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Get Inspired! A RT I N T H E G A R D E N TR AVEL MU SE: KYO T O O RNA M ENT A L G R A S S E S
editor’sletter Moving On
fter two rewarding years, I’m packing up my red pen and thesaurus and stepping down as editor-in-chief of The Designer. I’m so very proud of how far our magazine has evolved and it is due in no small part to our talented art director Marti Golon and eagle-eyed copy editor Claire Splan. Mainly, though, our success comes from you—our readers who also act as our authors and collaborators. As the only magazine written by designers for designers, we occupy a unique niche in the world of garden magazines. My goal from the beginning has been to create a magazine I want to read myself—one that feels like getting together over coffee to swap ideas and design strategies with my colleagues. Along the way I’ve been inspired by other designers’ travels and projects, been introduced to exciting new plants and learned about technology and marketing tools directly relevant to my design practice.
I’m particularly pleased that my final issue as editor includes some articles you can really sink your teeth into. In “Art in the Garden,” designer and sculptor Jan Kirsh lays down a primer on effectively integrating art into your landscape designs. A year ago, our winter issue theme was partnership, and I’m happy to revisit this idea again in a new way with Lynn Felici-Gallant’s interview of noted husband-and-wife design team Ian Gribble and Catharine Cooke. Finally, don’t miss our excerpt from Thomas Rainer and Claudia West’s Planting in a Post-Wild World, which I believe will be the “big idea” book of the upcoming garden book season. Thank you all for your support, stories, and photos, and a special thanks to all of you who have taken the time to write or let me know in person how much you’ve enjoyed The Designer. But most of all, thank you for reading. SUSAN MORRISON
Everblooming Gardenia Gardenia jasminoides ‘Veitchii’
Truly. Madly. Deeply. That intoxicating fragrance. Those gleaming white flowers.
too. It’s compact, naturally mounding shape has low dense
The elegant glossy, evergreen leaves. Everblooming gardenias
growth so it’s green to the ground making it ideal for edging
are oh so easy to love. Highly prized for its near-constant
a border or filling a large container. Place close to outdoor
profusion of sweetly fragrant blooms that are perfect for
living spaces where its captivating scent and abundant beauty
cutting our Everblooming gardenia is a problem solver,
can be appreciated.
11 PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE 12 DESIGN ROUNDUP 16 PRO PLANT PICKS Ornamental Grasses 24 BUSINESS Social Media Platforms BY B E N JA M I N VO GT
26 BOOK REVIEW Plants with Style BY J U DY N AU S EEF, FAP LD
28 INTERVIEW Building a Landscape and a Relationship BY LY N N F E LIC I- GALLANT P H OTO G R A P HY BY R I C H P O M E R ANTZ
38 BOOK EXCERPT Stress as an Asset BY T H O M AS R AI NER AND C L AUD I A W EST
44 DESIGN MASTER CLASS Art in the Garden BY JA N K I R S H
52 TRAVEL INSPIRATION Gardens of Kyoto BY B A R B A R A S IM O N, AP LD P H OTO G R A P HY BY A L L A N M A N DE LL
O N T H E COV ER: P H OTO G R A P H AND S CULP TURE P E A R S BY JAN K IRS H O N T H I S PAG E: D E S I G N BY C ATH ARINE CO O KE A N D I A N G R I B BLE P H OTO G R A P H BY C AT H A R I NE CO O KE
W INT ER 2015
thedesıgner EDITOR IN CHIEF Susan Morrison
Lynn Felici-Gallant Interview: Building a Landscape and a Relationship
p. 28 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Denise Calabrese ASSOCIATE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Lisa Ruggiers MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR
Angela Burkett COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Michelle Keyser CERTIFICATION COORDINATOR
Lynn Felici-Gallant is a container designer, garden writer, and promotional consultant for landscape design professionals. She is a former editor with Fine Gardening, Leaf, and Coastal Home magazines. Lynn is also the cofounder and marketing director of Paul’s Custom Pet Food LLC, a small-batch, custom pet food company based in New Milford, Connecticut. She is a contributor to The Cook’s Cook and Edible Seacoast magazines and may be reached at indigo email@example.com.
Courtney Kuntz BOOKKEEPER
Jennifer Swartz DIRECTOR OF CONFERENCES AND EVENTS
Lori Zelesko MEMBERSHIP, FINANCE & EVENTS COORDINATOR
Leona Wagner NEWSLETTER EDITOR
Amy Bobb COPY EDITOR
➸ Click name to email us! For information on advertising in The Designer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org For submission guidelines click here
D E TA I L OF POTTED, A HOME GOODS AND GA R DEN B OU TI QU E I N LOS ANGELES. FOR MOR E SEE PAGE 12
contributors Jan Kirsh Design Master Class: Art in the Garden p. 44
Jan Kirsh’s extensive background and current practice as a noted landscape designer has proven to be the perfect springboard for her work as a sculptor. Her gardens are compatibly designed in both traditional and contemporary styles. She features abundant native plant material with swaths of color for impact. Kirsh’s vibrant fruit and vegetable sculptures have been exhibited in Philadelphia, New York City, and across the Mid-Atlantic. Her work is represented by galleries in Aspen, Colorado; SoHo, New York; and Eastern Shore, Maryland, where she resides. Kirsh’s studio and landscape design office is minutes from St. Michaels, Maryland.
Gardens of Kyoto
Book Review: Design with Style
Interview: Building a Landscape and a Relationship
Judy Nauseef, FAPLD, is an award-winning landscape designer and a garden writer. She owns her own business, Judy Nauseef Landscape Design, in Iowa City, Iowa, where she designs and manages installations of primarily residential landscapes. She writes for Iowa Gardener magazine and will have a book, Using Native Plants in Gardens in the Upper Midwest, published by the University of Iowa Press in spring 2016.
