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    Susan aka Miss R

    Thank you for including me in this round robin discussion. I fessed up big time...I still love your purple wall. --the other Susan

    Thanks, I loved reading your post, too! But I'm afraid if I show a picture of the purple wall again, I'll start getting boycotted.

    Scott Hokunson


    I am also perpetually on budget at home, great use of the simple things to personalize your space. I like the vivid color you chose for your wall, also! Thanks for this blog idea, and including me.


    Who ISN'T on a budget these days! Sigh. Loved blogging on the same topic as other designers and reading their takes - plus I learned a new term from you, Genius Loci, which I can hardly wait to start throwing around.

    Deborah at Kilbourne Grove

    I also love your purple wall!
    Colour is not used enough in the garden, I think that most people are scared of it.

    Thanks Deborah! Have to admit, bold colors are challenging to work with. I was actually planning more color splashes around the garden, but once the big wall and it's little sister went up, I realized that was plenty.

    Rebecca Sweet

    I've been to your garden, and love your purple walls! Somehow you're miraculously able to create a very serene space with smokin' hot vibes! Now that's talent!!

    Thanks again for including me in this great 'rules or no rules' discussion!

    I loved your post on this topic. And I got a kick out of the fact that you confessed to the most rule breaking, yet you are the only one of the four of us that regularly shows your garden to clients.

    Thanks for the compliment and right back atcha - your garden is fabulous!


    i love this idea (i.e. what a designer is doing that we preach against) -- I am going to have to think about that and maybe make a post of my own -- I am sure my list of sins is longer than I care to admit.

    Rochelle, you have such a lovely, elegant blog, I don't know if you want to spoil it by confessing to too many sins!

    Thanks for stopping by; it's been really fun having a mini-blogging event with my fellow designers/bloggers/APLDers/tweeters.

    Laura Livengood Schaub (InterLeafer)

    Wonderful idea for a 'round robin' blog, allows for so many variations of how we 'just do it!' Rules are good, and can be helpful; and breaking them on purpose if it works is just fine, and sometimes necessary!! Thanks for a wonderful Friday treat!

    Well Laura, I know you are completely fearless, but I confess to being more of a rule follower at heart. Why do I think if you answered this question, your post would be full of daring examples?


    Unfortunately, in Seattle, 'making it comfortable' amounts to pushing the living room sofa closer to a window so you can comfortably look out at your cold, drizzly garden. The idea of outdoor cushions and stuffed furniture is so delightfully absurd to me, in this climate, that I almost break down into giggles whenever I see them featured in design magazines.

    I have to cast another vote in favor of your neat purple walls.

    I think I was reading your latest blog post while you were reading mine. Poor, rained on landscape professional - you have my sympathy! Of course, next summer, when everything is lush and full in your neck of the woods, and you're not counting on your irrigation water by the thimbleful, the tables will be turned.


    Great rules and, if it were perpetually mild here I'd spend most evenings on a lounger like yours. There is no better way to relax. I like them by the way, that bent ply thing.

    Your bold coloured wall would probably look a little odd in say England's brilliant sunshine, however, under your drizzly cloudy skies it looks perfect. It's about the light, I'm thinking Majorelle, Marrakech here.

    If by "bent, ply thing" you mean plastic, then thanks! We're all about investing in top notch furnishings here.

    And things in my garden may be more garish than you realize. Although both walls are in dappled shade, as is most of my tiny back garden, full sun where I am is pretty blazing. Even though I'm only 30 miles from the San Francisco bay, the difference in sunshine and heat is astonishing.


    Well, you almost had me thinking we should wrap up in tarps and sit outside during the snowy season. I'll leave the cold-weather elegance to you and Nick though. Fun post and I'll hop over to the others in the round-robin.

    The purple wall shows your designer chops. Oh how easy it would have been to blow that one.

    Tarps are a good idea. They would protect you from the marauding ivy you romantic, literate types prefer to plant ; -)

    Michelle D.

    I don’t really have any ‘rules’ like ‘make it comfortable or ‘make room for art’.
    Each client , their life style and their surrounding environment is so different from one another that idealizing rules would set up specific constraints and potentially limit the possibilities.

