Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tired, But Happy...

A client meeting tonight marks the end of a long & very creative design process.  I've been working with a nearby Co-op on a historic, somewhat Arts & Crafts property from the 1920s, doing an updated Master Landscape Plan for the next five years. As I see it: I've been trying to integrate 20th C Design with 21st C Plants & People. It's been very exciting, not to mention the challenge of taking into account the views and needs of many of the owners of the building's 50 units.

As I may have mentioned: I still draw by hand. And I still believe that process is a better connection for my hand & eye & brain and ends up with a better product from me for my clients.

Here are some of the remnants of the Concepts plus the final Drawings scattered around my office as I ready the final Plant List. And think about the themes I will once again try to articulate during tonight's presentation. Having Many clients for one job has its pluses and minuses, but in the end: really stretches me!

November's End

This is what the ground next door to my office looked like yesterday...before today's almost 50 mph winds. Today the earth is practically bare: time for down.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Swedish Textures

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I am grateful to all our clients who put trust in us and allow us the opportunity to be creative such as above with a long-term client's Thanksgiving arrangement. Gilt artichokes make my years in close proximity to theater pale. Life is short and so I appreciate having a little fun...especially during the gray days of November as we inch toward the winter solstice.

I feel this same gratitude towards all those people we work with in the NW mountains of Guatemala. They always invite us into their homes with boundless generosity in face of the challenges of extreme poverty. I am daily inspired by their brightness and courage and goodwill.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Swedish Managed Forest

I learned something new from a friend/colleague who used to be a botanist and has traveled to Sweden. He identified this beautiful light ground cover as Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia rangiferina) found in northern boreal forests. Being a lazy landscape designer, I had always thought it was a moss...it is enchanting and foreign to me!

Below, with slightly-off exposure from my beloved iPhone App., Hipstamatic, is a shot of the nearby forest. You can see how the wood was harvested, but enough trees were left to seed a whole new generation of pines. And pines grow fast.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Today I walked along Lake Michigan. There was a sound of slight surf. I reflected on how still & quiet it had been when we walked along the shore of Lake Siljan just over a week ago (above) in Sweden.

Below is the view we typically see on Siljan around the winter solstice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Swedish Hoar frost

Even though our Swedish trip included no snow, we were lucky enough to have hoar frost one morning after a foggy, misty night. We never have this condition in Chicago and I seem to photograph its magical effects endlessly.

Many of the landscapes shown in Piet Oudolf's books sparkle with hoar frost. Also, one of my favorite Swedish garden books, Rimfrost och tradgårds-drommar (Hoar frost and garden dreams) by Hannu Sarenstrom captures its spell.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Stockholm: Children & Nature

I admire the myriad ways Swedes treat children well. These range from making sure they all have health-care (paid for by the state) to encouraging them to participate, honor and enjoy nature from an early age.  Here in Humlegårdsparken in the center of Stockholm, you can see the little warming house. Inside, it is filled with play stations...as in Ping-Pong and a crafts room stocked with everything a child would want to glue, thread or cut-out with scissors. There is staff and of course, a bathroom.

I appreciated that the Swedish manner of recycling is carried through...

As well, this curtain pattern seemed very typically fun & Swedish to me.

Right near the swing set, I spotted this lovely little garden simply made from Viburnum trilobum and supports that apparently sport Nasturtium during the warmer months. And again: such a treat for me to see leaves!

Stockholm: Floral

Heather and more heather for sale and already potted in public squares.

Stockholm: Raoul Wallenberg Monument

Berzelii Park, honoring Raoul Wallenberg, is just down from the Berns Hotel and the Royal Dramatic Theater. If you don't know of Wallenberg: do a little homework since he was one of the courageous heroes of WWII and saved many Hungarian Jews. Apparently the monument (below) by Danish sculptor Kristen Ortwed is somewhat controversial, in part due to its abstraction. I found it compelling and the kids loved interacting with its heavy, grounded forms.

Look closely and you can discover Wallenberg's signature embedded in metal.

Stockholm: Trees

One of the differences I appreciate is seeing mature trees, as here in this allee in  Humlegårdsparken. Also a treat in the color of fallen and falling leaves...

Stockholm: Gardens

Here we are in the fashionable neighborhood of Östermalm (writing this in English, so no Swedish accent marks) in front of the Chinese Theater, above. Very new perennial planting a la Oudolf (whose work I love). Below, we are staring out from the pastry bar of the Berns hotel, famous as (according to my husband) one of Strindberg's hang-outs. 

I did not see who this monument celebrates in Humlegårdsparken, but enjoyed the planting. A treat to see some perennials as the ground has been covered with snow during the last decade of my visits over the Christmas holidays.