Rich Pomerantz’s garden photography has appeared in numerous gardening, travel and shelter magazines, including Traditional Home, Garden Design, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, and Organic Gardening. The author of three books—Great Gardens of the Berkshires, Hudson River Valley Farms, and Wild Horses of the Dunes— Rich also teaches garden photography at many garden venues and offers workshops for clubs, horticultural societies, and landscaper trade groups. Rich’s blog was named by Horticulture magazine as one of 2011’s best gardening blogs and he won two prizes in the 2012 Kew Gardens’ sponsored International Garden Photographer of the Year Contest.
Judy Nauseef, Travel Inspiration: FAPLD p. 52
Allan Mandell lives and makes art on Vancouver Island in Canada. He trained himself to see in the gardens of Kyoto, Japan. His work as a professional garden photographer has been published worldwide. Recently he launched Kyoto Garden Tour, which takes small groups on a sensual, aesthetic and spiritual journey, introducing them to the city and culture he loves so much. “What interests me in a garden is not only outer beauty,” explains Allan, “but the inner transformation taking place in the viewer. Good design facilitates this experience.” He can be reached at allan@ allanmandell.com.
contributors Thomas Rainer Book Excerpt: Planting in a Post-Wild World
Barbara Simon, APLD Travel Inspiration: Gardens of Kyoto
Thomas Rainer is a registered landscape architect, teacher, and writer. He has designed landscapes for the U.S. Capitol grounds; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial; and The New York Botanical Garden. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Landscape Architecture Magazine, and Home + Design. Thomas teaches planting design for the George Washington University Landscape Design program and speaks regularly on sustainable planting design. He blogs at the award-winning site Grounded Design.
Barbara Simon, APLD, has been designing gardens since 2002 and is co-president of APLD Oregon Chapter. Although she was a pastry chef in a previous life, These days her weekends are spent in stewardship of 80 acres of oak savannah/ grasslands on the east end of the Columbia River Gorge. This “glamping” brings her in close contact with nature. Beyond that, her never-ending quest for design inspiration includes all the arts: playing cello, perusing art museums and galleries, sketching, traveling, cooking, and taking part in collaborations. Barbara would love to return to Kyoto some day.
Business: Social Media Platforms
Book Excerpt: Planting in a Post-Wild World
Benjamin Vogt owns Monarch Gardens, a prairie garden consulting and design firm in Lincoln, Nebraska. His personal garden has been featured online at ApartmentTherapy. com, FineGardening. com, and GardenDesign.com. Benjamin’s weekly column at Houzz.com has been read nearly two million times, and he speaks nationally on native plants, climate change, and garden philosophy. You can link to his social media pages at www.monarchgard. com.
Claudia West grew up in a family-owned landscape nursery in Germany that specializes in garden design and perennial, woody, and cut flower production. She served as a design consultant for Wolfgang Oehme/ Carol Oppenheimer: Landscape Architecture. Claudia has an extensive background in horticulture, ecology, and environmental restoration, and is a sought-after speaker on topics such as the application of color theories to native planting design.
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president’smessage New APLD Membership
he new categories of APLD membership recognize and promote the depth of experience and knowledge of our members. While some may ask why we are making changes, the simple answer is that it is imperative we continually strive to elevate the profession of landscape design so that we can better compete in today’s landscape world. Every day we see new products, higher environmental standards, new plant hybrids, more details about soil biology, grander technology, watershed approaches—the list goes on and on. How we at APLD step up to the plate to stay relevant in this ever-growing and ever-changing industry is very important.
The APLD board has discussed, reviewed, inquired, haggled, and reviewed again the membership levels to move us into a stronger position in our industry. Our goal is to elevate our membership so that every qualified designer becomes certified. We want our members to continually strive to learn and grow their design-related knowledge and then track that knowledge with our online CEU program. With advocacy issues (fighting for our right to practice as landscape designers) front and center in many states, it is even more important for APLD to prove the education and experience levels of those we represent. It is exciting to watch our association grow and become an even more powerful voice in the world of professional landscape design. I am proud to be part of the team of board and committee members that is working toward this more promising APLD future. We ask you to join us as we build a brighter future for all landscape design professionals! COLLEEN HAMILTON APLD
A Trend We Like A recent trip to Los Angeles included a dose of design inspiration thanks to a visit to Potted, a cross between a small but carefully curated garden store and a home goods boutique. With a mission statement to provide “indoor style for outdoor living,” Potted showcases a unique collection of planters, furniture, and outdoor décor that reflects a bold and contemporary sensibility. Says co-owner Annette A L L P H OTOS CO U RT ESY O F P OTTE D
Goliti Gutierrez, “The designers who shop here are looking for something out of the ordinary and that’s what we do our best to provide.” No trips to L.A. in your future? Other boutiques that blur the line between indoor and outdoor style include Detroit Garden Works in Michigan, Terrain in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and Ravenna Gardens in Seattle. apld.org
designroundup The Art of Gardening Considered one of the most romantic and imaginative public gardens in America, Pennsylvania’s Chanticleer garden has been inspiring landscape designers for years. In The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer, author and executive director of the garden’s foundation, R. William Thomas’s passion and knowledge shine through. Although beautifully photographed by Rob Cardillo, The Art of Gardening it is not a coffee table book, but instead uses the garden as a jumping-off point to teach strategies and techniques for developing plant palettes, choosing hardscape, and understanding site-specific design. >>Get the book! Click here
‘Meerlo’ Lavender At September’s Garden Writers Association symposium in Pasadena, attendees were blown away by Meerlo lavender (Lavandula ‘Meerlo’), a new introduction from the Sunset Western Garden and Southern Living collections. APLD designer Nan Sterman has been trialing the plant and has this to share: “I saw ‘Meerlo’ at Spring Trials this year and it was one of the few plants that stopped me in my tracks. The variegated leaves are edged in rounded teeth that give the plant a soft, even frilly appearance, which is something that we don’t often find in waterwise gardens. The fragrance is as impressive as the foliage. I often find the perfume of traditional fragrant lavenders to be overwhelming but this one is just right.” Hardy to 20 F (USDA zones 9B to 10), ‘Meerlo’ lavender likes full sun and low water, is deer resistant and tolerant of both heat and humidity. Choose this plant for its attractive foliage and fragrance, as blooms are minimal. “After seeing the foliage,” says Sterman, “I hadn’t thought to ask about the flowers. If it never bloomed, that would be absolutely fine with me!” 14
PHOTOGR A PH BY SAXON HOLT
Design by Graham Landscape Architecture Photo by Allen Russ
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USDA HARDINESS ZONES: 4–9 SIZE: 1–3’ H x 1–3’ W CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS: Full sun to part shade. Performs best in low water and average, well-drained soil.
