How Are Landscape Designers Perceived?

Wish I could take credit for this one.  Julia Kriz — designer at Landscape Projects, Inc. in Bethesda , MD, and a former classmate of mine at GW — created this nifty visual to illustrate how Landscape Designers are perceived by others:

My favorite image is definitely “What I think I do.”  Even though the egos of Landscape Designers pale in comparison to, say, the egos of architects, let’s face it: the installation of a garden that began in your mind’s eye, that you tweaked and nudged and coaxed to perfection, has gotta give you quite a rush, a bit of a divine high, right?  God may have created the skies and waters and beasts and such, but that pink-and-chartreuse themed perennial border — that’s all me, baby!

Plus, the Eddie Izzard/Stonehenge image is a total scream.  While I’ve never had the pleasure of directing a crew, I can only imagine that Julia has perfectly captured the crew’s impression of the designer as some strange, eccentric perfectionist, whose instructions must seem utterly capricious at times.

Be warned, ya’ll.  I think Julia Kriz is one to watch.  She was one of the youngest, but most talented, of all my classmates in the GW design program.  She possesses an uncommon array of talents that pretty much guarantee a promising career as a designer — she’s artistic, intellectual, original, tech-savvy, and most importantly, she’s got an incredible knowledge of and passion for plants. 

Oh, wait, plus she can make funny landscape design cartoons.   Watch out for this one!

39 thoughts on “How Are Landscape Designers Perceived?

  1. Sadly the one that rings truest (as I sit in front of my screen here in the UK) is ‘what I actually do’. I went to a party just before Christmas last year. When I asked another guest what he ‘did’ he answered
    “I answer emails and make telephone calls. Oh, and sometimes I go to meetings”
    “That’s funny” I said “That’s what I do too”.

  2. The “what people think I do” should be me pushing a lawn mower or backpack blowing. I wish they thought “city planning” which I did study in school. The Eddie Izzard is true if you haven’t worked with that crew before but after they “get” what I am trying to accomplish they really get into it and are quite helpful! Working with a good crew is a vreat feeling. Thanks for sharing!

    • True….probably many people think Landscape Designer is just code word for Mulch Spreader. I know that good crews are highly prized by designers — it must be a real treat to work with a crew that understands you and that you’ve got a great rapport with.

    • For anyone who’s not familiar with it, here’s Eddie Izzard’s Stonehenge clip:

      I love stone in the landscape, so I end up saying that phrase a lot, even while laughing at myself. Our wonderful crews have been most obliging about it all, though we’ll see how it goes if I ever manage to get my hands on some stones of hengian measurements!

    • Calvin, I’ve never understood why architects have such major egos…bigger than artists, athletes, and movie stars it seems. What gives? Designing landscape seems much more difficult than designing mere buildings!

    • Yes. I also remember that during one of the Woody plants classes while everybody was furiously studying the plants and taking notes, Julia went and plucked fruit from a nearby Mulberry and ate it….I think maybe she already knew all the plants…

      • Thanks for stirring my memories of those wonderful classes. Most likely the impetus there was forgetting to eat breakfast. ^__^

  3. Mary, this is hilarious in so many ways! (I love the pairing of Eddie Izzard and Stonehenge; actually, of course, I do work with contractors to move boulders that way — but I do in it work boots, not high heels…) Great post.

  4. I didn’t know landscape design could be so funny… but this is spot on! I don’t have a crew, but I have a husband who can relate to being asked to redesign Stonehenge. Ha.

    (My son is a GW graduate ’02. We spent many fine weekends in Foggy Bottom and wandering the city. GW was a great experience for him, and for me too.)

    • Laurrie, My husband prefers watching my gardening labors through the kitchen window, but he cooks, so it’s all good!

      Unfortunately I took most of my GW classes at their K Street “basement labyrinth” campus…didn’t have quite the atmosphere of Foggy Bottom, but excellent teachers!

      • I remember a couple of our teachers taking us out on a walkabout of the F.B. campus and pointing out all the landscape design errors. (Although on the whole, they use nice bulletproof plants. Students are rough clients.)

        • Cindy, one of my favorite hobbies is walking around places and pointing out landscape design flaws to my companions. It’s not as fun when the companions aren’t into design and just quietly humor me, but I do it anyway. ha!

  5. Mary, thanks for your kind praises and for sharing my little contribution to this meme! Now if only I could consistently be that funny, I could start a blog. Yours never fails to make me smile. 🙂

  6. What a great visual capture of human thought. As a visual person, as likely many designers are, I really appreciate Julia’s images and will remember them later I am sure….so funny but that last one is so very sad. Really. At times I get to design gardens visually with very little insertion of the typed word….it is a direct artistry that is both humbling in the best sense (our media is soil and plants, sky and shade) and completely engrossing. The way that the computer can separate us from the dirt is more of a loss than we can really understand. Sorry, it is a grey and rainy day….

    Thanks, Mary, for posting…and Julia, wonderful thinking there.

  7. As someone who works as a/the crew for my company, I must say “what my crew thinks I do” AND “what my clients think I do” are both exactly how I feel! This is spot on!

  8. Such a treat to peruse! And those pictures, Julia, do speak a few thousand words–you’re great! Mary, thanks for your graceful banter that gets conversations like this going.

  9. I have a degree in Landscape Architecture and have been in the green industry for 40 years and instead of sitting in the ivory tower offering edicts to my minions and creating over planted, overpriced, specing hard to find 30, 8″ dia. matching ginkgos and designs that will never be installed for a variety of reasons, I prefer to be in my clients gardens getting my hands dirty.

  10. in reference to a previous comment and to paraphrase a prior presidential candidate……..I know horticulturalists and LA’s will never be confused with a horticulturalist….fortunately for the horticulturalist 🙂 because the two are sadly, most often mutually exclusive.

  11. Pingback: Sunday morning lagniappe | enclos*ure

  12. Pingback: How Are Landscape Designers Perceived? – | Free Gardening Ideas

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