A Special APLDCT Sponsor Event!

Colorblends announcement


Tour the Colorblends Trial Gardens & Annual Meeting

Saturday May 3, starting at 1:30 pm

Take a break from your hectic spring schedule to catch up with APLDCT members and to tour the beautiful displays at the Colorblends trial gardens.  While enjoying these colorful spring bulb gardens and gathering inspiration for next year, you can reconnect with old friends and meet some of the newest members of APLDCT.  In addition to seeing tried and true, we will have a unique opportunity to see new varieties of bulbs as they are being trialed in our area.

We will hold a brief annual meeting at 1:30pm at the Colorblends facility to get a quick update on what’s going on with APLDCT.  At 2 pm we will gather in Bridgeport to see the Colorblends trial gardens, and then between 3-3:30pm we will travel to their trial gardens in Shelton.  The garden tour will be followed by festive beverages and refreshments as we toast the start of the landscape season.

We hope that you can join us for all or part of the afternoon, please RSVP (use the RSVP button below to email APLDCT) to let us know you will attend.  If you have questions, in advance of the event please feel free to e-mail us at apldct@gmail.com and on the day of the event contact Eva at 203-650-1515 with any questions.

*Event is open to designers and professionals from all disciplines. 

Annual Meeting @ 1:30pm at Colorblends (see below for address)

Garden Tour Starting Location @ 2pm:
747 Barnum Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06608
(203) 338-0776

Second Location @ 3:30pm
Hilltop Gardens
245 Walnut Tree Road
Shelton, CT 06484

RAIN PLAN:  This event will happen Rain or Shine, with a few modifications.  In the event of rain the General Membership Meeting will be rescheduled to happen at the end of the day, after the garden tours. We will reverse the order of the locations so that we will end up at the Colorblends facility where we can have our reception indoors, so if it rains we will meet at Hill Top Gardens at 2pm and then the Colorblends facility at 3:30pm, with reception and meeting to follow.  
SPECIAL REQUEST: Please note that since we will be seeing some bulbs that have not been released for sale, we have been asked not to take photographs while visiting the gardens, thank you for your cooperation with this request from our hosts.


By Christine Darnell

Image of From Art to landscape

On a wintry weekend in January, a former student and I traveled to Swarthmore Arboretum in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania to hear W. Gary Smith lecture on his superb book, From Art To Landscape: Unleashing Creativity in Garden Design  (Timber Press 2010).  The premise of the book is to break down the shroud of mystery surrounding the creative process and to approach the landscape with an artist’s eye. For Smith there is inspiration and pure delight in observing patterns in nature, which he does by visual note taking.  From Art to Landscape breaks the entire universe down to nine basic patterns and explores drawing, painting, sculpture, poetry, dance, and meditation, as ways to create personal connections to the landscape, and end in garden designs that tell a story and have meaning.

Smith is best known for his work in public gardens like Enchanted Woods at Winterthur in Winterthur, Delaware, and the Santa Fe Botanical garden. (He was featured last year in a delightful article in the Times entitled Where The Wild Things Are Nowabout a residential landscape in Middlebury, Virginia, and a terrific collaboration with the owners.) While listening to him talk about making visual connections and creative conclusions, I was reminded about how important putting pen to paper is, how visual note taking and on-site sketching causes us to see and take notice of natural formations and patterns. We make visual connections we would not normally make otherwise. Putting ourselves in the landscape and using a sharpie instead of a camera forces us to focus, concentrate and really look.

Smith’s warm personality and encouraging voice come through in his book as he encourages us to build our own visual vocabulary of shapes, forms and patterns. He invites us to be free and not critical as we draw, and to use pedestrian materials not precious ones (No pencils either—erasing is censoring!) The book is full of his quick drawings and recorded observations by which he sees a place. Drawing and looking begin to happen simultaneously. The time spent making each sketch is in fact laying the foundation for the relationship he forms with a particular place.


Smith jots down brief notes on these sketches, and they are as important as the drawings themselves. The notes help him remember the design ideas or thoughts for specific plantings that come to him as he is quickly recording. From Art to Landscape shares years of observation, experience, and reflection, as well as beautiful drawings. Smith walks us through his process of simplifying what he sees and explains how to abstract landscape elements down to their most essential form as a springboard for design.

As a creative tool he suggests superimposing any two patterns; for instance take a scattered pattern and a mosaic pattern (a pattern which can happen over a big space) to get a lush, rich tapestry of planting. I tried this in approachinga wetland design over a large space where a scattered pattern over a mosaic pattern might happen naturally, and it lent a freedom to the planting design I might not have found otherwise.


