Tag Archive for landscape design journey

End of a Long Journey

About three years ago I embarked on a new journey … that of becoming certified in landscape design. The journey took a full year longer than I had planned and hoped, due to work, family, and general life responsibilities, but that’s all in the past now. I finally reach the end of this long journey.

It involved teaching myself computer aided drafting, following twenty-five in-depth lessons on site and level surveying; developing concept, hardscape, and planting plans; designing all aspects of a residential property including fences, walls, steps, water features, garden structures, habitat gardens, vegetable gardens, border beds, lawns, low-maintenance plantings, and native plantings;  delving into landscape design history and, among other things, honing my knowledge of botanical terminology.

For one lesson I designed a garden as if I were a female settler at Plimoth Plantation. For another lesson I designed a butterfly and herb garden.

I became lax on blogging about the lessons simply because of time constraints, but the lessons marched on.

There was the border planting in front of a brick wall, with both summer (top drawing) and winter (bottom drawing assuming all perennials are cut back) views. (For unknown reasons when converting to a jpeg for posting here, the drawing lost its sharpness, but it still shows the general design ideas.)

border planting in front of brick wall-summer and winter views

 

The working drawings, both plan and elevation views) of a pergola.

pergola drawings

 

The fence lesson that gave me the chance to design a garden fence for espaliered fruit trees.

espalier style fence

 

Plus, there were many full property design lessons too large to show here in any meaningful detail. Living and working in a rural section of Connecticut means there are very few small properties to practice design skills upon. As my instructor noted in her assessment of my final project, “I think you have designed more acreage than any other student to date. Large properties are a lot more difficult than average-sized ones and this last assignment shows that you are very capable of handling the task. The design, presentation and documentation were all excellent.”

Am I an expert? Not by any means, but, I have a lot more knowledge and understanding of what it takes to design beautiful and functional landscapes, and … I fulfilled a long desired goal … and this makes me happy.

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Concept Garden: Herbs and Butterflies

It’s been a while since I posted about my educational journey towards certification as a landscape designer. I’m still plugging away, moving around and through some roadblocks life dropped in my path, and my journey is taking longer than I want, but anything worth having is worth working for … so I continue to follow my Papa’s advice to keep dancin’ or, in this case keep studyin’.

One of the lessons involved designing a dynamic space – an area that urges people to move and allows them to do so safely and comfortably.  The dynamic space must lead to a static space that encourages quiet, passive activities. My creation for this lesson uses a paver pathway to lead from a flat lawn into a formal herb garden. The four ground-level beds have lower-growing herbs (thyme, Alpine strawberry, globe basil for instance) along the edges of the paved path. Mid-size (lavender, rosemary, chives, sage) and taller (fennel, blueberry bushes, hyssop, tansy) herbs fill the center and outer edges of these beds. A five-foot vine-covered trellis surrounded by mid-height herbs sits at the center of the first paved circle. With no benches or raised areas available for seating, visitors are encouraged to move along the pathways. But the the herb plantings serve as a distraction that slows movement so visitors can leisurely enjoy the scented foliage and colorful blooms of the herbal plantings.

 

Herb and Butterfly garden-1

 

The stroll through the herb garden leads to another circular area paved in an alternate pattern to denote a second garden area. Centered in this circle is a five to six foot tall potted specimen plant – think fig or citrus tree, or a flowering standard specimen.  This second circular area denotes the entrance to the butterfly sitting garden. At it’s center is a two-foot tall raised bed planter containing a solar-powered fountain – the noise of the moving water helps drown out distracting outside sounds – surrounded by flowering annuals/perennials. At the outer edges of the raised bed, opposite three benches, rests three shallow butterfly-watering basins. While sitting on the benches visitors can observe the butterflies as they flit from flowering shrub to flowering perennial to flowering annual to the shallow watering basins. Square potted container plants sit at the four corners of the square pathway. The planting areas at the edges of the square, paved path are planted with butterfly-attracting shrubs, ranging from three to six feet tall, that enclose the seating area in blooming shrubbery.

This formal design, which calls for paver pathways and  granite edging can be adapted to create a less formal feel. Planting beds could have less formal cut-soil edging to keep lawn grass at bay. The paths could be loose gravel, fieldstone, or woodchip gravel. Planters could be simple clay pots. Plantings in the sitting area can also be altered to attract hummingbirds, or the entire design could planted as a kitchen or edible garden. Some of the herbs could be replaced by salad greens, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and beans and the sitting area could be surrounded by small fruiting trees and shrubs.

The idea is to entice visitors into the area using the straight path, slow their movement by the attraction of and interest in the planting beds and, finally, give them reason to stop and reflect on the natural beauty surrounding them as they sit on the benches. Busy gardeners often need to be reminded to stop a while to enjoy the fruits or flowers of their labor. Creating a sitting area enclosed by gardens will do just that.

Click Training under the Topics heading in the sidebar to read previous posts related to landscape design and other training.

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Landscape design styles – part 2

The geometric, highly organized, and formal-looking Paradise garden style (see previous post) dominated garden design for centuries. Then the Brits revolted.

The English Landscape Movement

In stark response to Paradise garden styles, the 1700’s English Landscape movement sought to create the natural, curving views of open fields, lakes, and woodlands depicted in landscape paintings and as guided by Alexander Pope’s (1688-1744) belief that all gardening is landscape painting. With no need to accommodate irrigation, England’s temperate climate and ample rainfall allowed landscape design to follow a less manipulated look. Geometrically structured planting patterns, gave way to meandering paths through naturalistic meadows and fields, over and around gently sloping hills, and leading to and alongside bodies of water that reflected the sky and adjacent scenery.

English Landscape movement leaders – Charles Bridgeman, William Kent, and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who saw his role as a fixer of nature’s mistakes – vastly manipulated topography to achieve their vision of a pastoral landscape from which man could contemplate philosophical and political ideas. In doing so they created landscapes no less manipulated than the structured, formal garden style they sought to undo.

The grounds of Stourhead between Wiltshire and Somerset, England, “is perhaps the most complete and elaborate example of the eighteenth-century English landscape style,” notes Russell Page in The Education of a Gardener (page 189). Created in the mid-1700’s, Stourhead’s design required damming a valley and creating earthen berms to form a lake, planting groves of trees, and constructing paths to and from columned, temple-like structures and in and around the water and trees. Page recalls the original plan “of water and hanging beechwoods and quiet dark green shrubberies … enlivened by a series of architectural incidents,” brought “coherence, dignity, scale, charm and tranquility.”

File:Stourhead garden.jpg Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stourhead_garden.jpg

It would be interesting to do a study just on Russell Page – see images of his designs – but that’s off the current track. There is no denying that Stourhead is beautiful and calming, as are other English Landscape designs. But what struck me most was the extent of deconstruction/reconstruction. undertaken to obtain the final effect – and so many of these creations were on private estates. Want a lake in the design? Just damn a valley.

I tend to think more along the idea of enhancing the natural setting of a site so human impact blends into, rather than overpowers, nature’s design … maybe this is splitting hairs. Olmstead’s designs for Central Park in NYC and the Emerald Necklace in Boston both fixed nature’s mistakes and enhanced natural settings. The residents of both cities continue to benefit from these designs, but these are major park projects that enhanced quality of life for millions of people – they are not private properties redesigned for the enjoyment of a select few. Private properties, I think, do better by embracing nature’s design rather than forcing the land to become something out of context with it’s surroundings.