C. Colston Burrell

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Overview

PO Box 76 5685 Peavine Hollow Trail Free Union, Virginia 22940

C. Colston Burrell is an acclaimed international lecturer, garden designer and photographer. Cole has twice won the American Horticulture Society Book Award. He escorts garden and natural history tours throughout the US and around the globe.

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Additional Information

Perennial Combinations - An Amazon.com best seller for 10 years!

Description

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

C. Colston Burrell is an acclaimed lecturer, garden designer, award-winning author and photographer. A certified chlorophyll addict, Cole is an avid and lifelong plantsman, gardener and naturalist. Cole is a popular lecturer internationally on topics of design, plants and ecology. He has shared his encyclopedic knowledge of plants and his abiding respect for regional landscapes with professional and amateur audiences for 40 years. He is principal of Native Landscape Design and Restoration, which specializes in blending nature and culture through artistic design. In 2008 Cole received the Award of Distinction from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers for his work promoting sustainable gardening practices.

Cole’s latest book, Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide, coauthored with Judith Knott Tyler, received the 2007 American Horticultural Society Book Award. He is author of several popular titles, including Perennial Combinations, Revised 2008, (an Amazon.com best selling garden title), Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants, Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials - 10th Anniversary Edition with Ellen Phillips, Perennials for Today’s Gardens and A Gardener’s Encyclopedia of Wildflowers, which won the 1997 AHS Book Award. Cole’s articles have appeared in Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, Fine Gardening, American Gardener and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. His writing reflects a love of plants, and he champions their use in artistically designed, environmentally friendly gardens.

Cole has teamed up with Carlson Wagonlit Travel and The Minnesota State Horticultural Society for Garden and Nature Tours with C. Colston Burrell to offer personalized leisure tours to exceptional gardens and natural areas around the globe. His one of a kind tours focus on the best private and public gardens and the most ecologically diverse natural areas to create memorable travel adventures.

Cole worked as curator at the U.S. National Arboretum and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. He has devoted a lifetime to studying native plants in the wild and in gardens, which lead to undergraduate degrees in Botany and Horticulture. He has an M.S. in Horticulture from University of Maryland and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota. He is a lecturer in the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he teaches about plants and their ecological connections to natural systems and cultural landscapes.

After tending a city lot alive with birds and butterflies in Minneapolis, MN, he now gardens on 10 wild acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Virginia, where he grows natives and the best plants of the global garden. Cole’s garden Bird Hill was featured in The New York Times and frequently appears in national and regional publications. The garden is a popular destination for national tours. Visitors discover a collector’s paradise set among a pastiche of woodland, meadow, and gardens inspired by the beauty of the regional landscape.

 

 

DETAILS OF COLE’S LECTURES

 

EVOLVING GARDENS:  Reimagining a World of Design Inspirations

Gardens and wild places around the globe provide inspiration for garden design. Christopher Lloyd’s long border, Burle Marx masterpieces or Jensen council rings, as well as boundless prairies and cathedral woodlands are all grist for the mill. C. Colston Burrell explores the diverse landscapes, magnificent gardens, iconography and experiences that shape the gardens he creates for clients with diverse needs and expectations.

 

BEAUTY, INTEGRITY AND RESILIENCE: Can A Garden Have Everything?

Do our gardening practices have a negative impact on the environment? Can we make a difference by changing the way we approach design, plant choice, planting techniques and maintenance regimes? How do we meet our aesthetic goals while providing the structure and resources necessary to maintain the insects and birds we love? Can we create healthy habitat with a mixture of native and exotic plants? These are a few of the questions to explore in terms of the hallmarks of sustainability when melding aesthetic expectations with ecosystem form and function.