The Carpinus Walk by W. Gary Smith

The Carpinus Walk by W. Gary Smith

Smith’s goal is to create ‘luminous moments’ as he aspires to tell a story and create an emotional response in the viewer, much as being in the presence of art and nature do. “Every place has a narrative,” he says in the Times article. From Art to Landscape gives us a bag of tools to use to help us discover that narrative, that sense of place that makes gardens so meaningful to be in, so alive with feeling and emotion.

A Tale of Two Trade Shows


For me, winter is a time to relax, reflect on how to improve from last year, and network.  What better place to do that than at a trade show?  Two regional shows to consider are New England Grows in Boston and The Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, M.A.N.T.S, in Baltimore.  For those of you who have never attended either show, here is a quick breakdown of each show.

There isn’t a better show for a combination of educational opportunities, networking and trade exhibits than New England Grows.  The show offers three days of lectures covering business management and horticultural related topics, and a large trade show.

Along with the educational sessions, each of the trade associations has networking events throughout the show.   The trade floor is a combination of equipment, tools and supplies, and nurseries.  As a designer, if you’re considering switching from hand drawing to computer aided design, there isn’t a better place to play with all the design software on the market.  With the software we use, I typically keep a list of questions that come up throughout the year and get those answered face to face at the show. This year, I actually sat at the booth of the software we use for close to an hour.  Along with learning a bunch of tips and tricks, I saw a demonstration of the next big thing in design software, 3D animation.  3D animation will allow a client to walk through the project you’ve designed for them.   The conversation also moved towards a demo of how to use dual monitors to speed up the design process.

A lot of people I talk to from CT try to do the show in one day.  To get the most out of the show though, it really takes two days.  I usually drive up the night before, get to the show first thing in the morning, stay a second night and leave after the second day.   The last couple of years, I’ve been staying outside the city where the parking is free and the hotels are a lot cheaper.  This year, I unknowingly booked a hotel on the T route so instead of driving into Boston every day and paying the $12 parking fee, I parked my car for the whole stay and paid $4 round trip for public transportation to take me into the city.   FYI, it’s always fun to stay to the end of the show.  Everything you see in the show is typically for sale and can be picked up right after the show ends.

M.A.N.T.S is another great show.  The main focus of this show is plants.  It caters to people who buy, sell and grow plants as well as all the related supplies involved in those tasks including landscape and garden items, tools, and plenty of other allied industry products.  Unlike New England Grows, there aren’t any lectures at M.A.N.T.S and there’s not a lot of equipment to view.  If you are looking for new plant suppliers, this is the show to come to, as there are nursery and plant suppliers, both large and small, from all over the country.  It’s possible to do the show in a day if you don’t stop and talk to too many people.  Baltimore is a fun city so it’s definitely worth a night in a hotel and possibly an extra day to walk the Inner Harbor.

If you’re looking for suppliers or a little inspiration, give one of the above shows a try.  I enjoy both shows so I usually alternate between the two shows every other year.

All the Best!

Rich Schipul

Lecture Review – Kim Wilkie at NYBG: Sculpting the Land

Posted by APLDCT member Lucy Van Liew.

The NYBG winter lecture series is a welcome shot in the arm in the middle of a seemingly unrelenting winter. I am always tempted by the interesting and varied speakers, often from outside the USA. The star turn last year was Tom Stuart Smith, Garden designer and winner of many Gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show.

This year it was Kim Wilkie, who lured me to face I-95 during the rush hour. Again, he is British, but his specialty (in his own words), is working with mud. He sculpts huge landforms out of clay and chalk, and clothes them with grass. Enchantingly, these are not always closely mown, and certainly not irrigated or fertilized as the English climate is “made for growing grass”. His talk illustrated several of his best know projects such as the ‘ Orpheus landform’ , in which he matched an 18th century truncated pyramid  mound with another that was inverted and based on harmonic proportions, in an historically sensitive landscape.

Orpheus Landform

Orpheus Landform

At another stately home in England, he replaced a cramped and poorly conceived Victorian parterre garden on the south side of an elegant Georgian house, with a 150 ft reflecting pool and a series of sweeping grass terraces. Again geometry played a part, with the design being based on the Golden Section spiral.

Sweeping Grass Terraces

Sweeping Grass Terraces

His talk illustrated his profound understanding and appreciation of the history and ecology of the land on which he works. His book Led by the Land (Frances Lincoln 2012) illustrates many fascinating projects including; a project in Solovki, on the edge of the Arctic circle in Russia, and another in the Transylvania region of Romania, preserving medieval villages and their landscapes.