Cheri Stringer, APLD, is the owner/principal behind TLC Gardens, a design-build landscape firm in Colorado. Their goal is to reconnect clients with nature by integrating elegant outdoor spaces or by upscaling commercial properties with areas for people to reflect and engage with the natural world. Their team of artisans, builders, and designers create unique solutions for residential and commercial sites.
Overdam Feather Reed Grass
Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Overdam’
BY CHERI STRINGER, APLD s the fall season progresses, I am captivated by the beauty of ornamental grasses in the landscape. A planting plan with multi-season interest in the intermountain region isn’t complete without including several varieties. One of my favorites to use in a variety of garden styles is the flexible and high-performing Overdam feather reed grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Overdam’). This variegated feather reed grass performs in the field similarly to its cousin Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster,’ but with a softer presentation. The thinly striped, green and white leaves are stunning in part shade, adding sophistication to classic cottage garden charmers like peonies and hydrangeas. A flexible performer, it works equally well in modern landscapes where narrow beds and tidy plants are a requirement. As the summer season progresses and other plants are starting to tilt and wane, this grass remains upright, with filled-out plumes of seed heads that contrast nicely with plants around it.
Plant this grass in front of ‘Royal Purple’ smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria) or ‘Coppertina’ ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) for a stunning combination that will be sure to encourage admiring photo-takers. In the winter, I encourage my clients to leave feather reed grass uncut, as the seed heads pierce the snow, providing sculptural structure and texture. In spring, the plumes provide birds important sources of food and nest building material. Trim them back in April just before the new stalks begin to emerge.
P H OTO GRAP H S AND D ESI GN BY CHER I STR I N GER , A PLD
Prairie Dropseed Sporobolus heterolepis
BY LANI WOODRUFF s a fairly recent transplant from Northern Virginia to the Midwest, I am enjoying the opportunity to experiment and expand upon the plant palette I use for my designs. Just as a treasure found at an antique shop feels like new when you take it home, I am discovering plants that, while not necessarily new, are crossing my path for the first time. Ornamental grasses have always topped my list of favorite plants, and prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) is one of these recently discovered gems I am delighted to share with my clients. Like my teenage boys on school mornings, prairie dropseed is slow to emerge and establish. It forms small clumps with a rounded habit reaching about 18 to 24 inches tall and wide. The thin, emerald green foliage has a very fine texture that exudes a special kind of elegance. Pink panicles with a tinge of brown appear in late summer and reach a height of 30 inches. Reminiscent of the smell of popcorn, vanilla, or coriander, these fragrant plumes add delicious scent to the air. Come fall, prairie dropseed turns golden with orange hues and its tiny seeds drop to the ground, which is the reason for its common name (even though it doesn’t spread quickly).
Prairie dropseed brings much to the garden. It is attractive to birds but is a low browse risk for deer. It is tolerant of drought, air pollution, and black walnut. It is resistant to being flattened by snow, making it valuable in winterscapes. I prefer to plant it in masses in a space where its fragrance will be appreciated and it has the opportunity to dance in the breeze.
USDA HARDINESS ZONES: 4–9 SIZE: 1-3' H x 1-3' W
PHOTOGR A PH BY LA N I WOODR UFF
CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS: Full sun. Tolerates a wide range of welldrained soils and drought.
Lani Woodruff enjoys sharing life with her three men, Garth, Foster, and Hudson. Besides working at her design firm, RootBound, she practices yoga and loves to read and walk on the beach. A good day for her is one that ends with a glass of red wine and being pushed by Garth on the tree swing in their back yard.
proplantpicks ORNAMENTAL GRASSES NORTHEAST
Japanese Forest Grass Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’
BY SUSAN COHAN, APLD
rasses that thrive in the shade and offer bold color throughout the season are often difficult to find. ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’) is a workhorse in a shady garden. With bright yellow and green striated, lanceolate foliage, this grass naturalizes slowly, spreading via rhizomes. Its cascading habit creates soft mounds of gold that add a vibrant counterpoint to the often dark shade garden floor.
Used as an edging plant along a path or massed with bold-leafed counterparts, Japanese forest grass plays well with stone and other plants. Combined with black-leafed plants, it can look graphic and contemporary. Often used to cascade over a wall or a container, it is best planted in early spring so it can have the entire season to come into its own. As the mounds fill in, it can help disguise fading bulb foliage later in the season.
As a design element it is most useful for its low-growing habit as well as its pop of color and texture. In common with most of the ornamental grass family, it is deer resistant and free of disease problems that can plague other shade loving plants. Two drawbacks to this plant are its occasional tendency to revert to green and the variable quality of available nursery stock, as its popularity means plants are sometimes not fully rooted out. Japanese forest grass has in some ways become a victim of its own success and usefulness—which are also the same reasons to keep using it.
