Dreaming of Landscapes Has Moved!

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Dreaming of Landscapes has moved to its new self hosted space. You can find it at binglestudios.com.


Latest Article for the Washington ASLA: Maintenance Planning

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This is a reprint of an article that appeared in the December edition of the newsletter for the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (WASLA).

Most landscape architects know that maintenance is an important element of landscapes, but landscape architects are rarely involved in the maintenance of the landscapes they design. This is beginning to change. This past October at the Green Gardening Workshop an entire session was dedicated to a presentation of the maintenance plan for Seola Gardens prepared by Johnson and Southerland. Intrigued, I took some time to talk with Margaret Johnson ASLA, LEED AP about the emerging field of maintenance planning and what it could mean for landscape architects.

Seola Gardens is a affordable housing development in the Roxbury Neighborhood of Seattle built by the King County Housing Authority. Several years after completion, the King County Housing Authority began to notice that the landscape did not match with their landscape vision. They worked with the maintenance crew but miscommunications resulted in frustration and a landscape that still did not match the management team’s vision. Finally, the King County Housing Authority asked Johnson Southerland to develop a landscape maintenance plan for them. Working with a team of horticulturalists and arborists, Johnson Southerland condensed the King County Housing Authority’s landscape vision into a series of maintenance goals and standards and developed  a yearly maintenance schedule. They also provided illustrations showing when and how plants should be planted and how to prune shrubs.

Johnson Southerland had past experience with the King County Housing Authority. Several years previously, Johnson Southerland developed a series of maintenance plans for several King County Housing Authority apartment building landscapes. These guides aimed to provide the property managers with a simple system to maintain the value of their landscapes. However, these plans ended up on shelves and were forgotten by the time new property managers too over the property.

Margaret Johnson feels that Seola Gardens has been successful because the maintenance plan provides a few simple steps that the property management team can take to insure that everyone involved with the landscape is included in decisions about the landscape and understands the landscape vision. At Seola Gardens the maintenance plan calls for a biannual meeting in the fall and spring of the landscape architect, arborist, maintenance team and managers. The group reviews the past six months, tours the property and sets priorities for the next six months. This allows everyone involved with the landscape to help in creating a consistent landscape vision and setting goals to achieve this vision.

Despite the success of Seola Gardens, gaps still exist in our knowledge of maintenance planning. Margaret Johnson pointed to mulch as one example. Over the last decade, she has seen an oscillation between bark mulch and compost as the mulch of choice. However, there is little scientific evidence to support favoring one type of mulch over another. Currently, there is research underway to answer some of the questions surrounding maintenance, such as the work of Linda Chalker-Scott at Washington State University.

It seems assured that landscape maintenance plans will become increasingly important in the future. The Sustainable Sites Initiative features an entire section for maintenance and operations. In addition, maintenance plans preserve the value of landscapes, improve communication amongst landscape professionals and property management staff and reduce the use of resources in the landscape. These benefits and continuing work in the field of maintenance planning is sure to bring new energy and excitement to the profession of landscape architecture.

My First Article in Washington

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          This past August, I took over as the editor of the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (WASLA) newsletter. I have not been writing much as I have adjusted to the shift from writer to editor. I returned to the realm of writing this month with the publication of an article in the WASLA newsletter on a design charrette WASLA hosted in the small town of Wilkeson, Washington. I am reposting the complete article below because it is only available through WASLA’s emailed newsletter.

Wilkeson Charrette

Photo of Wilkeson, WA by Allisa Carlson, PLA, LEED AP

On a rainy October weekend, WASLA and the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (NPS) came together to create a vision for the development of the Town of Wilkeson’s historic and natural resources. Wilkeson is a town of 477 residents in rural Pierce County. The town is historically significant as a source of sandstone, coal and coke in the late 19th and early 20th century. The charrette focused on the remains of Wilkeson’s coke ovens and the development of the site around them into a regional park.

Between 1890 and 1930, Wilkeson had 160 coke ovens producing coke for use in steel production. Today, 30 coke ovens remain in various states of decay. The Town of Wilkeson owns the land around the coke ovens and would like to develop the site into a premier regional park that:

  • Restores, preserves and protects the historic coke ovens
  • Provides educational opportunities (Washington State’s longest operating school is in Wilkeson)
  • Supports a variety of community events (The town currently uses the site for hand car and lawn mower races)
  • Meets basic park user needs for safety, accessibility and enjoyment

Participants met on October 19th for a tour of the site provided by Wilkeson’s mayor Donna Hogerhuis and the National Park liaison Bryan Bowden. Everyone then adjourned to the local Eagles Lodge for dinner and a meet-and-greet with local residents. Highlights included a prime rib or vegetarian lasagna dinner and a tour of the Eagles Lodge meeting hall and poker room. The evening wrapped up with a presentation by Mayor Hogerhuis on the history of Wilkeson. Participants then broke up to spend the night with local residents, in the Wilkeson fire station and a local motel.

