The Designer – Spring 2020

Page 1

thedesıgner ASSOCIATION OF


Spring 2020



editor’sletter Meeting of the Minds


appy Spring! As you gear up for your busy season, I hope you’ll take a minute to curl up with The Designer and enjoy the tremendous roundup of topics covered in this issue. Before we dive in, though, I want to say thank you to all of the members who answered the survey about The Designer, and give special thanks to everyone who answered our emails to participate by writing, being interviewed, serving on an editorial board, or by providing ideas for article topics. This quarter we’ve integrated many of your requests and have more scheduled for the Summer and Winter issues. Before we skip ahead, though, let’s meet in the middle. This issue is all about Intersections, and that’s what design is all about—managing intersections between clients and their spaces, between one material and another, and between this plant with that one. Landscape design seeks to ease friction at certain junctures and introduce tension in others. The intersections are what make it more interesting.

After reading, I’m sure you’ll have at least one new path to venture down. Let me know how it goes—contact me at KATIE ELZER-PETERS





Our writers have tackled almost every facet of the subject, starting with Alan Burke’s “10 Innovations in Outdoor Materials,” and continuing with Diana Kirby offering advice for designers working with couples who can’t agree on the project. (I’m sure you’ve been there.) Tina Krug studies the intersection between design and client communications and shares tips for giving a fantastic design presentation. Rebecca Sweet investigates the anatomy of an actual intersection—a specific garden pathway and what makes it work, while Claire Splan contemplates the intersection of our lives with gardening through memorial garden design. Jean Ponzi presents new ideas for handling plastic pots, and Deborah Gliksman, APLD, takes us on a tour of the Western Balkans, opening our eyes to new flora.

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contents SPRING 2020 6 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE 14 DESIGN ROUNDUP Spec: 10 Innovations in Outdoor Materials BY A LA N B U R KE

18 Q&A Bridging the Gap When Client Couples Can’t Agree BY DI A N A KI R BY

24 BUSINESS Design Presentations: Tell the Story with Confidence BY TI N A KR U G

28 IN THE FIELD Making Memorial Gardens Memorable BY CLA I R E SPLA N


42 DESIGN 101 A Pathway’s Intersection: The Highlight of This Succulent Garden BY R EB ECCA SWEET

50 CASE STUDY Plastic Pot Recycling: Process, Perspective, Potentials BY J EA N PON ZI

58 TRAVEL INSPIRATION Flowers of the Western Balkans BY DEB OR A H GLI KSMAN , A PL D



president’smessage Intersections


e’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know ... it’s who you know.” Though the phrase sounds a bit defeatist, it is certainly a reality for most of our efforts slogging through something with which we may have less familiarity. I’m often asked if I, or anyone I know, is an expert at (fill in the blank niche service). Usually, it is an easy opportunity to refer an expert I know if I happen not to be the expert they are seeking. This brings to mind the idea of how we can serve as an intersection to those pursuing such connections. An easy example of this is the Integrative Design Process within the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) or LEED objectives. In this process, there is an implicit understanding that all expectations cannot be expertly met by one professional. In fact, the guidelines encourage collaborative synergies because the differing perspectives, and the varied yet focused expertise, provide the most meaningful wholistic solution to the site. How do you currently find intersection in practice? What sets you apart from your colleagues? Do you have expertise or training in some aspect of practice that others do not, yet ones they need? If your media outreach does not already make this known, or if you have not already updated this expertise in your APLD profile for the “Find a Designer” tool, there is no better time than the present to rectify this. I would love for you to drop me a line and let me know how your practice intersects with other collaborators.








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thedesıgner wants you! 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 regular columns spotlighting technology or business strategies.

calling all writers

Seeking pitches for articles. We're always looking for writers for regular features including Wander.Lust., Travel Inspiration, Plant App(lication)s, Design 101, and Design Masterclass articles.

Not sure if your story is a good fit? As Editor in Chief for 2020 Katie Elzer-Peters is happy to discuss your idea with you. Reach her at


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contributors Alan Burke

Deborah Gliksman APLD

p. 14

p. 58

Design Roundup: Spec: 10 Innovations in Outdoor Materials

Landscape architect Alan Burke curates the Facebook page Green Meridian. Pacific Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Northwest Home+Garden, and American Home magazine have showcased his work, and his plan is on the back cover of the first edition of the Sunset Western Landscaping book. Featured by The Seattle Times and profiled by Evening newsmagazine, his work has been presented on City TV in Toronto and on The ABC Home Show. He has written for industry publications and lectured at trade organizations throughout the country. His design/build firm, Classic Nursery & Landscape Co., has earned many awards including Best of Show at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. Located on 10 acres in the Seattle area, Classic installs over 100 custom projects annually and cares for residences throughout the Puget Sound.



Travel Inspiration: Flowers of the Western Balkans

Deborah Gliksman is principal of Urban Oasis Landscape Design, a fullservice landscape design firm founded in 2002. Landscape Design unites her twin passions for design and horticulture. Deborah’s happy place is where landscape design, functionality, and sustainability meet. She founded Urban Oasis with a desire to create gorgeous and innovative outdoor spaces for each and every client. She believes that good, purposeful design combined with exceptional plant choices will create beautiful, calming, and sustainable environments that can be truly lived in and enjoyed. In addition to being a certified Landscape Designer and EPA Certified Irrigation Auditor, Deborah is currently serving as president of the board of Greater Los Angeles APLD.

Diana Kirby

Q&A: Bridging the Gap when Client Couples Can’t Agree p. 18

Diana Kirby is a landscape designer, writer, and speaker. She owns Diana’s Designs, a design build landscaping firm in Austin, Texas, and has written for multiple publications including her monthly columns about gardening, wildlife, and nature for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. She also offers landscaping tips and blogs about gardening on www.

>>Click bolded names for link to their website.

Tina Krug

Business: Design Presentations: Tell the Story with Confidence p. 24

Tina Krug owns Red Fern Landscape Design, a residential design firm based near Des Moines, Iowa. This is the third state in which she’s started this business, and by now she’s honed her presentation process. A plant geek at heart, Tina holds a Master of Science degree in Horticulture from North Carolina State University. She will talk to anybody about landscape design. Or food. Or college basketball. Or pretty much anything.

