Archive for December, 2013


As landscape architects, we have always been plant fanatics. However, lately we keep talking about the larger and important role in the use of plants not only to enhance but as crucial part of the performance of the environment. Via storm water management, soil health and habitat for pollinators and other species plants are at the core. Climate is changing and as designers of the environment we must adapt and look for new plant species that can thrive in the changing climatic patterns. The use of systemic neonicotinoid pesticides in most large nurseries is also of great concern to us especially as we try to design pollinator and children environments we want to make sure that we are not using plants that have been sprayed. So we decided to talk to nurseries as they are the experts and get their opinion on this.

Patricia and myself had the opportunity to interview Sutter Wehmeier-landscape architect and director of operations at Cistus Design Nusery. Cistus describes itself as “a retail micro-nursery offering plants from around the world to the Willamette Valley & beyond.”

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Find cistus online here

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Fall Liquor + Lecture Series:

We’re happy to report that the kick-off of our discussion series was a big hit and that we’re looking forward to our new series in 2013. Starting on Thursday, January 23 at 6:00pm! Our goal is to open a forum for cross-disciplinary ideas and project sharing that, however tangential, is relevant to our work as landscape architects. From the arts and culture to environmental economics, ecology, and stewardship, we welcome a wide array of subjects that we’ll dive into depth on each season.  Please let us know if you would like to participate by presenting your ideas at one of our liquor and lectures.

Liquor and Lecture Sept 27

The fall series was opened by Mike Sesko, a biochar entrepreneur and environmental strategist for the agriculture and food industries.  Followed by a screening of “More than Honey”, a film about the impact of declining bee populations, we looked at innovative ways in which people are creating productive landscapes that have a net positive impact on the environment and people.

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After graduating from Yale’s School of Management and Forestry, Mike started Encendia Biochar, a company that turns wood waste into biochar, a soil amendment that was recently discovered in rich Amazonian fields. Mike also works with industrial farmers in California’s Central Valley to make their operations more resource-efficient, less reliant on unsustainable and unhealthy inputs, and more profitable. Mike and Patricia have been consulting on ideas for how to design pollinator habitats on some of these large-scale farms and create a year round presence of native bees for the Almond orchards. They are talking to a few academics and researchers, as it is a complicated challenge due to the lack of water resources and the salinization of the ground water among some. We’ll keep you posted on our progress! We want to create pollinator habitats everywhere, let us know if you have a spot.

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We hope you’ll be able to join us for the next Liquor and Lecture Series. Greg Delaune and Susan McKay, landscape architect and Berkeley’s Public Parks Commissioner will offer insight into how public parks lands can source funding into the 21st century.

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Starting In January I will be teaching again the Designing  for Difference class at UC Berkeley. Between the UCB class and the UCBX class this will be my 6th time teaching this class. Teaching is always exciting and has taught me many unexpected lessons. In the same way, I’m always looking for new and fresh material to keep each course relevant and stimulating. This time I’m really excited and honored to collaborate with Marlo Isaac, the Market Street Project Manager at the Planning Department of the City and County of San Francisco.

hand_header_botalign2The class will be looking at the different  Living innovation Zones along Market Street. The Living Innovation Zone Program (LIZ) seeks to create a flexible framework that harnesses the city’s creativity by using City-owned assets, such as public spaces, and partnerships with leading organizations as catalysts for exploration, innovation and play. As their final assignment students always do a Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) and this semester they will look at the different potential LIZ sites and along with the POE they will propose and intervention to make the spaces livelier.

The first LIZ was created by the exploratorium and installed earlier this month at Market Street and Yerba Buena Lane. We will do a field trip with the class to go visit this site and all the other potential sites.

 I’m looking forward to an exciting next semester and to collaborate with Marlo and learn more about the exciting new opportunities along Market Street. I have always thought that Market Street should be as lively as the Champs-Élysées. It is, after all, the main street of a wonderful city designed with similar ideas but smaller proportions. Lets see what innovative ideas we can come up with!

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