Turf Design Build Magazine Magazine - January, 2013


Idea Stream

Evoke a Mountain Ridge
By Nicole Wisniewski

Landscape Artist David Slawson finds design inspiration in many sources, particularly the natural world. "Nature is our original source," he says. "We can create gardens that capture the essence of our favorite scenic places. If you've visited a natural park, you know what it feels like to be surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Imagine having that in your own yard."

Nature, unlike the symmetrical concrete structures that surround people in cities, usually doesn't follow straight lines. Rivers and streams, for instance, meander. To evoke the beauty of nature, the garden maker observes natural patterns and emulates them with rocks and plants.

Enter Slawson's work on the Sage Mountain Sky garden at the Aspen Institute in Colorado. Most of the garden's design elements are inspired by a natural source. A gravel area, for instance, suggests a gravel bar along Aspen's Roaring Fork River. And spruce trees used in the design mimic the rise and fall of the immense mountain range in the background.

The spruce background Slawson created screens out buildings in the distance and is pruned to evoke the mountain ridge. "At the tops, where the main growth occurs," he explains, "competing vertical leaders are pruned back to horizontal and diagonal side branches to create a wind-swept feeling and maintain the desired height."

Mountain sky, indeed.

To learn more about Slawson's techniques or buy his DVD "Evoking Native Landscapes Using Japanese Garden Principles," visit www.slawsoncreations.com.