Participants reconvened at 7am in the Eagles Lodge for breakfast before kicking off the charrette at 8. The charrette was broken into four teams: the Interpretation Team, the Community Events Team, the Trails Team and the Master Plan Team. The charrette began with participants and residents jumping between each group to generate ideas. Then each team settled down to generate a set of drawings and documents the city could use in the future.

The Interpretation Team developed a number of suggestions to preserve the coke ovens and provided educational and interpretational opportunities. The team suggested creating a full size model of the coke ovens that visitors could explore and touch. A barrier would surround the existing coke ovens to limit damage from human interaction. The team also developed a list of significant spots in the park and town. They generated an interpretation outline for these spots and a signage system to create a unified experience.

The Community Events Team explored ways to support the town’s existing and future use of the space. This centered on an amphitheater that would provide space for the current hand cart and lawn mower races. The amphitheater could also serve as a space for future concerts, bike rides and other events.

The trails and connectivity team proposed a series of trails that would provide access to the interpretive stops and community event spaces. The team also proposed connecting the park trail system into the Foothills Trail via a trail through town. Currently, the Foothills Trail ends on Wilkeson’s north boundary and does not continue through town. The team also proposed future connections to a possible museum at the Wilkeson Quarry.

Finally, the master plan team tied all of the pieces together. Their plan highlighted each proposal and provided a cohesive vision for the park. WASLA, NPS and the Town of Wilkeson were very pleased with all the products produced by the landscape architects, students and volunteers. The Town of Wilkeson plans to use these documents and vision as a critical piece of their grant application to develop Coke Oven Park. WASLA would like to wish the Town of Wilkeson the best of luck and thank them for the opportunity to work on this project. WASLA would also like to thank the landscape architects, students, volunteers, and residents who made this project possible.

Master Plan Photo by Allisa Carlson, PLA, LEED AP

Landscape Architects
Don Benson (WASLA President, Event Co-coordinator), Jan Swattherthwaite, Bronwen Carpenter, Matt Mathes, Ned Gulbran, Bob Droll, Andy Mitton, Jim Brennan, Allisa Carlson

Local Parties
Bryan Bowden (National Park Service, Event Co-Coordinator), Buzz Grant (Foothills Trail Coalition President), Greg Griffith (Washington State Historic Preservation Office), Hollie Rogge (Pierce County Parks and Recreation)

Jordan Monez (ASLA), Laura Barker (National Parks Volunteer), Logan Bingle (ASLA), Ole Sleipness (ASLA, WSU Professor

AJ Babauta (WSU, landscape architecture), Bryan Inglin (WSU, landscape architecture), Jeff Hall (WSU, landscape architecture), Jonathan Dingman (WSU, landscape architecture), Jonathan Duran (WSU, landscape architecture), Lucas Vannice (WSU, landscape architecture), Nick Boyce (UW, landscape architecture), Toree Miller (WSU, interior design), Wuttiporn Taksinvarajam (UW, landscape architecture)

Becky Gilbert (Former Town Council), Betty LaCrosse (Resident), Bill Summers (Eagles Lodge Trustee & Booster Club President), Chris Lyons (Distillery Owner), Donna Hogerhuis (Mayor), Florence Fabiani (Wilkeson Historical Society), Jeff Sellers (Former Town Council), Kathy James (Town Planner), Keith Quimby (Distillery Owner), Lisa Grace (Wilkeson Elementary Teacher), Mark Thompson (Civil Engineer), Nick Hedman (Town Council), Robert Bean (Saloon Owner), Sherrian Robertson (Wilkeson Historical Society), Sue Hallin (Town Council), Sunny Bean (Saloon Owner), Trisha Summers (Wilkeson Council Member)



Latest LANDbytes Article: “Photography and Design Meet at the University of Oregon”

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Congratulations to Oregon ASLA blog LANDbytes on their one year anniversary. My latest contribution to LANDbytes is up here. Be sure to take the time to read the other great articles on the LANDbytes Webpage.

LANDbytes Article: Teaching Meets Practice in Willamette Valley Wetlands

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My latest article for the Oregon ASLA blog LANDbytes is up. Take a moment to read it and the other articles for this month.

Latest Article for LANDbytes: “Ducks Bridge Academic and Professional Practice”

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My latest article for the Oregon ASLA e-magazine LANDbytes is up. Be sure to read it and the other great articles for this month.

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