Landscapes for All Seasons

Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC earlier this November / image: Alexandra Hay

With autumn colors still vividly in mind (though fading fast or already gone) and Thanksgiving nearly here, it’s the perfect time to take a look at what ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) members had to say about places they love to visit at any time of year. We picked out a few key themes and responses below. While quite a few members felt that “all landscapes are amazing in all seasons,” many had favorite spots that are as stunning in the dead of winter as the peak of summer, and at every point in between: “Every place is always changing throughout the year. You can’t experience them and understand them without being there in the moment.”

National Parks

Acadia National Park, ME – “It offers so many ecosystems—ocean, lake, river, bog, mountain. You are above the tree line, in a cave, you name it, and you can experience wild nature combined with some of the most sophisticated designed landscapes in America, all within one fairly small island.”

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ – “Always majestic, sublime, and different.”

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC and TN – “Continuous habitat diversity.”

Olympic National Park, WA – “Raw beauty and strength.”

Yosemite National Park, CA – “The quiet, magnificent rock formations and trees coupled with the light changes, the air is clean and fresh any time of the year and fragrance of pines, coupled with hundreds of miles of hiking trails that you can discover for the first time.”

Zion National Park, UT

Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, Chicago / image: Alexandra Hay


Boston Common, MA – “It looks good year round and there are always people out enjoying it.”

Chicago, IL – “Lake Michigan water front, Grant Park, great architecture, change of seasons…just a neat city.”

Forest Park, St. Louis, MO – “Nature and culture colliding.”

International Friendship Park, Cincinnati, OH

National Mall, Washington, DC – “History, design vocabulary, multi seasonal interest (cherry trees in the spring, green grass in the summer, fall leaves, and occasionally snow).”

New York, NY – “The energy, the varied places that come to life at different seasons. I loved visiting Bryant Park in December recently. In terms of design, there is always a new park, a newly renovated area, or an important new area of urban design to inspire me.”

Paris, France – “The parks and the architecture, the scale, the details—everything!”

Rome, Italy – “It’s a city about the people, made from the people over time. The history is lived in the present there, and you can feel it, from the materials under your feet, to the caffè in your hand, to the people bustling by. All the while, the city stands and accommodates this, in its magnificent permanence. It’s the most real and enduring place I’ve ever experienced.”

San Francisco, CA – “The fog, fuchsias, orchids in full bloom in all nooks and crannies, fantastic food and entertainment for a world-class city and the friendliest horticulture/gardening folks anyone could imagine.”

Vancouver, BC, Canada – “There is always something going on, whether urban or wild. Great for people watching or solitude, & can happen all in the same experience.”

ASLA 2016 Professional General Design Honor Award. Corktown Common: Flood Protection and a Neighbourhood Park, Toronto, ON, Canada. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates / image: Nicola Betts

Parks & Gardens

Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, GA

Chanticleer Garden, Wayne, PA – “Attention to planting detail and a rich plant palette that pleases in every season.”

Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC

Hartwood Acres Park, Allegheny County, PA

The meadow at the Mt. Cuba Center, in Hockessin, DE, near Wilmington, in November / image: Alexandra Hay

Hillwood Gardens, Washington, DC – “There is an extraordinary variety of seasonal planting that delight at all times.”

Huntington Gardens, San Marino, CA – “With such a diverse plant palette something is always in bloom.”

Isamu Noguchi’s California Scenario sculpture garden, Costa Mesa, CA

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA – “Amazing plantsmanship and layout of space.”

My local botanical garden – “Love to see the gardens sleeping. Our local botanical garden has been re-creating itself over the past decade, and it has been wonderful, following its progress throughout the seasons and the years. There is always something to see in bloom or in fall leaf color, or when most of the garden plants are in ‘hibernation.’”

ASLA 2013 Professional General Design Honor Award. Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitors Center, Brooklyn, NY. HMWhite / image: Aaron Booher

The New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Chinese Scholar’s Garden, NY

Winterthur, DE

International Responses

Changbai Mountains in the Northeast of China

Japan – “their zeal to get as much out of a piece of land as is possible.”

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland – “This place has amazing scenery and protected resources (agriculture, natural spaces, beautiful scenery, and dense living) during all seasons of the year.”

The Canadian Rockies – “Frantic existence—a fight for life in all seasons.”

Venice, Italy and Barcelona, Spain – “The people, the walkability, the architecture, the history, the beauty, the food, the language, the fact that I’m NOT in the United States.”

Villa Medici, Fiesole, Italy – “the classical structure of the space, the view.”

Oceans & Coastlines

Pacific Coast – “Constant movement of waves and light changes and marine life.”

The New England coast, specifically the beaches in Westerly, RI – “The changing light, the changing surf, the distant views to Block Island and Montauk where the visibility varies depending on season, time of day.”

The Oregon Coast – “The energy of the Ocean and the Light.”

Virginia Beach – “The coast is ever changing…no two days is the landscape the same.”

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s pollinator garden is a beautiful spot to visit year-round. / image: Alexandra Hay

Other Places Mentioned

Flint Hills, KS

Zoos – “Some of the best Zoos also possess some of the qualities of a botanical garden with varied plant materials and massings. It is interesting to see how the crowds differ and the plant material cycles through the seasons.”

And, one favorite answer many may agree with: “My own garden. 🙂 Always something new to see, and I love it like an old cashmere sweater that keeps working season after season.”

At the start of 2015, a questionnaire was sent out to members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). The theme: creativity and inspired design. As you can imagine, responses were varied, and included many insightful comments and suggestions. Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND over the course of 2015, and we are now re-posting this information here on The Field. For the latest updates on the results of the annual PPN Survey, see LAND’s PPN News section.

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