Jean Ponzi

Case Study: Plastic Pot Recycling: Process, Perspective, Potentials p. 50

Jean Ponzi serves as Green Resources Manager at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO. A 24year veteran of the Garden’s EarthWays Center team, she currently applies her sustainability expertise as manager of the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, operator of the Garden’s Green Resources Answer Service, and is on the leadership team for the regional initiative BiodiverseCity St. Louis. Jean is in demand as a speaker, writer, and media spokesperson, offering audiences an ecological vision tempered with practical experience.

Claire Splan

Rebecca Sweet

p. 28

p. 42

Claire Splan is the author of California Fruit & Vegetable Gardening and California Monthby-Month Gardening (both published by Cool Springs Press). She lives and gardens in Alameda, California.

Rebecca Sweet is an author and garden designer with her design firm Harmony In The Garden, located in northern California. Her gardens have been featured in Sunset, Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Woman’s Day, and Country Living magazines as well as many regional publications. Rebecca and her gardens have also been featured on the critically acclaimed PBS series Growing a Greener World, and she has been a radio guest on numerous programs including Martha Stewart Living.

In the Field: Design 101: Making Memorial A Pathway’s Gardens Memorable Intersection



designroundup SPEC

10 Innovations in Outdoor Materials BY ALAN BURKE


have been a landscape architect and design/build contractor for decades. Recently, I’ve been thinking back to those quaint and vintage early days and the long-forgotten difficulties we had communicating by CB radio, of guiding ourselves to job sites with a spiral-bound map guide, and of waiting for contracts and agreement approvals by snail mail. Our work has evolved substantially since then, with a quickening of communication, as we face a torrent of new design devices, timesaving tools, and fresh materials, each improvement eclipsing the last in a stream of information that makes it difficult to keep up. With that in mind, I’ve been making notes regarding innovations that spark my interest, while curating an industry Facebook page (Green Meridian) and managing our design/build business and 10-acre nursery outside Seattle, in the suburban backyard of Amazon, Starbucks, and Microsoft. (See us at Working with staff designers and up to 8 crews, the process of introducing new tools, materials, and marketing ideas can be a complex process. One notion I’ve encouraged is to “fail fast,” bringing ideas forward only to discard them quickly if they don’t meet our needs. After almost 40 years in business, change is difficult, but if you are an APLD member, as I am, you welcome fresh thinking and an ongoing dialogue. So with this in mind, here is my list of 10 new innovations in outdoor materials for your review:


HYBRIDIZATION IN HORTICULTURE Let’s start with our favorite topic: plant materials. New and exciting changes include hybridized botanicals that are bred not to reseed, so they won’t become invasive. Plants such as Buddleia ‘Blue Chip’® or Hypericum ‘Autumn Flame’® are of



special interest, as are new semi-evergreen berries such as Blueberry ‘Peach Sorbet’® (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘ZF06-043’), or thornless types such as dwarf nonspreading Blackberry ‘Baby Cakes’® (Rubus ‘APF-236T’) and Raspberry ‘Raspberry Sorbet’® (Rubus idaeus ‘NR7’). The new Seaside

Serenade® Cape Hatteras Hydrangea from Monrovia (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘HORTHAT’) is a tetraploid with sturdy stems that don’t flop over under the weight of large blooms. Tolerant of heat and humidity, the compact ruby red flowers are not affected by soil pH and stay red.

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Monrovia Hydrangea ‘Seaside Serenade Cape Hatteras’ PH OTO BY D O R E E N WY NJA








New porcelain pavers from Belgard and other suppliers bring us fresh textures and colors, allowing us to integrate a ground plane with almost any finish, from wood to metals and fabric colors. Learn more here.

to open once-impervious paving with nonslip surfaces and new colors and finishes. Self-healing “bio-concrete” is mixed using specialized bacteria to heal like a second “skin,” while 3D printed cements are introducing a new world of customizable forms from new pollutant-absorbing bricks to eco-concrete that is water-repellent or absorbent. Check these out.



Long gone are the days when recycled lumber looked like plastic and clients complained of slippery surfaces or mold concerns. Companies like TimberTech and Trex offer a range of new composites, textures, and easy-build rail kit systems incorporating integrated lighting and specialized hardware.



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color and dimension to designs, as easy-to-use LED lighting interfaces allow your clients to adjust individual lights and group lighting “zones” or luminaire color from a cellphone. Advanced technologies like Luxor from FX Luminaire offer a striking 30,000 colors per zone. Light up your work here.


MADE-TO-ORDER METALS add a unique,

personalized touch to any project and are available from companies like Artisan Panels and GTM. Featuring precision laser cutting and a range of customizable metal components, custom metal fabrication can define your next project.

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in myriad colors and patterns and are now more durable than ever. From flowing visual curtains and screen materials to overhead canopies and carpet, fabric solutions from companies such as Sunbrella, Kravet, and Sattler Outdura bring the textures of the indoors to outdoors. Search outdoor fabrics on Houzz.



coming at us fast and furious. Let me introduce you to the easy-to-use “BTT controller” from Hunter, a Bluetoothenabled controller that you attach to your hose bibb and command from your phone. See it here. Many of you are aware of the revolutionary Rachio controller, an industry-disruptor,

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Aquascape, Inc., from “pondless” waterfall units to rain harvesting systems and easy assembly recirculating pots. See them here.

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Hot new ideas include “Dynamic heat control” that enables the use of a variety of finishes and open bottom venting to channel heat more efficiently. From firebowls to fire tables, check out the hottest fire features from the OutDoor GreatRoom Company.

This is just my personal list distilled to 10 items. We could talk about new technologies in design, innovations in construction tools, or fresh ideas in marketing design services, but I will need more coffee for that, so don’t get me started!





Bridging the Gap When Client Couples Can’t Agree BY DIANA KIRBY




I’m a landscape designer, and I often have clients who do not agree on what they want for their landscape. He wants a lawn and entertaining area, while she wants an edible garden and water feature (just an example). How do I deal with these conflicting needs/wants to give them a design they will both be happy with?


