Feb. 11, 2022

2022 Northwest Flower & Garden Festival Presentation #1

In February of 2022 I had the privilege of making two presentations at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival in Seattle, Washington. Despite of the COVID 19 protocols, it was a well-attended event and I thoroughly enjoyed myself there.
After my first presentation I was asked if I had a book available for purchase that covered my topic – ‘The Power of a Welcoming Entry Design.’ Alas, no I don’t have a book on this topic. When asked what books I would recommend on this topic I told the audience that there were two resources that had influenced me the most regarding designing entries. The first is ‘A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander. Alexander’s work, published in 1977, was ground breaking in its breadth and scope was widely influential among the young designers coming of age in the late 70s and early 80s. My copy, purchased in 1977 when I was a junior in college, is well-worn, marked up, and peppered with tags and page markers. It made quite a splash in the architecture world and as I recall, Alexander won the AIA’s first medal for research – which after a few years they tried to take back because he had grown increasingly critical of the modern architecture profession’s theory and practice. The Wikipedia entry for him says “Reasoning that users are more sensitive to their needs than any architect could be, he produced and validated (in collaboration with his students Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, Max Jacobson, Ingrid King, and Shlomo Angel) a "pattern language" to empower anyone to design and build at any scale.” And by “any scale” they mean any scale: A Pattern Language covers the built environment from the regional planning scale to the width and height of window sills. The particular patterns that influenced me the most in creating the presentation for the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival were:
  • 112 Entrance Transition
  • 113 Car Connection
  • 115 Courtyards Which Live
  • 127 Intimacy Gradient
The second book that influenced the presentation on entry design was Gordon Hayward’s “Your House, Your Garden”, published by Norton and Co in 2003. His chapter on The Entrance Garden was very useful. I owe my ideas about design nouns and prepositions to his work.
My thinking on architectural typologies (and their landscape corollaries) was inspired by Thomas Thiis-Evensen’s excellent book Archetypes in Architecture from the Norwegian University Press. [Though an excellent resource for architecture, I don’t know that I’d recommend it for garden design per se.]
Lastly, another useful book that has long influenced my thinking on garden design - including entry designs - is Thomas Church’s “Gardens are for People”. This classic was first published in 1955 and the 3rd edition which I used was updated with a new preface in 1995. Some might think a book that is now nearly 70 years old might be out of date, but I assure you it is not. Church’s explication of the design process and the considerations that influence it are still valid today.