SUMMARY & REVIEW- by Adam Woodruff
Piet Oudolf & Noel Kingsbury’s highly anticipated new book, Planting: A New Perspective will be released toward the end of March.
The authors explore planting design for the twenty-first century. Specifically, the new, emerging planting design based on… [read more]
Vanessa Gardner Nagel, APLD, NCIDQ, SeasonsGardenDesign.com
Author of Understanding Garden Design
Above: Like any project, bidders want to understand the details and you want to understand the details of their bids.The above garden was on the APLD 2012 Bay Area Conference and was designed by Walter Hood.
Recently I was talking to a new landscape designer who explained to me that she and her client were receiving bids for a project that she designed. She explained that when she saw the first bid, she knew she had considerably underestimated the cost of the project and was wringing her hands about working out the cost details with her clients.
Fortunately she had very understanding clients who wanted to make sure that the integrity of her design wasn’t lost with the cost reduction. They worked it out successfully and selected one of the contractors. Now I knew all of the contractors that were bidding and I knew one of them thinks of their company as predominantly high end, so here are another couple of pointers that may help explain one high bid:
- Sometimes contractors don’t want your project and will bid high rather than tell you they aren’t interested.
- Some contractors use higher end methods of installation and this doesn’t always show up in an apples to apples bid comparison.
It reminded me that not every designer is aware of how much better this situation could have been had this new designer gone to a contractor before she finished her design. The contractor could have been someone she already knew (and I think that’s preferable) or gotten a recommendation from another designer. Most contractors are very willing to help if you give them an opportunity to bid on the project. If you can give them mass quantities of the materials you wish to use, a few details about how you wish to have items installed, and your plant list, they can usually give you a pretty good estimate. What you get is a chance to modify your design before you meet with your client and also have more confidence that your cost estimate is closer to reality. Even better, you shouldn’t be sweating bullets over night about realistic bids compared to your cost estimate.
I visited NYC last week, for the first time. APLD’s President Elect, Susan Cohan was my awesome tour guide. I was in town for two specific lectures. My friend, plantsman and designer Roy Diblik presented at Plant-O-Rama and seven-time Chelsea Flower Show gold medalist Tom Stuart-Smith spoke to a packed house at the NY Botanical Garden. Another reason for my trip was a long overdue visit to The High Line- Piet Oudolf and James Corner’s sensational elevated park in Manhattan. I’ve included a few photos for your inspiration- for the complete Flickr album follow the link.
by Susan Cohan, APLD
Unlike so many others, I never wonder about what I get from APLD. It’s the associations…the human kind as well as the professional kind.
They are more valuable than the mere price of a membership —they are indeed priceless.
Vanessa Gardner Nagel, APLD, NCIDQ
Author of Understanding Garden Design
Recently I read an article on Houzz entitled “5 Essential Considerations for a Landscape Design Project” by landscape designer Jocelyn H. Chilvers. The article included the recommendation that one of those considerations must be to “identify your design style”. The writer suggested looking at your home’s interior and exterior styles. Well, I couldn’t agree more, BUT after designing spaces for over 30 years, I have to say that the majority of my clients don’t have a clue about what their style is. They often know what they like, but they are hard put to tell you that their dining chairs are Queen Anne, but they know they like ‘traditional’ furnishings. They might know that an outdoor lantern is Asian, but not that it is Chinese, Japanese, or Thai which are three very different aesthetics.
Chinese style, The Lan-Su Chinese Garden, Portland, OR
Japanese style, The Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR
Thai style, Photo courtesy of “Photography by Adam Romanowicz”, (http://3scape.com)
The author’s final suggestion was to hire a pro. Again, I couldn’t agree more. Landscape designers will help their clients interpret what they have and translate it into the style of their garden. And as Ms. Chilvers points out, it is imperative that we look at the existing structure(s) and what is inside. But where do you turn when the ‘style’ is rather innocuous or excessively eclectic? This is usually a big cue to have an in-depth discussion about who your clients are. Are they afraid of style? Are they collectors and why? Sometimes finding out what they do, what they like, what is meaningful to them puts a designer into a private investigator mode. Whether their style is obvious or not, this should always be part of the process and means that a designer is also well-served to have a well-developed art of conversation as an accompanying skill. The delightful part of this investigative process is that a designer will often find something which will lend itself to some truly original thinking and garden design. It could be the difference between yet another copycat rock waterfall (that a client of mine recently said they wanted) to an inspired and completely original water feature (which is what a metal and glass artist will eventually help them achieve).
CONCEPT #2: The Megapixel Myth
There is a common misconception that the number of megapixels a camera has determines its quality. WRONG!!! The fact is that megapixels are NOT everything. Despite I-phones and Point and Shoots coming out with 10 megapixel cameras, their quality level is not necessarily as good as a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera with only 8 pixels. Why?