Developing rapport with clients is as important to a job as staying on budget and meeting deadlines. When more than one person provides direction, the laundry list of expectations can vary widely and quickly grow unmanageable. Many design clients are embarking on a process about which they know very little. Each client’s definition of success may be very different. It’s important to keep communications clear, outline the process, and manage expectations. ■ LISTEN. Make sure they know you’re listening. While

that may seem obvious, in client dynamics when one person overrides the other, it’s easy for one person to feel they’re getting lost in the discussion. Repeat their words and phrases back to each of them. This confirms you understand what they both want and gives them confidence you appreciate their unique visions. ■ DIG DEEPER. Ask specific questions about how

often they entertain or what vegetables they want to grow. They’re paying you to tease out details from them and then provide more creative options based on your interpretation and expertise. It may be that “entertaining space” only means having a few family members over occasionally instead of throwing big parties necessitating a monstrous deck and outdoor kitchen. She may only want a few tomato and pepper plants or some lettuce when she defines “vegetable garden,” and might not be ready for the maintenance investment required in a larger vegetable garden once you begin talking about the fine points. Give them food for thought—they may not have considered all the pros and cons of their wish lists. Detailed discussions help refine expectations and may bring opposing sides much closer together than when they started. ➸ P H OTO F R O M ISTO C K




Once you’ve taken all their input, a brief review of design principles will serve to frame the remainder of the conversation. This allows you to refocus the discussion from personal tastes to your professional expertise and highlights how you can combine elements to craft a design that works. Consider emphasizing the importance of unity and cohesion, balance and transition. Talking about transitional design, for example, provides a springboard to discuss combining multiple styles or elements into one space. Incorporating similar textural elements or hardscape can help blend different functions into a cohesive design. ■ OFFER SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. Now, help your clients

envision shades of grey, instead of black and white. I tell my clients I bring “the vision thing,” and that it’s much more difficult to visualize things in your own garden. Outline your interpretation of their wish lists and detail the steps needed to get there. Imagine yourself in a therapist’s chair, helping them respect and see positives and likeable elements in each other’s perspectives. He says he wants a lawn, but you may be able to convince him he’d appreciate a well-designed circle of grass for negative space instead of the entire front yard. Then ask what he’d think of adding “her” water feature as a focal point in “his” grass. Perhaps she can now envision incorporating edibles into ornamental beds around a smaller entertaining area. Compromise where you can around the 20


A little lawn, a water feature focal point, and a small added seating area all work together in a cohesive design that keeps everyone happy.

edges. Most elements aren’t mutually exclusive; they simply require creative adjustments and it’s your job to sell them. ■ LIGHTEN THE MOOD. Sometimes situations call for a little levity. If you’re

certain it’s appropriate, consider some humor to ease any tension. Once, after some slightly prickly exchanges between a couple, I laughed and said, “We can definitely do A and B—you’ll have to fight it out over C! I’m happy to do whatever you decide later.” Then, proceed to talk about ways to accomplish ➸ PH OTO BY D IA N A KIRBY



Incorporating a small area of turf may satisfy his desire for some lawn and negative space. PH OTO BY D IA N A K IRBY

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Q&A the reachable and agreed-upon goals, allowing them to work out the more contentious discussions in private after you’ve outlined possible options. ■ CONSIDER PHASES. This is the magic word in client communication. Some

clients simply don’t have the space or the money today to accomplish everything they’d like to do. It’s been my experience that most clients are willing to consider a master plan that allows them to add elements over time. If one person won’t budge or one element isn’t immediately doable, prioritizing and keeping something on the back burner for phase 2 can sometimes be a solution or diffuse a conflict. Small steps sometimes make compromises easier to swallow. ■ FINALIZE AND DOCUMENT DECISIONS. Ensure you follow up with

documentation, including specific language reminding them of design rationale for compromises and adjustments you’ve outlined. If differences get ugly, manage your meeting and consider carefully after leaving whether or not the overall dynamic is workable. Trust your instincts: If a relationship is very contentious from the outset, simple style disagreements may foreshadow more serious issues like financial or management conflicts you’re not willing to tackle.

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business Design Presentations: Tell the Story with Confidence BY TINA KRUG


eople love stories; we remember and understand best when we’re presented with a narrative. And since our clients aren’t experts in landscape design, they trust us to guide them through the process. Therefore, the most important thing to keep in mind as we present our work is to tell a story and tell it with confidence. The story of anyone’s landscape design begins with all the background information: what they want for their design (the program) and what is on the site to deal with (the site inventory and analysis). The middle part of the story is all the design work, and clients enter into that during the conceptual meeting. The end of the story is their final plan, with all the loose ends wrapped up in a lush, gorgeous bow. Using myself as an example, and with that thought in mind, my practice is structured around at least three client meetings: ■ INITIAL CONSULTATION



I learn all their hopes and dreams and evaluate the site.

I show them where we’re headed.

We review the finished plan with all the details in place. PHOTO BY KATI E LI N DGR EN PHOTOG RA PHY



The conceptual That middle meeting is key because it protects the final design meeting presentation from any surprises or disappointments. After gives the client taking in all the information from the initial consult and doing and I time to the legwork of analyzing the site, I build the conceptual plan. go over the We hold a meeting at this point so that clients can see what direction of the the design will be like in broad strokes, before I’ve done all project. the work required for a final plan. During the conceptual plan meeting I go over the site analysis, review the clients’ program, show them an inspiration board and a plant palette, and review the conceptual design. I keep the graphic work on this work light and airy to remind them that it’s just a concept at this point. ➸



business Clients love their design books!

My final presentations center on the 11x17 Itoya portfolio books that I use for every residential project. Clients have told me how much they appreciate the book and how easy it is to store and pull out for reference. I also give clients 8.5x11 binders with plant and maintenance information. The 11x17 books tell the full story: I include all background information and conceptual design sheets along with the final plan sheets so that the entire narrative is in one place. This demonstrates that my designs don’t come out of nowhere, that there is a logical process that supports all the design decisions. During the final design meeting, I’ll review the background and conceptual information briefly. We then go over the master plan sheets and move on to the different phases. I try to keep the final presentation meeting to just over an hour, regardless of the scope and complexity of the project. I find that everyone has lost interest once I creep past an hour and a half. PHOTOS BY KATI E LI N DGR EN PHOTOGR A PHY



I make the books detailed and easy to navigate, both for clients and installers.

