Design Philosophy and Process




Design Philosophy

Leslie Kaplan believes in making gardens with four-seasons of interest.  Most people only visit nurseries in May, and so miss out on a whole universe of plants that bloom in late summer and fall.  Many perennials, shrubs and small trees are unexpectedly ornamental in the autumn too, with glorious color before their leaves fall.   Also, winter should not be neglected in the garden.  Evergreen or gray plants can be an effective background for plants with spectacular bark or berries.   Plants that bloom at unusual times, like witchhazels and hellebores, can really make gardens enjoyable at all seasons. 


Native v. Non-native plants.

Leslie  likes using native plants in garden designs, but the most important objective is finding the right plant for the right place: a plant that offers the best ornamental characteristics for that specific spot.   A good plant is a good plant whether it comes from Pennsylvania or China.  A good plant has outstanding ornamental characteristics.  A good plant is not invasive – it may spread, but not seed crazily into the wild.   Much depends on context -  not all native plants are good plants, and some natives can be thugs in the right circumstances.

Pruning and Shaping

Pruning and shaping of young plants is often done to improve their form or ensure a leader in the case of trees.  The designer should always consider the ultimate size of the plant’s natural growth habit before siting it.  Pruning for size later when the plant has outgrown its assigned place is rarely successful and requires continual maintenance.

Design Process

The Design Process Leslie Kaplan uses varies from client to client, but almost always includes some or all of the following steps: