Bowdoin Magazine

Terry Guen ’81: Cultivating Economic Growth

Terry Guen '81

Photo: David Johnson

It’s no surprise that Terry Guen ’81’s thirty-year career in landscape architecture would include a commitment to community and economic revitalization. She was raised by activist parents who founded several nonprofits in Boston’s Chinatown community. Her father, Ed Guen ’49, earned the Common Good Award in 1999. With a natural skill set in art and design, Guen chose to major in chemistry to better understand the role of creativity in science, and she went on to earn dual graduate degrees in landscape architecture and urban planning at Penn. Guen was the landscape architect for Chicago’s Millennium Park project, and she was the first Asian American appointed to the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation, an independent federal agency.

Pro Tips for Your Garden:

Plant in layers. Interplant canopy with ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials. This allows water to infiltrate and delivers greater ecosystem services, including habitat for birds and insects. To see how this works, visit a natural area (not necessarily a botanic garden).

Around perennials, use composted recycled yard waste or commercially available soil conditioner, which may include ground pine bark, rice hulls, leaf mulch, organic compost. Add a three-inch layer to the top of the bed and incorporate it when you dig in your plants.

Plants, like people, gain stability in diverse communities, not monocultures. In Chicago, we plant in mixed ecologic matrices, heavily weighted toward native species, grasses, and sedges.

You can plant food within your decorative gardens. Whether it actually works depends on your time, plant establishment, and competition. Stay away from heavy seeders.

Be the first in your neighborhood to have a “Victorian lawn.” Accept the mixed turf look—including dandelions and violets—and avoid chemical treatment. Limit weekly mown turf to where it is needed for active play.

Plant “species tulips.” They come back every year, have more flowers, and multiply. (However, unlike daffodils, they are not deer-proof.)

“Plants, like people, gain stability in diverse communities, not monocultures.”

This profile originally appeared in Bowdoin Magazine, Spring/Summer 2016.

thumb:Terry Guen '81