Monday, February 25, 2013

Garden Designers Roundtable - Romance

There's romance in the air, even long past Valentine's Day. At least on the Garden Designers Roundtable!

Love is enduring, romance is fleeting: a sentiment often spoken.

I'm not buying it; human relationships or otherwise. A romantic myself (don't laugh!), a great meal comes to mind, as does the memory of who I shared it with, an event, or a space that's never left my memory.

Do we strive to design landscapes that have us long to linger, or beg us to return (that we can't resist)?

Do we have clients who embrace that, or do they wreck the mood by only obsessing on timelines or budgets, not the unique opportunity being created for them? The latter is too common in the real world; engage in that, and the thrill is gone. Cleverly engage such a person away from that - though highly unlikely - and you might help salvage a garden out of ruins.

Let's keep the thrill!
Get turned on. Lush texture and color has the markings of a talented, former co-worker at D/P/S, Yvette Tovar, a native Albuquerquean who gets our placeThe outside of a microlender's office embraces place, even in an industrial setting.

A ubiquitous stepped, stucco wall, plus regional dryland native plant species set the mood. Lush Deergrass / Muhlenbergia rigensSpineless Prickly Pear / Opuntia ellisiana, golden Angelita Daisy / Hymenoxys acaulis, and orange California Fuchsia / Epilobium latifolium. Want to see behind that wall? Not this time. ¡Romántico!






Anticipation is another element in romance. I slept in on a Saturday, the sun already rising as I awoke and opened my blinds. The way it glowed on the chair and pot edges, told me that softer weather is on the way.

Too bad it was 25F outside...but soon, yet another colder-than-usual winter shall pass. I'll once again soak in mild spring mornings out there with my usual fare - a cup of great coffee, fresh pastries and chilled fruit, and a good book. Or sharing that 
with someone else instead of a read, in the cool of the day. Won't be long!



















Anticipation met. Morning light breaks at the Gage Hotel in Marathon TX, on the eastern Chihuahuan desert grassland. 

I remember 
Faith Hill's song, "Breathe", playing upon my arrival the night before - a hotel I've wanted to stay at for a decade. After breakfast and before my drive home, I took in the warm, dry and breezy spring air on one of those rocking chairs.


Nighttime is the right time.  If you've been to where I live - from sometime in May and well into September - you know how incredible the warmth here is - rarely too hot and rarely too cool. It penetrates to your very soul, in a good way.

Imagine walking under these Desert Willow trees, blooms 
randomly wafting out a subtly sweet fragrance. Our numerous hummingbirds and sphinx moths certainly can't get enough of it; would most people or designers not respond at least the same? You've just finished a great dinner at one of the special tables at Marcello's Chophouse (perfect for two), and you aren't ready to go home, yet. The moon is up, the breeze is blowing, and it's perfect.

I wonder how many people visiting there, who never thought once about outdoor living on their own property, have changed their minds? It no longer has to be the domain of that 
week in Fiji or some such faraway place, which they just spent a mint to visit, only to leave with mere photos and a large visa bill to remember it all by. 

It's a connected, skilled designer who can make such an experience, that keeps us coming back for more. I hope you enjoy the other posts on Garden Designers Roundtable with me - mostly ladies, with a fellow, romantic knight or two!





28 comments:

  1. I love the last photo with the Chaparral tunnel. I always wanted to create more of these in the past. Why not utilize something found in nature, by tough beautiful plants native to an area and where it's designs are everywhere in the wild to be documented and replicated in the urban landscape or home garden.

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    1. "Chaparral tunnel" - that's brilliant, and I am going to design some of those. I remember seeing the term "Elfin Forest" on a place in your old stomping grounds of N County San Diego, this time of year, ceanothus blooming and dwarf oaks, toyon, etc happily green on a cold, wet day...now that foreign scene is familiar, just some different plants here.

      This is great - all our tougher trees are smaller, and I hike through them all the time. Ducking is even OK at times!

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  2. Anticipation, touch (texture) and mystery (night. All three are certainly elements of romance and I'd not thought of these in this way before. Interesting.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, SC! I guess I think of the approach to something that suddenly erupts, and what it took during the transformation?

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  3. David, you romantic, you! You've got me crushing on Albuqueraue right now, for sure. Seriously, as per Susan's comment, some great design lessons here.

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    1. Ha ha! The nights took me a while to get used to, as they are warm (and El Paso's warmer), but some of my best ideas have come from being by myself on one, taking a work break, that breeze, and the anticipation of being finished...only to have something else to finish, next. Thanks!