USDA HARDINESS ZONES: 5–9 SIZE: 12–18” H x 12–18” W CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS: Part shade. Moist, humusrich, and well-drained soil. Do not let dry out. PH OTO G R A P H S A ND D E S IGN BY S U SA N CO H A N , AP LD
Susan Cohan, APLD, is the principal of Susan Cohan Gardens, a boutique residential landscape design studio in New Jersey.
proplantpicks ORNAMENTAL GRASSES
Melinus nerviglumis ‘Pink Crystals’
BY REBECCA SWEET
henever I have a small space in the garden that begs for a bit of drama, my go-to plant of choice is ruby grass (Melinus nerviglumis 'Pink Crystals') Its wispy, blue-green blades form neat, clumping mounds for most of the year, but once summer arrives, the show really begins. From June through August, dusky pink panicles emerge, growing another twelve-inches above the tidy leaves. The silky-textured flowers appear to shimmer in the light as they gently wave in the wind, adding a sparkling effect to the garden.
As the flowers age, they fade from ruby red to silvery white, a color that contrasts nicely with the changing color of the grass blades. Once colder temperatures arrive, the blue-green foliage turn soft shades of purple and red. Don’t let the delicate nature of this well-behaved grass fool you—it’s a lot tougher than it looks. Native to the inhospitable growing conditions of South Africa, ruby grass is at home in dry summer conditions. It does best in the garden, however, when given a moderate amount of water throughout the hottest months.
One of my favorite low-water combinations is drifts of ruby grass and ‘El Toro’ sempervivums in the front of the border, with the crimson shades of ‘Fire Power’ nandina and ‘Ruby Slippers’ oakleaf hydrangea placed in the back. Long lasting and seasonal color echoes are created from the inflorescence and blades of the ruby grass, the foliage of the nandina, the two-toned succulents, and the hydrangea flowers. It’s no surprise John Greenlee calls ruby grass “one of the showiest of the small flowering grasses” in his Encyclopedia of Flowering Grasses. And, as if that’s not praise enough, it also won the 1998 Plant Selects Award.
Rebecca Sweet is a landscape designer with her company, Harmony In The Garden, located in Los Altos, CA. She is the author of Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture and Form and co-author of Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces and writes a design-based column for Horticulture Magazine.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PR OVEN WI N N ERS
PHOTOGR A PHS BY KATI E WEB ER
USDA HARDINESS ZONES: 9–11 SIZE: 18” H x 18" W CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS: Full sun, dry to moderate water requirements, and fast-draining soil.
business Building an Online Community BY BENJAMIN VOGT
remember the early days of Facebook when I worked for a student marketing firm at the University of Nebraska; I couldn’t believe the information people shared about themselves—from where they were going to their current emotional state. Today, this information is second nature in our online culture and the personal stories and perspectives we share are how we build community. As garden designers, community is a primary way to reach people and, potentially, to make them clients. Here are three mediums to consider:
I adore it. The platform is crisp, clean, and focused on imagery, making it an excellent match for a visual field like garden design. I’ll often use my good cameras and edit pictures before uploading, but it’s easy to share with your phone and Instagram’s built-in editing software. This is a medium for immediate interaction that’s swift
and easy, and use of relevant hashtags will increase followers. Each image reflects who I am and what I’m about as I live my day—it’s not forced advertising with an obvious agenda. The downside? I don’t see one. Honestly.
Don’t think of Facebook or any platform as a way to advertise. People will see right through you and run away. The benefit of Facebook is that almost everyone is there, checking in a few times a week or many times a day. Images are effective here, from a gorgeous garden scene to a meme that extols the virtues of pollinator plants. The downside is that Facebook’s algorithms make it harder for folks to see your content and friends and fans must regularly like, share, or comment to see what you’re posting.
I’ll tell you straight, I find it laborious and busy, but for designers and DIYers it’s a treasure trove of organization and creative ideas. Pictures tell the main story, while captions link to the source page and more information. The majority of Pinterest users are women, with the greatest traffic occurring on evenings and weekends. The downside is just that—the demographics are skewed—but the ability to create a shareable portfolio of design ideas and have it seen is real. The key to using social media is finding a platform or two that you enjoy using, because your personal investment will shine through and keep your voice authentic. And don’t forget it’s not about advertising, it’s about building community—link to other’s pictures, articles, and designs, using their work to make yours easier.
bookreview Plants With Style BY JUDY NAUSEEF, FAPLD
Plant combinations that thrill us when we happen upon them in a garden.
he world of landscape design and horticulture offers space for a wide range of inspired professionals and opportunities for us to learn from each other and passionately discuss ideas. Kelly Norris, director of horticulture at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, brings his passion for plants to the reader as he does in person wherever he travels. His book, Plants with Style (Timberpress 2015), seeks to draw in a new generation of gardeners for whom eclectic design comes as naturally as their choices for interior environments as well as clothing.
>>Get the book! Click here to view online
Norris encourages all gardeners to use their sense of style to garden with a sense of place. He believes in choosing plants that call out to you through their color, form, or texture, while maintaining an ecological authenticity, understanding that “stylish gardening is about connecting with the earth.” The book might have benefitted, however, from a deeper description of sustainability in the environment, including a discussion of the additional benefits of habitat for a diverse population of birds, bees, and other wildlife.
Norris offers a clear outline of how to form a plan and choose plants by defining structure in the garden, an approach familiar to all landscape designers. Initially, he discusses trees, shrubs, perennials, and other ground-level plants, as well as vines, providing examples of each role. Later, he explains how to add the colors and shapes of seasonal changes to the choice of plants. A chapter on vignettes discusses what we all aspire to achieve: those plant combinations that thrill us when we happen upon them in a garden. The book recognizes that this is where gardening really becomes fun and is the reward that keeps us tweaking our plan and searching for the perfect plant. In the final chapter Norris gives us permission to include the unexplained or mysterious plant he calls a “one-off or oddity” in our gardens, just because we like it.
From left to right: Clematis chiisanensis ‘Lemon Bells’. Aesculus parviflora ‘Bottlebrush Buckeye’, leaves in autumn. Trillium recurvatum ‘Bloody Butcher’. A LL PHOTOS TA KEN F ROM PLANT S WI TH STY LE COPYR I GHT 201 5 © BY KELLY N OR R I S. PU B L ISHED BY TI MB ER PR ESS, PORT L A N D, USED BY PER MI SSION OF THE PUB LI SH ER. A LL R I GHTS R ESE RV ED.