Two things help create the best environment for the final design presentation by building trust throughout our entire process. First, I’m consistent with communication and expectations. At the project start, I send the clients a welcome email explaining my process and what to expect working with me. Emails for each stage in my process follow, and I use templates so that it’s easy to keep clients informed. Second, I communicate my expertise. (I make sure to invest in continuing education so my expertise remains current.) I offer one design solution, not a buffet. This shows the client that I have actually done the work and figured out the best solution for their project. You’re being paid to make decisions, so go for it! I love the final design meeting; it’s a culmination of a long process and a delight to show my clients all their dreams in one place. I literally had a client cry tears of happiness during one of the presentation meetings. I love my job! No matter how you structure your business, I hope you can find a way to incorporate a story of the project into your presentations and do it with confidence. Good luck in the 2020 season!




inthefield Making Memorial Gardens Memorable BY CLAIRE SPLAN

It begins with a memory. A loved one mourned. A respected figure honored. An event too momentous to ever forget. Memorial gardens are places where loss and life intersect to provide a unique space to remember, reflect, and find peace in the wake of grief, but for landscape designers they can provide special challenges and require an extra level of sensitivity and patience. When clients request a memorial garden—whether it is a quiet, private space in a residential garden or a public memorial with a steady flow of traffic—landscape designers often find that the first step is not the usual one of finding out how the client wants to use the space, but instead, seeking out the story behind it.


Tall basalt stones engraved with the names of the fallen surround the flagpole at the Veterans Memorial Garden in Mill Creek, Washington.

Rather than focus on the usual issues of how a client wants to use the space, it’s important to dig into the emotions behind it. Who is being memorialized and what is their relationship to the client? What was important to them? And why is it important for the client to dedicate the space to honoring them? PHOTOS BY J ESSI B LOOM



All veterans are represented and honored with the insignias of the five branches of the armed forces.

“You’re almost asking to be told the person’s life story,” says Seattle landscape designer Karen Chapman. “Where did they come from, what were their hobbies, what made them laugh? Listen. Ask questions that invite stories. Then listen some more.” Jessi Bloom, author of Creating Sanctuary (TIMBER PRESS, 2018), agrees that listening is key. “I believe it takes a skill set to be able to sit with someone who is grieving and to navigate a design process with care. Overall, as designers we often drive the process because that is our job, but in these designs, I would encourage designers to take a back seat and let the client drive the process so they don’t feel rushed or pressured.” ➸



inthefield Bloom also recommends giving clients assignments, such as visiting a botanical garden or a statuary retailer, to see “what calls to them, what evokes special memories.”

The Boyertown Cancer Memorial Garden (right) has pink flowers blooming somewhere in the garden every season to represent breast cancer awareness.

Barto, Pennsylvania, designer Scott Rothenberger was able to experience both sides of the process when he decided to create a memorial garden dedicated to a good friend, Sandy Neiman, who died of breast cancer. He was able to get permission to place the garden outside the Boyertown High School stadium, where Neiman coached basketball. He sought community support for the project, recruited volunteers, and raised money as well as donating his own money to fund it. The Sandy Neiman Cancer Memorial Garden, since renamed the Boyertown Cancer Memorial Garden, was completed in 2009 and went on to win awards from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Perennial Plant Association.

SYMBOLISM AND SENSORY DETAIL One of the challenges with memorial gardens is finding ways to weave the storyline into the design subtly but meaningfully. Symbolism plays a big part in that. In the Boyertown Cancer Memorial Garden, Rothenberger chose to make pink, the color associated with breast cancer awareness, a prominent feature. Throughout the seasons there are pink blooms of one kind or another, including Echinacea purpurea ‘Hope’, Seven-Son Flower tree (Heptacodium miconioides), Knock Out® roses, and Kousa dogwood tree (Cornus kousa). In the hardscape a courtyard of broken, irregularly shaped Pennsylvania bluestone signifying the rougher times in life is surrounded by a retaining wall of staggered stone symbolizing interlocking hands of friendship offering a place to sit and meditate. When designing a private memorial garden to honor a client’s parents, Chapman used both symbolic and sensory details to create an evocative, contemplative space in the style of “Pacific Northwest meets Pacific Rim.” A bamboo-and-stone water feature and rain chain provide meditative sound effects. A meandering path of hazelnut shells encourages walking slowly and thoughtfully. Staggered poles edging the path symbolize life’s ups and downs. Rock cairns, an ancient way of denoting a memorial site, mark the 30


trail that leads to a bench with a memorial inscription. An arbor provides a place to rest and reflect overlooking the entire garden. Ancient or sacred symbols are common in memorial gardens and can be used to involve the visitor in a more interactive way. Bloom often encourages the creation of an alter that can be changed over time and act as a space for prayer or meditation. Labyrinths are another symbolic feature—they signify the path to God and draw in the visitor on a meditative journey.

SATISFYING THE STAKEHOLDERS As closely as the designer must work with the client for a private memorial garden, that effort must be multiplied when the garden is a public space. Satisfying the needs of committees and commissions as well as municipal officials can take more time and involve more compromise, often on a tight budget. ➸ PH OTO BY S COT T ROTH E NBERGE R



In a private memorial garden, “Navigating multiple stakeholders can take a cairns stand by a path leading lot more time so that everyone can be heard to a custom bench where and understand each other,” Bloom says. “My you can enjoy the sounds of personal belief is that, as designers, we are running water in the bamboohelping others create the spaces they are wantand-stone fountain. ing, not the spaces we want to see. I see my job as bringing focus to the original intention and acting as more of a facilitator to make sure no bad design decisions are made. So, patience, extra time, and ample flexibility are required.”

