Even though in my twenties I had lived for several years in Los Angeles, coming from my Z6 mid-Atlantic base, the conference's garden visits were a trip to an exuberant, exotic locale. Gardens and landscapes in the subtropical climate that is 21st century
I was initially shocked by what I saw through eyes used to lush summer landscapes green with irrigation—whether natural or man made. Early in the conference, I realized I couldn’t identify but a handful of plants, many were native to
After several days of garden visits, we went to a beautiful and imaginative garden that looked, with some exceptions made for plants, as if it had been transplanted from the East coast. This garden was heavily irrigated, lush and green. It was not sustainable, it didn’t have that sense of place that many of the other gardens had. When I thought about many of the other more ‘alien’ gardens I had seen, this verdant Anglo-Mediterranean space seemed out of touch with the
Garden visits can challenge and delight. They can also expand the possibilities of design to the open minded viewer. After the initial shock, my visits in
I can investigate and use more native and locally grown plants that will require less water and use fewer fossil fuels needed for long distance shipping. I can make sure stormwater is kept on the property and used as passive irrigation. I can make sure that the organic materials we remove from a site go to the proper recyclers to be composted for future use. I can also make sure that inorganic debris is sorted and recycled instead of dumped.
I also realized that in other ways, I have already started. I try as often as possible to reduce areas of turf grass in a design, just on the basis of water useage, chemical fertilization practices and air and noise pollution created by the mow/blow/go crews. We also offer organic garden maintenance without the use of power tools to our clients, promoting it as Estate Gardening and charge accordingly for it. My show house garden is an opportunity to demonstrate these ideas to a large group of people looking for inspiration.
So I figure if I design with sensitivity to the genus loci and keep sustainable practices in mind, the gardens I build will be to their time and place, what many of the new