 

REDEFINING RIGHT PLANT/RIGHT PLACE: A Gardener’s Ecology

Right Plant/Right Place is the gardener’s axiom. We all know these words by heart, but do we really put them to work for us when we design gardens and specify plants. Traditionally, we think of matching soil, water and light, and making sure the plant is the appropriate size for the space. But what about the larger ecological context in which we garden? When we plant a floodplain species in an upland, is it really right plant/right place? Using nature as a model, we explore the adaptations that allow plants to cope with the breadth of conditions Mother Nature can dish out. With nature in mind, we combine site appropriate plants to fashion beautiful gardens.

 

THE SUSTAINABLE GARDEN: Magic, Myth or Reality

Everyone is talking about sustainability, but what does it really mean to gardeners and landscape professionals? Do our gardening practices have a negative impact on the environment? Can we make a difference by changing the way we approach design, planting and maintenance? These are a few of the questions to explore in terms of the hallmarks of sustainability like water harvesting, composting, fertilizing and creating habitat. This lecture highlights sustainable practices within the framework of both formal and informal gardens and their relationship to larger regional systems.

 

NATIVE PLANTS IN YOUR GARDEN: Lessons from Nature and Culture

Native plants are currently the height of fashion, but do we really know what is native, and where? When we plant a floodplain species in an upland situation, are we gardening ecologically? Are cultivars native? These are a few of the questions C. Colston Burrell will explore as he examines the current popularity of landscaping with native plants from an ecological perspective. This lecture focuses on techniques for working with seasonal rhythms, structure and dynamics of native plant communities to design sustainable native gardens of unique and lasting beauty.

 

LITERATURE INTO ART: Books That Changed the Way We Garden

In today’s fast paced information age, it is hard to imagine a time when gardeners relied on books rather than YouTube videos for inspiration and practical advice. This lecture examines the shifting roles that gardens have played in our culture, from Victorian bedding schemes to outdoor living rooms, and highlights some seminal books that changed the way we envision, design, plant and maintain outdoor spaces.

 

GREAT NATIVES FOR TOUGH PLACES

Every garden has a challenging site where conventional solutions are more work than reward. This lecture helps gardeners choose the best native plants to thrive in tough site conditions, from wet or compacted soil to hot dry sites and dense shade. Using nature as a model, we explore the adaptations that allow native plants to cope with the toughest conditions Mother Nature can dish out. With nature in mind, we combine site appropriate plants to fashion beautiful gardens with reduced maintenance.

 

WITH NATURE IN MIND: Design & Plants for Shaded Gardens

Woodlands are places of subtle beauty and quiet enchantment. This lecture focuses on techniques for working with seasonal rhythms, forest structure and vegetation dynamics to design shade gardens of unique and lasting beauty. Learn about the unique challenges of designing shaded spaces that celebrate beautiful native wildflowers and shade plants from around the world that thrive under nature’s canopy.

 

THE NATIVE PLANT MOVEMENT IN NORTH AMERICA

The late 19th Century set the stage for the blossoming of a national love affair with native plants. From the Victorian passion for the outdoors and the birth of the field guide, to the environmental movement and the blossoming of modern native plant nurseries, native plants have become integral to horticulture and design in America. In the new millennium, invasive exotic species, habitat destruction, global warming and xenophobia are a few of the issues still germane after three centuries of promoting and employing North America’s diverse and beautiful flora.

 

AMERICAN PLANTS FOR EVERY GARDEN

Fields and forests across North America provide a rich palette of native trees, shrubs, vines and perennials for every garden. Revered abroad but often scorned at home, American plants deserve a second look. From familiar flora to tomorrow’s new mainstays, Cole Burrell explores an exciting palette featuring a wide range of adaptable species and cultivars for woodlands, meadows, beds and borders, as well as ways to incorporate them into the garden’s tapestry.