Building a Landscape
CONNECTICUT COUPLE TALKS ABOUT THE ADVANTAGES AND CHALLENGES OF USING THEIR PROPERTY AS A LABORATORY
Creating a garden room with pruned linden trees underplanted with boxwood and perennials was one of the coupleâ€™s first successful design experiments.
BY LYNN FELICI-GALLANT
usband-and-wife landscape design team Ian Gribble and Catharine Cooke, owners of Spring Lake Garden Design Incorporated in Northwest Connecticut, epitomize a partnership. Ian, raised as a farmer on 160 acres in England, is a NYBG-trained horticulturist and avid plantsman. Catharine, a former graphic designer and graduate of the Parsons School of Design and NYBG, is the artistic vision and project manager for the coupleâ€™s design-build company. Their award-winning landscapes speak to their collaboration in every detail; from the selection of plants to designing for place, this dynamic couple pour the best of their respective talents into every property they touch. PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICH POMERANTZ
EXCEPT WHER E N OT ED
Lush and bold plants along a winding path create intrigue. This is just one of multiple maze-like pathways that leads to a surprise amphitheater the couple created to host family, wedding, and music events.
Nowhere is this more evident than at their own home. For 14 years, Catharine and Ian have used their 15-acre property as a laboratory—testing design theories and plant hardiness while creating a sanctuary that rivals many a public garden. But as any designer who works with a partner will tell you, years of collaboration on every detail brings challenges. And when that partner is your spouse, it takes a special talent above and beyond vision and plant knowledge to make it work. I sat down with Catharine and Ian to ask them to elaborate on the ways they use their own landscape as a laboratory and how they manage their process successfully as a married couple.
nurseries tout new plants that show great promise, but in reality, don’t always deliver. We would rather experiment on our property than at our clients’; otherwise, it can get too costly to provide replacements if something doesn’t work. Clients rely on our knowledge so we need to know firsthand how a plant performs. Plus it keeps our gardens interesting.
Ian: We conduct lots of experiments,
plant trials, combinations, and testing of microclimates and light— how much sun can a shade-lover take and still look good— those sorts of ➸
Landscape design team Catharine Cooke and Ian Gribble, owners of Spring Lake Garden Design Inc.
PHOTO CREDI T: LY N N FE LI CI-G AL L AN T
You talk about using your property as a laboratory for your designs. What do you mean by that? Catharine: Often catalogs and
A bluestone patio and informal plantings provide friends with a quiet, uninterrupted view of the front meadow and vista.
things. For example, we knew that hornbeam (Carpinus sp.) takes hedging well in the Northeast, but how would linden (Tilia sp.) look after being trimmed for 15 years in a row? We had to try it at home to find out. About how many unique landscape design styles have you incorporated into your property and can you describe a few of them? Catharine: We have 15 acres of what was once pasture and woodland. To
the west is extensive ledge on a fairly steep slope. We have full sun, deep shade, rich topsoil, and lean, ledge soil. Our property runs the gamut from informal field gardens to an alpine rockery to a formal hedge framing perennial and woodland gardens. We have a land-formed spiral that descends to a flat rock with a black hole kind of vortex, and an outdoor amphitheater that is great for weddings or performance art. 32
interview Ian: We live on a hillside and it’s been fun to introduce a formal element into
slopes; it lends a quirky energy. We have rockeries surrounded by wilder gardens, an amphitheater, and an earthwork-sunken garden that I find very meditative. The front of the house is all about the view, the oaks, and the meadow.
Can you give readers an example of the way you go about designing a new space on your property? Do you set out together to create a garden to test plants or to test a design theory? What does the process look like? Catharine: It usually involves an early evening walkabout (and if I want to be
PHOTO CR EDI T: CATHA R I N E COOKE
really honest, a gin and tonic!), pointing out and talking about what works and what doesn’t and why. It can involve some pretty heated discussions, defending our respective positions. It is rarely dull. We usually always end up with something good, but it does take time. Ian: In the beginning we needed to have defined
“her and his” gardens, but now we have more fusion. We talk a lot about ideas and sometimes one gains traction. Most of the real garden making has been done so at this point we are watching it mature. We are learning how to edit. Do you invite clients to your home to visit the different areas of your property? Catharine: Yes, especially if they
A miniature balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Sentimental Blue’) holds its own against myrtle spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites) in an expansive alpine rockery built into a natural slope on the property.
are plant-oriented people who want to see a specific tree or shrub and how it behaves in a garden setting. We also have become friends with a lot of our clients over time and we socialize a lot in the garden.
I’ve heard that married couples who design together face challenges in perceptions from outsiders. Do you experience such challenges in dealing with clients, contractors, or others? Catharine: It’s really interest- ➸ apld.org
ing how different people respond to us. Some can be dismissive of my role as designer and see Ian as the horticulturist expert he is. Then we experience the exact opposite, where people perceive him as the “gardener” in the most plebian sense and only want to deal with the designer. Most times we are appreciated for our different perspectives. Ian: We seem to have developed our own strengths when it comes to a client’s
property and it’s good to make this known to outsiders early in any new relationship.
I’m assuming you don’t always agree on designing a client’s space. How do you resolve these differences and do you think, again, there is something unique about your ability to do so being married? Catharine: That has gotten much easier over time, as our confidence and respect
for one another’s strengths make it easy to defer when necessary. I design the basic layout, especially if it involves hardscaping, and I usually determine the ➸
PHOTO CREDI T: CAT H AR INE COO KE
A sunken, sculptured-earth spiral and labyrinth is a destination for contemplation. This is one of visitors’ favorite areas of the property.
