Urban Forest Retreat

Highly engaged gardeners, people with strong opinions about their gardens, who fully enjoy the time they spend in their gardens, make the most interesting clients. Add to that a friendship that goes back decades, which makes for more even enjoyment when it comes to developing a design. And as if what wasn’t enough, add the particular design challenges posed by a triangular, sloping property with especially difficult soils, and some pre-existing hardscape features that just weren’t meeting the clients’ needs for outdoor living space. In a nutshell, that was the situation we started with in Scott & Jenise’s northeast Seattle garden. Wonderful friends with some interesting puzzles to solve in terms of existing site conditions. 2013 – Phase one – The patio garden The Starting Point.  The reason the grass was so green: it was wet most of the time.  The concrete was unattractive and really “old school,” poured in patches separated by wood, but …

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GutHaus and Sustainability

Welcome to our garden, GutHaus. It is a pleasure to share it with you. For six decades its’ been home to the Mastenbrook’s, beginning when Johanna & Richard arrived Labor Day, 1955, and expanded when Joyce & Keith moved in next door in 1998. Prior to that it was the family compound of the Guth family, Frederick & Katherine, their seven sons and one daughter. Arriving in 1916, the Guth’s purchased a five-acre parcel of the state school lands tract, land set aside for sale to fund school construction. Just beside the word “public” in the image below are two squares, the smaller represents Johanna’s house and the larger represents the Guth family home. That home burned down some time around 1930, after which our current home was built, in 1932. After World War II, there was tremendous growth in Seattle and most of the neighborhood was subdivided into standard …

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Why the Arts-and-Crafts Movement Moves Me

Finding beauty in the everyday objects that comprise the material necessities of our lives, is in essence the key to understanding the allure of the Arts-and-Crafts Movement. Begun in the salons of the elites who could afford such privileges, to build a world of handcrafted objects, including gardens, where form and function was celebrated, the movement sprung from a serious response to the changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution. The American Arts-and-Crafts Movement expressed this concern in a decidedly a more democratic movement, producing the great bungalow design aesthetic. Regardless, the central element remains a devotion to living a life in beauty and functionality, issues that remain important today. In my opinion the current environmental movement, as a response to our damaged physical and social ecology, traces back to an earlier expression in the Arts-and-Crafts Movement. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, concern for the environment has gone from …

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Why Permaculture?

What makes ME believe this wholistic movement is a positive change that can address our environmental crisis? Around 2001, I was once asked if I’d ever heard of Permaculture and I had to admit that I hadn’t; then Gaia’s Garden, by Toby Hemenway, was published; I read it and was hooked by the ideas the author presented. It helped bring my though process full-circle, as it revisited my early interests in ecology (TESC) and later landscape design (Oregon). Not long thereafter I was heading to the Lost Valley Educational Center, near Dexter, Oregon, to take a two-week PDC (Permaculture Design Course) with Jude Hobbs, Toby Hemenway, and Rick Valley. Since then I’ve been fortunate to take advanced design courses with some really outstanding teachers. David Jacke, in Helena, Montana, on edible forest design; Jenny Pell & Andrew Millison (OSU), at Breitenbush Hot Springs, Oregon, on community planning; and especially, David Holmgren, at …

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