    Instead I keep an open mind and listen.

    Comfort isn’t always the goal.
    As an example consider an artistically sculpted viewing garden that is rarely stepped into.
    No comfortable seating is required.

    If asked, as a designer, ‘do I practice what I preach’ ?
    I would have to say the sermon is always changing to suit the desires of the client.

    I rarely, if ever, take a client to my garden for a visit unless there is a responding tangible element that I’d like client to experience.

    To me it’s more about the visceral , though I don’t discount the intellectual.
    It’s about piquing people’s emotions when they are in the garden.
    Stimulating their responsiveness and engaging their natural sense of discovery.

    I’ve recently posted a few images of my garden @ - if you are interested in my own personal style. If you compare it with the gardens that I do for my clients there will be very little similarities with the exception to express your own individual personality.

    Having seen photos of your fabulous gardens, Michelle, as well as some of your show gardens at SFGS, I think you're designing for a much more eclectic group of clients than me. I design for families (or single people or retired folk) who live in the suburbs. I'm primarily creating lifestyle gardens, and the number one goal is to create usable space that will bring the family out into the garden, whether that's to eat, relax, play, entertain or raise vegetables. So comfort, and creating a sense of personal space via meaningful objects in fact comes up pretty regularly.

    Having said that, this post isn't meant to be taken too seriously - I read somewhere that most doctors have terrible nutritional habits, despite their training, and that's what gave me the idea for the post. Did you see what the other designers had to say?

    Town Mouse

    Ah, well, let me just say once more how glad I am that purple wall isn't in my garden ;-> But I do like the idea of comfortable furniture and art in the garden. I admire you for still sitting outside; brrr, it didn't get above 50 here today.

    Even I'm not crazy enough to sit outside this time of year! If you come to the East Bay for the Bringing Back the Natives Tour you'll have to stop by and see the purple wall in person - maybe I'll change your mind!

    Debbie Minarik

    Great points Susan....every one needs to listen to their inner voice when it comes to landscape design....when you listen to that inner voice it is amazing what you see....I love your garden and could imagine myself watching the stars any evening while sitting on those lounge chairs....and being wrapped in a blanket on a cold winter evening is even better.

    Thanks Debbie! It's tiny, but cozy. There are days when I dream of having a bigger garden to play in, but that's the great part about being a designer - I can always experiment with something new in their gardens!

    Shirley Bovshow

    Love this post Susan. We all break the rules at home. I like the colors you put together against the new pink wall. Vibrant and bold. Makes you smile.
    Shirley Bovshow

    Shirley, coming from you, that's quite a compliment!

    Diana at Garden on the Edge

    Great post. I'm not a garden professional but I like to break the rules in my garden.

    Plant three of everything? Then I wouldn't have enough room to try so many different plants.

    Create a comfortable place to sit outside? Why? So I can sit down and notice what needs work and pop up and pull weeds or deadhead perennials and sit down and notice something else and pop up and...

    Have a cohesive scheme to the garden? But I like so many different styles and types of plants. I'd rather experiment.

    Yes, a garden designer would have a field day with me - I want a garden to play in and experiment with rather than a pretty, well designed vision.

    PS. Add me to the love your wall list. I wish I could convince The Husband to let me do something like that. Maybe in a less intense color...

    Michelle D.

    Good Morning Susan,
    Yes, I’ve very much enjoyed reading the responses from the other designers. It has been interesting in hearing how they approach their practice.
    In retrospect I don’t believe that my clientele is much different from yours or many of the other designers who shared their points of perspective.
    I think where we might differ is in our attitude about rules.
    There is a fantastic quote by Walter Benjamin that I have always embraced and try to keep close in mind as I go about my daily work ;
    “In every era the attempt must be made anew to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about to overpower it.”

    I’ll say it a bit cruder than Benjamin that to self sanction our ‘designing’ selves with rules is to stifle the process of discovery.

    Rules engage constraints , constrainsts can limit our possibilities and the lack of possibilities possess the ability to stifle innovation.
    To my thought process that is the antithesis of the discipline of design.

    That is why , in my original post I mention to keep an open mind and listen.

    The client may not desire comfort or the need to be outside in their garden.

