thedes覺gner ASSOCIATION OF
PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPE DESIGNERS
POWERHOUSE PERENNIALS GROUNDBREAKING FOOD GARDENS apld.org
editor’sletter Celebrating Plants
n the fourth grade, I was thrilled to be chosen to decorate the class bulletin board. As this prestigious honor was usually reserved for the fifth graders, I was determined to prove I was up to the task. My theme, extravagantly decorated with as many constructionpaper flowers as I could cram onto the board, was “April showers bring May flowers.” Even at the tender age of nine, I recognized that one of the best aspects of spring was seeing the world around me burst into life.
I’m now fortunate to live in temperate California where gardening happens 365 days a year, but I still get plant fever when March rolls around. That’s why I couldn’t be more excited that our Spring issue is all about celebrating plants. You’ll find this theme running throughout the magazine, whether in new features like “Pro Plant Picks” (page 10) and “Design Master Class” (page 40) or a review of an edible gardening book (page 24) hot off the presses. Of course, as much as we all yearn to be outside once the weather turns, we still have businesses to run, so don’t miss The Designer’s new column spotlighting technology (page 22) to keep your design practice up to date. My current design dilemma: As much joy as I get from a career working with plants, it can be challenging as well. I love discovering something new, but designing with untested plants brings the risk of failure, no matter how carefully I’ve done my research. Lately I find myself sticking with a smaller palette of tried and true favorites in an effort to avoid the possibility of plants that underperform, get too big, or flat out die. How do you balance the benefits of expanding your palette with the risks of working with the unknown? Email your suggestions and experiences to me and I’ll share your advice in the next issue. SUSAN MORRISON 2
9 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE 10 PRO PLANT PICKS: Powerhouse Perennials 22 TECHNOLOGY: Online Scheduling BY J U LI E OR R
24 BOOK REVIEW: Groundbreaking Food Gardens BY SU SA N MOR R I SON
28 DESIGN 101: Accessible Design BY PATR I CI A ST. J OHN , A PLD
36 PROFILE: W. Gary Smith BY VA N ESSA N AGEL, A PLD, N CI DQ
40 DESIGN MASTER CLASS: Maintenance in the Design Process BY SCOTT HOKU N SON
48 PLANTING FOR THE FUTURE: The Invasives BY MAU R EEN DECOMB E ON THE COVER : PHOTOGR A PH A N D DESI GN BY MATTHEW W I LLI N G ER, DOYLE HER MA N DESI GN ASS OCI AT ES THI S PAGE: PHOTOGR A PH A ND DESI GN BY A DA M WOODR U F F
thedesıgner Maureen Decombe
EDITOR IN CHIEF Susan Morrison
p. 48 ART DIRECTOR Marti Golon EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Denise Calabrese ASSOCIATE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Lisa Frye MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR Angela Burkett COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR Stacy Zimmerman DIRECTOR OF CONFERENCES & EVENTS Jen Cramer CERTIFICATION COORDINATOR Kelly Clark
DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR Courtney Kuntz BOOKKEEPER Jennifer Swartz OFFICE MANAGER Elizabeth Spaeder MEMBERSHIP, FINANCE & EVENTS COORDINATOR Leona Wagner NEWSLETTER EDITOR Amy Bobb COPY EDITOR Claire Splan
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After gardening and designing for a living for 20 years, Maureen is now an educator and trainer in the San Francisco Bay Area, most recently for the BayFriendly Landscaping and Gardening Coalition. Prior to becoming a landscape designer in California, she gardened for gorillas at the National Zoo in Washington DC and tended the Bishop’s Garden at the Washington National Cathedral. Maureen currently serves on the California Horticultural Invasives Prevention (Cal-HIP) Advisory Committee and is a past president of the APLD California Chapter. My go-to plant is Feijoa sellowiana because its drought-tolerant foliage, edible flowers, and fragrant, plump green guavas make it a useful and beautiful screen or accent plant.
contributors Scott Hokunson Maintenance in the Design Process p. 40
Scott Hokunson, principal behind Blue Heron Landscape Design, has been creating landscapes since 1981, and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to each project. A proponent of natural and sustainable principles, Scott works closely with his clients to create elegant outdoor living spaces, minimizing the impact on the environment through all phases of the project, including ongoing stewardship. My go-to plant is Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ because its size allows me to add the feel of a meadow in smaller plantings, while its form provides both textural presence in the summer garden and structure during the winter months.
Vanessa Gardner Nagel APLD, NCIDQ Profile: W. Gary Smith p. 36
Vanessa is the owner of Seasons Garden Design LLC in Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Understanding Garden Design and The Designer’s Guide to Garden Furnishings. She blogs at GardenChirps, is a director on APLD’s international board, and has won numerous awards for her designs, including an APLD Merit Award and an Award of Excellence from Sunset magazine’s Landscape Design Competition. My go-to plant is Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Ellwood’s Pillar’ because this dwarf columnar conifer acts as a rich, bluish-green exclamation point in the landscape, and takes some shade and plenty of sun in zones 5—9.
