New Directions in the American Landscape has been a pioneering influence in bringing ecology to the fore of landscape design.
Since 1990, our annual two-day conference, co-sponsored by the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania and the Connecticut College Arboretum, has been a fixture in the landscape design and management fields. Workshops and field sessions have supplemented the annual symposium.
NDAL has changed and is changing how things are done in the landscape profession. With unique vision and dedication, NDAL continues to inspire diverse practitioners. As one landscape architect said who regularly attends the annual conference, “I go home inspired.”
Key moments in NDAL’s legacy appear in the contextual timeline below, situating these moments within the field’s larger historical context.
A full line-up of NDAL’s past programming can be viewed and downloaded below (you’ll need Adobe Reader).
Landscape architects Darrel Morrison and Nancy Aten designed to music in front of a live audience at NDAL’s 25th anniversary conference in 2014.
2012 | Conversations Across Fields: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Ecological Landscape Design — NDAL deliberately pushes the envelope, offering in-depth explorations of overlooked and forward-looking topics not available elsewhere. Designers are often asked to present on emerging or unknown aspects of their work. Speakers and attendees alike commend this format: it enables presenters to refine developing ideas with an informed audience, and students and new professionals benefit from demonstration of process.
Natural Landscape Design: Meadows and Woods New England — NDAL occasionally offers intensive short courses.
2010 | Environmental Design: Learning from Experience –– NDAL’s deliberately expansive approach draws upon the expertise and practical insights of nursery professionals, horticulturists, and land managers, as evidenced in the 2010 conference.
Out There: Field Explorations in Nature and Garden
NDAL’s occasional field sessions, which always include designers and scientists as co-instructors, provide valuable opportunities to observe techniques and natural processes first hand.
2005 | Linking Parallel Worlds: Landscape Design and the Study of Ecological and Cultural Landscapes — An interdisciplinary approach is an essential part of NDAL’s mission, as in the 2005 conference exploring design, agriculture, and ecology. The conference was dedicated to two “Frank” scholars of the American landscape — ecologist Frank Egler and landscape architect Frank Waugh.
2000 | The Art and Science of Natural Landscape Design — For years, NDAL’s annual conferences were one of the few forums offering in-depth explorations of ecology and design. The 2000 conference featured presentations by such pioneering practitioners as Leslie Sauer, James Patchett, and Gerould Wilhelm.
1997 | Capturing Nature’s Visual Patterns in Landscape Design: Observation, Analysis, Implementation — The work of scientists has always been central to NDAL programs, as evidenced in the 1996 annual conference in which ecologists critiqued case studies of designed landscapes patterned after naturally occurring ecosystems. Appropriately, Ian McHarg gave the opening lecture.
Natural Design as Landscape Art (southeast conference)
Natural Design as Landscape Art (midwest conference)
1995 | Natural Design as Landscape Art: Innovation with Roots in the Past –– NDAL attended to native plants long before their use became a popular concern. A session at the 1995 annual conference contextualized this growing movement with a presentation by the preeminent landscape architect A.E. Bye.
Designed Gardens as Plant Communities: The Southwest Landscape — NDAL began offering workshops and regional conferences in 1995, hosted by venues nationwide, including at the National Wildflower Research Center (now Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center).
1990 | Underused Plants in the Landscape — NDAL’s first annual conference!