A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach – July 5, 2021 – Patrick McMillan on Natural Communities


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I’ve been looking forward to connecting with Patrick McMillan, who last October took over as director of the exceptional plant collection and astonishing landscape that is Heronswood Garden in Kingston, Washington. 

Besides wanting to know what’s next there at a place that’s been known for a long time for its influence on American gardeners, Patrick has a personal passion I’m very curious about. It’s what he calls “natural community gardening,” as in taking our cues from habitats or plant communities in nature to guide how we design and care for our gardens.

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Patrick came to Heronswood last fall from Clemson University in South Carolina, where he ran the South Carolina Botanical Garden and was a professor in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. He also hosted a PBS series called “Expeditions with Patrick McMillan,” and led the development of the botanical garden’s Natural Heritage Garden. His motto, in his words: 

“No matter how large a garden space is, no matter what you’re doing, you try to make your passion come to life on your piece of ground.”


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