Today I’m joined by twelve fellow landscape professionals from across the
Since 1980, when Denver Water first coined the term Xeriscape, to today’s hue and cry of “sustainability,” the selection of commercially available native and adaptable plants for landscaping has exploded. Thanks to the efforts of folks like Panayoti Kelaidis of Denver Botanic Gardens, David Salman of
Fallugia paradoxa, Apache plume
Dalea purpureum, prairie clover
Helianthus maximiliana, Maximilian's sunflower
Agastache rupestris, Sunset hyssop
Zauschneria garrettii Orange Carpet, creeping hummingbird trumpet
With the new abundance of appropriate plant choices has come the question of “appropriate design.” Is it important to create and advocate a regionally specific design style for landscapes and gardens? No; I disagree with this concept for several reasons:
1. The idea of an entire city, or even just my own neighborhood, consisting solely of reproduction prairies would be just as aesthetically sterile as a sea of bluegrass lawns and junipers. Diversity of design creates visual complexity, richness, and interest. Just as bio-diversity creates healthier ecosystems, design diversity contributes to a better quality of life.
2. I also believe that good landscape design is site specific. Trying to produce the same kind of garden for a small, shady, tree filled, urban home site that I would create for a large, open, sunny, wind-swept suburban site is ridiculous! Plant selection as well as the way space is organized and used is always fluid, always changing from place to place.
3. Last, but certainly not least: I’m being paid by my clients to create a landscape for them, one that reflects their lifestyle and their preferences. Need to accommodate kids and pets? Check. Want to reflect your home’s mid-century modern architecture? Can do. Prefer to keep it low maintenance? No problem.
Here are photos from three local parks that all use regionally appropriate plants yet have very distinctive design styles:
The following photos are private home sites I designed that incorporate regionally appropriate plants that are site and owner specific:
New planting for a low maintenance, live-in landscape.
Lots of shade, drainage issues, and a love of veggies guided the design for this garden.
Thanks for visiting me here at The Art Garden, and I hope you’ll enjoy more of this virtual tour celebrating regional diversity. Click on the links below to continue the journey. Happy gardening!
PS The photo at the top of the post? That’s my backyard!
Susan Cohan/Susan Cohan Gardens (
Michelle Derviss/Michelle Derviss landscape Design (
Tara Dillard (
Dan Eskelson/Clearwater Landscapes (
Scott Hokunson/Blue Heron Landscape Design (
Susan L. Morrison (
Pam Penick/Penick Landscape Design (
Susan Schlenger/Susan Schlenger Landscape Design (
Genevieve Schmidt (
Rebecca Sweet/Harmony in the Garden (