    If as a designer we invoke these self imposed rules, then there is the potential of unwittingly forcing the rules upon our client that they do not necessarily desire or find important to their lives.

    I like how Scott Hokunson of Blue Heron described his perspective on practising what you preach when he quoted the Pirates Code , “ is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules”

    Thanks for this discussion.
    Michelle D.

    Helen Yoest @ Gardening With Confidence

    Great post Susan, Breaking the rules is a good thing. For my clients, I error on the side of safe. Not all want their garden bench painted bright green...or want a purple wall...but I do. You can find me on the back porch chaise wrapped in a blanket on chilly days too. Gotta love it! Helen

    The funny part is, my husband Nick is more willing to brave cold weather in order to be outside in the evenings than I am! It's wonderful knowing I've created a garden that has so much appeal for him as well.

    Landscape design services

    I've being researching about land escaping and reading your blog, I found your post very helpful :) . I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog!

    Pat FitzGerald

    Great blog piece Susan and even more important you opened a topic. From someone who is clueless about garden design (me) its great to see the wide ranging opinions and designs. It really helps when deciding what plants, colurs, forms shapes etc to focus on for future designs. The nonprofessionals reality lies somewhere between all the various opinions and ideas.
    Well done its great to observe all the talented styles and I love colour wish we had more of it in our perpetual grey skied winter. I am convinced it can be a positive influener to SAD afflictions.

    I agree about your comments on color and SAD afflictions, which I recently read women are more prone to suffer from than men.

    And by the way, I love the way plants are combined in some of the photos you sure on twitter. I'd say you've got a design eye for sure!



    I like your post! As I posted on Michelle's blog, rules help organize. My garden is chaos. I have no rules. I buy and plant whatever I want. And, sometimes, I wish for the touch of a real, live, professional designer.

    Yeah, I can design, but I'm better in words and pictures, and taking care of the plants once they are in. I love your purple wall, but I never wouldn't have come up with it myself.

    Your comment reminds me of my master gardener clients, who are passionate about plants but sometimes find their gardens overwhelmed by the chaos. They rarely want a "soup to nuts" design, but often benefit from some reorganization and selective editing.

    I'd love to see your garden someday!

    shelley somersett

    Love your vivid wall! Perhaps you could post a picture of yourself in front of it in your black T-shirt w/Kors Black Jacket and Vera Wang black tights. I know you have them in the closet. Love it!

    Hi Shelley! You know I think you're right - me in an all black outfit with a snooty look on my face would show off my purple wall nicely!


    Some nice spaces, Susan! I'm always a little uncomfortable in spaces (indoors and out) that look so manically finished but not necessarily comfortable. My garden has a few finished spots, but I'd consider most of it a big, messy laboratory with lots of comfortable unfinished edges.

    Spoken like the passionate gardener that you are, James.

    Alice Joyce

    Love how you've stirred things up, Susan.
    Do keep the dialogue going!
    Even if the initial thrust was not to be taken too terribly seriously, eh?

    I must admit, the response to this one took me a bit by surprise. But it IS fun to see how many people were engaged by the topic. Plus, I enjoyed seeing how the other bloggers answered the question - I didn't read what they had to say until they posted, so it was interesting how different our responses were.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Pomona Belvedere

    This *is* a provocative post. I believe in the "rules as guidelines" thing, but the situation doesn't have to be either/or. Rules are like the skeleton that holds up our bodies; instinct and intuition are the flesh and tissues. Without a skeleton, we'd be a pile of mush; without flesh, we'd be hardened excrescences. I believe (as you imply) that it's a constant dance between the two.

    As for posing in front of your wall: not black. Chartreuse. Under a microscope I saw some chartreuse stomata guard cells against a background of fuchsia-purple leaf tissue. An arresting combo.

    As usual, you are highly quotable! (May have to tweet the 'rules are like a skeleton' portion.)

    Big sale at Macy's this weekend - I'll see if I can get a deal on a chartreuse jumpsuit.

    Risa Edelstein

    This is such a great post and so true. My garden is a place I test a lot of plants but I am trying hard to make it more "design" friendly. It's certainly fun and whimsical but it much more experimental than anything I've designed.

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