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Alumni News | Rebecca McMackin (‘91), TED Talk: “Let Your Garden Grow Wild”Washington Montessori School
New Preston, Connecticut

Rebecca McMackin speaks at SESSION 4 at TEDWomen 2023: Two Steps Forward. October 11-13, 2023, Atlanta, GA. Photo: Gilberto Tadday / TED

Renowned ecological horticulturist, and WMS graduate and parent, Rebecca McMackin recently delivered an impassioned TED Talk about the importance of letting your garden thrive with native plants, or in her words, “grow wild.” 

In her talk, Rebecca shares the story of transforming concrete shipping piers into the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park, creating much-needed habitat for migratory birds, insects, and butterflies — and green space for millions of visitors to enjoy. Though this particular transformation was on a large scale, Rebecca encourages backyard gardeners to foster similar biodiversity in their own smaller environments by prioritizing simple measures like planting native species, keeping lawns to a minimum, and letting fallen leaves and old plants stay where they are. 

Rebecca’s goal for this talk was twofold: give gardeners something to share that would explain the importance of their work, and inspire as many people as possible to get into gardening. We hope you’ll give it a watch, and consider adopting some of Rebecca’s practices to improve biodiversity! 

Watch Rebecca McMackin’s TED Talk:

Native Planting at WMS

If you have a passion for making the gardens at WMS “grow wild,” we hope you’ll participate in this year’s Give Local initiative and help support our plans to replace invasive plants with native species!

About Rebecca McMackin

Rebecca McMackin spent a decade as Director of Horticulture of Brooklyn Bridge Park, after which she became the Arboretum Curator at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, where she cares for one of the most significant tree collections in NYC, restores historic grave sites, and welcomes ecological functionality back to 400 acres of urban greenspace. She was a Harvard Loeb Fellow in 2023 studying ecological design, the history of native plant movements, and science communication, and the recipient of the 2023 Pollinator Advocacy Award from Pollinator Partnership. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, the Landscape Institute, and the Ecological Landscape Alliance, and her work has been featured on PBS’s Garden Smart, Margaret Roach’s A Way to Garden, and Jennifer Jewel’s Cultivating Place.

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