Methods of Plant Selection

by Katie Seidenwurm, ASLA

A plant combination: Pride of Madeira (Echium cadicans) and Orchid Rockrose (Cistus x purpureus) / Image: Katie Seidenwurm

As a landscape architect who focusses on residential design, one of my biggest challenges is guiding clients through the plant selection process. Each client comes to the project with different levels of knowledge and interest. I have had clients who are totally involved with the plants and have given me a list of specific plants that they want in their yard with placement ideas. On the other side, I have had clients proclaim that they know nothing about plants and just want something that “looks good and is low-maintenance … and by the way, I love the color purple.” Over the years, I have tried various methods with various degrees of success. Here, I describe some methods I have tried, and list the pros and cons of each. I would be very interested in feedback on this as I am always looking for new ideas.

Take client to a nursery to pick out plants.

Pros:

  • Client gets to see plant for themselves.
  • We can see what plants are available at the nursery and in what quantity and condition.
  • Client feels good about plant selection, because he/she has seen the plants for themselves.

Cons:

  • The plant is immature and in a pot. It’s hard to picture what it will look like installed and in a few years. I find myself motioning a lot to say, “Imagine this plant to be this high.”
  • Contractor may not be purchasing plants from that particular nusery.
  • If it’s winter, the plant selection is thin and the quality of the plants is often poor.
  • The nursery doesn’t have the plants that you were thinking of using in the design.

I have tried this method a few times. One time, I took a client to the nursery and they didn’t have what we were looking for. The nursery was large and one where you drive around to different areas for the various plants. The client got frustrated because we couldn’t’ find the plants that I had in mind, it was getting hot, and she was getting tired. I almost lost the client that day. I suppose, if I had called ahead and had the nursery pull the plants ahead of time, then we could have gone to one place and seen the plants.

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10-Minute Walk Learning Series: Equity in Parks and Recreation

image: Pam Linn

10-Minute Walk Learning Series: Equity in Parks and Recreation Live Q&A
August 30, 2018 at 1:00 PM (EST)

On Thursday, August 30, the National Recreation & Park Association is hosting a live virtual Q&A session as part of the 10-Minute Walk Learning Series. During the Q&A, you will have a chance to ask your peers about their success on topics related to the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, a nationwide movement to ensure there’s a great park within a 10-minute walk of every person, in every neighborhood, in every city across America. The discussion focus is equity, including prioritization models, design, community activation, and more.

Speakers:

  • Joy Kuebler, ASLA, PLA – Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect, PC
  • Pam Linn, FASLA, PLA – Milwaukee Public Schools Department of Recreation and Community Services
  • Som Subedi – City of Portland Parks and Recreation
  • Allison Colman – National Recreation and Park Association

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Tech for Professional Practice

image: Unsplash

ASLA has released two surveys in collaboration with the Professional Practice Committee and Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (PPN):

The Software Utilization Survey aims to gather and share information about what technology and applications landscape architects currently using to operate effectively and efficiently.

The Project Management Technology Use Survey explores the products and services that improves work efficiency and project management skills of our members.

All ASLA members are welcome to take both surveys by Friday, September 7. Each survey should take only 5-7 minutes to complete and your participation is greatly appreciated.

Click here to complete the Software Utilization Survey!

Click here to complete the Project Management Technology Use Survey!

Our Summer Visit to the Thurston Nature Center

Bringing along markers, pencils, crayons, and paper to document their time, Lola and Lucy spend a blissful afternoon at the Thurston Nature Center. / image: Ben Atchison

Can you think of a better way to enjoy a balmy mid-summer afternoon? My dear friend and colleague Ben Atchison recently brought his granddaughters Lola (age 10) and Lucy (age 8) Valentin to the Thurston Nature Center in Ann Arbor, MI. Lush and inviting, the Nature Center is a favorite destination for Papa and the girls. Lola and Lucy are delighted to share their photo journal with you.
– Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network Co-Communications Director

For those familiar with Ann Arbor, Michigan, the nearly 24-acre Thurston Nature Center is next door to both the Thurston Elementary and Clague Middle Schools. Lola, who is in fifth grade and Lucy, who is in third grade, attend Thurston Elementary School, which makes the Nature Center even that much more special to them.

