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10-year logoBy Stephanie Rose

‘As much as I love cold weather,’ wrote Stephanie Rose in opening her Natural Companions column in April 2007, ‘I have to concede that we experienced way too much of a good thing this past winter.  Long periods of extremely cold weather are the norm in many other parts of the country, and plants survive.  Here, however, our local plants may be accustomed to surviving the isolated sub-freezing night, but sustained, frosty temperatures

]]> (Stephanie Rose) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 05 Apr 2017 11:55:40 -0700
That's Just Wrong

10-year logoBy Stephanie Rose

‘I’m not a big believer in conformity, strict rules and absolutes,’ wrote Stephanie Rose to start her December 2006 Natural Companions column, ‘but sometimes I’ll come across something that, well, is just wrong.  These aren’t matters of taste, style, or visual appeal:  What I see is just plain wrong!’

‘Whether we classify ourselves as watershapers or landscape professionals, we collaborate with our clients to create spaces that appeal to them both visually and emotionally.  . . .  [I]t’s our professional responsibility to

]]> (Stephanie Rose) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 21 Dec 2016 12:35:13 -0800
Working in Color

10-year logoBy Stephanie Rose

‘When I paint,’ observed Stephanie Rose at the start of her Natural Companions column in October 2006, ‘I constantly play with color on canvas and experiment with various combinations to see what works well and discover what, to my eye, clashes or doesn’t seem to mix harmoniously.’

‘As a landscape designer, I’m aware of working through the same sort of

]]> (Stephanie Rose) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 05 Oct 2016 13:29:40 -0700
Creative Genus

10-year logoBy Stephanie Rose

‘In looking back over several recent projects,’ observed Stephanie Rose at the start of her Natural Companions column in September 2006, ‘I noticed that I’ve been using one particular genus of plants more frequently than just about any other.’ 

‘Its name probably evokes thoughts of petri dishes and bacterial colonies for most of us, but this plant 

]]> (Stephanie Rose) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:31:08 -0700
Gardens for People

5-yrsBy Bruce Zaretsky

‘Gardens truly are for people.  While that’s manifestly an obvious statement,’ wrote Bruce Zaretsky at the top of his On the Level column in May 2011, ‘it seems to be a concept that insufficient numbers of today’s watershape and landscape designers fully grasp.’

‘That’s nothing new.  More than half a century ago, in fact, [Thomas] Church was motivated to

]]> (Bruce Zaretsky) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 18 May 2016 09:40:03 -0700
Drains with a Difference

15yearsagoBy 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.’  That’s how David Tisherman launched into his Details column in the January/February issue of WaterShapes 15 years ago, and he didn’t mince many words thereafter.

‘Whether you’re using PVC or brass grates, they disrupt the surface of any decking material and to my way of thinking are

]]> (David Tisherman) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 17 Feb 2016 11:45:24 -0800
Tools of Enchantment


When she designs watergardens for her New England clientele, Maria von Brincken applies a refined set of principles rooted in regional geology, acclimated species and seasonal transitions.  In everything, she says, her aim is to beguile onlookers in beautifully subtle ways.

By Maria von Brincken


‘I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to.’
     – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings


As watershapers, we draw upon the sound and presence of water to soothe souls, using nature to guide and inform us.  

In the small pond project featured here, for example, the watershape component of the composition is meant to

]]> (Maria von Brincken) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 20 Jan 2016 09:36:23 -0800
#21: Exposed-Aggregate Decking

12-16 farley video artBy Mike Farley

This is one of those “What Is It?” items I hesitated to write, mainly because the material and concept behind exposed-aggregate decking is so familiar (and maybe even so old-fashioned) that most of us rarely think of it.  In the case of the poolscape featured in the video linked below, for example, it’s possible and maybe even likely

]]> (Mike Farley) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 16 Dec 2015 10:41:03 -0800
When Fall's in the Air

15yearsagoBy Stephanie Rose

‘As fall looms before us,’ noted Stephanie Rose in kicking off her Natural Companions column in the September 2000 issue of WaterShapes, ‘it’s timely to consider a question that should be a factor in every design we prepare:  To drop or not to drop?’

‘This question is a good one to ask before you start planning and has to do with how much natural debris your clients will be willing to fish out of their watershapes once you’re gone.  In other words, while it’s always important to decide

]]> (Stephanie Rose) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 23 Sep 2015 12:46:00 -0700
Salvaged with Care


If you want to bring a dash of visual style and authenticity to a older property, writes Robert Nonemaker, look no further than local infrastructure projects:  In older areas, they can supply you with salvaged materials well suited to your clients' driveways, decks and poolscapes.  By Robert Nonemaker

In recent years, more and more of our clients have asked us to use old hardscape materials on their projects:  They love the stuff, they tell us, and they’re sold on its aesthetic richness, authenticity and time-tested visual appeal.  

Living in southeastern Pennsylvania near some of the country’s oldest cities gives me the advantage of ready access to these timeless objects – mostly old cobbles, bricks and stone curbing pulled up in the process of infrastructure

]]> (Robert Nonemaker) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 19 Aug 2015 13:29:45 -0700
All Cracked Up

Faux stones made with concrete can be a great alternative to real stone, notes Scott Cohen.  But you need to be aware of a key detail in their manufacturing process -- a piece of information that will enable you to avoid costly consequences on the job site.By Scott Cohen

In recent years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the use of faux stone as well as concrete flagstones and pavers.  Popular for their affordability and ease of installation as well as the ever-improving realism of their appearance, these materials are widely available for use on

]]> (Scott Cohen) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 20 May 2015 11:00:03 -0700
Permeating Issues

5-yrsBy Bruce Zaretsky

‘I’ve taken up a fair amount of my column space in WaterShapes with discussions of the wise use of water, and for good reason:  What could be more important to watershapers,’ wrote Bruce Zaretsky to open the April 2010 edition of On the Level, ‘than knowing how to make the best possible use of the material that defines our profession?  

‘The common thread in all of this coverage . . . is that, ultimately, our aim must be to preserve the integrity of water, to cleanse it for return to the groundwater system and to

]]> (Bruce Zaretsky) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 08 Apr 2015 11:08:05 -0700
Feeling Right at Home

10-year logoBy Stephanie Rose

‘My daughter and I just returned from our annual trip to visit family in Connecticut and used the occasion this time to travel all over the northeast,’ wrote Stephanie Rose in opening her Natural Companions column for November 2004.  ‘I’m never disappointed by the beauty I find in that part of the country.’

‘What I find most beneficial in travel

]]> (Stephanie Rose) Landscape/Plants/Hardscape/Decks Wed, 19 Nov 2014 14:20:08 -0800