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On January 6,2015 the Ohio Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape designers will be hosting an educational session at CENTS University, from 2:30 – 4:30. The session will feature a PowerPoint show featuring current landscape topics, projects, and generally what’s happening in landscape design in Ohio. All are encouraged to attend – session will be in D-230.

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APLD Ohio Chapter Members Nancy & Cliff Drobnick Featured on Houzz

Congratulations to Cliff and Nancy for this great article on Houzz featuring their multi award-winning gardens!

Landscape designs needed for Animal Planet

Here an interesting request for a project involving Animal Planet and Anthony Archer Wills. Strange, but nice to see that Anthony is gaining some more recognition, which his talented career portfolio deserves.



Homeowners who are ready for the pool of their dreams!

Has your family convinced you that the one thing missing

on your property is a pool?

Do you want to showcase your beautiful new pool as it’s being built?

Are you ready to dig in and experience your very own watery oasis?

We’re looking for you!


Animal Planet and Original Media’s exciting new series seeks homeowners

who are already planning to build the pool they have always dreamed of.

Homeowners from across the nation will have their backyards transformed

by our world famous expert pool designer (“The Pool Master”), Anthony


Ideal candidates will have a suitable size plot of land for the project, a

sufficient budget already tucked away, and some out-of-this-world ideas for

their new pool! If your family would love this once in a lifetime opportunity,

contact us today with pictures and a description of why your pool dreams

must become a reality!


Contact The Pool Master Casting Team At: or (212) 683-3086

anthony and carol

Landscape Architect Laurie Olin to speak in Toledo

On Friday April 11, at 7:30 Landscape Architect Laurie Olin will be speaking on the impact that the work of French designer Andre Le Notre has had on his long career.

In 2013 Olin was presented with the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Obama. Awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, it is the highest honor given to artists by the US Government. It is perhaps the greatest of a very, very long list of awards that have been presented to Olin and his architecture firms.






He is past head chair of the landscape architecture program at Harvard University, and still teaches design of environments at Pennsylvania University. He also is the founding partner of the landscape architecture and urban design firm OLIN.

Laurie is a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and an honorary member of the American Insitute of Architects (AIA). He has written widely on the history and theory of architecture and landscape, receiving the Bradford Williams medal for best writing on Landscape Architecture.

The list of the landscape projects with which he was involved is also very, very lengthy. Projects just in this country include:

Battery Park City, New York

Columbus Circle, New York

J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles, California

Washington Monument, Washington, DC

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC

An architect colleague stated that when you add to Olin’s lengthy list of projects – all the work produced by his university students from forty years of teaching, and those professionals who have passed through his office – his legacy might be the most significant since Olmsted.

He designs specifically to the sites themselves, and not to any preconceived statements he is trying to make. There is no signature Olin style. Olin’s landscapes are all about accommodating the layers of human movement through a given space while maximizing its experiential quality. His works are fully realized landscapes that are as beautiful as they are functional. He chooses pragmatism over pretense, and creates spaces that are artful, yet rooted in a fundamental desire to simplify – and improve – livability in this world.

His interest lies in what he terms “the conscious perfection of the ordinary – those passages of shade, pools of light, the play of vegetation, changes of surface in level, varying views and perspectives, the splash of water that echoes in music, the harmony and contrast of colors in the unpolluted sun – these are all very ordinary things, but making them available for citizens in their daily routine, in the heart of cities, is to serve up a very healthy dose of reality.”

Charles Birbaum’s Cultural Landscape Foundation recently featured the career and ideas of Laurie Olin as part of the oral history series.

Viewing it should reinforce making the opportunity to hear him at the Toledo Art Museum a must. The concise and unassuming manner in which he expresses his ideas is most impressive. His opinions of the importance of other landscape designers, such as Laurence Halprin and Dan Kiley, are very insightful, and his views of Le Notre in Toledo Friday should be very interesting.

A True Master Gardener lives in Seven Hills, Ohio

Many people who have studied some gardening call themselves ‘master gardeners.’ David Slawson quietly is a master.

There a few people about who so deftly understand the essence of a large piece of rock and can place it as might be placed by nature herself.

David Slawson is a landscape designer specializing in the aesthetics of the Japanese Garden and has dedicated his life towards applying those principles to a universe of settings.