 

SEASONAL SPLENDOR: Year Round Color in the Shade Garden

Spring provides an embarrassment of riches for woodland gardens and shaded borders. The challenge for is to keep the garden colorful throughout the growing season. The key to success is to layer the garden the way nature layers her woodlands and glades. Employ plants with exceptional form and varied textures that persist after the ephemerals have acquiesced, such as filigreed ferns, arching Solomon’s seals, and soft sedges. Weaving richly textured groundcovers, shrubs and understory trees into a seamless tapestry provides color through the seasons.

 

DESIGN IDEAS AND PLANT COMBINATIONS FOR WINTER GARDENS

The best part of the gardening year begins as the asters are fading. The onset of winter brings a respite from heat, and signals the start of a season filled with berried branches and seductive silhouettes. Decorative elements and artful planting conspire to provide places to grow myriad winter-blooming plants such as daphnes, hellebores, and minor bulbs. This lecture focuses on the unique challenges of creating interest with both living and built elements and presents a variety of approaches to add texture, color and fragrance to the unsung season.

 

HELLEBORES: An American Passion

America has finally discovered hellebores. Early flowers, long bloom season and beautiful evergreen foliage endeared them to past generations. Today’s hellebores are not like the ones seen in your grandmother’s garden, however. A revolution in breeding has produced a range of hybrids never dreamed possible, including picotee, anemone and double flowered selections. This lecture explores the diversity of wild species as well as the myriad beautiful new hybrids.  The story of cultivation and hybridization takes us from the wilds of Montenegro to nurseries in England, Germany and Holland, and back to America.

 

NATIVE PLANTS AND ECOLOGICAL DESIGN: Myths and Realities

Native plants are currently the height of fashion. Gardeners, restorationists and landscape architect are planting natives, but do we really know what is native, and where? When we plant a floodplain species in an upland, are we gardening ecologically? Are cultivars native? These are a few of the questions C. Colston Burrell will explore as he examines the current popularity of landscaping with native plants from an ecological perspective. He will focus on the possibilities, techniques and issues behind ecologically based sustainable landscape design using native plant communities and regionally native species as the basis for creating gardens and restorations.

 

FINISHING TOUCHES: The Power of Details in Garden Design

Ever wonder why some gardens make your heart sing? Chances are you are responding to details. All gardens have well defined spaces and good planting -- great gardens stand out because of details. From paving patterns to stonework, fencing, containers and sculpture, the details in both functional and artistic elements make a garden personal and magical. This lecture celebrates spaces of various sizes that combine form, color and texture in hardscape and plants to fashion memorable places.

 

PERENNIALS WITH PANACHE': Stalwart Plants for American Gardens

Specialty Nurseries from Coast to Coast are bursting with new introductions originating in gardens and wild areas across the globe. From collector’s plants to tomorrow’s mainstays, we will explore an exciting palette of plants for woodlands, beds and borders, as well as ways to incorporate them into the garden’s tapestry.

 

THE ART OF PERENNIAL COMBINATIONS

Combinations are the building blocks of successful gardens. Groupings of plants that share the same growth requirements will be the most successful, and the lowest maintenance. Color, form and texture are media the garden artist uses to create a rich tapestry of unique beauty. Plants with outstanding flowers, foliage and fruits, put together a few at a time, help you to build a garden that is beautiful and successful. This lecture stresses the use of colorful flowers and foliage to create season-long interest in beds and borders of all sizes, in sun and shade.

 

FERNS: WILD THINGS MAKE A COMEBACK

Ferns impart a cool grace to gardens that no other group of plants can match. They beguile us with just their fronds. From the filigreed lace of the lady fern, to the erect swords of the deer fern, fronds provide color, form and texture to meet the most stringent design criteria. Learn how to tame these garden treasures and discover the beauty and variety of new ferns available today. Topics to be covered include fern anatomy, life cycle, growth forms, and cultivation requirements.

