Moloney Design & Horticulture

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Philosophy

Moloney Design and Horticulture uses sustainable design solutions, organic gardening practices, and ecological land management to create and care for beautiful, healthy, and resilient gardens and landscapes.

For a more detailed explanation of my personal approach, the contrast between ecological and conventional landscaping, and the use of native plants, please see below:

Baptisia

I approach garden and landscape design and management from both an aesthetic and ecological perspective, along with an appreciation for natural history. There is nothing more beautiful than nature at work, and nature is always working. For me, designing a garden is not only about using the raw material provided by nature to create something that soothes, delights, provides food, or offers sanctuary. It is also about trying to do what nature does, because nature is so good at it. I look to the processes of the natural world, the laws that govern it, and its essential beauty as my models for designing sustainable, ecological gardens and landscapes in the Hudson Valley.

While several terms, such as Ecological Gardening, Sustainable Landscape Design, and Conservation Landscaping can be used to describe this approach, the fundamental principles are basically the same. These include:

To achieve these objectives, Moloney Design and Horticulture employs the following practices to create beautiful, low maintenance, site-appropriate, environmentally responsible gardens and landscapes that provide wildlife habitat and spaces for human enjoyment, relaxation, and recreation, include plants for human consumption and use, and increase property values:

Ecological vs. Conventional Landscaping
In contrast, Conventional Landscaping often makes use of one or more of the following practices:

A Note about Native Plants
My commitment to using native plants is based not only on the fact that they are adapted to our climate and environment, and, when used in the appropriate location, are tough, low maintenance, and beautiful. They have also co-evolved with native insects, which, at the base of the food chain, provide food for a diversity of fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals. The leaves of many of the alien invasive plants so common in the landscape trade, such as barberry or burning bush, or naturalized in our forests, such as Japanese honeysuckle or multiflora rose, are unpalatable to our native insects. Without a diversity of native plants and insects, there can be no basis upon which biodiversity thrives.

However, there are many non-invasive alien plants that can play an ecological, practical, and aesthetic role in our gardens, and that are indispensable in edible gardens. While there are some situations in which I would advocate for the exclusive use of native plants, such as in restoration projects in sensitive areas, I do not generally subscribe to a "natives only" policy in my landscape design.

For a more detailed discussion about this issue, see Native Plants: Restoring to an Idea, by Toby Hemenway and Gardening for Life, by Doug Tallamy, two excellent articles about native plants and biodiversity.

Please see the Resources page for more links and suggested reading relating to native plants, ecological gardening, and sustainable landscape design.

“The great mistake made by most novices is that they study gardens too much, and nature too little. Now gardens, in general, are stiff and graceless…But the fields and woods are full of instruction, and in such features of our richest and most smiling and diversified country must the best hints of the embellishment of rural homes always be derived.”

Andrew Jackson Downing - A Few Hints on Landscape Gardening, 1848