Friday, November 19, 2010

Edible Herbal Landscaping

I’ve shared photos of this edible herbal garden before but haven’t really discussed it much.

This house and garden was designed in unison 11 years ago in Marin County.
The homeowner desired an Mediterranean styled garden reflective of her travels to Italy and France yet empathetic to our long dry California summers.

With this in mind a functional edible and herbal garden was designed.

Four large olive trees laid out in a bosque fashion provides a knitted canopy of shade to sit beneath on a hot summer day. These trees were irrigated for the first year and are now no longer dependent on any irrigation.

From California Gardening

From portfolioMay08.jpg

Herbal infusions of prostrate rosemary and drought tolerant lavender frames the rose gardens.

prostrate rosemary and climbing white iceburg roses. spring flush
From portfolioMay08.jpg

From California Gardening

From California Gardening

From California Gardening

An espaliered brown turkey fig tree drips with swollen fruit in August while the dwarf citrus trees are laden with fruit all year round. Creeping thyme clothes the checker board ground.

From California Gardening

From California Gardening

When I first saw this valley property in late spring it still had a foot of standing water covering most of the back yard.
To remediate the drainage problem a highly engineered drainage system was designed.
We did not have the advantage of connecting to a sewer system so all of the water that flows into this low lying property is filtered through a surface to subsurface filtration system on site. The drainage troughs are located under the gravel pathways.

From California Gardening

From California Gardening

There is a separate raised bed vegetable garden that produces abundant produce year round but the real working bones of this edible and herbal landscape can be found in the softscape layout of the garden.

From Potager Gardens

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marin Hot-tubber

Marin Hot Tubber

George Bush the Senior once snidely commented ( and mispronouced ) that us Marin residents are ‘hot tubbers’. ( It’s pronounced Ma- rin George. )

Well wouldn’t you be too if you had great year round weather, fantastic views of the San Francisco Bay or had the chance to sit under the ancient canopy of some towering redwoods while soaking in heavenly hot water ?

Here’s an abbreviated example of some tub designs we’ve designed and installed.

Sunken into a teak deck surrounded by handcrafted local stone and lush gardens.
Looking east to the S.F. Bay
From Fizzy water boxes

Cloistered under a canopy of old redwoods
From Fizzy water boxes

With adjacent stone lounging terrace
From Fizzy water boxes

Located over a steep redwood ravine, this old style redwood tub is enchanting on a rainy night. ( excuse the knitted line in the panorama of the photograph )
From Fizzy water boxes

Another Marin tub strattling a steep down hill slope. This deck at its highest point is 17 feet above native grade. Looks so easy.... That’s the magic of a good structural engineer. Thanks Welliver Engineers !
From Fizzy water boxes

Set in a densely populated development this backyard design was able to squeeze in a hot tub, pool, outdoor kitchen and fireplace
From Fizzy water boxes

Inspired by my trip to Bali. This is my dream tub. It was designed for the S.F. Garden Show in 2008.
From Fizzy water boxes

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Give some thought to Thinking Gardens

A recent article published in the UK online E-zine , "Thinking Gardens"

Check out the link below. The published article has some photo images to go along with the essay.


Aspiring for excellence: Elevating the bar for Landscape Designers
NOVEMBER 1, 2010
This is a piece for landscape architects and gardens designers regarding the presentation of their work – though I wonder if the same applies in the UK?

A rap on the knuckles for careless designers from Michelle Derviss

It happens all the time and quite frankly it lowers the bar :

A ‘professional’ landscape designer publishes a ‘finished’ project photo into their online portfolio or on a web site set up for ‘professional’ landscape designers to peruse and interact on.

The photo is poorly composed, It was taken in harsh overhead light, the plantings were installed yesterday and the hoses and black plastic nursery pots are still scattered about the site.

Note to duhsigners : This is not good professional representation of your design work.

It doesn’t put you or your work in the best possible light and lowers the standards for the profession as a whole.

It’s no wonder landscape designers moan that they receive little respect. The bar has been set low.

A photograph speaks volumes and a poorly presented one will tell your audience, be it other designers or potential clients, that you are not ready for prime time playing, at least in the ‘professional’ category.

Look at the real professionals in our industry who are being published, are making waves and have a distinguished following.

Their portfolio images were taken in the proper lighting conditions, ie: early morning light, over cast illuminating light or the golden hour of sunset.

Their gardens are lushly mature, full of beautiful plants and have tastefully arranged furnishings complimenting the softscape and adjacent architecture.

Someone took the time to sweep the site, arrange the chairs, stage the ‘set’ and compose a photograph that puts the designers work in the best possible light.

These are our ‘professional designers’ and you can instantly tell the difference by looking at how they strive for excellence in the profession of landscape design.

If you have poor photography skills , hire a photographer. There are many available at a wide range of rates.

If you feel you can’t afford one then educate yourself in how to take a decent photograph.

And above all, choose a garden that has some age to it.

As a professional you should be keeping in touch with your recent past clients.

Not only does this speak well of you to your clients and their investments, it keeps you connected to one of your growing assets, a finished project waiting to be photographed in the best possible light .

Strive for excellence and bring up the bar by showing potential clients and your peers that you have completed beautiful works of horticultural and hardscape craftsmanship via a well composed and presented photograph.

Michelle Derviss