WaterShapes

The web site for all professionals and consumers who've made or want to make water a part of their lives

Edibles by the Water

200109SR0By Stephanie Rose

Imagine your clients in this scene:  It’s a warm, summer evening, dinner for two on the patio is almost ready, the waterfall is on, and candlelight is reflecting on the surface of the pond.  

But the salad isn’t quite complete, so this evening’s chef steps into the yard, clips some chives from a clump near the water’s edge and adds a finishing touch to the composition.  Later, they pick a few plums and apricots for dessert, relaxed and about as happy as they could be in their backyard.

Though the setting is delightful, it’s the edible plants that complete the experience.  And as was mentioned last time, with more and more people wanting

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Refinements in Stone

Studying the works of past masters, says designer Bobbie Schwartz, has always helped her expand her own repertoire of creative garden, landscaping and watershaping approaches.  Here, in the second of three articles examining classic stonework in European and North American gardens, she again explores this rich resource for ideas about walls, pathways and stairways – features that can be used to work magic in a variety of settings.
Studying the works of past masters, says designer Bobbie Schwartz, has always helped her expand her own repertoire of creative garden, landscaping and watershaping approaches. Here, in the second of three articles examining classic stonework in European and North American gardens, she again explores this rich resource for ideas about walls, pathways and stairways – features that can be used to work magic in a variety of settings.
By Bobbie Schwartz

It’s the little things that often make the biggest difference in creating beautiful spaces within gardens or near watershapes.  A well-articulated retaining wall here, a clever treatment of a stone footpath there or the perfect placement of a stone stairway can, at various points, lend variety, balance and even a sense of antiquity to the work.

In the first installment of this series of articles on classic uses of stone in gardens and watershapes, we began with an overview of stones set among plantings and used as simple structures in some of the world’s most beautiful

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Edible Landscapes

200107SR0By Stephanie Rose

More and more of my clients are interested in including edible plants in their gardens.  They’re into cooking, great food, fine wine and entertaining, and they appreciate the special flavors that come when they grow and harvest their own edibles.  

It’s incredibly satisfying to walk out into one’s own garden and pick fruits or vegetables or herbs.  Not only do these edibles taste better than store-bought produce, but any gardener can be reasonably sure that the foods they grow are free of pesticides and other undesirable contaminants.

No matter what

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Stone Impressions

When we say someone is ‘stone faced,’ observes landscape designer Bobbie Schwartz, we’re thinking of someone who shows no emotion.  But in truth, she says, stone is a highly expressive material that imparts a sense of antiquity while giving impressions of permanence, security and serenity.  And when you factor in its durability and flexibility, it’s easy to see why stone has been the material of choice for uncounted generations of designers and builders.
When we say someone is ‘stone faced,’ observes landscape designer Bobbie Schwartz, we’re thinking of someone who shows no emotion. But in truth, she says, stone is a highly expressive material that imparts a sense of antiquity while giving impressions of permanence, security and serenity. And when you factor in its durability and flexibility, it’s easy to see why stone has been the material of choice for uncounted generations of designers and builders.
By Bobbie Schwartz

The ancient Celts transported huge slabs of stone over long distances to create religious circles at Stonehenge and Avebury.  The Romans used stone to build their aqueducts.  From the pyramids of Egypt to the Acropolis in Athens, from the Great Wall of China to the great castles of Europe, stone has been the raw material of choice for our greatest and most enduring structures.

Through the ages, stone has been a well-used material because it is both durable and readily available.  It’s hard to find a town in Europe without walls constructed of local stone, and all you need do is drive through

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In Praise of Shade

200106SR0By Stephanie Rose

Summer is arriving, and those 90-degree-plus days are coming with it.  Your clients are thrilled to have their watershapes to cool off in, but they can’t spend all their time in the water!

I’ve discussed shade structures and shade trees before, and it’s an important feature to discuss with any clients whose yard you are designing.  But there’s more to shade than what you do overhead, and you need to discuss what you’ll be planting in those shaded areas.

There are two problems here.  For the most part, people don’t know what to plant in the shade – nor do they

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Safe Arbor

200105SR0By Stephanie Rose

Contrary to the impression that might be given by the headline, this isn’t an article about building arbors that are safe.  Rather, it’s about how you can protect your clients and their guests from the sun by building beautiful structures in their yards.  (Safety is part of the discussion, too, but not its focus.)

I bring this up because many clients put piles of money into building spectacular pools but fail to give much thought to their surroundings.  That’s a shame, because those surroundings almost certainly will be seen much more than the pools will be used in the course of the average year.   