Patricia St. John
Technology: Online Scheduling
For over 15 years, Julie Orr has been designing spaces, first as an interior designer and now focusing on landscape design. She is the owner of Julie Orr Design, serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a former APLD Peninsula District Treasurer and Communications Chair.
A former nursery professional who fell in love with landscape design during her A.S. degree program almost 20 years ago, Patricia St. John is the owner of St John Landscapes in the Bay Area of Northern California and an instructor in the landscape horticulture department at Merritt College. She is a former president of APLD International, and also served as president of her local district.
My go-to plant is Teucrium chamaedrys because it is a tough little evergreen that looks good yearround, displays attractive purple flowers, and plays well with others.
My go-to plant is Cordyline ‘Festival Grass’ because it adds dependable year-round color, mixes well with chartreuse and graygreen foliage, and looks great with ornamental grasses and succulents.
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o most, it is the gentle season of rebirth. To landscape designers, it is a mad scramble of plans, client visits and project construction. We get lost in the day-today doing and often forget our jobs as design thinkers and visionaries. We are just too busy.
We are also too busy to pay attention to the opportunities that spring offers designers. That’s why every spring for the past ten years I have dedicated at least two Saturdays to visiting gardens or going on a house and garden tour, often in the company of other APLD designers. Many gardens and landscapes are at their most glorious in spring. I can see how plants actually look before they’ve been retouched and color-corrected in print or online. I can see how they relate in situ to those around them. I can often talk with the landscape designer on site and learn their approach to solving problems. Yes, I’m potentially missing the opportunity to meet with new clients, but these on-site, in-the-designed-space experiences, are fundamentally important to my practice. I can look at hundreds of plans and pretty pictures, but nothing teaches me more than standing in the middle of a designed landscape and witnessing its intent firsthand. You can’t learn spatial relationships from a plan or picture. You can from being there. APLD offers garden tours at each annual conference. Often, they are in areas where the plants aren’t appropriate to my zone, allowing me to focus on their designs, rather than plant ID. Open gardens are not difficult to find—The Garden Conservancy lists them in many states, and garden tours are frequently offered by botanical gardens, local designer show houses and as fundraisers. So this spring, my message to all is to take a busman’s holiday and visit some gardens. You’ll be a better designer for the experience. SUSAN COHAN APLD
PERENNIAL POWERHOUSES MIDWEST
Prairie Dock Silphium terebinthinaceum BY ADAM WOODRUFF
grew up in central Illinois, where prairie dock is common along the roadsides. It’s recognizable by huge paddle-shaped leaves (from 2–3’ H). The bold architectural foliage stands out among finetextured plants. In early summer, scape-like stems emerge from the basal rosette to become substantial, almost woody stalks that persist most of the winter. Bright yellow, 3” daisy-like flowers attract bees and hummingbirds from July through September, followed by seeds that attract finches and songbirds. Strangely, this rugged and versatile native is underused in the ornamental landscape. While obviously at home in prairies and naturalistic gardens, it is also suitable for perennial borders, cottage gardens, and near tropical plants, like cannas and cardoon.
Adam Woodruff is an award-winning garden designer and APLD professional member. He resides in St. Louis, Missouri, and practices throughout the Midwest. Adam is classically trained as a botanist and travels extensively for inspiration. His contemporary designs define space and artfully blend plants in new ways.
Prairie dock adds impressive height to the garden, but without visual weight. There is a transparency about the plant since flowers emerge at the tips of naked stems. A fleshy taproot ensures good drought tolerance, although it’s difficult to move once established. Fortunately, Silphium terebinthinaceum reseeds freely. Plants are extremely long-lived and avoided by rabbits that dislike the coarse-textured leaves.
USDA HARDINESS ZONES: 3–9 SIZE: 8+’ H x 2–3’ W CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS Full sun, prefers average to moist well-drained soil, but tolerates clay and poor soils.
PHOTOGR A PHS A N D DESI GN BY A DA M WOODR U F F
proplantpicks PERENNIAL POWERHOUSES
Black Mondo Grass Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ BY SUSAN OLINGER APLD
I needed a groundcover to plant beneath a Betula nigra ‘Heritage’ in a very small bed surrounded by paving. Although I had never used black mondo grass before, I knew its dark leaves and strappy texture would provide excellent contrast against the parchment-like bark of the river birch. Despite the fact that the growing conditions did not match the plant’s ideal cultural requirements, I decided to give it a try. I initially planted a dozen and added a few more the following year. Another year later and the plants were less than thriving, and not spreading at all.
S U SA N O LI N GE R
lack mondo grass is evergreen in mild winter climates and spreads slowly by rhizomes. Its summer blooms are pink but insignificant, and are followed in fall by dark purple berries.