 

MORE THAN A PRETTY FACE: Native Alternatives to Invasive Exotic Plants

Landscape plants fulfill many diverse rolls in the varied settings within our gardens. They contribute form, color and texture to the garden tapestry through flowers, foliage, fruits and bark. They form the permanent as well as the ephemeral structure that defines the garden boundaries and spaces. Many of the plants most readily available in garden centers and nurseries have been invasive exotic species that spread beyond the bounds of our gardens. These invasive species alter the structure and function of ecosystems and displace native species. This lecture presents a wealth of native trees, shrubs and perennials that can serve as alternatives to invasive species, additionally providing food for butterflies, birds and other wildlife.

 

PARADISE BY DESIGN: Celebrating the Mystique of Gardens

Why do we garden? To nurture and cultivate, yes, but also to create our personal vision of paradise. For many, their gardens are stage sets, where the drama of life plays out in quiet and fanciful ways. For others, they serve as retreats from worldly woes. Cole Burrell examines the shifting roles of gardens in our culture, from Victory gardens to outdoor living rooms, and suggests ways to make them integral to the everyday experience of gardeners and non-gardeners alike.

 

GOOD BONES: Creating a Framework for the Garden

Many people point to their garden as something isolated and disconnected from the fabric of the landscape. A well-designed garden is more than a collection of planting beds, it is a logical sequence of spaces, enhanced by the plantings, structures and ornaments that define them. These space-defining bones determine how the garden looks through the seasons, especially in winter. Cole Burrell takes you through the process of designing and furnishing the floors, walls and ceiling of the garden as he demonstrates how to refine the garden’s spaces with structures, plants and ornaments.

 

GARDEN LOVER’S TRAVEL

Nature and art conspire in the world’s greatest gardens, Join Cole Burrell for a journey through stunning gardens and fascinating landscapes on a travelogue that spans the globe. We traipse through America’s scenic wonders, from the Shenandoah to Yellowstone, and explore the secrets Costa Rica’s rainforests and South Africa’s bush. Inspired by nature’s majesty, we visit magnificent gardens, both public and private, with wild nature as the backdrop. Rio’s Jardim Botanico, Capetown’s Kirstenbosch, England’s Great Dixter and New York’s Long House are just a few of our destinations.

 

INTIMATE GARDENS: Comfortable Spaces for Outdoor Living

Most gardeners are faced with the challenge of creating their version of paradise in a relatively small space. As our property boundaries shrink, and our lives become more hectic, our gardens become havens from the world around us. We definitely want a place outdoors to entertain and relax, but we also long for a stronger connection to the natural world. Intimacy is more than privacy and enclosure, however. Our gardens become intimate when we develop relationships with the plants, design elements, ornaments and processes that make them truly personal.

 

DESIGNING FOR HABITAT: From Back Yards to Byways

What does a garden need to attract and sustain wildlife? How do we meet the aesthetic goals of owners while providing the structure and resources necessary to maintain the insects and birds we love? Can we create healthy habitat with a mixture of native and exotic plants? This lecture explores the possibilities and limitations of designing sustainable habitat gardens at various scales, from urban spaces to rural retreats.

 

OBSESSION AND EXPLOITATION: A Cultural History of Trilliums

Connections between trilliums and humans have existed since indigenous peoples employed their medicinal powers. They are coveted for their beauty, celebrated in song and rhyme, featured on stamps, and their perfect symmetry has been abstracted into logos, symbols and art. Their name is exploited to sell products and housing developments. Join us for a romp through the culture and the cultural history of this captivating genus. The story of trilliums is one of obsession and exploitation.

 

NATURE’S SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMS: A Gardener’s Primer to Understanding Cycles and Flows

Were you paying attention in science class? If so, you remember the water cycle and the biomass pyramid, right? Nature’s sustainable systems balance inputs and outputs through flows of energy and cycles of nutrients, water and carbon. Unfortunately, human systems are often out of balance. As a result, they have diminished sustainability. This lecture demonstrates why sustainable landscapes are only achieved when designed to facilitate rather than hinder or interrupt nature’s cycles and flows.