THE SENSOR… Every camera has an image sensor, and the sensor in DSLRs is often 25 TIMES BIGGER in an SLR camera as in a Point and Shoot. (And the sensor in an I-phone is even smaller.)
These photos were taken with an SLR camera
—the lighthouse at dawn with a Nikon D700.
The next two with a Sony NEX-7. These two photos were taken at Rosalind Creasy’s gorgeous and productive garden which we visited during the APLD 2012 Conference in SF and the Bay Area. Ros founded the Edible Landscaping movement, and her half acre combines great design with prolific production of herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
So when choosing a camera, be sure to inquire about the size and sensitivity of the camera’s sensor rather than being hung up on the megapixel count. And if you want to get the most from your sensor, try shooting in RAW format, rather than in JPEG files. Jpegs compress the information in each pixel, whereas raw images maintain all the original information in each pixel…so that if you are interested at all in editing and post-processing, raw is the way to go to maintain the quality of your photo.
Wishing you all Happy Holidays!
New Canaan, CT
Instructor in Landscape Design and Photography
New York Botanical Garden
GARDENS GALORE: The 2012 APLD Conference
Vanessa Gardner Nagel, APLD, NCIDQ
Author of Understanding Garden Design
If you’ve ever sat on the fence about going to a conference, fall on the side of going. I have not been able to go to every conference, but for the past several years I have forced myself to stash money aside so that I can attend. I can promise you it’s worth it. Next year’s conference is in Detroit. I have been hearing some pretty interesting things about what Detroit is doing to pick itself up by its bootstraps and move forward creatively. I have visited other areas of Michigan at various times of the year, too, and remember (at least when I was there in the fall…not so much in February) how lush and green it was. The 2013 conference will also be much shorter than usual, designed to work around nearly anyone’s schedule and budget. So my brain has gone from “Detroit?” to “Detroit!”
But if you are not yet convinced, let me show you some photos from the Bay Area conference this year. From city gardens in San Francisco to suburban gardens in the East Bay and on the Peninsula to our final destination in the North Bay, we saw some AMAZING gardens. Enjoy the tour and I hope to see you in Detroit next year!
I’m very fond of the retaining wall that surrounds this Marblehead, MA home. It is composed of large vertically set stone slabs with smaller stones placed horizontally to fill the gaps.
EMILY KELTING, OWNER OF GREATSCAPES
Greetings fellow landscape designers! I had the good fortune to sit in front of Adam Woodruff and Susan Cohan on a bus somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area while we went to one fabulous garden after another during the APLD 2012 Conference. As I was downloading photos from my camera onto my laptop computer on the bus—we logged lots of time on those busses— I shared some of my images with them. I also mentioned that my first career was writing. The next thing I knew I was being asked to become a columnist for “Designers on Design.”
I know that you are landscape designers, and probably not as serious a photographer as me. But if you want to create a professional-looking portfolio of your work for either the print or web, or if you are interested in submitting your work for competitions, you can either hire a professional photographer or do it yourself. Hiring a professional is great if you and your clients have the budget for that. If not, I am here to help you learn to become a better landscape photographer. This will be the first of four posts.
CONCEPT #1: THE BEST CAMERA IS THE ONE THAT’S WITH YOU
Light conditions can change in an instant. If you don’t have your camera with you, you won’t get the shot. It’s that simple. This one was taken at Machu Picchu right before a huge rainstorm. If I didn’t have my camera, I wouldn’t have gotten this shot. Same thing for this photo of a snowy egret, flying outside my window over the Silvermine River. Click quick! (Can’t believe I got the reflection of the euonymous leaves on its wings…
I-phones and i-pads now have sophisticated cameras in them. I use my I-phone often, as it is always with me. (I find the I-pad clunkier to use, but I did notice that lots of people at the APLD conference were getting excellent shots with the I-pads that were required equipment for the conference.) And I love, love, love playing with the apps like Snapseed, Pro HDR, Photosynth, Camera Genius, Camera Awesome, Hipstamatic and yes, Instagram). For ease of use and convenience, i-pads and i-phones and compact Point and Shoot cameras are the way to go. I carry with me both my I-phone and Point and Shoot camera (Canon Power Shot S90, set on “Vivid” mode.) This one was shot with my i-phone.
BUT… if we are talking about taking photographs that will help you win the next APLD award, you will need a camera that can take a sharp, high-resolution image from a very wide angle to a tight close-up, that can be saved as a large format file, meaning several megabytes in the file. This will insure it can be printed at 8” x 10” and larger without without losing sharpness in the detail. An i-phone or i-pad image probably won’t suffice. A Point and Shoot may be good enough, but an SLR (set—in the menu—on a LARGE file size or FINE) is better for making large prints. Of course, if you aren’t into making large prints, and mainly send your photos via the Internet, where 72 dpi is fine for resolution as opposed to the 300 dpi needed for fine quality prints, any camera will suffice.
