APLDWA Featured Designer:
Jason Jorgensen

Owner and Designer of Third Spring Landscape Design, LLC
Member since 2013

Portrait photo of Jason Jorgensen, owner and designer of Third Spring Landscape Design, LLC.
Jason Jorgensen, owner and designer of Third Spring Landscape Design, LLC
Photo: Julia Sperling
This quarter, Jason Jorgensen is telling us his story—from Legos and Lincoln Logs to becoming a Pacific Northwest summer-dry garden expert.

When did you start designing gardens? Tell us about your path from then to now.

I have always wanted to be a designer and have been a lover of plants my entire life. As a child I wanted to be an architect. My myriad toy Legos, Erector Sets and Lincoln Logs were a constant source of inspiration. I was not happy building the cars, homes and models that the sets offered, but used all the parts to create futuristic cityscapes and gardens. I was fortunate to spend the summers with my grandparents at their large farm at the base of the Siskiyou Mountain range in Northern California. We grew ornamental and cutting gardens around the house where my grandmother grew hollyhocks, peonies and tiger lilies. My grandfather was the king of the fruit and vegetable gardens for eating and canning. He grew everything you could imagine and then some! My grandparents gave me the opportunity to gain experience in my own areas in both of those gardens and helped to create garden rooms around the property. Their collection of 60s and 70s Sunset Magazine and Better Homes and Gardens were a constant source of inspiration and helped inform my personal design style. We also spent days hiking, camping and swimming in the beautiful Siskiyou Mountains which taught me to enjoy plants in a true naturalistic setting.

I was ready for a change in career after spending over 20 years in the international shipping industry as a Marine Superintendent overseeing the loading and unloading of containerships, car carriers and lumber products. All that time I was dabbling in my own gardens and would always find relaxation and respite in them. This made me investigate the Edmonds College Horticulture Program to educate myself even more about design and horticulture. I was so surprised that this coincidence would pull me back to my childhood love of plants and design. I was truly fortunate to study under Walt Bubelis, the founder of the program, for horticulture and Polly Hankin for landscape design. After years of night classes and finally full-time study I graduated with AS degrees in Landscape Design and Ornamental Horticulture in 2012.

A spring meadow with grasses and bulbs surrounds a natural basalt water feature
A spring ephemeral meadow experiment. All garden photos: Jason Jorgensen.

After graduating, I became a docent at Dunn Gardens in North Seattle. This was a wonderful opportunity to immerse myself in historical NW landscape design, starting with the original Olmsted masterplans. And on to the more modern updates from the various gardeners that have provided stewardship at Dunn. Learning from these gardens helped me pass the Certified Professional Horticulturist exam offered by the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association (WSNLA).

I have maintained my membership in the Washington Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLDWA) since 2013. This organization has been a wonderful place to interact with colleagues and continue expanding my knowledge of materials, best practices, and collaboration.

I have also felt a great need to connect and interact with the other gardening communities in the Northwest. I maintain memberships in the Northwest Horticultural Society (NHS) and the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon. I have served on the Board of the NHS for two terms, ending as the Board President during the Covid outbreak. Luckily, the NHS made a swift transition to online webinars. I was extremely fortunate to host those webinars on a myriad of topics for two years. The NHS Board recognized the significant role of gardening in daily life and how the horticultural community came together and helped everyone during this difficult time. At the end of my term, the NHS Board was able to set up multiple full year scholarships for students enrolled in the Edmonds College, Lake Washington Institute of Technology and South Seattle College green industry programs.

A series of seasonal photos of a lawn transformed into a woodland garden
A series of seasonal photos of a lawn transformed into a woodland garden.

How would you describe your design style?

Right Plant-Right Place. Immersive Planting Design. Environmentally Appropriate Plant Selection. These are all aspects of my design philosophy that reflect my true interest in creating immersive garden experiences. I like to create spaces that make the client slow down and feel surrounded by plants. Selecting plants for a design requires extensive plant knowledge, and I am a stickler about plant selection for my projects. As designers, we need to be aware of the environmental impacts that water intensive landscapes and lawns require and to reevaluate our current plant choices to meet changing conditions. We must speak with knowledge and conviction to our clients about appropriate plant selection.

Who inspires you and your designs?

I enjoy designers whose work is plant forward with native and climate-adaptive plants and use locally sourced materials. Local materials make a garden feel settled. I am also a fan of recycled and repurposed materials. The textures of these materials work well in the built environment. The local vernacular allows the design to feel at one with the larger environment. The ability to visit other designers’ gardens, public spaces and inventive plant choices makes me happy.

Natural stone steps featuring a hand-wrought metal handrail are planted with NW-Asian inspired plants.
Shaded woodland steps featuring a hand-wrought metal handrail are planted with NW-Asian inspired plants.

Is your focus design? Or do you also manage installation, build, and maintain gardens?

I am a general contractor and run a multi-faceted business. I do design work, maintain estate gardens and install most of my plant designs. I subcontract the hardscape elements on most of my projects. I also love to collaborate with colleagues on successful plant design. My designs have changed considerably since I have started learning and using Vectorworks. I have a podcast about summer-dry gardening, and I hope to have more episodes online in the future.

How have permitting requirements (stormwater, ECA, etc.) or site limitations affected your design process and creativity?

Even after attending ECA workshops and discussions with colleagues, I am still timid when it comes to ECAs. I typically pass those projects onto the APLDWA discussion board for designers with more subject-matter experience. Stormwater and lot coverage does not scare me, especially with my plant heavy designs.

Seasonal photos of the designer’s own summer-dry garden displaying the rich tapestry of plants that can be established in unwatered conditions.
The designer’s own summer-dry garden displays the rich tapestry of plants that can be established in unwatered conditions.

Tell us about one of your favorite or most memorable projects.

I have a maintenance client that I have worked with for ten years. The role of estate gardener and on-site designer is a satisfying one. She introduced me to the summer-dry garden movement started by the English garden designer and plantswoman Beth Chatto. This ethos goes back to the ‘right plant-right place’ mantra. I have the wonderful opportunity to explore the immense plant world and experiment in a large garden that is thriving in the face of climate change. This challenge will be one of the most critical aspects of landscape design we all face in the coming years. We must succeed in our endeavors to ensure successful and healthy habitats, or our designs are not worth the paper we print them on.

Jason Jorgensen
Third Spring Landscape Design, LLC
Seattle WA

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