North American Prairie Conference


Date of this Version



Published in Prairie Pioneers: Ecology, History and Culture: Proceedings of the Eleventh North American Prairie Conference, August 7-11, 1988, Lincoln, Nebraska (Lincoln, NE 1989).


Landscape architects have been advocating the use of native species in designs for over 100 years. This Heideggerian hermeneutical analysis of the work of authors from 1919 to 1929 yields several underlying themes regarding the use of native species: 1) biological conservation (preservation), 2) possession (control of human-ordered world), 3) promotion of national and regional identity, 4) spirituality, and 5) aesthetics. The prairie-inspired designs of Jens Jensen, Darrel Morrison, and John Diekelmann illustrate the ways in which the emphasis placed on these themes and different assumptions about "prairie" influence the resultant plantings. Jensen's works are meant to evoke the relationship of people to a higher power, Morrison's are concerned with the visual impact of prairie and the feelings this evokes, and Diekelmann' s are meant to unveil the phenomenon of nature and the associated interrelated play of human existence.