landscapes. On the broad topic of livable landscapes Rick has addressed audiences in North America, Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile.

Beginning with fall semester 2006 Darke worked with University of Delaware professor Dr. Susan Barton on the format, content, and web design for PLSC100 Plants and Human Culture, a progressive UD course exploring the evolving relationships between plants and an international variety of human cultures.  Although classes and discussions take place in a 'bricks and mortar' classroom, readings, assignments, projects and quizzes are all handled digitally using the University of Delaware's online interface. Darke serves as regular guest lecturer on topics including The World of Plants, Presentation Technologies, Paths of Desire, The Global Garden, and The Art of Observation.
click on image for link to course

Darke is an active free-lance writer and photographer. His collection of digital photos and 35mm transparencies includes over 200,000 images of plants, gardens, and diverse landscapes around the world. His photographs have been published in numerous books, magazines, newspapers and nursery catalogs. Darke's current cameras include the Sony models A99, A77, NEX-7, RX100, SR11 and iPhone 4S. For digital presentation Darke uses Epson projector models Epson 1730W and 1925W. Darke is available for workshops or presentations on the use of digital technologies for gardeners and green industry professionals.  Go to Publications for a complete listing of Darke's published works including free downloadable PDF's of his profiles on Amsonia, Halesia, Fothergilla.

Darke has been studying ornamental grasses for over 30 years, and has had articles on this topic published in numerous magazines and journals including RHS The Garden, Garden Design, National Gardening, Fine Gardening, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Record, and Arnoldia , the magazine of the Arnold Arboretum. He authored the booklet Ornamental Grasses at Longwood Gardens and was responsible for the design and plant selection of the ornamental grass display in Longwood's Idea Garden. His first book, For Your Garden: Ornamental Grasses was published in April 1994. Darke served as Consulting Editor for the Royal Horticultural Society's Manual of Grasses, published in December 1994. His book, The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses , including over 500 color photographs by the author, was published in the U.S. in March 1999 by Timber Press. His next work on grasses, the Timber Press Pocket Guide to Ornamental Grasses, was published Autumn 2004. His most recent book on grasses, The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes, was published in April 2007 by Timber Press.  With over 1000 photos and more than 130,000 words, it is the most comprehensive encyclopedia of landscape grasses ever published. It is available in French from Editions du Rouergue (Parc Saint-Joseph, France), and was published in German in 2010 by Verlag Eugen Ulmer (Stuttgart, Germany)

Darke's research has investigated period Arts & Crafts Movement philosophies and their importance to contemporary stewardship of cultural landscapes and local ecologies. He has written about Arts & Crafts gardens for Style 1900: The Quarterly Journal of the Arts & Crafts Movement, has lectured from coast to coast on this topic, and has served as design consultant on Arts & Crafts gardens from California to Pennsylvania. His book, In Harmony with Nature: Lessons from the Arts & Crafts Garden was published in hardcover in March 2000 by Friedman-Fairfax of New York and in softcover in March 2001. Darke has presented various perspectives on the topic of Arts & Crafts gardens for institutions and symposia including: the 9th Annual Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference in Asheville, North Carolina; the Friends of the Gamble House Greene & Greene Symposium in Pasadena, California; Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge, California; the Rose Valley Anniversary Lecture Series at the Hedgerow Theater in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania; the University of Pennsylvania's Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the Berks County Pennsylvania Horticulture Club; Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida; the New York Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America; the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in California, the 13th Annual Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference; and the New York Botanical Garden.  

Darke has been a founding member of the Steering and Program Committees for the Millersville University annual Conference on "Native Plants in the Landscape", co-Chairman of the Native Plant Sale Program Committee for the Delaware Nature Society, Chairman of the AABGA Nomenclature Committee, and is Past President of the Board of Directors of the Delaware Center for Horticulture. He served on the review board for the Chester County Natural Areas Inventory, and on the Public Education Committee of the Citizens Task Force for the Congressionally-sponsored White Clay Watershed Wild & Scenic Rivers Study, on the Delaware Department of Transportation Horticultural and Vegetative Management Advisory Group, the Landscape Advisory Committee of the Whitesbog Preservation Trust, and served for ten years as a Board Member of Pennsylvania's  London Britain Township Land Trust.

    In 1997 Darke received the Professional Citation of the
  American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (AABGA). 

In 1998 the American Horticultural Society (AHS) honored Darke
with its Scientific Award, which recognizes individuals
"who have enriched horticulture through outstanding and notable research." 

In 2001 Darke received the Garden Media Award 
from the Perennial Plant Association.

In 2004 Darke received the AHS Horticultural Writing Award.

In 2009 Darke received an honorary degree from the Conway School of Landscape Design

In 2011 Darke received the Distinguished Alumni Award
from the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

In 2012 Darke received the Distinguished Achievement in Horticulture Award from Rutgers Gardens
of Rutgers University

(All images this page R.Darke)