Bloom had that experience as the designer of the Veterans Memorial Garden in Mill Creek, Washington (see pages 28-29). “I sat as the co-chair at the City of Mill Creek’s design review board for eight years,” she says. “The veterans group and city asked for my services. At the time I had no idea how long 32



A hazelnut shell path leads to a quiet arbor tucked under the trees with a view of the entire garden.

the process would take—from start to installation it was several years, most [spent] in meetings with dozens of people.” The resulting garden won an award in the Community Service category from the Washington Association of Landscape Professionals in 2011. It features a flagpole surrounded by six basalt stones, seemingly standing at attention and engraved with the names of hundreds of local veterans. A flowerbed with a low retaining wall encircles the flagpole, providing a space to sit and reflect on the memorial. The effect is understated but dignified and quietly respectful. If they begin with memories, then memorial gardens should finish as places that evoke emotion and encourage peace. “When you go by your garden and you see people sitting there just enjoying the space,” Rothenberger says, “that’s the best reward a designer could get.”




Above: Most of the rectangular garden is taken up by an alfresco living room where walls of black bamboo screening the room’s longer sides are strategically interspersed with grasses and spiny yuccas. Right: Hakone grass, the spiked leaves of New Zealand flax, densely planted bugleweed, Platt’s black grass (Phormium ‘Platt’s Black’), and hardy, rubbery mounds of baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii) all make Coco think twice about burrowing. PH OTOS BY A L E XA N D R A DAVIE S





A PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE The antics of Coco, a Wheaten terrier, played an active role when Barbara Samitier designed a garden in Peckham, South London. When the ever-energetic dog spots a fox, a squirrel, or a neighbor’s cat, she tends to treat precious shrubs as launching and landing pads. Before Samitier set to work, she traced the dog’s “desire line,” and along that route, she planted deterrents—spiky, strappy, leathery plants, including Japanese forest >>Get the book! Click here grass, New Zealand flax, and lilyturf. In a couple of Coco’s frequented haunts, where she liked to tunnel, there are now heavy, immovable pots. The garden is attached to a four-storied, early Georgian house, where characterful interiors marry a mix of antiques and contemporary furniture, with a collection of contemporary art. An open kitchen and dining room with dark walls and concrete floors have stackable glass doors, so meals are prepared and eaten with trees and plants as a backdrop. Thanks to Samitier, the kitchen is now sandwiched between two living rooms—one indoors, one outside. ➸



bookexcerpt In the alfresco room, a weed-free, water-saving porcelain floor covers up the site of a former lawn. Each of its 40-inch square tiles is embossed with a threadbare pattern so it resembles an oft-trodden ancient site. (If Coco misses being able to dig up her old turf, she has so far kept it to herself.) An L-shaped sectional sofa anchors the space and a perimeter of black bamboo functions as its threedimensional wallpaper. An oversize version of an iconic 1930s Anglepoise lamp amplifies the surreality. Its gray metal finish and the sofa’s slate-colored weatherproof upholstery are neutral to avoid upstaging the bright foliage colors. Samitier completely replanted the area around an existing ash and a colorful cordyline with strong structural evergreen plantings so the garden stays lush and green year-round. Low-maintenance herbaceous plants and flowers are backed by scrims of ginger lilies, verbenas, torch lilies, foxtail lilies, salvias, and sedums. Fragrance comes from Akebia quinata and star jasmine vines, as groundcovers form a tightly packed, evergreen carpet. Focal points, surprises, and orchestrated views open, close, entice, and draw the eye in. The end of the path that winds its way through the garden isn’t visible, so there’s a suggested continuance. A brick wall with a small entrance hints at a room behind, even though it’s not actually seen. A Buddha head Left: A glass fiber reinforced concrete chair surrounded by a colorful Japanese maple and a variety of textural plantings is designed to stay outside, but its sculptural shape would fit any contemporary interior. 36


nestled between ferns prompts a momentary pause whenever it is spotted.

Above: In Barbara Samitier’s South London design, a sectional sofa defines an outdoor living room. A hedge of black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) serves as a wall and its depth of color harkens to textiles inside the house.

To balance the L-shaped sofa and angular tile work, and maybe to commemorate Coco’s sporty behavior, several of Samitier’s design choices amplify a sense of motion. Swaying bamboos, ornamental grasses, and large-leafed plants such as New Zealand flax, palms, and cycads interact with breezes, as do the leaves of the Japanese maple and birch. Recycled granite paving stones form a curved path. A chair shaped like a Möbius strip in an everlasting loop doubles as a piece of sculpture. A hung mirror reflects subtle changes in the weather and the momentary quirks of the wind, sun, rain, and, occasionally, Coco, as she is about to leap into the air. ➸ PH OTOS BY A L E XA N D RA DAVIE S



In the interior dining room, the table is surrounded by Dunn’s great grandmother’s chairs; outside, a contemporary wrought-iron dining set caters most of their casual summer meals.



bookexcerpt THE PLOT THICKENS The meticulously restored 1730 stone house owned by Frank Dunn and Hans Lupold in upstate New York retains many of its original features, including mouthblown glass windows and wide-planked floors. The landscape surrounding the house has a similar charm as it slopes gracefully on its way to meet the edge of Esopus Creek and 1,200 acres of organic farmland. Surprisingly, the previous owners were somehow oblivious to the site’s inherent beauty. They lassoed it with a tarmac driveway and sectioned it off with concrete slabs, railroad ties, and white plastic fencing. Over a three-year period, with guidance from landscape designer Marge Brower, Dunn and Lupold, who both have green thumbs, transformed the property. They trucked in yards of mushroom compost to balance the loamy soil after they contoured beds and laid foundational bluestone paths. They converted a disoriented vegetable patch into a stretch of lawn and replaced a row of large, mature pines with a white pine hedge. They added a porch to the back of the house and replaced a moldy 150-year-old barn.

In their upstate New York garden, Frank Dunn and Hans Lupold used a variety of shrubs and trees with red, green, and variegated leaves alongside colorful perennials when they planted an animated border around their early-eighteenthcentury stone house.

The couple’s principal challenge was to interconnect several of the garden’s disjointed sections and replicate the same intuitive flow and intimacy they’d accomplished inside. Dunn, an architect who worked alongside the legendary modernist I. M. Pei for several years, grew up in stone houses and holds a strong affection for their period details. But outdoors, he satisfied his minimal leanings with the defined paths, crisp sets of steps, and well-edited, articulated beds. Most of the garden’s walls are implied and demonstrate how well-constructed, dense vegetation can offer as much privacy as any fence. ➸ PH OTOS BY L IN DA O ’K EEFFE




A sea of Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ provides an appealing understory for a hammock.

