Software is great, but listening is better

We were glad to be featured in this article about the design process in Total Landscape Care this month.  Happy Vectorworks customer!

Workshop in Petworth coming soon!

Indoor & Outdoor Entertaining: Making Your Spaces Function & Flow
Tuesday, May 15 | 7-8:30pm
Petworth Library (4200 Kansas Avenue NW) | Lower Level Meeting Room

We’re really looking forward to presenting with Amber Harris of At Home DC next month in Petworth to discuss how to create satisfying outdoor living spaces.  Too often, we think about gardens and landscaping as “stuff to look at” rather what it really is:  making inviting spaces where you want to spend time.  This talk will combine the design principles that Amber uses at At Home DC with Edamarie’s expertise in creating welcoming gardens.  We hope you will join us!


Rambunctious Garden

‘We’ve been changing the landscapes we inhabit for millennia, and, these days, our reach is truly global. Inhale. That breath has 36 more molecules of carbon dioxide than it did in 1750.’

-p.2 Rambunctious Garden by Emma Marris

Hmmm……kinda makes you think

Value and cost of landscape projects

Here’s a helpful graphic to explain what you gain and what you can anticipate spending for professional landscaping at your home.

Landscape Value and Costs

Backyard Bounty Gardens on Brookside Garden Tour

DC area folks: Come explore the Turner and Grefsheim gardens, both designed and installed by Backyard Bounty, on the Brookside Gardens tour this Saturday.

Private Gardens of Montgomery County Tour

Visit some of the most faulous private gardens in Montgomery County at the height of gardening season. This is your ONLY opportunity to visit several extraordinary properties – guaranteed to provide inspiration to the most avid gardeners and designers as well as garden hobbyists! Discover your inner designer as you gather creative ideas and practical information for your own garden.
Saturday, June 1, 10:00am-4:00pm
Fee: $20 All-garden Pass ($5 per garden if pay at the door)
Course #231499; Register at

Gardens include:

Luskey EcoPad: A garden to match a LEED Platinum certified home
Baily & Atlee Gardens: Two neigbors’ adjoining gardens – a great story and great plants
Lake Garden: Brilliant use of small space with fantastic borrowed views of a nearby park
Everett Garden: A garden designer’s home garden
Turner Garden: Flourishing native garden with unique, local hardscape materials
McCrillis Gardens: Beautiful, mature woodland garden maintained by Brookside
Grefsheim Garden: A budding conservation landscape complete with writing shed

Second Guesses…

Generally, a pergola goes over a patio, and there is a confidence that comes when you design within general rules. This one is designed to link patio to lower level woodlands with a mulched seating area beneath.

I left the job site after the carpenter and I reviewed plans and began to sweat…I’m not adept at 3D rendering on a computer…Were all those large, expensive, pieces of cedar going to look good? Why did I choose that odd shape?

Luckily, the client was out of the country and I couldn’t call to ask if she wanted to revert to a traditional design…I took a deep breath, kept driving and stayed away for the rest of the day.

Returning to see the finished pergola, I remembered what I used to tell my students who were getting ready to take the AP English exam: if you are debating between two answers on multiple choice, stick with your original answer. I’m glad I did here.

Seed Shopping

Malabar Spinach: Thrives in summer heat, beautiful on a fence or trellis. Visualizing it in the garden on this cold wet Saturday. Southern Exposure Seed Catalogue is sold out, but Johnny’s Selected Seeds has ’em.

Playground to Farm


The strip beside our alley driveway is bounded by an old chain link fence that has been mangled  by the trunks of  mulberry trees (thankfully now dead).  By mid-June, it  gets overrun by mile a minute vine, wild roses, poison ivy and about every other pernicious weed trying to take over the East Coast.  

Since we bought the house 9 years ago, the strip has been part playground and part veggie bed.  All that time, I’ve been waiting for the kids to get old enough to take down the swing set.  They may not feel old enough this year, but we took it down anyway, and over the past week, we’ve built a 300 square foot kitchen garden.  Yesterday, we were able to plant peas in the garden and asparagus in the new raised beds along our alley.  (Which means we’ve actually got 348 square feet of vegetable space beginning next year when we can start to harvest the asparagus).  This morning, I woke to the sound of rain on the roof and one less garden chore.  We’ll install soaker hoses in a few more days. 

The goal:  beginning in 4 weeks, get all our produce from these 300 square feet in our backyard.  We get to buy onions and garlic until our crop comes in, and maybe some fennel, and really, I am not going to grow avocados or artichokes in Maryland, so these are exceptions too.  Ok, so the truth is, we are harvesting most of our produce from this narrow strip along our driveway. 

Oh, and we are also allowed to buy fruit.  On the other side of the driveway, we do have 1 Fig tree, 6 blueberry bushes, raspberries and blackberries, and a Meyer Lemon that is older than our youngest child, but I’m not skilled or brave enough to try raising organic apples, pears and peaches. 

Nor do we own an orangerie.  Every fall, we look over the Meyer Lemon for scale, pull out random weeds, shoot it with insecticidal soap, and then my husband and I check to see that our life insurance policies are up to date before we start rolling, lifting, dropping, cursing, and straining to get the tree in it’s large terracotta pot up our narrow stairs to the sunniest bedroom in the house.  This winter, I could buy a 4 pack of Meyer Lemons at the grocery store for $2.50.  But who gardens only to save money?  I’m in love with the peace you get from spending time in a quiet yard listening to birds, the sense of surprise when you dig a potato out of the dirt or find carrots that have stored themselves in the garden all winter,  the smell of lilacs in your bedroom that have just been clipped from your back yard, and the traditions gardening engenders.  We’ve been making Meyer Lemon tarts from this tree for Christmas Eve dessert ever since it started producing fruit. 

When I was a little, our family’s first vacation was a trip to Pennsylavania Dutch country.  After we visited an Amish farm, I looked at my mother and said, “I want to be Amish when I grow up.”  “Not a job,” she replied, so I became a teacher. 

It’s taken 40 some years, but now that the swing set is down, the teacher gets a turn at becoming a farmer.

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