Now in the fourth year since the first dozen were planted, I’m happy to report that the plants have spread to fill in most of the space. This has come as a happy surprise to me, as the birch tree’s trunk and roots have also spread considerably. An occasional hand-watering and rain run-off is the only irrigation the bed receives.
An added benefit of black mondo grass is that it remains evergreen even through our erratic New Jersey zone 6 winters. The rich dark color and purple fruit shine through a light coating of snow.
USDA HARDINESS ZONES: 6–9 SIZE: 6” 1’ H x 6” 1’ W CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS: Full sun to part shade, average moisture. Grows best in humusy, well-drained soils.
Susan Olinger, APLD, designs landscapes and gardens at Sterling Horticultural Services in Northern New Jersey.
PERENNIAL POWERHOUSES SOUTH ATLANTIC
BY DAVE MARCINIAK
hade gardens can be challenging, especially in a region like ours where the deer pressure gets worse year after year. After eliminating the deer candy, you may wind up feeling like a botanical Henry Ford: pick any color you’d like, as long as it’s dark green. Where’s the fun in that?
Ligularia has been a great addition to my plant palette. There is wide variation within the genus, with some staying around two feet tall while others top five feet, but in my experience they have all proven to be tough little plants that work well in massed plantings. Once established, massed ligularia creates a broad splash of planting that leads the eye and brightens an understory. Ligularia is a woodland plant and prefers rich moist soil under a
DAV E M A RCIN IA K ( TOP)
Dave Marciniak is a landscape designer and the owner of Revolutionary Gardens, a landscape design and consulting firm serving the DC metro area to western Virginia. Dave’s approach to landscape design is based around his love of storytelling, helping his clients create a story for which they’re the star.
dappled to solid canopy. Too much sun in the summer and they will wilt and droop.
One of my favorite varieties is Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’, which emerges with a beautiful burgundypurple color that fades as the season goes on, eventually becoming a bronzy green. It doesn’t matter; it’s still a welcome introduction of color in the shaded garden, and summer flowers light up the border with sunny bursts of yellow. In bloom, ‘Desdemona’ reaches a height and width of approximately three feet.
USDA HARDINESS ZONES: 4–8
SIZE: 2–5’ H x 3–4’ W (on average; cultivars can vary) CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS: Part to full shade, prefers moist soil. N A N CY HOULI HA N /CC BY 2.0
proplantpicks PERENNIAL POWERHOUSES WEST
New Zealand Flax BY JANE C. GATES
lack Adder’ is one of the most recent New Zealand flax introductions. Developed at Fitzgerald Nurseries in 2003, it was initially hard to find but has recently become more readily available.
Jane Gates, author of All the Garden’s a Stage, is the owner of Gates & Croft Horticultural Design and the Landscaping Expert for eHow.com. You can find her at Garden Gates: Gardening and Landscape Design.
Its powerhouse attributes come from its deep, bold color and upright growth habit. Flower spikes are attractive, but grow this plant for its eye-catching foliage. It is a clump-forming plant with graceful, sword-shaped leaves that are 1 ½” wide and arch at the tips. The foliage is rich purple-brown and slightly glossy, making it one of the darkest of the New Zealand flax varieties. ‘Black Adder’ looks stunning planted against a light-colored background or anywhere in the garden where a vertical effect is required. With its fountain of dark-hued leaves, it’s perfect for creating mystery, contrast or a focal point. In mild sun areas this phormium can be planted without shade, but it will burn in the intense sun of inland communities. Although tolerant of a wide range of conditions, ‘Black Adder’ will put on the best show with regular irrigation and good soil. Once established, it is a low-maintenance plant, drought tolerant and not bothered by most pests. Snip off aged or dead leaves and keep it free of wind-blown debris.
USDA HARDINESS ZONES: 8b–11
SIZE: 3–4’ H x 3–4’ W CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS: Full sun, prefers average to moist well-drained soil, but tolerates clay and poor soils.
SAXON HO LT, COU RT ESY O F T HE SU N SET WEST ER N GA R DEN COLLECTI ON
Phormium cookianum ‘Black Adder’
proplantpicks PERENNIAL POWERHOUSES PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Epimedium Epimedium x perralchicum ‘Frohnleiten’ BY SUE GOETZ
he heart-shaped foliage of epimedium belies its toughness in the garden. Known as barrenwort in old herbals, the botanical name has become more recognizable due to its surge in popularity. Epimediums are perennial workhorses in dappled, shady gardens. The leaves rise up on airy stems to give a delicate effect while the small flowers create unique, light sprays above the foliage.
