Beauty of the Wild: A Life Designing Landscapes Inspired by Nature
by Darrel Morrison, FASLA
Published by Library of American Landscape History, 2021
The creative and inspired career of Darrel Morrison—landscape architect, educator, naturalist, writer, and artist—could have been written by many of his acolytes, but to have his story in his own words is a treasure. Beauty of the Wild (2021), published by the Library of Landscape History, is a chance to see our changing 20th-century relationship with nature and landscape design through the keen and generous spirit of someone who continues to practice and inspire us all with his knowledge and work.
I first met Darrel in 1983 at the Founders Memorial Garden in Athens, Georgia. He greeted students and alumni as the University of Georgia’s new dean of the, then, School of Environmental Design. As he so beautifully tells in his book, he came to the Deep South steeped from childhood in a love of the midwestern prairies, and as a professional, someone who was challenged by the landscape architects who could not read the natural landscape or use the diversity of our native plant communities to protect and shape a more beautiful and sustainable environment.
Before he left Georgia, his summer field course with botany professor, Sam Jones, had become legendary and changed the studies and lives of many students, including mine.
From saltmarsh to granite outcrop, longleaf to water prairie, Darrel learned and shared the awesome power of native plant communities of the South with all who would listen.
The story doesn’t end in Georgia, and the circle of experiences that brought him “home” to Wisconsin and the designation of the Morrison Prairie and Forest Preserve in Iowa can only be told in Darrel’s voice. To read this book is to experience our native landscapes through all the senses. Darrel’s inspired life challenges us all to go out and embrace the nuance, fragility, and resiliency of the natural environment and to ensure its future for generations to come.