In 1968, the Nature Center was designated a Conservation Education Reserve by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The space is jointly owned by the Ann Arbor Public Schools and Orchard Hills Athletic Club. Fifty years “young,” the Nature Center is used by the Ann Arbor Schools Environmental Education Program and the greater Ann Arbor community. It is maintained and enhanced by the teachers and students and their families at Thurston Elementary and Clague Middle Schools, with help from devoted neighborhood volunteers. This gracious outdoor oasis is enjoyed by young and old alike.

The space hosts five ecosystems; trails; an 8.4-acre pond and a vernal pond that fish, turtles, and muskrats call home; native plants that attract butterflies and birds; and raccoons and skunks. The Center also contains a hickory-oak woodlot, a rain garden, and vine trellis. In 2015 and 2016, students from the elementary school and community volunteers worked to install a native prairie. Many of the improvement projects that occur at the Center help to support the elementary school’s Green STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) program while simultaneously improving the biodiversity of the area. The Thurston Nature Center is a popular destination for Ann Arbor school field trips and outdoor experiential education. Be sure to add The Thurston Nature Center to your agenda should your travels take you to Ann Arbor!

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The 2018 IFLA World Congress in Singapore

by Erik S. Mustonen, ASLA, CSLA, RLA (CA + MN), CLARB, LEED AP-ND

image: Erik Mustonen

The Republic of Singapore, an island city-state one degree north of the equator, has 5.6 million residents on 700 square kilometers (270 square miles.) Since independence in 1965, land reclamation has increased its size by 23%. With dense development on its small area, only 5% of its historical forests remain, but the creation of nature parks has become a national priority. It is a multi-ethnic community with four official languages—English (most common), Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Most of its people are bilingual. About 74% of the residents are of Chinese descent. It ranks very high in many economic measures and is known to be safe, corruption free, and extremely well organized (some say too organized). While working in nearby Malaysia in the 1980s and 1990s, I often visited Singapore, and I was impressed by how much it has developed since then.

The 2018 International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) World Congress and Trade Exhibition was held from July 18-19, at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. It was organized by IFLA together with the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects and the (Singapore) National Parks Board. The organizers also offered nine technical tours on July 20.

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Creating an Everyone-Wins Playground Partnership

by Lawrence Raffel, PLA, ASLA

The Mark Twain Elementary School Playground in Wheeling, Illinois / image: Lawrence Raffel

Some say two heads are better than one. The Wheeling Park District discovered this concept applies to public agencies, too.

It makes sense. When agencies establish partnerships, the communities they serve benefit from the collective mission and expertise of each agency. Oftentimes an overarching mission of one agency may support a neglected, yet critical, component of another agency.

Such was the case when the Wheeling Park District partnered with Community Consolidated School District 21 (CCSD21) to design and develop a new playground at Mark Twain Elementary School, and, at the same time, create a neighborhood park within an underserved community. This creative project, a partnership between the Park District and the School District, fosters the goals of both agencies, and, most importantly, the Wheeling community.

In 2010, the Wheeling Park District conducted a Community Attitude and Interest Survey (CAIS) to determine the parks and recreation needs of the Wheeling community. The results of that survey showed an overwhelming need and desire for improved and developed neighborhood parks. In fact, development of neighborhood parks was one of the most selected responses under the category of “Actions Most Willing to Fund with Tax Dollars.” This data has been a driving component of the Wheeling Park District Strategic Plan.

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Join us for the 2018 Student & Emerging Professional SPOTLIGHT Mini-Series

Mark your calendars for two upcoming opportunities to earn professional development hours (PDH) with ASLA’s Student & Emerging Professional SPOTLIGHT mini-series. Each is a two-part presentation, providing access to forward-thinking topics and discussions.