‘Frohnleiten’ is a tough, old German cultivar that forms a low, dense thicket. It behaves like a groundcover and is spreading, but not invasive. Use it to soften the edges of woodland pathways and borders. In mixed plantings, the leaf texture mingles well with ferns, columbine, liriope, and other delicate shade-loving perennials. The plants stay evergreen with early spring blooms that show off nicely under deciduous trees and shrubs like dogwood and witch hazel. The leaves have an attractive, bronzy color between the veins that fades to a light green in the summer. Epimediums have all the attributes designers look for in perennials including being easy to maintain, long lived, evergreen, deer resistant, and tolerant of dry shade areas.
Sue Goetz is an awardwinning garden designer, writer, and speaker. Through her design business, Creative Gardener, she assists clients in personalizing their garden spaces, from garden coaching to the design of full landscapes. Sue is a professional member of APLD and resides in Tacoma, Washington.
USDA HARDINESS ZONES: 5–9 SU E GOETZ
SIZE: 1 1/2 – 2’ H x 1 1/2 – 2’ W CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS: Shade to light shade, prefers well-drained soils but is adaptable to most soil conditions. Drought tolerant once established. apld.org
thedesıgner needs you!
calling all writers
The only magazine written by designers for designers, The Designer is looking for talented members like you to share your stories, teach new techniques, and inspire with your designs.
All submissions from APLD members are considered, but The Designer is particularly interested in articles that fit the issue’s editorial theme or are appropriate for one of the magazine’s recurring features, such as “Pro Plant Picks,” “Technology Spotlight,” “Design 101,” or “Design Master Class.” Learn more about the submissions process and view the 2014 editorial calendar here.
Not sure if your story is a good fit? Editor in Chief Susan Morrison is happy to discuss your idea with you. Reach her at email@example.com.
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technology Online Scheduling Tools to Help Designers Save Time BY JULIE ORR
he phone prequalification is complete and the client seems ready to move to the next step. Then come the dreaded words, “I have to talk to my wife first.” Sound familiar? While booking a haircut online last year, it suddenly occurred to me, “Why can’t making an appointment with me be this easy?!”
How Online Scheduling Works
I use online scheduling for two things: a way for clients to talk to me to without having to play phone tag and a way to schedule meetings at their home. A get a free phone consultation link on my website allows people to sign up with me right when I have their full attention. Now I decide when to be available for lead generation. This approach helps set the tone for a future relationship by reinforcing you are a busy professional whose time is valuable.
After the phone consultation—in actuality a two-way, qualifying interview— I suggest a meeting in person. If they can’t commit to a time yet, I simply send a link to my online schedule and invite them to sign up that night. Most designers didn’t get into this business because they love computers, but the reality is your clients are probably plenty tech savvy and already familiar with online scheduling. Recently, a client was impressed with my booking system, and commented that I was the only design firm he found who has integrated technology into its website. Don’t underestimate the cool factor of technology. 22
Looking Techy to Tech-Savvy Clients
The Software and Your Calendar You’ll need to experiment to discover the best platform for your business. I’ve tried two: Genbook and TimeTrade. Genbook is an option if you prefer to schedule by task, such as phone or inperson meetings, while TimeTrade works if you schedule by time allotment. Another consideration: Make sure you choose a platform that is compatible with whatever calendar program you use in the office and in the field. On a final note: Be disciplined! Remember to block out time for your own appointments to avoid double-booking, or else instead of the rewards of time savings, you’ll be experiencing the frustrations of human error.
bookreview Groundbreaking Food Gardens BY SUSAN MORRISON
esign inspiration comes from many sources. For me, browsing a collection of artistically rendered plans is a surefire way to spark creativity. Combine that with sky-rocketing client interest in edible gardens, and you will understand why Niki Jabbour’s newest book, Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans that Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden (storey publishing, 2014), earned a spot on my reading list.
Each edible vignette includes a plan, a profile of the creator, the story behind the design, and a plant list. The gardens tend to fall into three categories: plans for specific situations, such as front yards or urban homesteads; problem solvers like shade or steep slopes; and theme gardens, including a chicken garden created by APLD member Jessi Bloom. Bloom’s plan sheds light onto the challenge of integrating chickens with a landscape, including a centrally located coop with an ingenious three-door design that allows her “girls” to be easily rotated around the garden.
Author Niki Jabbour
Designs reflect a wide range of geographies, from across Canada to the sunny, southern California home of APLD member Nan Sterman. Sterman’s plan for a water-wise edible garden addresses some of the ➸
I LLUSTR ATI ON BY A N N E SMI TH (CHI CKEN S)
I LLUSTR ATI ON BY ELAYN E SEA R S ( A B OV E)
Get the book! Click here to view on Amazon apld.org
D E S IG N BY N A N STE RM AN
ILLU STRATIO N BY ELAYN E SEA R S
challenges designers in drought-prone areas share. Her multi-tiered garden combines detailed irrigation recommendations with thoughtful plant suggestions—such as under-planting potted bay laurel trees with gracefully cascading dittany of Crete ornamental oregano. As a cold-climate gardener who has mastered a variety of techniques to grow vegetables year-round, Jabbour hopes her book will inspire others to approach edible gardening with an open mind and an adventurous spirit. “There is nothing as rewarding as being able to harvest fresh, homegrown food from one’s garden—no matter the season," says Jabbour. "The many contributors to this book have inspired me with their innovative, clever and productive ideas to grow more food, which has caused me to rethink my own garden—I anticipate a major renovation this spring!”