He also works in small urban spaces, and illustrated his concepts in miniature at his house in Richmond in South London, where ribbons of snowdrops punctuate a foot of elevation of lawn before leading to a cobalt blue crushed glass parking space.

He spoke wisely on the contrasts between the historical foundations and philosophies of managing the land in the UK and USA, and how these differences are expressed in designing gardens and landscapes. He charmed us, with an English self deprecation, when describing the anxieties associated with construction of some of his projects. Many mounds have been created of out of necessity when faced with surplus soil. Many of the houses and landscapes he has worked with have strong historical associations but his earthworks and landforms bring a contemporary feel.


Wilkie has inspired me to be bolder with my approach to sculpting the earth and has already caused me to rethink a design for a client. I recommend his book and website


Lucy Van Liew

March 2014


Welcoming Two New APLDCT Board members

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to our two new APLDCT Board members, Eva Chiamulera and Christine Darnell.  While you’ve probably meet Eva and Christine at one of our Chapter events, you may be interested to learn a bit more about them.

More About Eva 

Eva grew up in a family that was passionate about gardening and the arts, so she chose to combine her interest in plants and architecture through her pursuit of landscape design, and has been working full time in the industry since 2000.  Eva joined the Austin Ganim Landscape Design team in 2008, bringing with her several years of residential design experience from her work at several prominent landscape firms in Boston and New York that allowed her to work throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic Region. Her residential design work ranges from intimate children’s gardens to large residential estates, created in a variety of styles.  Her commercial work includes outdoor dining spaces, plazas, and planting design for an area train station.

Eva has written  articles on plants and gardens for several area shelter magazines, such as East Coast Home & Design, and enjoys giving talks to garden enthusiasts.  She has enjoyed volunteering in several Fairfield County garden tours and related events to assist in educating the public about landscapes and garden design.

Eva would like to see APLDCT expand its membership and explore mentoring opportunities for individuals looking to enter the profession with APLDCT members.  She would also like to see the Chapter gain prominence in both the design community at large as well as with the general public to become a go-to resource for landscape needs through networking and public outreach.

More About Christine

Trained as a sculptor, Christine is expert in constructing elegant outdoor spaces. At the heart of her vision is the desire to bring into being garden spaces that her clients will enjoy for a lifetime.

Christine made her living as a studio artist for many years before founding Christine Darnell Design Studio in 2009 after earning a Master’s degree in Landscape Design from Columbia University. She has worked professionally in Westchester, NY and Fairfield and New Haven counties in CT. In conjunction with office practice, she has worked in the design/build and nursery industry and provides a certain perspective in balancing design sensitivity and practicality.

Christine is also a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and teaches Landscape Design Studio classes at the Native Plant Center and Naugatuck Valley Community College. She became a Master Gardener in 2003.  Christine has enthusiastically volunteered and attended almost every Chapter event since our inception.

Hats off to both Eva and Christine for stepping forward to offer their time and energy to enrich our Chapter.

Thank You to Two Special Vounteers

Thank You to Two Special Vounteers

As 2013 draws to a close, it’s time for us to say good-bye to two dedicated APLDCT volunteers who are stepping down from serving on the APLDCT Board of Directors – Mary Ellen Pirozzoli  and Dede Delaney.


Mary Ellen Pirozzoli, the owner of Verdesign, LLC in Ridgefield, is one of the founding members of the Connecticut Chapter of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Mary Ellen was integral in getting the Chapter off the ground, and was especially vital in establishing the Chapter’s newsletter communications with our members. Willing to step in and help out in any role as needed, Mary Ellen was elected President of the Chapter in 2013.

Dede Delaney, the owner of Red Twig Garden Design, has served on the Board for four years. For most of that time, Dede has been the Chapter’s Secretary, diligently recording Chapter history, as well as the minutes from countless meetings! She has been a tireless volunteer, involved in many aspects of our Chapter events during those four years.

We will truly miss Mary Ellen and Dede’s commitment and drive to make the Chapter succeed. From carting around the ‘event box’, putting out signs, organizing the Holiday Party, arriving early to set up functions, staying late to clean up and manning the Chapter table at numerous events  to help spread the word about APLDCT,  it’s fair to say APLDCT would not be where it is today without Mary Ellen and Dede. We look forward to seeing them as regular attendees at upcoming events.

Thank you again for all your hard work and dedication. We couldn’t have done it without you both!