natural for me to wax poetic about my work. Gardening and garden design
are what I call my "magnificent obsession" - so much that
the other arts in which I have an interest and for which I even have
talent will generally take a back seat.
After more than 19 years as a professional
landscape designer, I am still driven and excited by the challenge
of creating comprehensive landscapes for my clients. I thrive on the
complexity of organizing the myriad elements required to create outdoor
spaces that function properly, are beautiful and harmonious to the
eye - and even touch the heart.
A garden design typically evolves from
a practical and relatively impersonal list of needs. The client, for
example, may want an outdoor barbecue, a terrace for dining, a lawn
for play, an herb garden and, often, a beautiful watershape of some
kind. What I've found through experience is that the way these elements
are organized and applied can enrich and add deeper meaning to the
What I'm after here is a personal touch
that means something to my clients. In some cases, it's and architectural
element or pattern woven through the work that calls to mind a favorite
architect or artist. Other times, it's setting up an arbor bedecked
in sweet pea because grandmother had one just like it.
Through the years, I've found that the
various elements in a garden - plants, trees, structures, furnishings
or water - can carry great meaning for my clients. In a moonlit garden,
my clients might want gardenias because the fragrance evokes memories
of their long-ago honeymoon. In another, a client might want an oak
tree because he or she climbed one as child. Or someone of Scottish
or Irish descent might crave a Celtic cross or a "knot garden"
as a key part of the garden design.
When you consider these creative or
decorative elements as part of the design, there is no end to the
possibilities. Best of all, every situation with every client and
site is completely different.
So, armed with sensitivity, creativity
and a bit of detective skill, landscape designers and watershapers
can create spaces that absolutely resound with personal meaning. We
can create designs that remind clients of their past and heritage,
or we can reflect their spirit and embody their deepest interests
| For me, this whole process
begins in walking the site with my clients for the first time. On
this occasion, I make a conscious effort to suspend my preconceptions.
I listen and carefully observe my clients as we move through the property.
I also ask for a detailed tour of the home, both to observe the views
it offers to the outside and to look for clues in the art, photographs,
mementos, awards, furnishings, and even the architecture of their
This is where I gather many of the puzzle
pieces I will fit together to gain a clear understanding of my clients
and their personal style. I even ask each member of the family to
show and tell me about their favorite photos, paintings, books or
poems. I want to hear their stories - and I'm always looking
Quite often, this process relaxes my
clients. They'll open up and begin answering even questions that seem
personal. This is where barriers break down and where friendships
and collaborations are born with bonds of trust, openness and communication.
This, in essence, is the creative base from which my designs are conceived