NURTURING AND NUTRITIOUS: GARDENS FOR ASSISTED-LIVING COMMUNITIES
By Vanessa Gardner Nagel, APLD, NCIDQ, Author of Understanding Garden Design
There is another world out there to which few landscape designers have been introduced. I speak of assisted-living communities. It’s not glamorous. They are places where older folks (generally) go to live out their later years when they need more care than family members are capable of giving. This summer, we had to find a place for my mother to move from her home. The issue immediately put me smack in the middle of this very different world. (Warning: the process is nearly a full-time job!). Seeing through the eyes of a designer showed me not only what works in these situations, but also what could be better. Why are assisted-living communities a landscape design issue? Because they need our help for two important reasons: nurturing and nutrition from plants.
I only recently heard the term ‘eco-therapy’ although I’ve been acquainted with ‘healing gardens’ for years. They both involve nature nurturing us. Being in a garden or in raw nature improves our mood, lessens depression, and makes us more capable of dealing with stress. All of which are very important to our seniors. Consider how we sequester them away from the rest of the world, with the exception of family and friends who visit. Many of them are depressed. In my mother’s situation, the corporate-style, excuse-for-a-garden adjacent to their large dining room wouldn’t inspire a fly to visit it. Nothing is there to draw them outside. This NEEDS to be different! There are senior living centers without gardens that have residents who’d like to garden and there are those with too small of a garden who could use more space. Some of the seniors could even do some small tasks – a little weeding and picking the fruit are two easy tasks when they are done regularly and at the height of a raised bed. We need to get past “No, because it’s too much trouble or the maintenance is too high”.
Speaking of the dining room, nutrition requirements might be met, but fresh vegetables and fruit are not on the table near enough. Meat is smothered in calorie-laden gravy. There is too much starch in the diet and the cooks overcook everything to the point of removing every nutrient from the food. Many of the residents choose not to eat the food because it is not food a health-conscious person would consider or they just don’t like it. Because I have been pondering this issue a Cooking Light article caught my eye. The article was written by Philip Rhodes and highlights reasons to celebrate bright spots on the food/health scene. The ‘highlight’ in New Jersey is notable. Inspired by his grandmother’s living situation, Chef Cary Neff partnered with Morrison’s Senior Living Division to launch ‘Flavors 450’, named for keeping meals under 450 calories, flavorful, and using fresh, local ingredients. (My hope is that food should also be organic.) With many of us probably experiencing something similar and equally frustrated, I am encouraged to hear that someone took the initiative and stepped out of ‘the box’ to make a change. Morrison Senior Living is taking this program nationwide.
There is so much attention paid to providing good nutrition to children (thank you Michelle Obama!). However, we need to look at the opposite end of life, too, and help the other vulnerable members of our society. Couldn’t cities inspire urban gardens and gardeners to help our senior living communities? (It is a cost issue, as a good friend of mine reminded me who used to own one.) Couldn’t this idea bring young and old together? Younger people have energy and elders have so much untapped wisdom. What a perfect match! Just sayin’… , but perhaps this is a golden opportunity for an organization such as APLD to get involved to better our communities?
Eleven tips to remember when designing gardens for the elderly:
- Raised beds are easier on stiff backs and sore joints.
- ADA(1:12) accessible ramps are better than steps.
- Plan for five-foot diameter circles for wheelchair turnaround and minimum 44” wide (unobstructed) paths.
- Provide firm, flat paving for easier wheeling; pay attention to transitions and make sure they are perfectly even. Even a slight height change can present a problem with a wheelchair.
- Include old-fashioned and fragrant plants to conjure memories.
- Provide plenty of seating. Make sure the seats have arms that aren’t too high and spaces beneath the seat for elderly to push with their feet when they need to get up. Elderly often like to sit together to chat, provide them with opportunities to do so. They love to congregate near the front door to see what’s up. If there is an opportunity for a garden there, take advantage of it.
- Grow fruits and vegetables they like to eat and they will be more inspired to help weed and gather produce if they are able to do so. Provide herbs to allow people to pick and nibble. (Only organic maintenance, please.)
- Consider a person’s ability to see their way through the garden. Make sure paving is easy to comprehend and not confusing. Make colors more intense so they are easier to see.
- If you have signage, make sure the text is large enough to read easily. Consider using Braille for the blind. Make the garden as intuitive as possible so signage isn’t needed.
- Inspire minds to think by installing garden art where it will attract visitors to the garden. Birdhouses can be garden art and an open invitation to feathered guests.
- Remember to add night lighting at critical points like stairs. Make sure there is no opportunity for glare!