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Garden Designers Roundtable: Inspiration

by Andrew Keys on December 14, 2010

This month in the Garden Designers Roundtable, my colleagues and I are talking about inspiration. What inspires you? As a gardener? As a landscape designer? As a person, in general, in life? Inspiration, it should be noted, is contagious, so I want to hear about it.

I’m inspired by all KINDS of things, even when it comes to design, but for our purposes today, I figured I’d narrow it down to three. Here goes…

1. It should come as no surprise that plants inspire me. They are easily the number one inspiration for everything I do outdoors in terms of design. Now, lots of designers may disapprove of this, and indeed they’re correct that a zillion and one other factors must be carefully considered when designing a space, but in conjunction with those factors, plants are my number one. If you want a window into my head, pick up Plant-Driven Design, by Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden (books inspire me too), and take a gander at some plants that inspired me this year.

2. THAT SAID, I’m also inspired by the somewhat more abstract concept of place, and I don’t just mean planty places. Have you ever caught yourself in the act of being utterly captivated by a setting? That, to me, comes from a strong sense of place. We could be talking about a botanic garden, sure, but we could also be talking about a city square, a dusty back alley, a museum corridor, a beautifully outfitted room, or a dingy bar. All are places we may be captivated by, and it is that sense of wonder I’m driven to create in turn, in everything I do. Examples:

3. Know what else inspires me? People inspire me. A journalism professor once told my class, “Don’t be afraid to talk to weird people.” Now, she did mean weird people, but she also meant for us to consider that everyone is weird, and thus interesting, in their own way, and to search for those intrinsic qualities when you talk to people. I’ve been talking to people for projects more lately, so it’s been on my mind. Confession: I am something of an introvert, but great conversation inspires me. Most of us on the GDRT met through an amazing community online, first through Twitter, then Facebook, and many, finally, in person. I can honestly say that folks in the GDRT and in this larger community beyond have inspired me to work harder and better in the past two years than ever before. So props, online peeps. I tip my hat to you now, and, I imagine, will for a long time to come.

See how my GDRT colleagues have been inspired for this post:

Carolyn Gail Choi : Sweet Home and Garden Chicago : Chicago, IL
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN
Ivette Soler : The Germinatrix : Los Angeles, CA
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK
Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA
Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ
Susan Morrison : Blue Planet Garden Blog : East Bay, CA

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