This is what it looks like when all is going and growing perfectly…

by Tanja Wilcox, Senior Associate, Landscape Architect

Creating, Nurturing, and Watching Things Grow

As landscape architects, we all come to our profession for a multitude of reasons, but one of the reasons that I am drawn to landscape architecture is due to a shear love of creating, nurturing and watching things grow.  At home I get to play this out in my own vegetable garden!  The miracle of tiny seeds planted in the cool and rainy days of spring that sprout up to create big heads of lettuce, giant Swiss chard, black dinosaur kale, and green bean stalks that curl and twine far above my head!  We go from having to run off to the grocery store for every bit of vegetable to frantically doing research on new ways to use the incredible bounty of produce springing forth in the back yard.

Solving Challenges

Landscape architects enjoy a challenge, a chance to experiment and to problem solve…Being an urban farmer provides me with ample challenges, such as when my carefully tended 200 square foot garden plot is attacked by a prowling neighborhood cat eager to dig up my lettuce starts, or the pill bugs multiply madly and come up from their hiding spot along the garden borders to eat all my freshly sprouted peas (again!), or when the cabbage worms hide in plain sight as I wonder what could possibly have made my perfect kale leaves look so holy!  Armed with sets of new, bigger, lettuce starts, a slew of sticks, Sluggo, and gardening gloves, I go on the attack!  The sticks, planted firmly in amusing patterns give us something to look at while we wait for the lettuce to grow and simultaneously create a simple way to keep the naughty kitty at bay.  My be-gloved fingers go after and mercilessly squash the unsuspecting cabbage worms, and the Sluggo Plus sprinkled about, guards the delicate plants from pill bugs and slugs when I’m away. 

As a landscape architect, I love natural beauty, especially when I’ve had a hand in shaping it.  There is beauty in the sunflowers that attract bumble bees, mason bees, honey bees and later nuthatches and chickadees.  There is beauty in the purple bean flowers and later, the long green bean pods tossed together with bright red cherry tomatoes.  Landscape architects enjoy being a small part of “the solution.”  I practice that at home by planting a garden and reducing the carbon footprint of our food.  By planting flowering plants we’re providing much-needed habitat for beleaguered butterflies, bees, and many other pollinators.  In the process, there’s a chance that our efforts will be contagious, infecting our friends and neighbors with the same bug!

Salad Nicoise