October 28, 2011
Happy Halloween! I hope everyone has his or her candy and/or costume ready to go! I am ready – bags of candy (miraculously untouched so far) and plenty of pumpkins on the stoop. Our neighborhood has what seems like thousands of kids, so I’ll be busy!
More importantly, last week I had the opportunity to be incredibly inspired at the biennial Gillette Forum at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia (www.lewisginter.org). The topic for this year’s Forum was “Making Beauty Sustainable”, a topic close to my heart. The four speakers, Rosemary Alexander of The English Gardening School (www.rosemaryalexander.co.uk), Rick Darke, landscape ethicist (www.rickdarke.com), Patricia O’Donnell of Heritage Landscapes, LLC (www.heritagelandscapes.com) and Larry Weaner of Larry Weaner Landscape Associates (www.lweanerdesign.com), are all accomplished designers and authors who brought an astonishing breadth of knowledge and experience to the lecture series.
For me, the Forum was an affirmation of the career shift I am making. The word sustainability means different things to different people (in fact – each of the Forum’s speakers had a unique view of how that word fits into our world), but for me it is all about integrating the landscape into our everyday lives. Rick Darke’s keen eye for detail and finding the beauty in each season and each plant means that you’re paying attention to the world around you. Patricia O’Donnell’s in-depth research of sites brings the essential history of the site to the forefront. Rosemary Alexander’s vast experience of the English garden tradition demonstrated to me how to banish the notions of “traditional” and “modern” and come up with something that simply works. Larry Weaner taught us how to educate clients to a new aesthetic of landscape, one that makes the viewer an essential part of the finished product.
I am resolved to work towards educating myself in this idea of deciding what “sustainable” means to me. I think it means working with the landscape I have, integrating how I will live in that landscape, and making sure that my actions on the landscape work within the principles of ecology and aesthetics that I hold.
I am updating this blog for this new week and new month with a new energy – can’t wait to get designing!