COURTESY OF STOREY PUBLISHING 26
I LLUSTR ATI ON BY A N N E SMI TH (CHI CKEN )
DE S I G N BY J E SS I B LO OM
ILLU STRATIO N BY M ARY ELLEN CA R SLEY
CHANGING OUTLOOK ON LIFE & LANDSCAPES
PHOTOG R A P H S BY PAT R IC IA ST. JO H N
A handrail and curbing along the path make this Getty Center walkway accessible apld.org
design101 BY PATRICIA ST. JOHN APLD
t took only one moment to completely change my outlook on life and landscapes. As I landed on my right leg, after taking a giant step to avoid stepping on plants in a parking strip, I knew something was dreadfully wrong and that things would not be the same again for a long time.
That thought was confirmed after an agonizing 14-hour stay in the emergency room and subsequent surgery. Breaks in both of my lower-right leg bones required ten screws and a stainless steel plate. Recovering from surgery meant learning to maneuver first in a wheelchair, followed by four weeks on crutches and ultimately a cane. My perspective in regards to mobility, airport security, and garden design was changed forever.
Just One Step
Just one or two steps, no matter how wide or anticipated, are a showstopper for wheelchairs and crutches
Perhaps the biggest lesson for me was that it takes only one step to render an area inaccessible to anyone in a wheelchair. The slight elevation change that looks so cool on the design drawings or that interesting transition from one material to another became my nemeses in several gardens and can be equally hazardous for the sight impaired. A woman sporting a leg cast called me about five years ago because she had tripped on her one stair leading from the driveway to her back door. That accident compelled her to commission a redesign of her backyard with the goal of eliminating that pesky stair.
A change in materials is one way to signal an elevation change
A corollary to that one step is that a change in elevation must be marked by a change in either the direction or pattern of the hardscape material, or by a change in material altogether. This provides garden visitors with a visual clueâ€” registered either consciously or unconsciouslyâ€”that the elevation is about to change. There are different ways to achieve this, many of which have the added benefit of enhancing the design. Solutions include adding a different border to stone steps, such as bordering flagstone stairs with brick, adding a contrasting color border to concrete, or changing the direction or pattern of decking or tile. Lacking one of these visual clues, I fell again on a slate patio where I had forgotten I had climbed up a step to arrange container plantings. Although my re-injury was slight, it was a frightening experience, both for me and for the crew that was helping me that day. âž¸
Something to Grip So if one stair was a nonstarter for my wheelchair, how was I going to manage the 13 stairs that led up to our front door? I was a virtual prisoner in our home until we had additional railings built. I still appreciate those sturdy railings to navigate our stairs. Now that I pay attention to these things, I’m amazed at how many garden stairs, often on relatively steep slopes, have either no railings or railings you wouldn’t trust your weight on.
Large, closely set stepping stones leading seamlessly to a concrete patio create an easily accessible approach to the front door
Path width is another issue. Although my wheelchair was small, it still required a minimum of three feet of width to navigate a path. I was surprised to discover that when I graduated to crutches, I still needed that much width to move through a space.
The size of stepping stones and the material between the stones also became an issue. Stepping stones were only comfortable if they were at least 24” across. Gravel was the easiest material to have between the stones. In fact, sloping paths with gravel were relatively easy to negotiate on crutches, much to my surprise—although conversely, I couldn’t drive my wheelchair over a thick patch of gravel. Interlocking pavers were A three-foot-wide gravel path is relatively easy to navigate with crutches
design101 THE GETTY CENTER IN LOS ANGELES Creating an accessible garden doesn’t have to mean compromising on the design. Artist Robert Irwin is the designer of the lush and somewhat controversial gardens at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. His original plans for the upper part of the gardens included a considerable slope leading to the bottom. Then the awareness of ADA requirements kicked in and he had the challenge of redesigning the sloping paths to make them wheelchair accessible. The resultant design was much more graceful and pleasing than the original. I revisited the gardens recently and saw not only wheelchairs traversing the paths, but babies in strollers gently making their way through the lush and varied plantings and cascading rocks. Irwin’s redesign may have been driven by the need for improved accessibility, but the ultimate result was a more appealing and functional garden.
comfortable for both wheelchair and crutches, and brick was okay as long as the grout wasn’t noticeably deeper. Decomposed granite was harder, especially after a rain.