An old magnolia tree shelters the commute to the barn, where lady’s mantle, echinacea, several types of grasses, and ‘Limelight’ hydrangea border the path.

Repetition is an important design tool for grounding and orienting space. Here, there is a calming effect from a controlled palette, where similar species reoccur from bed to bed and blooming periods are well sequenced. In late March, daffodils and crocuses emerge alongside forsythia, while an old magnolia tree and azaleas bloom. Then, ferns develop, along with hostas, peonies, lady’s mantle, Japanese forest grass, phlox, roses, bleeding hearts, and Solomon’s seal. Later, iris and hydrangea emerge. As the flowers of one plant die back, another’s holds court—butterfly bush alternates with echinacea, mounds of white hydrangea give way to anemone, which ushers in the cooler weather. In the fall, several maples and golden beech trees shed their leaves, and once again open 40


Linear rows of ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and lady’s mantle share a citrus palette.

Repeated plantings of Hydrangea paniculata Quick Fire and a broad semicircle of Japanese forest grass help create a sense of movement in the beds at the back of the barn.

up views of the creek below to show the low autumn sun illuminating the water’s glisten. By Thanksgiving, the trees are bare and leaves cover every horizontal surface, while red twig dogwood stems try to push their way through the debris. The barn, a proportional replica of a reconstructed pool house, contains each of their home offices, so on their short, daily commute, Dunn and Lupold pass by beds of roses, Solomon’s seal, red twig dogwood, hydrangeas, and smoke bushes. “I’ve grown to equate creativity with fragrant air, weed pulling, and butterflies dancing around a flower,” says Lupold, who manages events at Mercedes-Benz. “Conference calls don’t work so well, as the birds tend to sing along.”







Succulent Garden BY REBECCA SWEET



lawn isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it’s regularly used by a family, but my clients’ 1.5-acre property boasted not one but two very large lawns—one used, one unused. At the time I designed this garden, we were in the middle of a serious Before multiyear drought. In an effort to reduce water consumption, it was a no-brainer to remove the unused lawn and replace it with a low-water, low-maintenance garden. My clients had recently fallen in love with succulents and cactuses of all shapes and sizes, which would fit right in to this blazing hot area of their garden. We’ve all heard about using ropes, hoses, and string to help layout a pathway’s curves, right? Well, if you’ve tried this, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the frustration of the wiggly, uneven lines of this method. I learned this great tip from my installation crew, which is to use long lengths of PVC pipes held down with rebar. The pipes are very easy to work with and provide gentle curves with smooth and accurate lines—which is great for pathways or garden beds. Aloe ferox

One of the challenges to creating this new garden space was how to seamlessly tie the new section with the rest of the surrounding garden. Established Roses, Camellias, Citrus, and so forth needed to harmonize with the new succulents and cactuses so everything smoothly flowed together. The solution was to mix lush, colorful shrubs and perennials that were as tough and drought tolerant as their neighboring succulents. Their cultural needs needed to harmonize as well as their color schemes. We’ve had great



➸ Smooth lines of PVC

success using combinations such as the blooms of Kniphofia uvaria and Salvia ‘Nuevo Leon’ with Agaves and ‘Iceberg’ Roses. Grevillea ‘Mt. Tamboritha’ spills over the pathway’s edges alongside Senecio serpens, providing succulent-like foliage as well as profuse, soft coral-pink blooms. A backdrop of Pride of Madiera (Echium candicans) provides weeks of colorful blue/ purple flowers behind the nearby Agave americana and Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’. This new section of the garden is meant for strolling, so we created pathways a bit wider than we typically do. We made the paths 3.5 feet across so two people could walk arm-in-arm through the garden, while still allowing succulents to overflow and not be trampled upon. ➸

Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia uvaria)




Succulents blur the pathway’s edges.

We also planted textural and scented plants, such as Stachys ‘Helen von Stein’, ‘Berggarten’, and ‘Hidcote’ along the edges to further draw the attention of guests in an effort to slow their pace. As beautiful as the planting combinations of this garden are, the highlight of this new garden is the intersection of the pathways. To keep in scale with my clients’ large garden and home, we needed an equally impressive focal point. The Michalis Greek pot (from Eye of the Day Garden Design Center in Santa Barbara) was an ideal choice for a fountain conversion while also blending beautifully with their historic Mediterranean home. By converting the pot into a fountain, we added the gentle sound of trickling 46


design101 Aeonium and Echium blooms

water, entertainment from the multitude of birds that adore taking baths there, and the illusion of “coolness” from the water itself. We then placed the fountain in the center of the pathways, ensuring that all who wander through this Aloe striata blooms area of the garden would be sure to pass by to hear the soft sounds of the fountain. We couldn’t have chosen a more perfect focal point for this garden. When laying out this area, we made sure to include an irrigated planting ring, where we’ve used Sedum rubrotinctum and Agave ‘Blue Glow’ not only to soften the stones and grate that cover the pump mechanism, ➸ D E SIG N S A N D P H OTOS BY REBE CCA SW E ET



2 years later

Aloe striata blooms 48


Agave ‘Blue Glow’ with Sedum rubrotinctum DESI GN S A N D PHOTOS BY R EB ECCA SWEET

design101 but also to spill over onto the decomposed granite pathways. Initially, the homeowners wanted this garden to thrive without supplemental water but quickly realized that just wasn’t going to happen. This area is in full sun, so even the cactuses were suffering through our blistering summer heat waves. Luckily, we had a feeling this might happen and had previously installed a framework of irrigation under the ground “just in case.” We ended up irrigating the garden on a very reduced schedule of a few minutes every other day. We also included a dripper that leads directly into the fountain’s base that reduces water evaporation. Even with this added irrigation, the clients’ water bill was reduced on average 25 to 30 percent, depending on the time of year. Hmmm … let’s see. No more dead lawn, tons of color from foliage and flowers, a water source to attract wildlife, and all while using less water? It’s an understatement to say we’re all thrilled with the results of this garden!

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orticultural plastic exceeds 350 million pounds of waste per year. Pots, trays, and cell-packs are produced, used, and tossed as home gardeners and landscape pros enjoy the latest plant varieties, shipped from growers to you from cross-country or around the world. Lightweight, single-use plastics get plants to market cheaply and in good shape, but these pots are never welcome in conventional recycling systems.