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bed shapes. But I always run the plant list by Ian who edits it for site conditions. Hopefully, he doesn’t have to work too hard at that because I’ve done my homework, but he sees the plants out in the field more than I do. Ian also goes through the garden layout before final planting to check the spacing, etc. Ian: Fortunately we don’t
disagree much when it comes to a client’s property. When we work together for a client, it’s very pleasurable— respect for each other’s strengths makes the differAn emphasis on structural plants means the ence. I tend to do smaller landscape is attractive even in winter. design work for clients so when it comes to our own property, I like to cut loose. Catharine has fortunately pushed many of her ideas when I’ve been a negative nelly, but at times I have kept her from getting into trouble, as she has me.
How do your clients benefit from the fact you are a married design team, if at all? Ian: We talk with a lot of couples and it frequently needs tact; being a married
team definitely helps. We also talk at any time of day about an issue or plan for a client. Others say you shouldn’t, but it’s better to keep the thought process moving than to make it wait for a 7 a.m. start. We also tell it like it is with each other, something that is not as easy with a workmate. Clients benefit from that. What are your next plans for your property? Catharine: Sell it or pave it! Seriously, to try and simply enjoy it more with
some tweaks now and again but not start any huge new projects.
Ian: I would like to embellish a few areas. The circulation of the whole garden
could do with more purpose. It’s not always easy to see the forest through the trees on your own place; does anyone know a good designer!?
PHOTO CR EDI T: CATHA R I N E COOKE
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Stress as An Asset
EXCERPTED FROM PLANTING IN A POST-WILD WORLD BY THOMAS RAINER & CLAUDIA WEST
he curse of temperate climates with rich soil is that one can grow anything. For designers interested in creating communities with a rich sense of place, the first step is simple: accept the environmental constraints of a site. Do not go to great effort and cost to make soil richer, eliminate shade, or provide irrigation. Instead, embrace a more limited palette of plants that will tolerate and thrive in these conditions.
Plants in the wild are inextricably bound to their environments. Think about how the smallest fold of topography in a meadow creates a drift of one species, or how a fallen tree in the forest allows a pool of light from which new species emerge. Plants and the patterns they create articulate even the most subtle changes in land.
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Each site, with its unique soil conditions and light levels, favors plants with specific shapes and functions. The apparent harmony that we perceive between plants and their environment is a result of a rather brutal process of natural selection. Each pop-
F ROM Â P L A N T IN G IN A P OST-W IL D WORL D ÂŠ CO PYR I GHT 201 5 BY THOMAS R A I N ER A N D CLAUDI A WEST. PUB LI S HED BY TI MB E R P R E SS, P O RTLAND, U S E D BY P ERM ISS IO N OF THE PUB LI SHER . A LL R I GHTS R ESERVED.
ulation of plants produces more offspring than can possibly survive. Only the fittest live, resulting in new plants more adaptive than their parents to the local ecological niche. Eons of natural selection result in plants with remarkable site-specific features. Prairie grasses can have roots that are more than ten feet deep, allowing them to regenerate after fire. Some dune species have long taproots and floating seeds that allow them to colonize barren, sandy berms. In dry climates, hairs on some leaves trap moisture from humidity and form a boundary layer to protect the plant from drought. Everything about a plantâ€”its shape, root system, leaves, and reproductive strategyâ€”is a reâž¸ sponse to a particular site.
Echinacea simulata blooms in an atypical calcium-rich prairie. This soil would be problematic by most horticultural standards, yet its unique qualities support over forty rare and endangered animals and plants.
The harmony of vertical shapes and colors of saw palmetto (Serona repens), blue broomsedge (Andropogon Virginicus var. glaucus), and longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) is a direct adaptation to the infertile, sandy soil; drought; and brackish water of this Gulf Coast swale.
From a design perspective, what is so desirable about naturally occurring plant communities is a plant’s fitness to a specific site. We admire the way trilliums pool between the roots of an oak, and how coneflowers drift through a meadow. In these communities, there is a sense of spontaneity and harmony that is the result of a plant establishing in a site that can support it. The irony is that what we perceive as happy, well-adjusted plants is more often the result of a scarcity of resources rather than an abundance of it.
A plant’s placement on a particular site is a result of its tolerance to the environmental conditions of that site. Tolerance is a key concept here because it describes the plant’s accommodation of a limited resource. All vascular plants require basic resources to live: nutrients, water, light, and carbon dioxide. The supply of any of these elements is greatly affected by temperature, pH, humidity levels, and the aerobic condition of the soil. Unlike animals that can change location to seek food or water, a plant is sessile—it cannot move. When a plant
Tolerance is a key concept here.
is separated from the resource it needs, it must develop adjustments in its shape, photosynthetic metabolism, or nutrient uptake in order to survive. So if a plant on the forest floor needs to capture more light, it must allocate more of its resources to developing stems and leaves, or add more chlorophyll to its cells. When a plant adjusts itself to seek a limited resource, it does so at the expense of other resources it can acquire. There is an unavoidable trade-off that is a result of a plant’s separation from resources. So it is not just the availability of resources on a site that determines plant allocation, but the lack of it. In a sense, each site— with its unique light levels and soil resources—predetermines
The site qualities we work so hard to fight are the very qualities that can make for a resplendent planting. Here, brutal drought and infertility help create a plant palette that enhances the beauty of the Arizona desert.
the plants that will grow there. The site favors plants with certain shapes and photosynthetic adaptions. A plant’s tolerance to different kinds of stress—such as low light, water, or nutrients— will to a large degree influence its distribution on a site.
Thick, interwoven layering of compatible plants is the hallmark of a plant community—density that is all too uncommon in traditional plantings. Phlox, geranium, trillium, dandelions, and grasses form a closeknit cluster at the base of a tree.