Plan for the Future
This experience has taught me that although the future may be uncertain, changes in mobility can be anticipated and planned for. I now incorporate ADA-compliant dimensions in all my garden designs.
A wide, level path allows everyone to enjoy the beauty of the garden
One never knows if or when a homeowner, a guest to the garden, or even ourselves will need that extra assist of a railing, more room on a path, or a gentle slope rather than a stair to gain access to a garden.
A more thorough approach to design wasn’t my only discovery. In the last garden I designed I found another use for my cane: measuring the spacing between a line of shrubs waiting to be planted!
WEBSITES THAT CAN HELP There are several websites addressing the issues and regulations related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): ■ ADA Standards for Accessible Design This website explains regulations related to ADA compliance for buildings, path widths, ramps, railings, etc. ■ ADA Checklist for Existing Facilities An ADA compliance checklist for existing facilities. ■ Play Areas ADA Accessibility Guidelines for play areas for children.
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Oak Hill. This painting highlights one of H.F. du Pontâ€™s favorite color combinations: lavender and yellow, with a jolt of pure red.
W. Gary Smith FASLA: Landscape Architect, Painter, and Inspiration Guide
APLD Webinar 4.9.2014
BY VANESSA GARDNER N A G E L APLD, NCIDQ
APLDâ€™s design webinar series is an affordable way to improve your abilities as a both a designer and a businessperson. W. Gary Smith, author of From Art to Landscape: Unleashing Creativity in Garden Design, will lead a webinar on April 9 that focuses on using patterns in nature. Expect to learn about the art of simplicity in the landscape and how to use your artistâ€™s eye to improve your design skills.
Carpinus Walk. Clusters of native ironwood (Carpinus caroliniana) frame Florida flame azaleas (Rhododendron austrinum) that are arranged along the path in a color progression from pale yellow to deep orange.
Nature, Art and Design
As both an artist and award-winning landscape architect, W. Gary Smith begins a project a little differently than most landscape designers. Early on, he rejected the scientific approach taught in his horticulture classes: to map a site by listening carefully to nature. Believing that waiting passively for forms and shapes to emerge removed the â€œhumanâ€? element from the equation, Smith instead combines art and nature in his approach to design. His well-known, brilliantly colored sketches and paintings are works of art on their own. apld.org
Enchanted Woods Eggs. Part of a series of pastel drawings based on Enchanted Woods, a unique childrenâ€™s garden at Winterthur in Delaware.
profile The Power of a Single Image While an undergraduate student, Smith experienced a defining moment when looking at a photograph of a curving stone wall that was part of his instructor A.E. Bye’s Gainesway Farm project. The image helped him realize the importance of simplicity and purity in design. Later, Bye looked over Smith’s shoulder in class one day at the simple grove of ash trees in Smith’s design and commented, “Ash trees are nice, but they’re not that nice.” This encouraged Smith to think more carefully about the beauty of every element in a design (and he ultimately used a different tree). Recognizing that there are no new ideas, he instead considers old ones, uses what works, mixes them up, and then reapplies them to “see what sparks fly.”
Design Tips Smith uses a computer for drafting, but not for generating ideas. Sketching and drawing on site are more important to him than even photos are. It’s not always clear what is meaningful about an image, but a 2” square drawing (that minimizes the amount of detail) and a few words (e.g., vertical trees are very strong right here) are much more helpful. This process forces him to be more careful, spend more time, and think threedimensionally about what he records. Smith was once told that 80 percent of landscape architects think in plan view or two-dimensionally. Despite his formal education, the most influential class he ever attended was a 14-week flower-arranging course. There he discovered that a single arrangement can inform on 3-D design and encompass all necessary design principles. Who knew that ikebana could be life-changing?
Ensure clients have the resources to provide the pruning, weeding and deadheading required to maintain complex plantings 40
Maintenance in the Design Process BY SCOTT HOKUNSON
When is the right time to address maintenance in the design process? Maintenance plans are often created once the design is completed or the landscape is installed, but developing a strategy for maintaining a new landscape should begin much sooner— as early as the first client meeting.
S USA N MO RRIS ON ( L EF T ) ; ISTOCK (RIG HT )
Planning Don’t wait until the design is done For me, the early stages are the most exto discuss maintenance with your citing time when designing a garden. The clients; make it part of the discussion exchange of ideas and the give and take as early as the first meeting. in the initial phase of the process invigorates both the homeowners and myself. Although less glamorous than brainstorming design concepts, now is when maintenance planning should begin—and not just for plants, but for hardscape and other built features as well. Incorporating this discussion into the beginning of the process ensures that the most appropriate materials for the project are chosen and allows the designer to develop a maintenance plan and budget, which helps eliminate unpleasant surprises down the road. As the design and installation ➸ apld.org
designmasterclass evolve, the plan can be referenced and updated, ensuring proper care of the new space. With the maintenance plan in hand, the property owner, or their hires, can effectively nurture the garden as it ages. A survey of the site combined with a comprehensive discussion with the homeowners will reveal any potential or existing issue that may affect the design. Think beyond what you need to create an attractive design, and include things that will influence how the garden is maintained over time. Factors such has how water runs both onto and off of the property, and how the garden is situated with relation to the sun or to prevailing winds should be thoroughly understood. Consider the impact both of existing trees and new ones you may add, as knowing what will or will not be falling on the new landscape can prevent both excessive maintenance and costly repairs to plants or structures. It’s not the most romantic part of garden design, but taking the time to capture issues before committing design ideas to paper will make long-term care much easier.
