cascade design

A Big Sky Statement
My work as a landscape architect is usually recognized for two distinguishing characteristics - first for the inspiration I draw from my friend and mentor, the late, great Brazilian environmental artist Roberto Burle Marx, and then for my driving ambition to preserve and restore habitats, as expressed in projects throughout South Florida and across the Florida Keys and various islands in the Caribbean and the West Indies. This is why seeing the project discussed here comes as something of a surprise to many who are familiar with my work: It's located in Big Timber, Mont., a blip on the road between
Dressed for Success
A glance at our portfolio of dozens of golf-course projects dating back to 1990 shows that no two of them are exactly alike - despite the fact that our mission in each case has been exactly the same: It's our goal with every project to leave behind grassy patches that have seemingly been draped across natural terrain that has been there, untouched and untrammeled, since time immemorial. In other words, we've crafted elevation changes, watercourses, plantings and other defining features so carefully that it seems like folks who enjoy chasing little white, dimpled
Lights on the Side
  We've designed and built lots of fountains and waterfeatures through the years on all sorts of scales and levels, but this one - a definite jump outside the box - will be particularly memorable for all of us. The client was The Woodlands, the big planned community near Houston. One of its highlights is a 1.7-mile-long waterway
Making a Mountain Haven
I see gardens as entire worlds unto themselves - as complete and alive and distinct rather than as simple decorative extensions of architecture.  Whatever form they might take, these spaces should carry us back into the peaceful parts of ourselves and to the calm, clear realms of our minds and spirits.   This outlook has, in my role as founder and principal of Marpa Design Studio of Boulder, Colo., led me to consider landscapes as integrated wholes rather than as cobbled assemblies of solutions to various problems.  It's a positive philosophy and design approach that is fully on display in the project depicted on these pages. I was recommended by the architect, who was working with the owners of this sprawling Rocky Mountain estate on a major renovation of both the home and the surrounding land.  From the start, I was told there was just one major theme in mind:  The home and its surroundings were to look as natural as possible - as though everything had arisen organically from the roots of the mountains.   Neither house nor grounds possessed that spirit at the time, and the landscape was particularly deficient.  Indeed, the only pre-existing feature was a cracked
Beyond Vision
 The process of designing a watershape or garden usually requires the designer to answer a number of questions - the vast majority of them having to do with seeing the water and the landscape.  Indeed, from considerations of color and scale to managing views and ensuring visual interest within the space, much of the designer's skill is ultimately experienced by clients and visitors with their eyes. But what if your client is blind or wheelchair-bound or both?  How do you design for them?  What colors do you use in your planting design?  Would you even care about color?  How will they move through the space and what experiences will await them?  What would be the most important sensory evocation - sound, fragrance or texture? These are the sorts of special questions we asked ourselves after being approached by clients who had the desire to create a sensory garden for visually impaired and physically handicapped people.  The experience shed a whole new light on the power of non-visual aesthetics and prompted me to
Echoes of Grandeur
The Pacific Northwest is full of spectacular scenery.  From where I live near the Puget Sound, for example, you can see the Olympic range running along a peninsula to the west and the Cascade range off to the east.  Looking southeast, Mt. Rainier is a silent, majestic sentinel silhouetted against an ever-changing sky.   It's a beautiful place to live and perfect when it comes to design inspiration - especially when your work is creating naturalistic gardens and watershapes. One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the entire northwest is just a short drive up Interstate 90 from me, a place called Snoqualmie Falls.  Local hiking trails are dotted by scores of perennial waterfalls that cascade down mountainsides.  For me, there is nothing more refreshing than clambering up a steep grade and rounding the corner to find a misty, shady waterfall.  It invigorates the soul and encourages one and all to keep climbing in the hope of seeing even more spectacular scenery. The attractions of nature and its inherent beauty are much enjoyed by people who live around here.  In recent years, I've seen a trend toward bringing slices of that grandeur down to a residential scale in gardens that use water in motion as a key feature.  It's the water that
Field of Streams
Landscaping has to be something special to harmonize with the amazing natural surroundings of places such as we encountered with the Colony at White Pine Canyon:  Set on 4,000 acres near the famed ski slopes at Park City, Utah, the resort/homestead project was to have watershapes second to none when it came to their natural beauty.    Indeed, water was central to the entire plan.  We at Land Expressions of Mead, Wash., were engaged by the developer, Iron Mountain Associates of Salt Lake City, to execute an 830-foot stream, a 34-foot cascading waterfall and a sprawling quarter-million-gallon pond.  All of this came along with an array of natural plantings, pathways, a 500,000-gallon water tank surmounted by a five-acre meadow, and a guard shack made from rocks, sod and a fallen tree.   Projects of this sort don't come along very often - and when they do, they call for creativity, preparation and planning on a grand scale.  In this case it, also meant working at (literally) breathtaking altitudes and in a small window of opportunity between snow seasons - all while infusing the work with intricate detail. Here's a look at