He is a gentle man with heightened sensibilities, acutely aware of the subtle grace of nature. Having studied the art of the Japanese Garden in Japan and completed his doctoral study of that field, he certainly knows, applies, and embodies that view of design and life. Through his many of years of study and work, he has found that people respond similarly to nature.

David terms his principles of landscape design, which are in accordance with nature, the Accord Triangle, the three corners of which are:  human nature (the client’s goals,) locally available materials, and finally the spirit of the place, (using surrounding architecture and views, or creating such a natural essence.)

He crafts with all three of these aspects to create a true sense of place, one that is in harmony with nature. He feels that the best designs come from sensing the place rather than looking at the drawing board.

He masterfully uses compositional techniques such as juxtaposing mass and void, creating foreground, making proper frame, and manipulating scale to create mystery, excitement, and repose, capturing an essence of nature in each of his works. The product is exemplified in his gardens at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Garvin Woodland Gardens, and many private gardens across the country.

He has recently compiled his view of design into a DVD, information for which is available at his website, , where one may better gain a sense of the man.

Longwood and the Philadelphia Flower Show 2014

IMG_0451Kathy Stokes Shaffer, APLD,  recently enjoyed a special behind the scenes tour of the Philadelphia Garden Show and shared here experience seen from the eyes of a perceptive landscape designer.

Upon entering Longwood Gardens with snow on the ground, I was struck by the majesty and size of the old trees on the grounds. There is nothing like the tracery of the branches against the sky to truly appreciate a trees structure and form. The main focus of the trip was the greenhouses –4 acres under glass.




The intoxicating smell of pink Asiatic lilies hits you as you first enter the greenhouse. The staff at Longwood is suburb at combining textures, colors and forms to stimulate all your senses




They played with tone on tone , contrasting colors and with large masses of color for visual effect.. Opposites flower forms next to each other created more drama. Spikey flowers with rounded forms might be something you try in your gardens this summer. Even the flooring around the displays mimicked the plant forms around it. The leaves are very subtle, but how nice would that be in a client’s garden, maybe extending out from a column associated with an overhead structure.


The next day was the Philadelphia Flower Show. Over 200,000 people visit this show annually. I believe it is the biggest indoor flower show in the United States. This year the show focused on art for it’s inspiration. There were very few gardens that I could glean ideas from to apply to my own garden creations. One could not walk into the gardens as we can at our show to look at things closer. There were a few images that I thought were usable and interesting

Living wall art. Thought this might be great on a fence, or on the side of the house for a focal point.This was three metal cutouts put into a 6” by 6” wood beam. Left- is a close-up of the construction. Loved this. Notice the paving as well in leaf form. Wow.








The other fun image was fabric hanging from a painted wood frame. I think this idea came from the fabric installation in Central Park, N.Y. What cool ways could you use this?





This was about a 10’ metal circle with white rope strung from hooks on the inside of the circle. The pink is orchids, and the center soft green form is made of leaves to simulate a mirrored pottery form. There must be some way to use this idea. Maybe as a backdrop to a Jacuzzi and have it lit up at night.



APLDOH members receive awards at the OLA Landscape Ohio!

APLDOH members reap awards at Landscape Ohio!

March 2014 – Many members of APLDOH, the Ohio Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, received awards for their landscapes at the Ohio Landscapers Association’s Landscape Ohio! awards banquet. Members gaining metal were Kevin O’Brien (Lifestyle Landscaping), Kathy Stokes Shafer, APLD, (#1 Landscaping), Susie Dempster (Blooming Designs), and Chris Mikol, APLD (American Beauty Landscaping).

APLDOH features Darrel Morrison

This past January, APLDOH sponsored an advanced design workshop in Columbus, featuring renowned landscape architect and professor, Darrel Morrison. He taught for years at the University of Wisconsin and is dean emeritus of the University of Georgia College of Environmental Design, and an expert in landscape and stream restoration. Darrel offered a memorable day wherein the participants experienced hands on his philosophy of ecological-based environmental design.

morrison 1

Darrel is a humble man, and seemed the prototype of a reserved Iowa farm boy, but his beliefs towards landscape design are bold, and his being exudes his philosophy. In the late sixties, after spending a few years as a landscape architect working with the usual pallet of plants, he found the designs boring and lacking life, and he began to emulate nature, using native plants in the creation of plant communities. Though he now lives in New York city, and has lectured around the world, he is not far removed from his roots in the soils of the Midwest.

