tools5As a designer and gardener, I have favorite tools.  I have a certain ancient Dutch hoe I favor, and a small but very sharp stainless steel spade. I am willing to endure the weight of this tool, even before I have a chunk of wet dirt balanced on it, as it is small. My Dutch hoe is weightless, and deadly to weeds. It dances around the crowns of my perennials, with minimal direction from me.

tools3I like my hands far better than any trowel I have ever tried, so workable soil, and whatever it takes to get that is important in my garden. I am not a garden glove girl. My fingers develop cracks every spring and fall. There is no substitute for my hands, in the soil-this is my point of view.
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Choosing a Designer

91I am happy to discuss at great length my process for designing a landscape. I plan to go over this in excruciating detail, for those who can last! Tools and skills are just that-nothing more, and nothing less. I would reveal anything and everything-and still be completely confident that I have something worthwhile to offer.  I have made a living almost 25 years, designing.  Enough said.

92I have plenty of clients that are eminently able to be on their own. Not professional designers, they shortchange their talent and heart.  It has been my good fortune to have clients of all kinds, with talent and heart. I know this better than most.
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The Colorized Version

thecolorizedversion3This is stage 3 of the schematic plan.  By schematic, I mean a plan that details only the big gestures and spaces.  It does not tell you which pots to buy, or which cultivar of daylily to plant.  That comes later.  The big decisions get made first.  Where do I want my grill, and my terrace?  Where can my kids play?  Could I host a large party in that spot?  Where do I need shade?  Where can I plant my vegetables?

The colorized version has another purpose besides just being fun to do.  I color every plant that is the same, the same color.  This will tell me instantly if I have too much going on, or not enough. Do I have more landscape than I can take care of? Grass is relatively easy to take care of-if it is a beautiful shape, that grass becomes landscape; the French call it a “tapis vert”.  I can see the shapes of the spaces better in color; are they beautiful, as well as utilitarian, shapes?  Does it look like my house sits in the middle of something bigger that it is? Does my house look like a home now?  Could I imagine that the landscape came first, and the house was set down into it-rather than the other way around?  Can I walk through the landscape, rather than on the edge of it?These are all good questions to ask in advance. You will then be ready for all of nature’s surprises, yet to come.



My high school geometry teacher passed me out of pity. I was suspended for an embarrassing act of pigheadedness at school; he had no choice but to fail me for the midterm I was not in school to take.  His passing me at semester’s end was a gift.   I could not generate a theorem, as I did not understand them.  I had no sense of the beauty of shapes, and how those shapes got generated. Who knew the beauty of geometry would so influence my adult life.  I regret that I failed him-as I do now have a sense of space that I am able to put to paper.

Frankly, I did not have much sense at all at 17. Some of my lack of sense has persisted into my adulthood, and served me well.  Meaning, I have taken on things that anyone with good sense would not. Maybe that’s what my teacher saw in me.

But back to geometry.  Houses have windows, with views framed by those windows.  Any object on dead center in that window frame is “on axis”.  I draw a network of axis lines on my 10 scale plan first. Then I extend lines out from the corners of the house. I draw lines extending from the walks, the driveway, the porch. I draw lines describing traffic flow. I draw lots of lines.  Draw the lines that describe the geometry of your house and property, and how they relate to each other.  View lines are invisible geometry-they make sense once you make the transition from a drawing, to the sculpture that is a landscape. Sometimes landscape frames views. Sometimes it provides a place to be.
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