An Open Letter to Kim Kardashian


Dear Kim,

I need your help. I am impressed that a reality television star, like you, with star status as big as the President’s (I mean HUGE), can walk into the White House and bend the President’s ear. Thomas Rainer cannot. And that’s a shame. 

Rainer, a landscape architect, author and teacher, lives and breathes reality. He loves gardens, nature and clean air, but he doesn’t have a television show or a cosmetics line.

Phyto partners Claudia West, Melissa and Thomas Rainer.

I applaud you for making a successful argument for prison and sentencing reform.


I don’t want you to lose momentum because I’ve got another big idea for you and the President.

If you read Garden Rant, and we hope you do, you will know our readers are crazy about gardens, nature and a healthy planet. 

We may argue details, but we do not dispute the main point: We all want clean air and water. 

The President’s EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, and Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, each left office due to a blind eye toward ethics that complicated their efforts to cozy up to oil, gas and developers who wanted to horn in on public land. Their departure hasn’t slowed the unwinding of environmental regulations. The president has recently doubled down on fossil fuels and poisonous toxins.

Baltimore Orioles Park. Claudia West, lead designer.

It goes on.

There was worrisome news, yesterday, about a 3.4% uptick in U.S. carbon emissions, the largest increase in eight years.

I worry about environmental insolence.

Rainer does, too, whether the government is shut down or open.

Rainer quoted environmentalist Aldo Leopold on Twitter a few weeks ago. I have included here a bit more of Leopold’s piece from Round River:

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen… We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve but to strive.”

We are not striving enough.

We are living and gardening on God’s green earth, so why do we ignore what others have warned us about for years?

In late December, the President rolled back more environmental regulations. 

The utility companies scratched their heads. They had already invested heavily in Obama-era EPA mandates. The utility companies would have preferred that Obama had not been proactive on these regulations, but now that the cleaner-energy infrastructure is in place, they don’t seem interested in going backwards. 

Evolve IP Corporate Center, Wayne, PA. Claudia West, lead designer.

Lawyers are lining up to argue the cost-benefit ratio of clean air and water.  It’s déjà vu—René Descartes-style—all over again. 

“I think therefore I am.”

 I think?

Why do we need to continue arguing whether clean air and water are good for you?

We are stuck in the winter mud with remorseless greedheads. 

Kim, next time you’re invited to the White House, please insist that Thomas Rainer come with you. You’ve got the president’s attention. He’ll listen to Rainer if you tell him. 

Rainer is the principal partner for Phyto, the design firm, in Arlington, Virginia. So not that far from the White House! 

Rainer is compelling. On his blog he wrote “More than ever, we need planting solutions that are resilient, ecologically functional and beautiful. Our goal is not merely to create more functional landscapes, but to make people see again, to make them remember.”

Evolve IP Corporate Center

In Planting in a Post-Wild World, the book Rainer co-authored with his colleague Claudia West, he lays out a new way of thinking, and an “optimism for the future of design” that “…does not seek nature in remote mountaintops, but finds it instead in the middle of our cities and suburbs. It looks at our degraded built landscapes with unjaded eyes, seeing the archipelago of leftover land—suburban yards, utility easements, parking lots, road right of ways and municipal drainage channels—not as useless remnants, but as territories of vast potential.”

Kim, before you return to the White House with Rainer, I am willing to solicit nursery and greenhouse sponsors for seed and plant giveaways for Rainer’s presentation. (I know people in high places.) The White House staff will love the free goodies.

Don’t worry if the giveaway idea smells like influence peddling. The President’s Press Secretary Sarah Sanders can take care of anyone who gets testy.

Rainer might even give the President a signed copy of Planting In A Post-Wild World. No, I take that back. The President doesn’t read books. You can have the signed copy. I haven’t read a more instructive gardening and design book in years. 

One more favor: I’m sure Rainer wouldn’t mind if you plugged his book to your 124 million Instagram followers.

Yours truly,

Allen Bush


  1. I would prefer to read a coherent blog post that is either 1) a criticism of the current administration’s rollback of environmental regulations OR 2) a promotion of Thomas Rainer’s design work, but not this sloppy mishmash of both, written as an open letter to Kim Kardashian for some reason.

    Trump & co. is starting to creep into this otherwise excellent blog too much. Be specific and persuasive about why these rollbacks are detrimental to our land, water, & air; reading the same tangential insults over and over again is getting boring.

  2. I liked your open letter to Kim. I thought it was a clever way to express your dissapoinent with env regulation rollbacks. I thought the letter also expressed your optimism that if only people are reminded of the power and beauty of plants then more thought would be given to the importance of the environment. Weren’t national parks established as a result of John Muir inviting the president to hike and camp with him in the Sierra Nevadas?

  3. Allen, I love the creativity that went into your latest article. Showing the irony of the fact that Kim Kardashian and her husband get more attention from our current President is brilliant. Did you actually send it to her? (I hope so!) Keep us posted on the results. Thank you again for your great work!

  4. I’m a huge fan of Thomas Rainer (not so much of Mz. Kim) and hope to see him when he speaks in Austin later this year.

    I think a little tongue-in-cheek levity (this post) is okay during this ugly time (my opinion) in politics. Our pres. seems to enjoy good looking women. Hmmm… Wonder how Mr. Rainer would look in a wig, form fitting dress, and a butt-enhancing girdle? (I know, I know. I shouldn’t go there…Please don’t tell Rainer I suggested this.)

    • I have to hand it to Ms. Kardashian. She made a legit. contribution toward prison and sentencing reform. I am crazy about Thomas Rainer and Phyto Studio. They’re doing some great stuff. You’ll enjoy hearing Thomas speak and don’t miss the chance to hear his Phyto colleague, Claudia West, if she gets down your way. She’s wildly talented, also.

    • Laura,
      Truly funny, thanks. Any effort to liven up and lighten up this terrible time in our country with some witty humor is always welcome, at least by me. Is it over yet?

      #AllenBush2020 (à la Twitter)

  5. It’s not all bad news. In fact, I believe we all got a great Christmas present with the passage of the farm bill. I worried about this for two years ( I have my nestbox trail on the largest Agricultural Research Center in the world here in suburban Maryland.) I know many federal workers there were also very concerned. We conservationists scored a victory and Senator Debbie Stabenow deserves much of the credit:

    And, the conservation organizations are extremely happy:

    It could have been much, much worse. Now, any bill must pass the House. A House engulfed by a blue wave.

  6. Thanks, Marcia. Yes, conservation efforts on private land did survive the farm bill. That’s good news! There was something in it for beginning farmers, too, but I wish they’d been able to cap payments to big ag and help struggling small farmers.

  7. KK is no supporter of the environment. During the worst years of the California drought, she & husband were cited for not obeying the landscape water restrictions. They just had to have their vast expanse of green lawn in Encino.


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