Living Land: The Gardens of Blasen Landscape Architecture

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Foreword by Catherine Wagner Chapter 1: Urban Play: A Project from Start to Finish What does a landscape architect do exactly? Here, we peel back the finished project, which has won several design awards, to show the major steps in the making of the garden. We start with the clients' wishes for an outside play area for their young twin girls that will be visually pleasing when viewed from the living rooms several stories above. And the condition of the site: an odd-shaped and impossibly steep and tilted small plot covered in brambles. We present a 'before' picture, early drawings, problem solving, the gradual articulation of the design, how the Blasens work together, choice of fabrication materials, planting design, the construction period, and the final finished garden and how it is used, with illustrations throughout. Chapter 2: Gardens: From the Mountains to the Shore This photographic presentation of a dozen gardens is the bulk of the book. Some projects are covered in 2 spreads; others in 3 spreads, one in 5 spreads. The gardens range from a city courtyard to a beach garden, to an 22-acre estate with a California wildflower meadow, and an extensive green roof on a Herzog & de Meuron-designed house that's set into a natural hillside. Some have been published in top design magazines; a few particularly exciting new large projects are now being published for the first time. Each project is introduced with a) descriptions of the garden and how the clients use it, and b) a paragraph about the planting design and key plants. Chapter 3: Lexicon: The Blasens' Aesthetic This chapter--an alphabetical list of terms/phrases that appear often in the Blasens' conversations about their work--investigates the Blasens' aesthetic. We hear what they most deeply care about, often in their own words: for example, seamlessness of design, color, geography, lightness, plants that thrive where they are, rhythmic sequencing of experiences in a garden, retaining what already is. And also their influences in the art, design, and architecture worlds, and what's catching their attention right now. This collage of fragments builds a fascinating picture of their sensibilities, and how they earned the title of the new tastemakers in House and Garden magazine. Small photographs, for many entries, give examples.