In 1998, the Missouri Botanical Garden began to dig into this waste stream, accepting plastic pots for recycling in a St. Louis program that has cycled through processes from simply collecting to—at the program’s strongest



point—locally manufacturing and selling raised-bed kits made from recovered pot plastic. That innovation transformed garden waste into whole new gardens, until some of the partnerships powering it changed. ➸ PHOTOS COURTESY MI SSOUR I B OTA N I CA L G A RDEN

Conventional recycling systems are not equipped to handle garden plastics, so over 18,000 tons of single-use pots are sent to a landfill each year.



casestudy When local pots-to-planks partnerships made raised bed kits, recycled pot plastic went right back out into St. Louis gardens.

In 2017, the Missouri Botanical Garden turned this seasonal collection over to a local recycling company. Upheavals in the global recycling industry have undermined the value of recycled plastics, but the program has persisted. Amid today’s recycling issues, however, can it continue? What else is possible? The Sustainability Committee of APLD has reached out to the Garden’s green leaders to learn how this program evolved and to explore the potential to reduce horticultural plastic waste. Recycling options are limited at this point, given recycling industry constraints, but the Garden’s deep experience dealing with pots offers perspective we are glad to share.

POT PROBLEMS Although useful plastic resins #2 and #5 comprise about two-thirds of pot scrap, this waste stream has a low value overall. Soil residues are a serious contami52


nant for plastic recycling. Most pots are opaque black, so the optical scanners in today’s highly automated recycling processing plants can’t see through them to identify their resin type, a critical sorting step to get a specific material to its next end-user. Hort plastic #6 (polystyrene, used for all cell-packs and trays) is the lowest-value resin, barely moving in sluggish recycling markets. Reusing plastic pots is also a problem. Growers must sterilize reused pots; buying new pots remains cheaper and easier. The wild mix of shape details in horticultural containers works against stacking and storing reused pots—but could pot manufacturers standardize these features?

PLASTIC POT ALTERNATIVES The Garden has trialed pots molded from compressed Miscanthus fibers. The Freund Farm in Connecticut markets CowPots, a sustainably clever fertilizerin-container use of “offal” from their family dairy. The Ellepot propagation container system has mushroomed globally from Danish startup roots. Maypop Coffee and Garden Shop is the first St. Louis promoter of this “pot>> Click red type for website

less” option. Online DIY culture touts rolled newsprint, eggshells, and toilet paper tubes for plant-starting. These are all great ideas, and some are making an economic go of it. But until any combination of these innovations brings down the Goliath of cheap petroleum products, plastic pots will dominate from nursery to landfill.


The Missouri Botanical Garden’s program thrived on local connections. Garden centers hosted the grant-funded pot collection trailers, letting customers PHOTOS CO U RT E SY M ISS O U RI BOTANICAL GARD EN

conveniently recycle empty pots when buying more plants. Respect for our institutional message, Don’t Pitch Those Pots!, motivated gardeners to recycle correctly by dumping soil, removing metal hangers and clips, and depositing only horticultural (not household) plastics. A weekday drop-off option for commercial landscapers managed pots by the truckload. In our era of producing pot-plastic lumber raised bed kits, demand often outpaced capacity to supply local selling partners. Pot recycling helped grow business for our regional green industry; we ➸




This organic container fertilizes as the pot biodegrades. 54



casestudy even generated recycling jobs. But we are a botanical garden, not a recycler. The program seeds we planted outgrew our ability to tend them. Recycling is a global commodity-moving industry that still relies on local collection systems, with economics driving all. Recycled material competes in cost and quality with virgin stocks. There is little to no regulation that mandates, or even incentivizes, use of recycled materials. If you’re a manufacturer, what supplies would you prefer?

WHOLE-SYSTEMS APPROACH NEEDED Even when a great recycled-content product can be made, like those raisedbed kits, how does it make the leap from the local artisan level to a scale that could generate real demand for diverting a massive waste stream like plastic pots? Opportunity for a systems-thinking entrepreneur! One model is the plastic bag collection system established by composite decking manufacturers, in partnership with retail chains, to accept the plastics (#2 and #4 resins) that are feedstock for recycled-plastic lumber. This system embodies material handling efficiency, cost-effectiveness, consumer convenience, marketing savvy, and use of existing end-product distribution points. All are crucial to realize a special-waste recycling vision. PH OTOS CO U RT E SY COW P OTS .CO M

CowPots is a sustainability project of the Freunds Farm dairy in East Canaan, CT.

GREEN LEADERSHIP: NECESSITY AND OPPORTUNITY Pot recycling leadership at the Missouri Botanical Garden came from Dr. Steve Cline, whose main job was managing the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening. His problem-solving persistence grew the St. Louis program through years of improvements to pot collection, processing, and end-use. Grants from Missouri recycling agencies and Monrovia Growers were matched by significant institutional support. When Dr. Cline retired, recycling industry connections through the Garden’s sustainability division, the EarthWays Center, helped transition the program to private sector ➸




The Ellepot growing system ships potless plants in returnable trays.





Maypop Coffee and Garden Shop packages Ellepot plants in their cardboard coffee containers, eliminating plastic packs.

operation. The hazard of “champion change” didn’t kill this material initiative, but it is imperiled within the recycling industry overall. Presentations at botanical gardens and recycling industry conferences generated awards but never sparked the program’s replication. The demands of handling this waste stream from disposal to beneficial end-use seem too great, yet also too small, an eddy in the PH OTOS CO U RT E SY M AYP O P S H O P.CO M

flood tide of plastic pollution awareness and calls to action. At least, in the saga so far. The Garden’s experience remains a resource for groups like APLD, seeking to tackle plastic waste in our shared spheres of influence. An indepth understanding of pot recycling issues can frame inquiry into possible solutions, from plastic alternatives to beneficial uses of plastic pot waste.




Flowers Balkans OF




rriving in the Western Balkans, I was struck by how green everything was. One of the first things my traveling companions and I noticed upon landing in the city of Skopje (pronounced Skope-yeh), the capital of Macedonia, was the heady perfume of Linden blossoms emanating from the trees that lined the city streets.

