Finding My Tribe

By - Lara Vyas and Susan Picquelle

As a community of landscape designers, we are professionals with similar work aspirations, industry perspectives and business relationships. In our daily activities we are focused on developing our current projects, adding new ones into the pipeline, all the while managing the regular humdrum of running our small businesses. However, when we come together as a group, our own individual experiences connect and resonate with those of our peers, and we find ourselves lifting each other and rising above the tide. This has been the most singular benefit I have had since I joined APLD almost eight years ago.

In the spirit of passing on what I have been given as a chapter member, I would like to welcome all the new members of our chapter and dive deep into our chapter benefits.

  • 1) Have you joined the APLD WA Google Group? (If you need help doing this, send an email to As a member of the Washington Chapter of APLD, you benefit by having access to the entire chapter membership. Please join this forum to ask questions, seek advice, give recommendations, and talk about all things landscape and garden design. Below is a recent snapshot of conversations from just last 2 weeks; what an incredible wealth of information and knowledge is being shared here!

    A list of postings being discussed online in the APLD Google Groups
    Screenshot of APLD Google Group postings

  • 2) Are you a part of a POD (Peer Organized Discussion) Group? I remember my very first POD group in 2015, where I learned how to recognize certain red flags in a project and that it was okay to say ‘no' to a project. It felt so empowering to know that there are others in the same boat as I am. Since then, I have been a part of two other PODs and have gotten a chance to meet several mentees and peers.

    During the Covid years, the POD groups were active via zoom and were an immense help in navigating new rules of engagement with clients and contractors. As in-person meetings started to up, some POD groups started to meet in gardens and do mini-tours discussing the design challenges they faced and the solutions they came up with. The value of these PODs has been a lifeline for many new designers and one of the main benefits of our chapter's membership. If you haven't already, here is the link to sign up for a POD - POD Peer Organized Discussion (POD) (

    Three people in masks having an outdoor meeting and reviewing a garden
    An outdoor POD meeting at a client's garden. Design Credit: Robin Parsons Photo Credit: Laura Kleppe

  • 3) Are you bogged down by design challenges and need an inspiration? I would highly recommend browsing through Janine Anderson's articles on our Garden Resources page. Janine, a long-time member of APLDWA, is both a sought-after garden designer and a widely published garden writer. She has been writing articles for our website since 2015. The articles are meant to attract readers to our website, both potential clients and potential members, but beyond that, they are packed full of great ideas and photos for us all to be inspired by. Sometimes all we need is to look beyond our own realm of ideas and broaden our perspective, and Janine's articles do that for us. One of my favorite articles is the one on storage sheds, I have never seen such a versatile collection of sheds anywhere else and even show this page to clients during design discussions.

    Two contemporary storage sheds of varying heights and depths in bright colors
    Two sheds of different heights and depths. Design by Gretchen Bauer in conjunction with Angle Stone; construction by Angle Stone; Photo Credit: Gretchen Bauer

  • 4) Have you read our Designer's Blog? This web page presents past articles from our monthly newsletters. A wide range of topics is covered, and some are highly personal. Not only do these articles provide insights into the many facets of our profession, but they also introduce our members to the many authors, all of which are current or past APLDWA members.

  • 5) Programs and Events - Did you attend our Garden Tour recently? It was a fabulous, fun event, looking at cool gardens, connecting with everyone, and learning ins and outs of designing hot tubs and small pools into outdoor landscapes.

    People in a garden are listening to a woman talk about hot tubs
    Tiah Kimbrough of AquaQuip, answering questions put forth by the Garden Tour attendees Photo Credit: Heidi Walther

    Our upcoming events are listed at A major benefit of membership is our emphasis on continuing education. Most events provide education credits, but more importantly, they keep up current with new ideas and evolving challenges due to changing climate and stricter regulations. They also stimulate us, broaden our perspective, and now that we are returning to occasional in-person events, they provide camaraderie and fun.

    A buffet table with delicious food and people serving themselves
    What a delicious spread! Perfect for a fun chit-chat after touring gardens. Photo Credit: Heidi Walther

    As members, we receive discounted pricing, and some choice events are restricted to members only. Also, our Vendor Spotlight Webinars are free to members. I am looking forward to the Lecture and Workshop with Annie Guilfoyle on October 27th and October 28th. Keep an eye out for when registrations open. This one will fill fast!

    A large group of people in a garden that was featured in a garden tour
    All the attendees of the 2022 Garden Tour on Mercer Island Photo Credit: Lisa Port, CPLD FAPLD

  • 6) Do you want to get even more value out of your membership? Then, volunteer to be on one of our committees or on our Board! Joining a committee is especially valuable for new members as this gives the opportunity to join forces with other designers on projects beyond our own practice. The adage of ‘the more you give, the more you get' has especially rung true for me as an active volunteer, first on the Program Committee and now on the Board. We are a small organization, and we rely on our members' varied experiences and skills to keep our chapter vibrant and relevant in an ever-changing world.

Joining a professional organization can lead to individual growth, enhanced professional prospective, technical knowledge development, and can garner support for advocacy in sustainability and social change. Do you know anyone who are on the fence about joining us? Please let them know that our membership cycle runs from January to December or July to June. If you join up to 3 months before the cycle, you get those months for free. So, if you sign up after October 1st, you get October-December free.