The Rain Park has gone through lots of changes. With October here, we are marking the first full year of its lifecycle. We finished installing the original mounds in Oct of 2017. Now that fall has arrived, we’ve had a chance to see it through 4 seasons.
I have a project happening right now in Montclair, NJ. We created a master plan for the property and are now installing a phase one for the design. The first phase includes a deck, plantings and fencing along with a few other items.
As the construction moves forward, the clients are thinking of adding lighting to the phase. The master plan includes lighting plans for the entire space, but there’s been some back and forth about the best light fixture for the space.
The past week has been a really great time for designing spaces that sometimes are left unattended. On Sept 30, 2018, we were part of a very cool event called the Resource Home Show where designers, architects and other creative had a chance to get to know local homeowners.
For the event, we designed and installed a Living Wall. The living wall was made of about 70 plants including grasses and perennials.I loved the entire process of creating the wall and having it on display. It was the first time we had created a green wall for an event such as this, but I hope it’s not the last.
Super short post. I was working on a proposal today and created the image below to show the location of where we intended to create a design for a client.
The design is for a small pocket garden bed at the corner of the house. I always enjoy making these simple images for proposals as a special touch to what is usually dry contract language.
First Master Plan, Then Details
I've worked with the client for about 2 years now. The first project was creating a master plan for the front yard of the property. The goal is to have 4-season interest by using perennials and native grasses. Below is a detail of the planting plans for two spaces in the yard.
The Real Thing
Design’s true trajectory is to be created in the real world. For landscape design, real life does want to be a little bit fantasy too. Plants have a mind all their own. However, for this project like many of my projects, we have phased in the plantings. When we phase things in, there’s always a little ability to change things as needed when nature changes its mind too. In the spirit of actualization, I have the two images below. They are from the second round of plantings we did in fall 2017.
Last autumn, we planted over a 1000 crocus in several yards in South Orange and Maplewood. As the days and nights of January get colder and colder, it’s a warm thought that in about a month or so those crocus are going to start popping up adding the first spring colors to the landscape. Bulbs are one of those things you have to wait to see. When you do, they are always worth the wait.
Winter's not the traditional time of the year to enjoy perennial gardens, but I think that it's perfect to see native plants in a new light. Picturesque snowy landscapes are usually dominated by images of spruce and pine, but there’s room in the ice experience of January for less evergreen plants. You don’t need foliage to set a space on fire. A couple of weeks ago, I snapped a few images of the Rain Park under a blanket of snow. I felt it is already transforming the feel and dimension of the place. Below are four images I took when it was just above zero outdoors.
You can find more photos from my outdoor adventures on instagram.
This is a little update from the post about the Rain Park going up in South Orange, NJ. The last post only shows the rendering of the “Future Look” without a before shot. So, thought I would add a before and after shot in a new post. Enjoy!
Check out the different plants to be used at the Rain Park after the Break.
Very excited about a project that is coming more and more into focus as we get closer to spring 2018. A little less than a year ago, we were awarded a grant from American Water to build the first-ever Rain Park in South Orange, NJ.
The initial construction of the project was completed at the end of Oct 2017. Though we were scheduled to plant it with lots of amazing native plants, it was a little too close to the first frost date in New Jersey, so we opted to way until April 2018 to actually do the planting.
That said, I completed some graphics for the project and wanted to share them. This first is a site plan that shows were the Rain Park is in South Orange, NJ.
It’s nearly June and gardening season is in full swing. Spring is a great time to consider two really important points for a fully contextualized planting bed. First, there are the flowers themselves. Flowers are the aspect of most people know and desire for a space. The second element however, is how to frame the flower so it is more alluring and compelling. The bloom of a flower needs to be accompanied by fullness: this is important to create drama as well as to have a full garden before and after the bloom. In my opinion, this is critical to a successful planting. For the bloom to take on a dramatic character where the colors and shapes are magnified, the garden needs to be a stage for the flowers to shine. With the right background for your flowers, they transform from simple plants into a heroic protagonist of nature’s theater. You get what you want with more intensity and beauty.
Over the winter, I worked with a bunch of incredible people (from the PTA to the recess committee to teachers and the principal) of the South Mountain Annex Elementary School in South Orange, NJ to create a master plan for the entire property. The master plan was developed to do three things: address water issues onsite, create learning opportunities for the students and to bring nature back into the space.
Here at chambersdesign headquarters, we got some great news this week. Our concept of Rain Parks has been accepted as a poster topic for the World Green Infrastructure Congress 2017 in Berlin, Germany. We are super excited about the opportunity to showcase the idea of Rain Parks to an international network. This is only the beginning!
Our yards can be wonderlands of discovery for kids. They can be a world of natural beauty too. So often though, the landscape around our houses is void of life and is setup to fight against learning and play. The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be that way. We have real opportunities to introduce our kids to nature right outside of our front doors.
I thought it was time to do a little update about my project with South Mountain Annex in South Orange, NJ. The whole thing started when I helped get an outdoor classroom created for the school. After that, several of the parents at the school and I started talking about how to really reimagine the space and address some of the challenges on the grounds. I suggested we do a master plan for the property to create a concept and look at options for what could be created. After that, we could narrow-in on ideas that were exciting for installation.
We think of plants by what we see, but flowers and leaves…stems and seedheads are actually the expression of what we don’t see – roots. A few days ago, I found the diagram shown below that compares root systems of native plants in comparison to turf grass. It was wildly exciting to find, because in a simple, straightforward way, the diagram makes obvious several things that are always hidden…i.e., roots.
The act of sowing seed and growing food is a defining characteristic for us humans. Farming is one of the reasons cities and societies developed. Yet, it has become a lost art for most of us. It would be impossible for most of us to harvest a crop we planted ourselves. Yet, many people that live in suburban areas are finding a new desire for super local food grown right in their yards. How does one go from not knowing the first thing about farming to becoming a suburbanite with a green thumb?
The goal is to make this blog a resource for helpful tips and sustainable ideas. I create original content that shows projects in progress and the behind-the-scenes of installation. And, I try to have as much fun as I can doing it.