“Just as the constant increase in entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy. “ – Vaclav Havel
I think this photo of my side yard illustrates Havel’s point pretty well:
After I smothered the turf from my side yard (on the right) and began planting a slightly messy mix of shrubs, perennials and groundcovers, my neighbor promptly planted a soldier-straight row of crape myrtles and Japanese holly, butted right up against my plantings. Between the hollies there is a layer of mulch about ten inches thick, which he refreshes and fluffs regularly. Continue reading
“That a-hole designer said these would be low-maintenance.” (Nick Daley/DigitalVision/Getty Images)
True story: last week, while waiting to get a haircut, I flipped through a local home and garden magazine and stumbled upon an article about garden maintenance. Mostly I skimmed it, but then my eye caught a quote from a landscape designer based at a local nursery. He said, “If a landscape is designed right, there should be NO maintenance. None at all. That’s what a designer is for.”My jaw dropped. No maintenance at all! See, if you hire the right designer, you’ll never have to so much as pluck a leaf off of your zero-input lawn! Apparently this guy can even design it so all the leaves from your trees blow into your neighbor’s yard, too!
I almost wanted to stand up right there in the hair salon and be, “ya’ll won’t BELIEVE what I just read here in this magazine, ladies!” but they probably would’ve thought it was some juicy sex tip from Cosmo and been disappointed when it turned out to be faulty landscaping advice — shocking though it was!
One of Beatrix Ferrand’s most famous projects is the garden at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC, which is known for its lavish garden rooms and magnificent attention to detail. As you can see in the map below, each garden “room” has its own name — Rose Garden, Urn Terrace, Pebble Garden, etc. — and each room is masterfully designed and delightful to experience. Continue reading
I may not be installing giant lakes, building fake temples, or displacing villages full of peasants, but I have been improvin’ my landscape lately, indeed I have.
First, an update on the play structure thingee I started building in February. To refresh your memory, here is what it looked like several weeks ago:
“A man’s mistakes are his portals of discovery.”
Then again, Joyce was a man of ideas. I’m sure no contractor ever said to a client: “Oh, that retaining wall I put in last fall is collapsing now? But of course! How could something so bourgeois hold back the anarchy of our modern age?? Don’t you see?? It was futile from its inception!!!”
Anyway, it only took me a few minutes to compile a long list of mistakes that I have made over the course of my study of landscape design. Here are just a few:
1. Giving landscape design advice to people who didn’t ask for it. You might think that this would be obvious, but when you’re a new landscape design student all super-excited about what you’re learning, like I was, sometimes you can go a bit overboard.
Susan Abraham of Lush Life Landscapes
For this month’s GDRT, I had the the pleasure of interviewing Susan Abraham, instructor of Landscape Design at GWU, and founder of Lush Life Landscapes, a garden design firm based in Northern Virginia that is devoted to native plants and “ecological artistry.” I love that term! I also love her website, which does a better job of presenting a philosophy of sustainable garden design than any other other design site I’ve seen. It’s eloquent, informative, positive, and totally avoids the kind of preachiness that is all too evident in the world of green design. Enjoy getting to know Susan!
MG: Where do you think your interest in ecological garden design originated? Did you have a different career prior to becoming a landscape designer?
SA: My interest in ecological garden design originated in Southern California as I tended my garden. Water shortages began in earnest in the region, and I noticed information available at local nurseries about xeriscaping using Mediterranean plants suitable to the local climate. This piqued my interest in the variety of native plants thriving in open areas, and led to an interest in historic techniques used to capture, store and use rainfall in irrigation.