 

NORTH AMERICA’S FORESTS: A Celebration of Trees and Wildflowers

Deciduous forests dominate eastern North America, yet this extensive province is only one of seven woodland types that blanket the North American continent. From the old growth hemlocks and tulip poplars of the southern Appalachians to colossal California redwoods, these forests serve as important reservoirs for biodiversity. Each forest type has unique vertical structure, species composition and vegetation dynamics ruled by climate, rainfall, soils, slope and aspect. This lecture explores the beauty of North America’s forests, their unique inhabitants as well as threats to their existence such as invasive plant species, insect epidemics and climate change.

 

NATURE MEETS ZONAL DENIAL: A Tale of Two Gardens

From a small city lot in Minneapolis (Zone 4) to 10 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (Zone 7), plantsman and author C. Colston Burrell explores the ecology, inspiration, design and choice plants that shaped his two distinctive gardens. In his gardens, art, architecture and both native and exotic plants conspire to create comfortable spaces enveloped in rich tapestries of lush foliage and colorful flowers.

Topics

COLE'S RECENT LECTURE TOPICS

 

EVOLVING GARDENS:  Reimagining a World of Design Inspirations

BEAUTY, INTEGRITY AND RESILIENCE: Can A Garden Have Everything?

REDEFINING RIGHT PLANT/RIGHT PLACE: A Gardener’s Ecology

LITERATURE INTO ART: Books That Changed the Way We Garden

GARDEN LOVER’S TRAVEL

WITH NATURE IN MIND: Design & Plants for Shaded Gardens

THE NATIVE PLANT MOVEMENT IN NORTH AMERICA

AMERICAN PLANTS FOR EVERY GARDEN

SEASONAL SPLENDOR: Year Round Color in the Shade Garden

DESIGN IDEAS AND PLANT COMBINATIONS FOR WINTER GARDENS

HELLEBORES: An American Passion

OBSESSION AND EXPLOITATION: A Cultural History of Trilliums

NATIVE PLANTS AND ECOLOGICAL DESIGN: Myths and Realities

FINISHING TOUCHES: The Power of Details in Garden Design

PERENNIALS WITH PANACHE': Stalwart Plants for American Gardens

THE ART OF PERENNIAL COMBINATIONS

FERNS: WILD THINGS MAKE A COMEBACK

MORE THAN A PRETTY FACE: Native Alternatives to Invasive Exotic Plants

PARADISE BY DESIGN: Celebrating the Mystique of Gardens

GOOD BONES: Creating a Framework for the Garden

INTIMATE GARDENS: Comfortable Spaces for Outdoor Living

NORTH AMERICA’S FORESTS: A Celebration of Trees and Wildflowers

NATURE MEETS ZONAL DENIAL: A Tale of Two Gardens

Photo Gallery

Burrell
  • Hellebore: A Comprehensive Guide
  • Great Natives for Tough Places
  • Perennial Combinations
  • A Gardener's Encyclopedia of Wildflowers

Click here for Slideshow. You can also click on any of the photos to start slideshow.

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Audience Reviews

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Excellent Speaker

Nina Hedrick from Tennessee - 02/17/2013 18:28:00

Our organization, the Southern Appalachian Plant Society, had C. Colston Burrell present his Program: Design Ideas and plant Combinations for Winter Gardens at a recent meeting. His talk was very well received by our large audience, and was followed by a lively and informative Q and A session. His knowledge of plants and design was well evidenced by his beautiful photographs and excellent presentation skills. We intend to have him present to us again, and highly recommend him to other groups.

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Great Photos and Good Information

Lynda from Summerfield, NC - 04/17/2012 19:49:17

Cole gave two presentations for our event, and both were very good. His delivery was smooth, information good but not tedious, and he charmed his audience with his passion for plants.

I particularly liked the fact that he interacted with the participants and was very friendly and social throughout the long day. Guilford Horticultural Society recommends this speaker.