2022 Merit Award
Indiana's Coastal Communities
Hitchcock Design Group
Moving south from the sandy Lake Michigan shoreline, successional changes take shape through marram grass-covered coastal dunes that soon give way to towering woodland-covered dunes and a myriad of wetlands. Dune and swale remnants outline the historic Lake Michigan shoreline, while rare oak savannas, riparian woodlands, and sun-filled prairies form a mosaic across the region. Each ecosystem boasts an impressive assemblage of plants and wildlife that collectively support one of the most biodiverse regions in the country – the Indiana Dunes – significance embodied by the Indiana Dunes National Park, the Indiana Dunes State Park, countless nature preserves, and conservation organizations like Save the Dunes that are working to preserve and protect these areas in perpetuity. Pollinators are hard-working creatures that enable flowering plants to complete their life cycle in a rhythmic symbiosis that evolved through the ages. In this way, native pollinators are an intricate, irreplaceable member of the region’s ecosystems. Habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, and chemical pesticides are driving alarming declines in pollinator populations worldwide – including right here at home. Owing to its natural biodiversity, a garden in the Indiana coastal region has nearly endless possibilities for helping pollinators not only survive – but thrive – when they feature native plants linked to pollinator life cycles. A native gardening approach transforms gardeners into powerful protectors of native plants and their pollinators by increasing ecosystem connectivity across the region’s fragmented landscape and building plant and pollinator populations resilient to climate change impacts and other stresses. In recognition of these facts, the client – a regional advocacy organization known as Save The Dunes – retained Hitchcock Design Group to develop a guide with the goal to empower residents of the Indiana coastal regions with tools and inspiration to transform home gardens with beautiful native plants that support an incredible diversity of native pollinators. The guide provides rich content on six ecosystems, seven groups of pollinators, and dozens of native plants found throughout the region. It builds on this information by offering six ecosystem-themed template garden designs suitable for regional landscaping. Gorgeous illustrations of seasonal changes in a pollinator garden will fill any gardener with inspiration for the possibilities that await. Stunning photographs highlight the majesty of each species and their close associations. Finally, cultivated resources provide the tools and information needed to develop, maintain, and enjoy the bounties of your native pollinator garden for years to come. The design team included the landscape architect, a graphic designer, an ecologist, and an artist / illustrator. Stakeholder outreach involved developing an advisory committee with the client that included representatives from ten different public and private interests that provided valuable, informative content and recommendations throughout the development of the booklet. During the preparation of the guide, the landscape architect collaborated very closely with the client, the stakeholders, and the design team; created the ecosystem illustration and the template garden design; helped facilitate finding and securing photographs and text; and provided direction on the overall development of the graphic design.
Owner / Client: Save the Dunes
Other: Phenix7 Mktg, Inc., Orbis Environmental Consulting, Barbara Spies Labus