The takeaway for designers is simple: stress is an asset. Our initial instinct in preparing a site is often to eliminate the constraints we think will limit plant growth. We bust up soil and add organic matter; we remove shade to let more light in; and we install irrigation to provide plants constant moisture. But in many ways, we are obliterating the very qualities of a site that will create a strong sense of place. Traditional garden lore teaches that any soil that is not rich, black loam needs to be improved. Tell that to the wildflowers that thrive in some of the world’s most inhospitable soils. In amended soils they often die within just a few years. It is no coincidence that gardens that have the strongest sense of place often have sites with extreme constraints. Englishwoman Beth Chatto’s iconic Gravel Garden is celebrated around the world for its wonderful sense of place. It is a garden with poor, gravelly soil that has never been artificially watered. Her garden combines plants from beachside dunes, alpine rockeries, Mediterranean cliffs, and dry meadows to create a lasting community rich in evocative appeal.
Garden Travel by Design
Dutch Tulips & Amsterdam in Spring April 16-23 Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens May 19-26 Paris & Normandy Gardens in Summer July 20-27 Piet Oudolf & Dutch Wave Gardens August 17-24
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Art IN THE GARDEN BY JAN KIRSH
Pears set at the base of bamboo canes bring warmth and possibility to a winter landscape. PH OTO C R E D IT: JA N K IR S H
ongratulations! You have just taken on a new project. The property needs a garden renovation.
You may be asked to design a small garden room behind a city house, to facilitate the total revision of a rural property, or to work with a commercial contractor to incorporate art in a new building. No matter which scenario sounds familiar, you are picturing the inclusion of a piece of sculpture in your next design. How are you going to manage that?
As a garden designer and sculptor, I have yet to find a rule book that details how to incorporate art in a garden. Instead, the lessons are learned from reading history, visiting sculpture gardens, noting suggestions in current literature, and through experience. A recent article in Sculpture magazine quotes Peter Murray, founder and executive director of England’s Yorkshire Sculpture Park as suggesting that “sculpture needs to be discovered” and requires lots of space to breathe. Murray “choreographs the art” saying, “one piece should lead to another.”
These are great points, regardless of the scope of the project. My own approach is similar, though the language is different. In my designs, I seek to evoke feelings of awe, mystery, wonder, whimsy, and surprise to make a garden memorable. If this advice feels a bit overwhelming, take heart! Every project will serve as your most accessible teacher. To help get you started siting sculpture in the garden, I’ve created a check list of considerations.
Architecture of Existing Structures
Surrounding context and use of the space are critical elements to understand from the beginning. Let’s go back to the project premise. As with any new landscape element, you’ll want to begin by assessing the architecture. Are you dealing with contemporary or traditional features? What materials are in use? Commercial and residential sites present different opportunities. Take note of the construction materials used in the buildings and hardscape. Will the sculpture reflect or blend with these, or will it be a counterpoint, becoming more significant in its contrast? The tone of the existing structures will be a primary driver in your decision-making process.
Sculpture needs to be discovered in the garden.
Type of Audience
Artichoke nestled among creeping jenny and bright pink annual verbena.
PHOTO CR EDI T: STEPHEN CHERRY Next, think about use of the area and the audience. Imagining who will see the art, and from what vantage point, comes early in the list of assessments needed. Will viewers be mostly at leisure, or will they be engaged in a particular activity? Considering who will encounter the piece leads to the question of viewpoint. Will it be seen at standing or sitting eye level, or will the work be set at ground level, making it feel as though it is part of the surrounding garden environment? Siting a piece of art above eye level creates a sense of importance, removing it from the garden ➸
Plants and sculpture should comfortably share the same space.
in which it sits, while an eye-level piece feels more intimate, like part of the conversation. Functional and artistic elements make a visitor want to pause, observe, contemplate, and appreciate. Sculpture is a bonus, attracting visitors to it while providing a visual treat from outdoor or indoor vantage points.
As you continue through the checklist, consider what the existing landscape has to offer. Plants and lighting design can be used to draw attention to the sculpture. Think also about foliage color, texture, plant and leaf structure, flower shape, and bloom timing. How will these details relate to and enhance the piece of art? The presence of wind (especially if it is a kinetic piece) and shade patterns can have an impact, along with the drama of seasonal variation. apld.org
â–˛ A series of sculptures Envision a blanket of bronze bald cypress needles (Taxodium distichum) needles in November, a tapestry creates an enticing visual dance. of white petals dropped by a star magnolia (Magnolia PHOTO CR EDI T: CA R L R U L IS stellata) in March, or a lawn of blue star creeper (Isotoma fluviatilis) in April, as a changing carpet below a piece of sculpture. Alternatively, picture a dusting of snow settling on a ground cover of pebbles in late winter, at a time of year when we crave color. This image could prompt a vibrant sculptural partner that provides contrast to this frozen scene. The challenge as you design is to build a working relationship between the sculpture and its context by keeping in mind how seasonal variations interact with the sculpture style, form, and color.
Plants and sculpture should comfortably share the same space. The use of evergreens and/or a structure, like a wall or fence, provide a permanent backdrop for the art, regardless of the season. Alternatively, you have the
designmasterclass opportunity to create symbiosis if the planting is deciduous or herbaceous. The foliage may take precedence during the growing season then later disappear, allowing the sculpture to sustain the area when the dormant period arrives. The garden should not overwhelm the sculpture. The setting acts as a stage that will accommodate the design intention: you are working toward fulfilling the goals of the project.
The Art Itself
A final evaluation will revolve around the art itself. Sculpture is as varied as imagination will allow. Like plants, sculpture can stand alone, becoming the primary player in a space, or it can be incorporated as a series of sculpWhimsical Asparagus enlivens an urban garden. P H OTO C RE D IT: JAN K IRS H tural elements, creating a visual dance that entices a visitor through the landscape. To help accomplish your design intent, think about the material used in fabrication. Is there a sense of lightness and movement? Is water a component? What is the visual weight of the piece? Is it a figurative sculpture with emotional content or is it wildly contemporary, with abstract form? Decide what reaction you wish to evoke, or facilitate the one you think was the artist’s intention. Garden designers already recognize that outdoor rooms are similar yet different from interior spaces. By noting carefully the scale of the space where the sculpture will sit and the surrounding features, both architectural and environmental, you have the opportunity to create a garden setting that is inviting and functional.
