History of a Green Thumb: Fletcher Steele

Fletcher Steele, c. 1925. Courtesy American Horticultural Society

“I believe that there is no beauty without ugliness and this it should not be otherwise.  Both are capable of stinging us to live.  Contrast is more true to me than undeviating smugness.  The chief vice of a garden is to be merely pretty.”- Fletcher Steele

Plants and materials are being used more and more to enrich spaces both inside and out.  Architectural landscaping, or using indoor plants and design to enhance a space, has been used for centuries.  However, in recent years this practice has become an art form thanks to contributions made by a number of key figures.

Fletcher Steele was born on June 7, 1885 in Rochester, NY to a middle class family.  Schooled by his mother until age 12, Steele was developed a curiosity about the natural world and artistic design. After his general schooling, he was accepted into Harvard University’s Graduate School of Landscape Architecture.  Taught by greats like Fredrick Law Olmsted and Denman Ross, Steele developed his skills and passion for landscape architecture.  He developed a structured style that took into consideration not only the landscape itself, but the entire surrounding area.

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The Ultimate Guide To Living Green Walls


Living green walls. You may have heard of them and thought they were no more than the latest design fad. However in truth, the concept dates back to the 1930′s and they are science fiction made fact!

No longer just of interest to architectural companies trying to win design awards, they are gaining attention from businesses of all sizes looking to improve their green credentials. This ultimate guide will introduce you to these beautiful structures of greenery by answering the most common questions we hear asked.

Before you know it, you’ll be boring your friends, colleagues and boss as you preach like one of the newly converted! Read More »

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Tidbits of Summertime Watering Wisdom

Summer often motivates people to try their hands with a new hobby such as home gardening. Many self-styled gardeners look to shrug off the winter doldrums as the promise of longer warmer days lay in wait. A trip to the nearby supermarket or nursery is usually in order.

Unfortunately, many a wannabe green thumb is rudely awakened to the reality that they have dropped serious coin on plants, soil, pots and gardening tools – with little or no prior knowledge of just how involved plant care can be. Knowing how to properly water those new shrubs in front of your house may not be as simple as you think!

I for one can attest to this predicament. A few weeks ago, the excitement of purchasing beautiful dendrobium orchids, day lily bulbs and plantain lilies (Hosta plants) proved just too irresistible a prospect to let pass. A couple of hours and hundreds of dollars later the reality lingered in, “What was I thinking?” Ignorance is never bliss when expensive plants and flowers decay and rot within weeks. Read More »

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Video: Do You Need Drains In Planters?

To watch more instructional videos featuring Ambius Designer, Janice Nath, visit her media page here. Read More »

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Biophilia: The State of Grace in the Workplace

The environment, an oft-talked about topic, has been discussed by scientists, politicians, the neighbor next door and everyone in between for at least a decade. Regardless of one’s position on climate change, the notable temperature increases dictate that the luxury of procrastination is no longer an option. A greener planet is much more than just a  ‘feel-good’ notion. It’s an ultimatum to preserve our environment for future generations as well as for the present. One notable way to promote a greener world is through the concept biophilia (humanity’s innate need for nature). Biophilic design, refreshingly, has caught on in the workplace.

Biophilia, a term that originated with German-born American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, is the idea that humans possess the innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Fromm, in his book: The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973), described Biophilia as “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive.” Harvard biologist, E.O. Wilson, in his book: Biophilia (1984) proposed that the tendency of humans to focus on and affiliate with nature and other life-forms has, in part, a genetic basis. Read More »

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