Inspire Jericho speaker series brought in talented landscape architect and thinker Margie Ruddick  who authored the very popular landscape book “Wild By Design.”

Ms. Ruddick is a champion of  “wild” landscapes, creating ecologically sensitive places with a strong sense of balance, rhythm and design. One of her New York City landscapes is Queen’s Plaza, located next to Queens Boulevard, the former  “boulevard of death” . New York City has undertaken design work to make Queens Boulevard more pedestrian and cycling friendly, and Ms. Ruddick created a park below a tangle of elevated railway tracks at the plaza. And it is ingenious~realizing that there was not a budget for installed irrigation,  Ms. Ruddick installed wetlands that create a cooler micro-climate, and slightly raised the elevation to lessen the impact of the screeching trains overhead. That elevation resulted in a 25 percent reduction in train noise. Chunky curbs and pavers by artist Michael Singer delight in providing an allegory to the web of railroad tracks and provide detail to the  pathways.


Ms. Ruddick moves easily between projects of different scales. She has also worked in China and in India and described the philosophy and intent behind two projects: Living Water Park in Chengdu Sichuan province, and Shillim in India.

Working with local landscape designers Living Water Park was designed to be a water purifying system, and also utilized local plants. The park itself has a delightful blend of traditional Chinese gardening and a more natural approach, with places for children to wade and to play.

She also described her work in Shillim at Western Ghats India. In a long term project over two decades Ms. Ruddick restored  through plantings the original treed canopy, respected local sacred groves, and sited buildings in the landscape. A 2,500 acre resort owned UNESCO World Heritage landscape, 100,0000 local trees were planted and nurtured  by locals to recreate the treed forest lost decades ago.



Margie Ruddick has done much of her work as a partnership with architects, and values working in a team setting. She is a fan of the incremental process, where “serendipity” and site discoveries inform the design and implementation. She sees the connectiveness of landscapes as vital, and notes that with climate change plants and trees that might have been able to grow no longer can. In talking about the storms that are now bringing large trees down, Margie advocates for hardier species more suitable for the changing climate. She is a fan of the aspen tree for its versatility, quick growth, and adaptability.  And she is no native plant purist~she believes in mixing up plants that are hardy to the current climate, and bringing scale to any project through design.

When asked about her thought for the new Jericho Lands, Margie talked about the importance of creating a sustainable site plan that links to transportation options and to the beach, “using landscape as a business proposition” to create linkages, recreation areas, and places to sit throughout the design. The importance of “procession” in the planning of the site, having spaces that were both open and enclosed, as well as spaces and pathways that emphasized the contouring and sky views were key to her vision.

Margie Ruddick’s vision is best described as “new luxury” which she defines as “the luxury in being out in the landscape, reconnecting with nature, and connecting with the people who live there”.

You can take a look at the  YouTube video below with Margie Ruddick and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan discussing the work on Queens Boulevard and Queens Plaza that transformed the street and created a new people place.





  1. The space of the biosphere is organic space in the truest sense of the word, it is space that is filled with living sentient beings, a place human beings once knew intimately but now call the ‘wilds’.

    The city by contrast is a designed construction, the very antithesis of nature. It turns out that our idea of the city also has deadly side effects for the environment and ourselves. The most serious of those treats continue to cluster around carbon emissions and its consequences.

    The best we could possibly achieve at Jericho is a zero emissions development zone. We know how to do this and we should set an example on the world stage.

  2. Margie Ruddick’s lecture was utterly enchanting and so inspiring. Her talk was nuanced, detailed and so clear that I hope her influence will prevail.

  3. I wonder what Ms Ruddick would make of Renfrew Ravine Sanctuary Park between 22nd and 29th.
    There was great work done in the lower section between 22nd and 16th. The dog park is excellent – built with the understanding that, when people come in cars the hounds will bound. When there is a distance, ever so slight, between vehicles and dog areas, people do not leash.
    Renfrew Ravine – the largest ravine in Vancouver – is hardly known to many residents. I’ve seen the red pileated woodpecker there; falcons; coyotes howl with passing sirens; eat racoons and cats. This upper part is too wild for most. I wish the old wooden bridge that crossed it remained – a place to stop and ponder.

  4. One of the best times to go to the ravine is during a heavy rain. The power and noise of water through the channel is worth experiencing.
    The Japanese have an appreciation of the aesthetics of rain, like so much in their culture: snow lanterns; tea ceremony; cherry blossoms. When I do music in the garage during a rain, with the door open, it’s a bonus.
    I’ve long been a fan of Barragan, for his wild colours, and for his play with water. If I had money to burn, I’d have a gutter system fabricated out of corten with a piece extending out that would shoot collected water out into a pool.
    A problem with Renfrew Ravine is the funk. People upstream have diverted all manner of waste into Still Creek. It would be nice if this were traced back to the perps.

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