APLDWA Featured Designer:
Chartreuse Landscape Design
Member since 2011
This quarter we welcome Lisa Bauer as APLD Washington’s next featured designer. We hope you enjoy Lisa’s story and this focus on her projects.
When did you start designing gardens? Tell us about your path from then to now.
Lisa Bauer – Chartreuse Landscape Design
I joined APLDWA before completing my degree and it has become central to my ongoing education, mentoring and professional friendships. In 2014 and 2015, I collaborated with seasoned designers and top-notch contractors to build APLDWA show gardens for the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival. I still work with many of them today. I subsequently offered my own garden for tours in 2017 and 2018, which created another opportunity to meet passionate horticulturists, designers, photographers and writers who have influenced me. A tour to England in 2018 – organized by the Northwest Horticulture Society – emotionally rocked my design and horticultural world. I carry the passion I experienced in those world-class gardens and the people I met there as I strive to do my best on each new project. And as I continue to accumulate experience, I continue to discover my style. After much struggle, I have the courage to push the limits on what I create. My focus has evolved from a purely aesthetic objective into a larger purpose to change peoples’ awareness about the power of gardens and the potential we have to heal small patches of the earth. The many talented, passionate personalities in this business on mission to create healthier landscapes for people and wildlife give me perpetual hope, and keep me going through challenging times.
How would you describe your design style?
Classic and modern hardscapes, simple shapes with a focus on sophisticated planting design. My approach is that gardens are art, structurally and dynamically. A great garden is science and art intertwined.
Using plants to reinforce bold shapes in the hardscape with a complex matrix of dense plantings in between.
A modern interpretation of a formally laid out focal point.
What designers inspire you?
Dan Pearson, Bernard Trainor, Scot Eckley
Is your focus design? Or do you also manage installation, build, and maintain gardens?
I design, manage installation and provide horticultural education to the homeowner, or to the gardener, to ensure the garden will mature well over time.
Plants to direct the journey and soften hardscape shapes.
What experiences as a designer have you found to be most challenging?
Aligning budgets with client expectations can be tricky. And on a more cerebral level, I challenge myself to discover and translate the uniqueness of each client into a garden space that is both beautiful and meaningful. That takes time.
Implied concentric rings in hardscape and softscape to create emphasis.
Which experiences have you found to be most rewarding?
I am always happy when the client loves and spends time in their new garden and when they notice new bird species or wildlife that move into the space. I also really enjoy ongoing relationships with clients and the people I work with.
Describe a typical design project and your process.
It can vary from being completely intuitive and developing in a straight line, to a lot of circling around to discover more about the client and design solutions that may not be obvious. I start by establishing all of the constraints, then cover the functions, and stir in the magic and surprise.
Interlocking hardscape with softscape to create balance.
Simple shapes define the space, natural materials soften the look.
What would your ideal project and client be?
A whole yard with a client that confides in me not only about functional needs, but about personal history, interests (big and small), future hopes and desires. I want to know what they want to do and how they want to feel in their garden. My goal is to listen and develop enough trust with the client to consider options beyond any preconceived ideas and to take some calculated risks. I welcome room in the budget for an artful garden feature and enough time to procure those unusual plants that make a garden exquisite.
Bringing people into contact with wildlife through art.
Do you collaborate with other designers?
I have not had the opportunity, but I would absolutely welcome the chance to put together a good team to collaborate on a complex project.
How has permitting requirements (stormwater, ECA, etc.) or site limitations affected your design process and creativity?
It is a reality that makes for constraints, just like budget and client proclivities. Permitting can spark learning and innovation. And it can sometimes make things easier in that it limits choice.
Compact spaces with tall walls softened by plants makes the space feel bigger.
What changes would you like to see in the green industry as a whole? How do your talents, or your approach to design, build on the change you envision?
I would like to see clients, contractors and designers place a higher value on planting design and keeping the proportion of hardscape to planting beds in balance. I often see a strong desire for large hardscape spaces that feel cold and vacuous. I believe in a ‘No-Bare-Earth’ policy and in creating as much space for ornamental and native garden plants as is practical and possible. Biodiverse and dynamic plant matrixes are not only good for wildlife habitat and ecosystem health, but are important for aesthetics and human wellbeing. I do think this is changing with a growing awareness of the positive effect plants have on people. So, beauty and plants are bedfellows of sustainable gardens because they lead people to love nature. Design is moving toward including space for dense, carefully curated plantings with a focus on biodiversity. This is my passion and what brought me to focus on the art of balancing outdoor living spaces for people, while fostering plants and habitat for nature.
A privacy solution where the garden is visible above and below the built screening.
Shapes can direct focus and elongate a space.