The word “balkan” is Turkish and means mountain, and the area is dominated by numerous forested mountains and wildflower meadows. Water resources are abundant, and although the Balkans boast a Mediterranean climate zone, they enjoy a healthy 40 to 60 inches of rain a year. The region has many natural water springs that fill the lakes—some of the deepest and oldest in Europe—with sparkling, pure water. And it’s not just rich in water—Albania has 320 species of plants and 30 medicinal plants naturalized in its soil. Hollyhocks grow from the base of a castle wall.

Culturally rich with a complicated political history, the Western Balkans area is bursting with flora and fauna. Because it’s so mountainous, stone is everywhere: the buildings, the walls, the ➸




A wildflower meadow roads. Cobbled streets wind up and around growing through the ancient stone houses. It’s a pretty foil to rocky outcrop. the myriad wildflowers forcing their way through every nook and cranny. Towering Hollyhocks grow out of the edges of centuries-old castles and entire mountainsides have been terraced and planted with Olive trees. Many of the places we visited have been designated UNESCO heritage sites and sometimes it felt as if we had walked back 100 years in time.

Red poppies (Papaver rhoeas) are ubiquitous in the Balkans— popping out of walls and filling fields. Other wildflowers such as Barbarea vulgaris (Bittercress), Campanulaceae, Hippocrepis comosa (Horseshoe Vetch), and Iberis sempervirens (Evergreen Candytuft) grow in abundance by their side.

The old city of Skopje. Flowers adorn almost every restaurant and store in the Balkans.

One of our first stops was the mountain village of Jance (pronounced Yan-cheh), population 100, in Macedonia. When the sun sets on the village of Jance, it lights up the houses and creates a shining ➸




city on the mountain. The houses are built into the hillside using a mixture of stone, bricks, and wood in the town’s traditional building method to create a harmonious balance with nature. The natural beauty is incredible here. The mountains are entirely covered by forest and foliage, and the Radika River in the valley is a startling milky blue from the nearby sulphur springs. We took a hike to Duf Waterfall in the village of Rostuša. The waterfall has worn its way through the mountain and falls through a hole in the top to crash down about 40 feet. The verdant landscape is filled with ethereal wildflowers blooming all along the way. Achillea ageratifolia (Balkan Yarrow), Anthemis carpatica (Marguerite Daisy), ferns and mosses of all shapes and sizes, Potentilla Fruticosa (Shrubby Cinquefoil), wild strawberries, delicate Myosotis sylvatica (Forget-Me-Not), and members of the Asteraceae family all mix in together. The remains of a centuries-old monastery sit in the foreground.

A week later, we were on our way up to another tiny mountain village in Albania. It took about three hours of tortuous driving up a ➸ 62


Red Poppies are everywhere you look in the Balkans.


The beautiful view of Jance from our hotel’s breakfast verandah.

virtually nonexistent road to get to the village of Nivice Canyon, but when we arrived, we felt as if we were on the top of the world. Nivice Canyon is a tiny, remote village of about 100 people, and it is spectacular! The remains of a two-thousand-year-old castle sit at the crest and flowers of all shapes and colors cover every surface. Our local guide led us down the mountain to point out waterfalls, caves, lakes, and wildflower meadows. The lush landscape was filled with delicate wildflowers. The thorny stalks of Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) stood side-by-side with the gargantuan, silver-felted leaves of Verbascum with its giant yellow inflorescence, punctuated by the 64


daintier varieties of Potentilla, Chamomile, Scabiosa, Campanula, Achillea ageratifolia (Balkan Yarrow), and, of course, members of the Asteraceae family. We were staying at a bed & breakfast of sorts—really, the family homestead, which our hosts had turned into a guesthouse in their retirement. They were spectacular chefs, and the meals were made all the more amazing by the fact that everything we ate was grown in their large potager. The vinegar, the sheep’s yogurt, the fruits and vegetables, the eggs, meat—even their national alcohol called Raki, which is made from their homegrown grapes in their homemade still—were all from their own little plot of land. ➸



travelinspiration The thorny but entrancing Milk Thistle.

Back down at sea level, the Blue Eye is a natural spring from which bubbles amazingly clear, deep blue water from a pool that is more than 50 meters deep at a discharge rate of 18,400 liters per second. The area is covered with Sycamore and Oak trees, and thousands of electric blue dragonflies dart in and around the gigantic leaves of Gunnera manicata that line the banks of the spring. It was delightful to see many of my stalwart Mediterranean plant choices naturalized in the wild including banks of Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria) along the mountain roads, Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa), Euphorbia varieties, an array of Rushes, Chamomile, and some plants whose names I didn’t know. In spite of the verdant landscape, people take pains to supplement it with ubiquitous gardens pots bursting with flowers in front of every house, restaurant, and shop. Grape vines seem to grace every house, and bountiful vegetable gardens are the norm. The Western Balkans was a fascinating place to visit and is a region of astonishing natural beauty!




2020 board of directors EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE PRESIDENT Eric Gilbey, PLA Vectorworks, Inc. 7150 Riverwood Drive Columbia, MD 21046 (443) 542-0658 PRESIDENT-ELECT Richard Rosiello Rosiello Designs & Meadowbrook Gardens 159 Grove Street New Milford, CT 06776 (860) 488-6507 TREASURER Wickie Rowland, APLD Design & Landscape (Div of Labrie Associates) PO Box 635 New Castle, NH 03854 (603) 828-8868 IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Danilo Maffei, FAPLD Maffei Landscape Design LLC 202 N. Garfield Street Kennett Square, PA 19348 (610) 357-9700

DIRECTORS Laurin Lindsey, APLD 1646 Harvard Street Houston, TX 77008 (832) 868-4126 Lynley Ogilvie 1636 Madux Lane McLean, VA 22101 (703) 864-9628 Lisa Orgler, PLA Iowa State University, Dept. of Horticulture 129 Horticulture Hall Ames, IA 50011 (515) 294-6375


Bill Ripley, FAPLD Stride Studios 8525 Miami Road Cincinnati, OH 45243 (513) 984-4882 Katie Weber, APLD 5637 45th Avenue SW Seattle, WA 98136 (206) 391-8894

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