Earlier this year, four emerging professionals were selected to work with Professional Practice Network (PPN) mentors in creating presentations for the SPOTLIGHT mini-series. This program provides valuable mentorship through design critique, effective communication guidance, and building relationships with industry professionals. We’re proud of the work these emerging professionals have put forth, making a name for themselves among their peers, and look forward to their continued volunteer work and leadership with ASLA.

Please join us for the upcoming SPOTLIGHT mini-series presentations Transforming Landscape Through Culture: Dance Principles & Archival Sources as Design Inspiration on August 21 and Adaptation Strategies: Infrastructure Flexibility for Resilient Communities and Autonomous Vehicles on August 28.

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Mentorship Programs for Landscape Architects

by Alison Kennedy, ASLA

A coffee break in Grand Park during the 2017 Women in Landscape Architecture Walk in Los Angeles / image: EPNAC

ASLA’s Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) has heard that many of our members are interested in a mentorship program. We are in the process of pulling together resources to help you find a program you can join, or give you inspiration to start your own program.

Here are few we’ve put together or located so far:

Mentorship Resources:
Women in Design: How to Find a Network of Other Women Designers
Lessons Learned from Mentors
Guidance on Networking & Mentoring for Emerging Professionals
Landscape Architecture Mentoring Programs (2011 report)
Wanted: Examples of Landscape Architecture Mentor Programs

ASLA Chapter Mentorship Programs:
Colorado
Iowa
Minnesota
Northern California
Potomac

Does Your Chapter Support or Work with a Local Mentorship Program?

If you don’t see your chapter’s local mentorship program listed above, please send the link to propractice@asla.org so we can add it to our list. And if you, or someone from your chapter, is interested in writing a short description of the program, please let us know. We’d love to hear from members across the country, especially from areas where landscape architects may be few and far between, and finding a mentor may be more of a challenge. Share your landscape architecture mentorship story!

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Marjory’s Garden Story

by Kyle Jeter

Marjory's Garden / image: BrightView
Marjory’s Garden / image: BrightView

Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network Co-Communications Director, and Naomi A. Sachs, PhD, ASLA, EDAC, are humbled and grateful to share Kyle Jeter’s story with you.

It was January, 2016. As the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Principal and I watched the heavy machinery level the last of the dilapidated portable classrooms, an idea flitted across my mind. On a whim, I asked if a portion of the land being cleared might be set aside for science/STEM purposes—perhaps a garden? After considering the proposal for a few days, Mr. Thompson generously offered the Science Department an elongated strip of land adjacent to the tennis courts. Not expecting to receive such a large tract (~ 9,000 sq. ft.), I began to sketch out the basic layout of what would become “Marjory’s Garden.”

The environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas was 100 years old when her namesake school opened its doors in 1990 (she lived to be 108!) in Parkland, FL. Her influential book, The Everglades: River of Grass, established her as a champion of the Everglades. Accordingly, science teachers such as Tammy Orilio wanted to ensure from the start that the Garden reflected Stoneman’s values. We also wanted the Garden to be a place of learning. In May of 2016, the Parent Teacher Association voted to give us $1,000 to get the project off the ground, and the Marjory’s Garden project took its first, tentative steps.

Allow me to confess, at that time, I knew absolutely nothing about gardening! The last time I had planted anything was the tree sapling I brought home on Arbor Day in the 5th grade. I am, however, a believer in adopting a growth mindset and this presented a challenge on a much larger scale than anything else I had ever attempted. I am also a major proponent of project-based learning. My colleagues Mr. Sean Simpson (chemistry), Mr. Frank Krar (math), and I had been conducting a high-altitude balloon project, Project Aquila, since 2010, and had witnessed the positive benefits to our students of hands-on learning. We made it a priority to allow students a high degree of freedom in decision-making, and we put digital and physical tools in their hands, and under their control, as often as possible. This created an enormous degree of buy-in on their part and that, to me, is what makes that project successful year after year. We agreed that the Garden would operate under those same norms.

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