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Should this be my new job title? (as an aside, this is a lot of lawn for drought ridden Southern California – please be reassured that I have talked the clients into converting a sizable portion of it to edibles. And the rest of the property is succulents and drought tolerants. Okay – you can snark at me for designing this! If I can be a Snarkitecht so can YOU!)

Okay, this is a RANT.

For some reason, colleagues always want to introduce me as a Landscape Architect – and I always correct them. I am a Garden Designer, and proud of it. I don’t even like the title “Landscape Designer” – I think “Landscape Designers” want to separate themselves from plain old flower and plant obsessed Garden Designers – Landscape Designers feel the need to designate themselves as more serious than “gardeners” – but not quite as serious as “Landscape Architects”. I once had an online acquaintance with a garden world professional who would get his hackles raised whenever anyone would refer to him as a “gardener” – he always corrected them. Very pointedly. Without humor or irony. He was a LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT.

Well, I am happily not a Landscape Architect, I am a GLEEFUL GARDEN DESIGNER.

In fact, why not refer to me as what I really am – I am actually a LANDSCAPE SNARK-ITECHT.

I am judge-y. I am hyper-opinionated. I like my way, and if you don’t like it, I will yap at you until you go away (or you convince me that your way is the highway I need to follow – that does happen!). I have ideas about gardens, landscapes, gardeners, designers, landscapers, architects, design, and architecture. I like playing in all of the playgrounds, and I play on them often, and I usually play well with others.

But sometimes…

Today, I was on site having a bit of an altercation with a pool installer who didn’t like that I was supervising a re-do of some shoddy work he had performed. I had to stand over him and his crew and make certain that they did not repeat the mistakes they had previously made. He, thinking he could intimidate me, asked me in a loud and swaggering tone, (imagine Rush Limbaugh saying this and it’s like you were there), if I was a “certified Landscape Architect”.

I had to laugh.

This man was certified in his field, and turned in some of the worst work I had ever seen. He came highly recommended. And to boot, he was rude, crude, and boorish. The idea that he thought “outing” me as a mere garden designer (lower case) was going to shame me incited gales of laughter that wouldn’t stop. His crew started laughing with me. He stood alone, confused, in the middle of a beautiful garden that I made, wondering why everyone was laughing.

I am proud of what I do. I have done it for a long time, and I do it well. A certification in landscape architecture is a great thing for some people – it just wasn’t right for me. It is true that some people think only landscape architects can design outdoor spaces with attention to code and detail – this isn’t the case. What they have is, is a stamp. A certification. That certification is not proof of talent or experience – it is proof of passing classes and an exam. Those classes and exams are good things. But they are not the only things. Passion and excellence are not measured by such standards, they are measured in other ways. And some people don’t see those specific units of measure.

Am I crazy to be bothered by this? Have any of you had similar experiences? What are your thoughts? Right now I am 1/4 into a bottle of rose´ and I’m eager to hear if I am hypersensitive or WHAT. And if you are a Landscape Architect, do you think you are better than a good Garden Designer? Or are you just different? What are the differences? I know Landscape Architects who love doing detailed plantings and I know Garden Designers that kick ass on hardscape and codes, so I don’t think we can use those as lines of separation. I’m genuinely curious as to what my fellow ranters have to say.

I’m pouring myself another glass. Okay, talk amongst yourselves. I will be sure to chime in.

Posted by

Ivette Soler
on April 29, 2015 at 1:12 am, in the category Everybody’s a Critic.

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  • I see A. Marina – for you “Landscape” indicates scale, which makes sense. I think one does tend to think of “Garden” as a specific thing – full of plants and flowers, cozy – not necessarily a larger planting including transitioning spaces. Good loin! Your garden and the process of making it sounds lovely. Nothing like our gardens, right?

    Ivette Soler 1st January 1970 4:00 am
  • A perfect rant!
    I have a landscaping and gardening business in Toronto Canada. We do some design and work with lots of garden designers and landscape architects and can definitely identify with your comments. For me, the job is about enabling homeowner to be stewards of their land full stop regardless of the job title. Here are 4 things to consider regardless of your job title…
    1) A knowledge based approach to residential gardening anticipates the public asking questions about where things come from and how they are made.
    2) Seeing, appreciating and caring about land are three prerequisites to stewardship
    3) Sharing observations and recommendations about land enables residential landowners to be stewards
    4) Residential urban green space is the connective tissue to parks and ravines, together forming green corridors that are habitat for plants and wildlife.

    Jonas Spring 6th December 1999 11:24 am
  • I love this list, Jonas, and the focus of your practice. Environmental stewardship has to more to the forefront of our client education, and it takes a certain kind of patience and great communication techniques. I am taking this to heart! Thanks for this comment.

    Ivette Soler 1st June 2007 2:59 am

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