Travis Beck Interview

Travis Beck is author the newly published Principles of Ecological Landscape Design, which I recently reviewed. He kindly agreed to an interview so I could ask him some questions about his book, what inspired him and his views on the current state of Landscape Architecture.

What inspired you to write this book?

For a long time I asked myself, “What would a designed landscape that was truly based on ecological principles look like?” I kept looking for a book that would answer that question. Eventually I set out to write it myself.

What ‘natural’ landscapes inspire you most?

Right now I am fascinated by the dunes along the Atlantic coast. I love their spare beauty and the tough plants that inhabit them—beach grass, seaside goldenrod, beach heather. Plus, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy we’ve seen how well…

Continue reading →

Book Review:: Principles of Ecological Landscape Design

What if, instead of depicting nature, we allowed nature in? What if, instead of building and maintaining artistic creations, we worked to develop and manage living systems?

Principles of Ecological Landscape Design is a book that will soon be gracing the shelves of Landscape Architects, Landscape Designers, Professors of Landscape Architecture, City Planners, students of Landscape Architecture and more. This is a book that encompasses, in great detail, all of the aspects of designing a landscape with ecology in mind. It is a comprehensive manual, both instructional and case study at once. It offers the designer the opportunity to make ecological design part of their regular practice by giving them the framework of understanding complex systems and how it affects not only design, but the long term life of the designed landscape.

Author Travis Beck

Continue reading →

5 Wildlife Gardening Resources for the Pacific Northwest

This was originally was published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest

It seems that any time I talk with somebody about landscaping for wildlife or make a book recommendation, this is the first one I mention. There is simply no better book for this region, and in fact this book contains information useful for nearly every region when it comes to wildlife landscaping. There is not a single wasted page in this book and it’s packed full of valuable information including everything from making a pond, choosing the right plants and building bat houses. One aspect of this book which puts it a head above the others is explaining why these design elements are important by explaining plant succession, wildlife populations and structural diversity. It covers…

Continue reading →

Book Review:: Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast

Plants of the Pacific Northest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska features nearly 800 plants common to the coast of the Pacific Northwest and is one of my most often referenced plant books. Boasting over 1,000 each photos and drawings, plants are described in good detail including information about plant structure such as leaf shape and color, fruit types and flowers. Color-coded range maps accompany each plant species and in addition the book lists the ecology, what habitat type each plant is likely to be found.

Each plant also has various notes which often include ethnobotany information about the local tribes and how the plants were used, either for food, medicine or craft. The notes also sometimes describe if a plant is toxic, if any parts are edible, how and when it was discovered or…

Continue reading →

Foragings:: The latest news, resources, designs and more


  • Access to wildlife should be a right, not a privilege:: An interesting article from the Guardian which discusses “that every child and young person has the right to grow up and live in a high-quality, wildlife-rich environment with ready access to the physical and mental health benefits, developmental advantages and play opportunities it affords.”
  • Do not harm invasive species that pollinate, study warns:: This article details a fascinating study which found that many invasive pollinator species which have damaged native pollinator populations should not necessarily be removed or eradicated because they often take over the role of the pollinator they eliminated.
  • Wild flowers are nature’s anarchists. Yet today even weeds must conform:: This wonderful article discusses wildflowers as “nature’s flotsam, survivors, anarchists, freelances, defying the horrors of modern life.” The author describes his search not in the meadows and wildlands but instead as “urban geeks are scrambling…

Continue reading →

Featured Design Resource:: Reptiles and Amphibians in your backyard

Readers may or may not realize that there are hundreds of design resources here on The Metropolitan Field Guide. On top of this website is a drop-down menu titled ‘Design Resources’ where you’ll find documents for designing butterfly, bird, bat and other wildlife species habitat categorized by species as well as region. You’ll also find plant lists for wildlife and a variety of other subjects such as adding habitat to golf courses, designing green roofs, rain gardens and wildlife crossings. To bring attention to these amazing downloadable and often free resources, this post marks the beginning of a new series featuring selected resources.

New from the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension comes Reptiles and Amphibians in your backyard and adds a valuable resource to a rather short…

Continue reading →