What to expect at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) Conference

Advice, Garden Tours | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

After returning from the APLD Boston conference, I reflected about how the conference was beneficial to me as a designer. With no shortage of trade shows, garden tours and conferences to attend each year, I wanted to share some insight into the conference and my personal experience to help anyone on the fence with attending.

What to expect at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) Conference from Boston 2017 - More at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This year the conference was in Boston, MA, last year it was in Santa Fe, NM and next year is in Toronto.  My comments below follow the structure of both past conferences, but with images from Boston. You can see images from the Santa Fe tours I posted before HERE.  In my following posts I will share images from the Boston conference garden tours. I have so many I need to work on editing to the best ones, but this post gives you a sampling of the garden tour locations.

 

The conference is broken down into two main buckets; speakers/educational/panels and tours. I am adding a third section for networking, since it can be forgotten benefit out side of CEUs when reviewing the agenda. There are around 100+ attendees over the course of the event with some staying the whole time and others for just the tours or speakers/courses. And with a conference that size, there are not a lot of extra bells and whistles.

What to expect at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) Conference from Boston 2017 - More at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

 

SPEAKERS/CLASSES/PANELS

The conference portion of speakers, classes and panels takes place inside a hotel conference space which keeps everything in one central location. The Conference (counting pre and post) runs five days. I am not sure how long this link will live, but HERE is a breakdown of the schedule this year. With a pre-conference events on Thursday and the kick off with the in the classroom conference including six different sessions. Below is a breakdown of the conference topics:

  • Opening Keynote: The Art of the Makeover – Reinventing Existing Landscapes with Patrick Chasse, ASLA
  • Designing with Natives with Travis Beck, Director of Horticulture, Mt. Cuba Center
  • Quenching Heat, Humidity & Drought: Gardens that Dazzle – Withstanding the Dog Days & Onward with Warren Leach, Landscape Horticulturist and owner  Tranquil Lake Nursery.
  • Expose Yourself! How to feature your work locally, regionally and nationally
  • Place Making – Designing for Place through Customer Engagement with Garth Woodruff, APLD Assistant Professor Andrews University
  • Closing Keynote: The Designer’s Way: Creating Gardens and Lives of Beauty and Meaning with Julie Moir Messervy.

I spoke along with three other designers in a pre-conference panel about growing and expanding your business, which was a marathon, 3 hour, non-stop discussion about how we are running our business. It was a great discussion, and I hope there are more of these types of panels in future conferences. However see my next bullet point on networking.

 

What to expect at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) Conference from Boston 2017 - More at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

 

NETWORKING:

Most beneficial element of the conference for me is always the networking with fellow designers. No two designers have the same firm structure, career path or plant palette. However, everyone is open to talking about the good and bad of the business and giving as much advice and experiences as possible. The time on the buses, during break sessions at dinners and hotel bar drinks – I have had the most impact on my professional career from the networking during those moments. It was through this networking time I have joined a group of other Design | Build | Maintain companies across the country for monthly calls sharing business insights.  I think this is a factor that is overlooked in considering a conference, but again is so valuable to professionals.

 

What to expect at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) Conference from Boston 2017 - More at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

 

THE GARDEN TOURS:

The APLD garden tours are scouted by local APLD members, and majority include private homes that are infrequently opened for tours. Given the group are all gardeners, home owners know the group will treat the space with respect and care. There are two days of tours, which the closing session and awards at the end of the final day. I would not let the location of the conference stop you if not aligned to your local environment. Last year the conference was in Santa Fe, and while the area has very unique terrain and water needs and completely different from Central Ohio. However the use of materials, planting combinations/patterns and incorporation of artwork was inspiring and relevant to me as a designer (Again see my photos HERE). Actually maybe more so since made me look at things completely differently than my normal environment. Also, as you can see in many of my following posts, getting photos without people is not a problem. You also have fellow experts around you if there are any questions, someone will know the plant, tried the method or how to maintain.

 

 

What to expect at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) Conference from Boston 2017 - More at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

COSTS, PACKING and QUICKTIPS:

I know it is a financial Investment to attend the conference, and I would budget with conference, hotel, food and travel to cost in the range of $3,000 – $3,500 for five days. You can save on hotel rooms if you are willing to room with someone, you spend very little time in your room between tours and the classroom time. It is a packed agenda, expect to leave the room around 8 and return around 9/10 pm.

Here is my quick packing list:

  • Camera and charger and a cellphone charging cube
  • Hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Rain Coat
  • Business cards – make sure all your social handles are listed
  • Note Book, pen and traveling bag for the bus
  • Light Snacks and water for the bus rides

Other tips: Spend as little time in your room as possible. Go to dinners with attendees, meet up for morning coffee runs. Ask questions, lots of questions. Research the host city for additional spots to visit. Drop pins during garden tours to visit areas again.

What to expect at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) Conference from Boston 2017 - More at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

 

I know it requires a financial investment to attend a conference. I hope this helps give you some details on what you can expect and really what the end pay off can be. The APLD conference next year is in Toronto, Canada September 13-17. If you have any questions leading up to the event, please feel free to message me, I am happy to jump on the phone and talk.

