New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL) is an organization dedicated to educational programming in ecological landscape design.
Conferences for landscape architects and designers regularly feature topics in ecology and sustainability. New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL) has been a pioneering influence for this change since 1990, and it continues with even greater relevance today.
NDAL programming has featured visionary creative and ecological minds, from Ian McHarg to Doug Tallamy to Leslie Sauer to Nigel Dunnett. This persistence of vision coupled with a commitment to practical knowledge represents an enduring contribution, and NDAL’s legacy has inspired a community of practitioners.
Photo: Nick Novick
NDAL’s impact stems in part from an expansive approach envisioned by its founder, Larry Weaner of Larry Weaner Landscape Associates. Besides the creative integration of science and design at NDAL events, topics in anthropology, history, and the arts provide designers with a rich framework for understanding the full extent of what’s possible and required by ecological design. Paired with this approach is a commitment to exploring tangible, practical techniques applicable at diverse scales and contexts. While the message of ecological design is increasingly popular, knowing how to implement that message and make it successful remain limited.
Photo: Kim Sokoloff
LARRY WEANER, NDAL’s founder, is principal of Larry Weaner Landscape Associates. His firm’s design and restoration work spans more then twenty US states and the UK, and has been profiled in national publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Garden Design, American Gardener, Wildflower Magazine, North American Native Plant Society’s The Blazing Star, and ASLA’s “The Dirt” blog. Larry has received numerous awards, including the Landscape Design Award from the New England Wildflower Society for use of native plants in “exceptional and distinctive landscape compositions” and the Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award from The Native Plant Center. The Garden Club of America awarded him an honorary membership in 2015, and the American Horticultural Society recognized him with the 2021 Landscape Design Award. This award is presented to an individual whose work has demonstrated and promoted the value of sound horticultural practices in the field of landscape architecture.
Larry’s approach to landscape design appeals to audiences nationwide. He has presented at American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) national and state meetings, Cultural Landscape Foundation tours, and the Garden Writers Association National Conference. He has spoken at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, the New York Botanical Garden, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Mad Gardeners Conference, the Millersville Native Plant Conference, the National Arboretum in Washington, DC, the Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, the New England Grows conference, and the U.S. Botanic Garden, among many other venues. He is a founding member of Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), a former member of APLD’s Environmental Committee, and an Affiliate member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).
Larry authored Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change with Tom Christopher (Timber Press, 2016). Their book received a 2017 Book Award from the American Horticultural Society.
JENNA WEBSTER, curator, conceives and develops NDAL programming with Larry and Sara Weaner. Jenna Webster joined Larry Weaner Landscape Associates (LWLA) in 2009. She holds a M.A. from the Conway School (a graduate program in sustainable landscape planning and design) and a B.A. and M.Ed. from Harvard University. She has worked on master plans for a range of private and public projects at LWLA. She is also an instructor in the Mt. Cuba Center Certificate Program, a member of the Professional Advisory Committee for the University of Delaware’s Dept. of Landscape Architecture, and a trustee of the Conway School in Northhampton, MA and the Crow’s Nest Research Center in Stafford, VA. In a prior career iteration, she worked in art museums and community non-profits and co-authored Ben Shahn’s New York: The Photography of Modern Times (2001).
SARA WEANER, executive director, is a program developer, researcher, and educator. From 2011-2012 she worked for NDAL as a research assistant, and after receiving her graduate degree she returned in 2017 as project management administrator for Larry Weaner Landscape Associates. During this time she also worked for the educational nonprofit Transcend as a research associate, where she researched learner outcomes and development and helped produce HundrED award-winning resources for school communities. Sara holds a M.A. in anthropology and education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College.
In 2018 she began her role as NDAL’s educational program coordinator, and now directs its geographic and curricular expansion as executive director. She will integrate the areas of culture, art, social and environmental justice, and ecoliteracy into NDAL’s traditional ecological landscape focus.
KATE BUTLER, documentarian, records and archives NDAL events. Since 2010 she has managed Accounts at Larry Weaner Landscape Associates. She graduated from Harvard University in 1982 with an B.A. in Fine Arts. She also holds a Certificate in Cinematography from the American Film Institute, and has spent 25 years working on feature films.
NDAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The esteemed group of landscape architects, scientists, and other professionals who advise NDAL include:
- Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, Founding Director, The Cultural Landscape Foundation
- Glenn Dreyer, Director Emeritus, Connecticut College Arboretum, Adjunct Associate Professor of Botany Emeritus, Connecticut College
- Carol Franklin, FASLA, Founding Principal (retired), Andropogon Associates
- Robert Grese, Professor, University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability, Director, Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum
- Darrel Morrison, FASLA, Senior Honorary Faculty Associate, Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Douglas Tallamy, Ph.D, Professor & Chair, University of Delaware Department of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology
- Gerould Wilhelm, Ph.D, Principal Botanist & Ecologist, Conservation Design Forum