I love developing landscapes, particularly if art will be an integral part of the space. As with any new project, when designing to include sculpture, begin by sorting out the priorities and assessing existing components. Dream and draw simultaneously. Plants don’t necessarily need to take the leading role. Thoughtfully chosen and placed art can be the star of the show, bringing a welcome infusion of energy. Remember, there is no rule book. You, the designer, can take this production in the direction of your choosing.
Drawing courtesy of Susan Cohan Gardens
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The diagonal geometry of a familyâ€™s crest is the graphic inspiration for this relatively modern courtyard garden at Zuien. (Right) The elegant entrance path to Koto-in garden at Daitoku-ji creates a mood of calmness and clarity.
K yoto GARDENS OF JAPAN
BY BARBARA SIMON, APLD PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALLAN MANDELL
n the fall of 2013, I took a leap of faith and signed up for a tour of the gardens of Kyoto with a small group of fellow APLD designers. After years of seminars and perusing gorgeous photo books on the principles of Japanese garden design, I can now say that none of that really prepared me for the intensity of sensations I felt by actually being there.
We started in the Arashiyama district at the Ōkōchi Sansō garden. After first pausing to slow down and imbibe a frothy green matcha tea, we entered the multileveled garden. Perfectly placed stepping stones guided us through the surreally tranquil space. The combination of the verdant hue of the moss, the maples in utter fall glory, and the quiet of the mid-plantings immersed us in pure beauty. Tenryū-ji, with its revered groundbreaking stone placement designed in the 13th century, was another mind-mover. Gardens have been mimicking this stone arrangement, which is imbued with symbolism, ever since. The pond here has an ethereal, mystical quality, with more koi than I have ever seen in one spot. As the giant koi surfaced, they flashed colors that matched the reflection of the surrounding maples, along with the views beyond.
It is believable that the intimate Gio-ji temple and surrounding gardens were originally used as a retreat by two discarded concubines in the late Heian period; they would make the perfect hideaway. The stroll around the garden was an automatic meditation; a study of undulating mosses that feel feminine, soft, and safe. The plantings are deceptively simple—just the forest of Japanese maples, the dark trunk of a solitary cherry tree, the carpeted under-story, and that enchanting ➸ A L L P H OTO G R A P H S © ALLAN M AND E LL FO R TO U R IN FO R M ATIO N, VIS IT WWW.KYOTO GARD EN TOUR .COM
Precisely placed stepping stones control the viewer’s gaze on a path quietly meandering through a carpet of moss at Okochi Sanso garden.
– the design principle of At Tenryu-ji, shakkei—borrowed distant scenery— is incorporated along with 650-yearold stonework that set a precedent for subsequent Japanese gardens. (Right) Sensual tree trunks dance beneath a canopy of momiji (maple leaves), contributing to the soothing verdant atmosphere of Gio-ji.
blue-green bamboo forest backdrop. The scale here is so approachable, I fantasized about re-creating something like this at home.
Next on our travels was an early morning visit to Shisen-dō. Even the sound of the name of this garden is lyrical. I was gently delighted by the pristinely groomed sand, almost audibly lapping at large, impeccably pruned azalea boulders. Is there any doubt about the value of a framed view? The integration of the residence with the garden was seamless. An exquisitely detailed walkway led us into Kōtō-in, a sub-temple of the Daitoku-ji zen temple complex. This amazing space is made of temples within temples and gardens within gardens. There are treasures to be discovered with the Kōtō-in temple: an ancient tea house, a perfectly placed hanging lantern, glorious fall color in an elegantly simple garden. The delicate beauty of this garden made it one of my favorites. ➸ apld.org
In addition to touring gardens, we were fortunate to be presented with a lecture on garden design by Shigemori Chisao, who is following in the tradition of his grandfather, the famous designer Shigemori Mirei. Chisao recently designed a new installation, Zuien no Niwa, within the Shinyodo temple complex. Although his design uses the classic Voluminous rock-like azalea define the edge of the upper garden form and elements of at Shisen-do, as delicate swept sand and densely textured forest the raked garden, the make for a potent foreground/background combination. final result is strikingly contemporary. Intricately raked gravel in different colors and textures was used in a repeated diamond pattern based on this temple’s family crest. All the stones were recycled from the existing site. A year and some months after returning, I still yearn for Kyoto. Our tour leader, Allan Mandell, assures me that this is normal. There is a personal transformation that takes place here. One must experience the pure beauty of the gardens of Kyoto first hand.
RECOMMENDED READING ■ Japanese Garden Design By Marc P. Keane ■ Elements of Japanese Design By Boyd Lafayette De Mente ■ Space and Illusion in the Japanese Garden By Teiji Itoh ■ Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers By Leonard Koren ■ Kyoto Gardens, Masterworks of the Japanese Gardener’s Art By Judith Clancy
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2015 board of directors PRESIDENT Colleen Hamilton, APLD Bloomin' Landscape Designs 7122 Willey Way Carmichael, CA 95608 (916) 961-0191 PRESIDENT-ELECT Lisa Port, APLD Banyon Tree Design Studio 3630 Northeast 123rd Street Seattle, WA 98125 (206) 383-5572 SECRETARY/TREASURER Jock Lewendon, APLD Outdoor Living Spaces, LLC 766 Schoolhouse Lane Bound Brook, NJ 08805 (732) 302-9632 IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Susan Cohan,, APLD Susan Cohan Gardens, LLC 69 Hedges Avenue Chatham, NJ 07928 (973) 665-9260 ADVOCACY DIRECTOR Richard Rosiello Rosiello Designs & Meadowbrook Gardens 159 Grove Street New Milford, CT 06776 (860) 488-6507 CERTIFICATION CHAIR Maryanne Quincy, APLD Q Gardens PO Box 2746 Sunnyvale, CA 94087 (408) 739-5493
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