GARDEN TREND: Monoculture Container Design

C O N T A I N E R S, GARDEN DESIGN, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

GARDEN TREND: Monoculture Container Design, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

I give credit for the monoculture trend in container design to the brilliant container groupings by Danish gardener Claus Dalby. The groupings of containers he places at the entrance of his garden receive over 2,000 Instagram likes for the striking color and scale impact they create. Traditionally you see “mono” container groups of singular variety of specimen plants, such as begonias or succulents. However, this new trend focuses on a variety of plants curated based on color and texture. I compare it to a French or English florist showcasing the seasons best blooms at the entrance to their shop.  The work featured here is all by Claus, but there are a lot of Nordic designers that are creating amazing monoculture container groupings are large and smaller scale.

New Garden Design Trend - Monoculture Container Design showcased in the work by Claus Dalby. More on the trend at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

 

Generally, monocultures are not a good horticulture practice since they leave your garden vulnerable to pest and disease. Just ask anyone losing their boxwood to boxwood blight or dealing with the relics of Emerald Ash borer. However in container gardens, planting pots in a singular species gives you flexibility in swapping out under performers and revise placement based on height and spread.

 

New Garden Design Trend - Monoculture Container Design showcased in the work by Claus Dalby. More on the trend at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

 

HOW TO CREATE A MONOCULTURE CONTAINER GROUPING

 

SKILL LEVEL: This container design method is great for gardening novices, you can move and swap to keep it looking fresh and easily replant any unsuccessful pot. Also mono-containers can use smaller, less expensive containers and be placed in compact outdoor spaces. Plant geek level gardeners will also love this trend since you can highlight your unique plants and constantly fiddle with your groupings.

 

PLANT SELECTION: Following in Claus’ footsteps, I recommending following a strict color palate when selecting plants. Either go for variations on one color family or just warm or cool tones. If you are more confident in color theory, mix it up with using complementary colors, etc. But remember this is a designed collection, not a hodgepodge of random plants.

 

CONTAINER SELECTION: This design is great for smaller containers which don’t work with when building combo containers. Since using small and easily moved containers they can be made of just about any material; terracotta (just store indoors during freezing temperatures), metal, concrete, pottery, fiber-clay and reclaimed containers.

 

CARE: Smaller containers will have more frequent maintenance. Check soil daily for moisture. Some weather could require daily watering compared to their in the ground counterparts. Smaller pots provide less organic matter for growing and will result in root bound plants with a shorter plant lifespans for your plants. Outside of watering, remember to fertilize and feed your plants. Also lighter containers could be susceptible to strong winds blowing over, so just take note if placing on a balcony.

 

ARRANGING: For the height and impact, you need a multi-tiered surface. You can start with a grouping of tables nesting together or line a collection down your stairs. You can take it to the next level and find or build a tiered plant stand (try searching antique/vintage French and English plant stand for some ideas). The objective is to have a graduated height with focus on the plants not the stand. For the minimum I would start with 10 containers and a maximum only limited to what the space can hold.

 

GARDEN TREND: Monoculture Container Design, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

I am currently building my small container supply and designing a plant stand based on some antique French models to create my own grand display. I will share the plant stand design and planting results. Also, if you don’t already follow Claus on Instagram (with over 100,000 followers- I hope you do), I highly recommend you add him to your list and include posting notification. Outside of views into his own garden, Claus visits some beautiful gardens across Europe.

Sites for Great RHS Chelsea Flower Show Recaps

Advice, GARDEN DESIGN | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hard to believe that The RHS Chelsea Flower show has already closed and all the beautiful gardens are being torn down. Since I have yet be able to make the trip across the pond to see the gardens myself, I have gotten good at finding others that have for all the best images and videos. Since I am sure there are others like me looking for the best perspective to the show, I wanted to share my sources. Please if you have any sources please pass long, either videos, blogs or articles. Hopefully soon, I will be able to share my own experience until then I will continue to live vicariously through others. (Sorry for the lack of photos, but I clicking through the links you will not be disappointed)

 

ShootGardening.co.uk

Shoot provides photos and the plant breakdowns for all the show gardens. New this year they provide photographic photos of the plant IDs to help you identify the plants in the gardens and understand how they play with the others with spread, height and texture. This detailed information is great for anyone that needs help ID-ing the plant they like. You can also go back in the archives to previous Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower shows.

 

Preparing for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with James Alexander-Sinclair 

I love anything behind the scenes, and the videos James Alexander-Sinclair did for creating the Zoe Ball Listening Garden provide that on the fly behind the scenes commentary. The second video shows how they tested the sound vibrations in the water, which is just beautiful and you will never understand from looking at the finished photos alone. James has a series of videos called The View from Here… which are also fun watching.

 

RHS 3D Garden Views

For the best quality photos, no one beats the RHS’s own website. For the show gardens they even provide 3D tours, allowing you to experience walking through the spaces experiencing all the different angles. The RHS also has great videos of the whole process leading up to the big reveals that are fun to watch. The link provided is to the landing page of Charlotte Harris’ garden for the Royal Bank of Canada. HERE is another great video with Charlotte talking about the elements that influenced her garden design.

 

The Frustrated Gardener 

For amazing personal photographs, I love the posts from the Frustrated Gardener. The images are beautifully presented on the page, allowing you to focus on each one’s attributes. Beyond the Chelsea articles, this is an amazing blog to add to your reading list for a great garden design perspective.