Consider the impact of prevailing winds when placing trees
We all know the mantra “right plant, right place,” and the importance of considering soil, exposure, and other site conditions when selecting plants. Choosing the right plant for existing site conditions is only half of the task though; it is equally important to consider the time, budget, and ability of those that will be maintaining the garden. Clear communication is vital—in-
SCOTT HOKUN SON (LEFT); SUSA N MO RRISON ( RIGHT)
Avoid placing cluding recommending the services of professionals when trees prone to appropriate. Homeowners are not necessarily experienced fine littler close to gardeners, and often under-estimate the amount of mainswimming pools or tenance a garden will require. Avoid vague terms like “low gravel pathways maintenance” and clarify how many hours or dollars the client is willing to commit to upkeep.. A frank discussion with the property owner about anticipated care helps ensure that the garden will mature gracefully.
When it comes to hardscape, the inclination is often to choose materials based strictly on aesthetic considerations and budget, with little thought to a product’s history or a manufacturer’s warranty. Be sure to consider and communicate a longer viewpoint to your clients. A material that might seem a more expensive option could prove to be less costly in the long run if it shows less wear, requires less mainte- ➸ apld.org
Bluestone is expensive, nance, or needs fewer repairs over time. Sandbut more durable and stone, for example, is less expensive than harder easier to maintain than flagstones such as bluestone, but is also more more porous materials prone to staining and breakage. This makes it a high-maintenance choice for areas exposed to extreme weather, plant litter, or outdoor cooking. More important than choosing a great product, however, is the construction process itself. Specifying time-tested and manufacturersuggested installation techniques is the foundation for longevity of a hardscape. Depending on where you design, this may include testing the soil or understanding the impact of drainage and freeze-thaw cycles. Flashing new steps against a house, laying adequate base for paving, and correctly laying a dry stone wall provide assurances that minimal efforts will be needed to keep a project looking great as the garden matures. apld.org
Seasonal Maintenance After the creative process and construction comes stewardship. It can be argued that the most important part of the process is the care a garden receives once it is presented to its owners. Sadly, projects often fall into disrepair because of neglect or an improper or nonexistent maintenance plan. Make sure your maintenance plan addresses basic plant care (pruning, feeding, and deadheading of plants), irrigation (especially during hot and dry periods of the year), and snow removal (plant-free buffer zones along driveways and areas for excess snow to be piled when plowed or shoveled). Lawn care presents its own set of challenges. Be careful to observe mowing patterns and leave adequate room between beds for discharge of clippings. Not only are clippings in a garden bed unsightly, but they carry weed seeds, soon transforming what was once a beautiful planting into a labor-intensive mess. Finally, ensure that the layout and circulation patterns you create in the design phase provide easy access to a compost/dumping area. This simplifies garden tasks and lessens the chance that plants will be damaged in the process. Paying attention to garden maintenance chores in the design process provides simple Skilled artisans, time tested insurance that will save both cost and time in techniques, and the proper tools, the years to come. âž¸ will ensure a long-lived project
Gravel is a relatively low maintenance choice for informal landscapes, but must be periodically refreshed PH OTO G R A P H BY S U SA N M O R R I S O N
Best Uses Examples
Crushed stone, decomposed granite, crushed shells, stone dust.
Basic pour, stamped concrete.
Interlocking concrete, natural brick, granite, other natural stone.
Natural stone that is cut or harvested thin in either natural or geometric shapes.
Informal, naturalistic, or contemporary gardens
High-traffic areas, driveways, limited budget projects.
Formal and contemporary gardens, driveways, public spaces. Works best when smallersized stone is needed to create intricate or directional patterns.
Natural and informal gardens, formal settings, patios— works well in almost any setting. Natural random flagstone, interplanted with moss or groundcover, is a particularly captivating combination.
Cleaning spillage from surrounding areas, periodically refreshing stones, weeding, regrading plowed areas (especially in northern climes). Works best in open areas of the garden where plant litter is minimal, as gravel is challenging to keep clean.
Cleaning, removing moss, crack repair, and sealing. Works best in contemporary or public spaces, where easy cleaning and a smooth unifying look are required.
Sealing, power washing (for moss), weeding, snow and ice removal to prevent heaving.