His four critical principles of design include: ecological soundness, experiential richness, creating a sense of place, and creating a dynamic composition that changes with time. Only by designing with the goal to emulate nature can one encompass all of these points. The presentation and discussion part of his workshop covered many of the points that are critical to this approach: creating space, balancing mass/void, creating mystery (Jens Jensen,) chiaroscuro (A.E.Bye,) and sensing how natural plant communities are created (perennial drifts created by prevailing winds.) His approach emphasizes biodiversity, going beyond the merely visual to engage and appeal to all of the senses (Roberto Burly Marx.)

Darrel used a good old slide projector as well a PowerPoint presentation to show some natural landscapes which served as inspiration for designed landscapes, and then showed how he designs to create them. His method of ecologically-based design matches plants with the existing environment, and are created to allow the plants to evolve and change together, offering diversity and life, rather than being “frozen in time” like clipped lawns and hedges that never change. The plantings utilize vegetation native to a region because those plants are adapted to the environment and foster biological diversity.

He designs in his sox for better feel, uses music for inspiration, and uses the broad strokes of pastels on taped-on-the-wall brown wrapping paper to create his initial conceptual designs. During the workshop, participants developed designs using this approach, urged to draw upon the emotional as well as environmental qualities of a site, utilizing the music for inspiration. Exercises involved creating quick conceptual designs with chalk pastels inspired by some of Darryl’s favorite musical pieces. Being buoyed by the music, the students freed themselves a bit from inhibition and found that they were led to exciting forms that might never have come out of a purely rational, engineered approach. Darryl’s workshops offer a musical adventure into designing naturally, a method that he has practiced decades before the terms green and sustainability gained popularity.

There is a splendid short film about his career as a landscape architect made by the Library of American Landscape History:

Darrel has not written books and does not have a web site, so might not be as well known as he ought to be, but I encourage anyone serious about the field of landscape design to make an attempt to attend one of his lectures or workshops.



The real need for Native Plantings: Doug Tallamy

When landscaping our residences, everywhere, including landscaping in North East Ohio, we should plant more naturally with more native plants. This important and urgent message is put across clearly by one of its strongest proponents, Doug Tallamy of The University of Delaware. His very interesting talk is captured in this video, and I highly recommend watching it. See if it strengthens or changes your view on the subject of natives.

The reasoning is powerful. We need biodiversity, the blend of plants, insect, and animals – for it is biodiversity that runs ecosystems. As landscape designers, we start the process by designing in the plants. Plants not only are the food source for the insect and birds, but also create soil, clean pollution, sequester carbon, moderate weather patterns, and allow us to eat sunlight.

Tallamy points out that plants, including natives, vary in the number of insects and birds that depend on them for food. He shows a very compelling listing of the plants in North America, and where they rate in such a list. The list goes from Oaks at the top, supporting over 500 species of birds, down to Dawn Redwoods at the bottom, favored by 0 birds.

On top of this accomplishment, Oaks are some of the longest lived plants in our area and have the capacity to live for 900 years. This means that they can sequester carbon from the atmosphere for a very long time. Doug maintains that if only every residence could have five oaks growing on it, it would go a long way in fighting the carbon pollution problem.

Natural ecosystems have been carved into continually dwindling islands. These scattered woodlots are too small to keep an ecosystem going, and tiny populations are facing local extinction. Instead of diverse woodlands the default of suburban America is the lawn. Dr. Tallamy has many factual numbers backing up his points – and this is the one that struck me. In America, the typical residential landscape is composed of 90% lawn. Of the remaining area, 80% of the plants are non native. This leaves little familiar food for many creatures that may depend upon it for survival.

This particular dependence has developed for years and years. Certain creatures had to develop an ability to digest a plant that was unpalatable to others, thus protecting themselves from predators. What happens when that necessary plant gets eradicated? Just look at the disappearing milkweed, and the disappearing Monarchs.

Tallamy is an entomologist and his appreciation of insects is profound. The presentation of caterpillars and birds that depend on those natives turns into a near rock concert paced depiction of a particular native plant, then the beautiful caterpillars that depend on that plant for its existence and then the beautiful bird that then depends that caterpillar for its existence. All of the photographs were taken by Tallamy in his own front yard. The presentation is compelling, tragically beautiful, and unforgettable. If you would like to read more deeply into this I recommend Doug Tallamy’s book ‘Bringing Nature Home,’ and his website