Several things need to be

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Flat-Out Gorgeous

The United States is one of the world’s richest countries when it comes to geological diversity.  But until recently, say stone supplier Joe Nolan, only part of the rainbow of natural stone building materials was being extracted from the ground.  That’s changing, he says, as increasing consumer demand is sending designers and builders to vendors in search of creative inspiration – and new or unusual materials, colors and visual textures.
The United States is one of the world’s richest countries when it comes to geological diversity. But until recently, say stone supplier Joe Nolan, only part of the rainbow of natural stone building materials was being extracted from the ground. That’s changing, he says, as increasing consumer demand is sending designers and builders to vendors in search of creative inspiration – and new or unusual materials, colors and visual textures.
By Joe Nolan

There’s never been much of a tradition in this country when it comes to beautiful stonework, especially when it comes to flat stone surfaces.  What you usually see is the same few stone types used over and over again in the same sorts of applications.  

To see a contrasting heritage, just travel in Europe and some parts of Asia, where you’ll see a far greater variety of flat stone used in creative ways to create pathways, walls, decks, patios and a host of architectural features, including pilasters and finials.  Of course, the Old World had a long head start on us, but even so, we’ve been slow in the New World to catch up with the masonry and quarrying trades as they’ve been practiced abroad for centuries.

Fortunately, that’s starting to change.  My firm, Malibu Stone & Masonry of Malibu, Calif., supplies stone (flat and otherwise) to a host of contractors, landscape architects and designers.  What we’re seeing is a two-stage process:  Professionals are surprised

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Survival of the Fittest

200104SR0By Stephanie Rose

The project is complete.  You’ve put the last touches on the landscaping, the swimming pool and spa are up and running, the pond and its water lilies are ready to be joined by some colorful fish, and the expanse of stone decking has been tailor-made for your clients’ entertaining pleasure.

You’ve managed to achieve exactly the look they originally imagined, and now they can sit back and enjoy it – or can they?

The answer will be a resounding “yes” only if you took the time to consider the longer-term effects their beautiful new plants might have on the watershapes and decks.  Partly, the concern over longer-term effects is about what certain types of plants can do as far as dropping leaves and what that can mean with respect to maintenance.  Partly, too, it is about

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Maintaining Investments

200103SR0By Stephanie Rose

When I meet with clients for the first time, we talk a lot about what style, design, color and other elements appeal to them.  We also talk about whether they want a low-maintenance garden, or whether they want to put a lot of work into their own high-maintenance yard.

Consistently, however, I find that people do not even remotely understand what I mean by “maintenance.”  I hear things like, “I don’t need a sprinkler clock,” or, more truthfully, “I don’t want to spend the money on a sprinkler clock” – and I immediately

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Drains with a Difference

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_archart_200101Tisherman_200101DT0.jpgBy David Tisherman

You’d think that having lousy-looking deck drains was inescapable, given that about 99.9% of them look like a thing you’d find in your shower.

Whether you’re using PVC or brass grates, they disrupt the surface of any decking material and to my way of thinking are an unnecessary eyesore – nearly criminal when they interrupt the look and texture of a beautiful expanse of stone.  It just doesn’t make any sense to draw that much attention to the drains.

That’s why I decided to develop a deck-drain detail that doesn’t break up the visual lines of the deck.  It’s extremely simple – and it’s something you can

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Designing with Water Plants

200101SR0By Stephanie Rose

I feel like I’m working backward:  First, I told you about a gargantuan water lily and its very specific requirements, then I offered a more general look at water lilies that will thrive in almost any pond.  Now I’m going to give you some ideas and tips for designing with all types of water plants.

It might have been more logical to approach things the other way around, but the important thing is that we’re ready to complete the package and talk about ways of incorporating lilies and water plants of other sorts into beautiful, overall planting designs.

As always, I will avoid getting too specific with recommendations.  Instead, I’ll stick to basic

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Averting Disaster

200211DT0By David Tisherman

Every once in a while, being right is not such a great thing!

Last month in this column, I described the initial phases of a spectacular project in Malibu, Calif., and one of the things I mentioned was the fact that from the moment I stepped onto the site, I suspected that there might be some serious problems afoot.  This impression was based largely on what I saw to be substandard construction of the existing swimming pool and on concerns about the elevation of the deck relative to the structure of the house.

Unfortunately, those initial impressions turned out to be

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Changing Zones

200211SR0By Stephanie Rose

It’s not often that we’re asked to stretch ourselves.  This past year, however, I was presented with that opportunity in landscaping a site that was quite different from the usual residential lots I encounter in Southern California.

Through all my years in business, I’ve become accustomed to working in a climate that supports year-round planting, year-round foliage and year-round lush views.  In this case, I received a call to design a garden in the mountains above Southern California – and I jumped at the chance to

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