About Adam Woodruff

Adam Woodruff has practiced garden design since 1995. He trained as a Botanist at Eastern Illinois University. Woodruff attributes his unique design aesthetic, naturalism with a twist, to early college exposures to a diverse range of plants and environments (collecting trips in local prairies, field excursions to bogs in Canada and treks through forests of the Northeast). He also maintained the campus greenhouse, where he fell in love with tropicals. In recent years, influences on his designs include travels abroad to Europe, Asia and the Yucatan peninsula as well as observation of the work of great plantsmen such as Piet Oudolf and Roy Diblik. Woodruff’s designs often combine grasses, prairie natives and perennials with lush tropical foliage and seasonal blooms. This harmonious blending of plant material that is not conventionally grouped together is the ‘twist’ that makes his style unique.

Author Archive | Adam Woodruff

Woolly Pockets

I’m back from San Francisco and inspired after my trip to Flora Grubb Gardens. I’ll share photos of the nursery and more detail in a future post. Today I want to highlight a versatile product they were selling that I am excited to experiment with in the new year.

Image courtesy Flora Grubb Gardens.

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GGW Plant Pick of The Month- Tibouchina

I’m leaving for California in a few days to visit some very dear friends. This is an annual visit and sometimes I am able to make it twice a year. It is great to ‘get away’ and connect with friends. There is nothing better than engaging conversations over great food and wine.

For me, the added bonus when traveling is the exposure to local flora. On this trip I’ll be returning to Flora Grubb Gardens, and checking out Annie’s Annuals and Berkeley Horticultural Nursery.

On one of my earlier visits to San Francisco I noticed a lovely small ornamental tree that I have since incorporated into my seasonal displays. Princess-flower (Tibouchina) is the GGW Plant Pick of The Month.

Princess flower (Tibouchina) with Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' and Picea pungens 'Glauca Globsa'.

Princess flower (Tibouchina) with Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' and Picea pungens 'Glauca Globosa'

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GGW Plant Pick of The Month- Sesleria

A couple of years ago while visiting the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago I was attracted to several groupings of a striking yellow-green tufted grass that I did not recognize. It was compact in its growth habit (10-12″H x 10-12″W), and had silvery inflorescences that were about 18″H. It was growing in full sun yet maintained a bright, crisp color. I later determined it was Sesleria, or moor grass.

Lurie Garden- Chicago, Illinois

Sesleria seems to be an under-used grass, at least here in the Midwest. This summer, I saw several species growing in Piet Oudolf’s garden in the Netherlands and Roy Diblik’s garden (Northwind Perennial Farm) in Wisconsin. I realized I should start experimenting with Sesleria in my own projects. In an effort to raise awareness of the genus, I’ve chosen to highlight it as the GGW Plant Pick of The Month. Continue Reading →

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Oudolf Nursery & Garden- Hummelo, The Netherlands

One of the highlights of summer was my first trip to Europe, specifically to Piet & Anja Oudolf’s nursery and private garden in The Netherlands. I went for their Grass Days.

Europe 256

Much like Fran Sorin (as she noted in her fabulous three part interview last month), I am a huge fan of Oudolf’s unique style. His gardens intrigue me and his design aesthetic influences my work. I’ve enjoyed all of his books. My close proximity to the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago provides seasonal opportunities to appreciate the development of one of his grand scale gardens and study plant combinations in person.

You might then imagine my excitement when the opportunity to travel to The Netherlands presented itself! Continue Reading →

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GGW Plant Pick of The Month- Plants with Variegated Foliage

Dramatic variegated foliage of Canna ‘Striata’ pops in this seasonal display bed with Zinnia elegans ‘Zowie Yellow Flame’ and Z. elegans ‘Uproar Rose’, Rudeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’, Persicaria polymorpha, Perovskia atriplicifolia, Cleome ‘Spirit Frost’ and Cleome ‘Spirit Merlot’, Lythrum virgatum ‘Morden’s Gleam’ and Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ companions.

Dramatic gold and green variegated foliage of Canna 'Striata' pops in this display bed with Zinnia elegans ‘Zowie Yellow Flame’ and Z. elegans ‘Uproar Rose’, Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’, Persicaria polymorpha, Perovskia atriplicifolia, Cleome ‘Spirit Frost’ and Cleome ‘Spirit Merlot’ and Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ companions.

Traditionally, GGW Plant Pick of The Month highlights a specific genus or cultivar. I’m going to try something different for October and feature plants with variegated foliage. They function as important accents in my seasonal displays. Note, photos will include companion plant names as well. Continue Reading →

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