Weeding grout lines, re-leveling stones, replacing deteriorating or cracked stone.
HARDSCAPE MAINTENANCE COMPARISON
If Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) will grow in an unirrigated gap in the sidewalk ... imagine its potential to spread when planted in swaths in public spaces.
BY MAUREEN DECOMBE
he plant is perfect. Drought tolerant, fast growing, and the backlit seed heads form a wispy silhouette against the setting sun ... lovely ... oh, and did I mention? It will grow anywhere! You don’t even need to water it!
PHOTOGR A PHS BY SU SAN MORR IS ON (2 )
CAUTION: You may be abetting a species that has expanded its range to choke waterways, displace native fauna, and weaken complex links of biodiversity in our soils, water, and even air. These are the Horticultural Invasives.
Horticulturists and designers are often surprised to learn not only the devastating impact of invasive plants, but that a staggering 80 percent of woody plant invasives in the U.S. were introduced through the landscape horticulture industry. Economic impact ranges in the billions throughout the U.S., but as is so often the case with nature, the dollars do not tell the entire tale. Wildlife—already threatened by development of habitat areas—cannot thrive without a diversity of native plant species. Invasive plants create a monoculture where only one thing grows: them. Confusing the situation is the fact that a plant may be invasive in one place and just fine in another. Therefore, when we specify a plant, we must seek answers.
Regional lists are a start, and will ➸
Expansion joint in more ways than one! The Mexican feather grass lodged here in an urban setting is making a quick path toward coastal grasslands. apld.org
Horticultural Invasives frequently debut as a perfect “solution” plant. Stipa tenuissima was such a species. Soft texture, graceful movement, and inimitable ability to reflect light made this drought-tolerant species a star among designers in dry climates. Over time, the damning anecdotal evidence of her ability to sprout and grow prolifically in expansion joints and other impossible places has led most designers to stop specifying the plant—unfortunately, just in time for home gardeners to embrace the plant for the same reasons designers did.
As purveyors of plant fashion and market influencers, designers must hold themselves to a higher standard. Lists of known invasives are an apld.org
PHOTOG RA PH F RO M TH E N AT U RE CON SERVA N CY
help us remove most obvious invasives from our spec sheets, but the question then arises around the remaining plants and their potential for invasiveness. How should designers engage with these plants of concern—plants that may be invasive in the future?
Toona sinensis (right) has joined the ranks of the “minor invaders,” according to a recent Weed Risk Assessment by USDA APHIS. If you regularly specify this plant, take heed.
SUSA N MOR R I SON
Fountain grass (left) has left its horticultural home and leapt into nearby grasslands, overcoming a range of native plant and animal species.
excellent starting point, but some exciting new tools are being developed to help us see how plants may behave into the future.
A next step for breeders, growers, and scientists are screening tools to stop invasive species before they are released to market. PlantRight’s Plant Risk Evaluation tool was developed by Sustainable Conservation in conjunction with researchers at the University of Washington and University of California, Davis. It allows researchers and growers to predict invasive plant characteristics in various climate scenarios. In the future, groundbreaking tools like this will lead to a new level of proactive stewardship in our garden design choices.
Though we may have to let go of some old stalwart plants, our job as designers is to reach beyond those limitations and use our imaginations to find great solutions that work well into the future, while doing no harm to the planet we love. ➸ apld.org
UNDERSTANDING AND AVOIDING HORTICULTURAL INVASIVES
Covering more ground than intended, Vinca major has gone from spiller to a different genre of “thriller”—a horror show for coastal species.
■ This excellent article will help raise client awareness: How to be Aware of Invasive Plants as You Plan Your Garden
■ This Bioscience article provides a fascinating historical perspective on Horticultural Invasives: Horticulture as a Pathway of Invasive Plant Introductions in the United States ■ Are you codependent with an invasive horticultural plant? Dr. Sarah Reichard’s presentation, The Five Stages of Grief: Invasive Plants and the Horticultural Industry, may help you with the process of letting go. ■ Dr. Reichard has also authored The Conscientious Gardener: Cultivating a Garden Ethic (University of California Press, 2012), a beautifully reasoned argument for the responsibility we share.
PHOTOGR A PH BY B OB CASE
■ The Nature Conservancy has a wealth of information on invasive species. A great place to start is here: Six Easy Ways to Fight Invasive Species
REGIONAL RESOURCES FOR DESIGNERS
Local agencies, botanic gardens, and non-profits are invaluable resources for information on Horticultural Invasives. Start with the lists, and when you have questions, call, email, or write to project coordinators. The organizations behind these resources want to help you stem the tide of invasive plants in their regions.
MIDWEST Invasive Plants in the Chicago Region MIDATLANTIC Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas
WESTERN STATES PlantRight The California Invasive Plant Council "Donâ€™t Plant a Pest program"
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