The Coastal Gardener: Landscape design comes with many details

May 20, 2011|By Ron Vanderhoff
  • Interior designs as well as exterior designs both achieve a better living environment for the occupants and should be aesthetically attractive. But garden design requires a knowledge of how plants grow and an appreciation for their unique cultural and environmental needs.
Interior designs as well as exterior designs both achieve… (Ron Vanderhoff,…)

I saw the small group in the distance. There were three of them; one was clearly a designer of some sort, while the other two were homeowners, listening attentively.

In our business, we see this scene every day. A landscape designer, often with a rolled-up blueprint under one arm, walking from plant to plant, motioning with their arms and talking with their clients.

We usually leave them pretty much to themselves, other than perhaps to help them find a plant or two that they wish to see. The clients already have a knowledgeable person guiding them in their needs, there's not much more that we can offer.

Nonetheless, wanting to be helpful, I stopped by to say hello and make sure that everything was going well with the trio.

I knew there were problems from the start, after I overheard the first sentence from the designer, "Let's find a short plant with grey leaves to put in front of these."


"Is everyone doing OK here?" I asked.

The designer was warm, charming and articulate. She had a friendly personality and I could see why these homeowners were attracted to her.

In the aisle, the designer had created a miniature landscape of sorts, plants pulled together from throughout the nursery. At a glance, it was a pleasing collection, with nice contrasts and varying textures; any untutored homeowner would be pleased.

To my gesture for assistance, the designer replied, "We need something to go in front of these."

Then, with the sentence scarcely complete she pointed and asked, "What about these?"

She left us for a moment, then returned with a few small plants known as licorice plants, or botanically as Helichrysum. She arranged them in front of several heartleaf bergenia and declared the design complete.

She thanked me and I responded, "Good luck with your new garden."

Sadly, these two naive homeowners will need more than luck.

I later discovered that the designer guiding all of the decisions was a successful and well-respected interior designer who had also agreed to design their garden space.

In a recent national magazine article I read, "There is not much difference between interior designing and landscape designing, except that interior designing deals with your interior or your indoors; while landscaping deals with designing your exterior or your outdoors. More often than not, landscape designing is confused with interior designing. It's because there is only a minor difference between the two."

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