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  4. What a fabulous post! Reads better than any romance novel that's for sure. Perhaps you've discovered a new niche? Teaching how to keep romance in the garden to LA students?

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    1. Thanks - maybe I can come up with horticulturally-centered steamy novels, with plenty of spiny plants in them? Ha ha! I like that teaching part...hmmm, and tenure might still offer a pension, unlike self-employment...

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  5. Very enjoyable strolling around Albuquerque with you. I particularly appreciated your observations about light, how the quality of light has such a dramatic impact on the mood of a place -- whether its natural or artificial. I am always struck by really good landscape lighting when I see it, and I rarely do. There is a house in my parents' neighborhood -- just an ordinary suburban house -- that has recently gotten some awesome lighting. It's some kind of soft uplighting on the porch that they installed, and it just makes the house look incredible and stand out from all the others. Just a couple of artfully placed lightbulbs.

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    1. Lighting is crucial, I agree. The last place is interesting, since it is actually an overlit outdoor shopping center / lifestyle center. We have a dark skies ordinance in NM, but it is either not enforced or only applies unequally...but here, it works...like a big glow. Must get my landscape lighting working again - the home you note sounds *perfect* - understated.

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  6. When I think of desert plantings, I think spiky, textural, and modern, but I don't usually think of romance. Steamy, yes, but not necessarily in a good way. ;) But you have convinced me that romance can be achieved no matter where we garden, and using plants appropriate to that region. That last photo, especially, is extremely romantic.

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    1. Glad to show another side to the desert - a spring evening and a warm, dry breeze are amazing. The same plants, used differently, complete the mood, too. What's odd, is I shot that last photo when everything was closing after 10 pm - so it was empty! But imagining is good, too.

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  7. Am often told my garden is 'romantic'. Quite ironic. I thought I was working HARD to create a place I'm happy to be in, and look at too.

    Irony in the metaphor. Romance is hard work! XO T

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    1. That's a great point - the work is hard but rewarding in either case. Some say we "make it look easy"...if only we could show it for the hard work it is, and command the fees of some other allied professionals!

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  8. David, you manage to make spineless prickly pear and sphinx moths seem like a dream come true. You have a gift. Your clients are lucky to have you. I really liked this post-thanks.

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    1. Thanks and thanks...now, to make the spiny cacti look dreamy!!! You do the same for my dry-weary eyes, too.

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  9. I always think movement in the garden is key to a "romantic" feeling...and that first photo shows that idea perfectly...and yes, evenings in the garden are the best, as the heat to the day ebbs away at last, and everything is refreshed.

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    1. Very true - movement really makes to moment. Including the change in time from hot to milder, again!

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  10. Romancing the plants! I love that last image especially.

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    1. Exactly - nights like that are what landscape lighting is made for...

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  11. David, I can't imagine anyone who's read even a few of your posts didn't know you're a romantic through and through! I've also often wondered why people don't seem to embrace evening outdoor living on a daily basis. Why does it seem like a vacation lifestyle? I know I'm guilty of that myself - after a long day outside in the garden I'm happy to be inside in the evening, not outside enjoying the romance of the night garden.

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    1. Maybe because I'm a guy or a plant / weather nerd? But people not into outdoor living, I think that has to do one's local areas and what's popular far more than climate...and when the garden isn't there, one has an indoors-only culture. At least my guess!

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  12. OOOOOOoooooooo la la! Love it! Love the photos and the feelings you got across. Especially the part about making YOUR SPACE enjoyable! Not paying someone else (plus interest $$$$) to see their paradise!

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    1. And that means much from the Queen of DIY excellence, herself - I bet you are going to be out in your spaces so much, even in your steamy summers (at night)!

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  13. First three design not so good. But 3rd one is so wonderful design. Thank you for sharing nice post.

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    1. You're welcome, and thanks for visiting. Of course, context shows how well a design actually works, more than my vignettes.

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  14. A hopeless (read:hopeful) romantic here David! You've touched on many of the reasons why garden design gets the juices flowing. And like the others, I'm amazed at how you can take such a stark, xeric, landscape and make it seem warm and embracing(Sorry, east coast lushness bias is showing).

    Perhaps the defining words in your post are, "landscapes that have us long to linger, or beg us to return (that we can't resist)?". Need any more be said?

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Thanks for your comments and for visiting, too! I think it is an interesting contrast in what we both can easily work with?

      Your thoughts on the defining words are right-on - am trying to be more to-the-point, and that will help! And you're welcome...

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