Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Travis Beck

Travis Beck: Rewriting Landscape Design

Posted in People on February 7 2013, by Matt Newman

Travis BeckTravis Beck humbly recalls his first gratifying experience as a landscape designer, a xeriscape project he planted with his own company in Colorado. “It was a small border,” he says, “but we finished on time, on budget, and it grew in very nicely.”

Years later, walking through the multi-tiered landscape of the Native Plant Garden, his ego still keeps to a small space–though his undertakings seldom do. The words Beck uses to describe his work are efficient and to-the-point, even as our tour group skirts the massive water feature he’s helped realize at the center of this latest NYBG revision. But his pragmatism has a purpose in this near fairytale landscape, just as it does in his recently published book: Principles of Ecological Landscape Design.

Not one to settle for the “green” aphorisms being passed along in today’s design industry, Beck’s book captures his approach to environmentally sound landscapes with practical examinations of the before, after, and in between of each project. Thoroughness is key and few aspects are left to chance. More than a simple source of inspiration, Principles of Ecological Landscape Design is a compendium designed to address every consideration for the professional or student designer. Plant selection, competition and coexistence, wildlife interaction, biodiversity, and stability are only a sampling of the many topics tackled.

Read More

An Ever Changing Forest

Posted in Around the Garden, Gardens and Collections on December 6 2012, by Travis Beck

Travis Beck is the NYBG’s Landscape and Garden Projects Manager, overseeing large landscape design and construction projects here at the Garden. His current undertakings include the redesign of the Native Plant Garden and trail restorations taking place in the Thain Family Forest.

The Thain Family Forest at The New York Botanical Garden is a remnant of the deciduous forest that once covered most of the region. Unlike many of the remaining forests, the Thain Family Forest was never cleared for timber or agriculture, and includes numerous grand trees. Today, many of these are well over a century old.

Superstorm Sandy reminds us, however, that humans are not the only ones to fell trees. Her strong winds uprooted or snapped the trunks of over one hundred trees in the Forest. Where these trees fell, gaps now exist in the canopy, creating opportunities for the next generation of trees to grow. Our records show that Sandy was the most damaging storm in the Garden’s history to impact the Forest, but hurricanes, nor’easters, and thunderstorms are part of the natural disturbance regime for northeastern forests. Such storms open gaps in the canopy and allow for new growth to fill the space.

Read More