BELOW: Richard Hartlage stands in the lush landscape he designed for Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle, which was completed in 2012. “There are a lot of layers in this garden, and almost 65,000 bulbs,” he says. “The blooms sequence through the seasons; in the spring, they change every five to six days.” left: One of Hartlage’s longest-running landscape projects is the 2.5-acre Mountsier Estate in New Jersey. “I’ve worked on this garden for the past 22 years. It’s a modern garden around a traditional house, with a planting style similar to that of [Brazilian landscape architect] Roberto Burle Marx, but which also recalls the idea of ecological meadow plantings.” The crescent-shaped berm is planted with four varieties of bamboo grass, each a different shade of green.
portrait by Derek Reeves
Richard Hartlage, founder of the Seattle firm Land Morphology, doesn’t travel like your average tourist. Even in the most distant corners of the globe—where the award-winning landscape designer and horticulturist often journeys—Hartlage shoulders a heavy bag of fixed focal-length lenses and not one but two camera bodies (in case one goes out). In his 30-year career, he’s crisscrossed the U.S. crafting public, civic, and private landscapes, including Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass, plantings at the Two Penn Plaza skyscraper in midtown Manhattan, and the herb and vegetable garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He’s also a passionate international traveler. His wanderlust has taken him from rural terrain to urban ones, from seed-collecting expeditions in South Korea to photo-hunting trips in Rio de Janeiro, where he scoped out the studio and home of his landscape-architect hero, Roberto Burle Marx. Wherever he goes, he snaps photographs to capture the details that catch his eye and inspire his work. Over the years, he’s become such a proficient photographer that his images have illustrated four books, with a fifth on American planting design, entitled The Authentic Garden, slated to release this October from Monacelli Press. Though Hartlage diligently documents plants and his travels, he is clear that he is not a passive observer. “If you want to understand spatial arrangement and scale, get on an airplane,” he says. “If you are truly interested in design, you need to have a visceral experience of space, texture, and color—you can’t just look at books.” Here he opens up his photo album to share his global influences. »
GRAY ISSUE No. TWENTY-TWO
The DESIGN MAGAZINE for the Pacific Northwest.