Meet the Team

By Kryssie Maybay and Lara Elizabeth Vyas

Do you enjoy having opportunities to acquire new knowledge and hone your existing skills? Do you regularly attend the mini-symposiums / lectures / workshops hosted by APLD-WA Chapter? Ever wonder who is working behind-the-scenes of these educational programs? Well, that is your Program Committee, a team of dedicated volunteers already hard at work planning programs for 2020!

The Program Committee is led by Co-Chairs Lara Elizabeth Vyas and Kryssie Maybay.

Kryssie Maybay, PLA ~ Kismet Design, LLC (
I am a Licensed Landscape Architect and the owner of Kismet Design LLC. I have a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Washington State University and have 15 years of experience in both design-only and design-build firms. Ten years of that has been as a licensed landscape architect.

This past summer I became a business owner starting Kismet Design. I love hand drafting but complete all of my presentation drawings in CAD; I also use Sketchup for 3D mockups. I have a passion for plants but really geek out on the technical details of a landscape, hardscape elements, and structures. I am honored to be part of the APLD community and more so to be involved in the Program Committee.

Lara Elizabeth Vyas ~ Natural Greenscapes, LLC (
I channeled my passion for plants into the world of horticulture and landscape design, after transitioning from a 10+ years career in database technologies. I earned an AS degree in Environmental Horticulture and Urban Design from Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, CA in 2004. I honed my technical skills at Grimes Natural Landscapes, Los Altos as a landscape designer and then mastered organic gardening at Seattle Tilth as a Garden Steward for the Pickering Barn, Issaquah. My experience in spearheading the implementation of the expansion of the Pickering Barn Garden inspired me to start Natural Greenscapes in 2011. Since then I have expanded the firm into garden design-build, container gardens, garden coaching and fine-gardening services.

While the plant nerd in me has taken over the tech nerd, my inner tech nerd still resurrects while using CAD (Vectorworks) for design & presentation. I love problem solving and enjoy revitalizing landscapes into useful living spaces. APLDWA is my work family from whom I have received immense support and inspiration. I feel blessed to be a part of this community of landscape designers. Being on the Program Committee is my way of giving back to my work family.

Kelly Carter Mortimer ~ Big Picture Landscapes (
My first business license for Big Picture was in 2009 after I’d dreamt the name. I was still in school at Edmonds Community College but had a few maintenance clients and even a few designs. In 2011, I graduated with an Associate Technical Degree in Horticulture and Design.

I call my business Big Picture because I design gardens not only for the people and pets who live with them, but also for the bees, the birds and even other critters. The garden needs to feel like it belongs with a home and bring beauty to the neighborhood. I want the plants to feed the soil, air and water. And I want them all to thrive without practices that cause harm. These are my guiding principles. But it is the plants and the ways in which it all comes together that continually surprise and sustain me. I never get over that moment at my drawing table (yes, I still hand draw my designs) when the solution to a tricky garden finally reveals itself!

I try to create gardens that draw people outdoors and provide them with lots of reasons to linger. I love turning someone who comes to me asking for a low maintenance garden into someone who 2 years later sends me photos of hummingbirds in their penstemons. I may be working toward the Big Picture but it’s the small moments that I savor.

Susan Ryan ~ GardenDigs (
After working 25 years as an Interior Designer in the commercial and healthcare fields, I returned to college in 2009 to study Landscape Design at South Seattle College's Landscape Design, Construction and Horticulture Program. That same year I completed the WSU Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program, which taught me how much more I wanted to learn.

In 2011 I joined APLD as a student member. A love of nature and desire to create beauty led me from interiors to landscape design. With a BFA in Interior Design and a foundation in design and drafting, the transition to blending horticulture with design seemed like a natural fit. Over the years I have volunteered for many organizations depending upon where I have been in my life with careers and family. What I like about volunteering with the Program Committee is the flexibility to participate from afar as the CEU coordinator and the wonderful support I receive from other members.

Molly Thompson ~ Molly Thompson Landscape Design
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Washington State University but didn’t find my passion until I started helping friends and family with their gardens as a hobby. I eventually decided it was time to get a formal education in horticulture and landscape design, so I studied at South Seattle College and Edmonds Community College before starting my own design business.

I find great joy in helping my clients envision the possibilities for their gardens, and I particularly enjoy hearing how their renovated garden space impacts them every day. Being a member of APLDWA has been a huge asset to me as I’ve grown my business. I’ve learned so much, and I’m constantly amazed by the willingness of more experienced designers and contractors to share their knowledge. I can’t imagine this journey without the help of APLD.

Sarah Van Sanden ~ SVS Landscape Design (
Born and bred in the Pacific Northwest, I am a devoted lover of the Northwest landscape. I studied Ethnobotany and Visual Arts at the University of Washington, then brought together my plant, people, and art passions in a Masters of Landscape Architecture degree at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

I have spent the last decade designing and building residential landscapes back in the Seattle area and am currently building my own design-only business. Whether through hand-drawn presentations, client consultation or community volunteering, my primary goal in my work is to help others discover and access a deeper conversation with the constantly changing world outside our doors. Toward that end, membership in the APLD provides me with an invaluable range of resources through my colleagues and educational events and I’m glad to give back to the organization by volunteering for the Program Committee.

Heidi Walther ~ Heidi Walther Garden Design (
Gardens have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. They were the playgrounds of my childhood, later they became retreats from the daily demands of life, and places to enjoy time with friends, family and pets. My path to becoming a garden designer, though, started partly by chance.

This success came to me at a stage in my life when I was looking for a career change, away from marketing towards something new and exciting. Thus encouraged, I decided to pursue this new path and began my professional training as a garden designer at the British Academy of Garden Design. My passion for landscape design was fostered further by studying with renowned designers John Brookes, Noel Kingsbury and Piet Oudolf.

Now based in Seattle, I am excited to combine English sensibility with the diverse and unique plant world of the Pacific Northwest. My vision: to create sustainable and beautiful gardens for my clients to thrive in.

Open Position on the Program Committee

Kelly has been serving on the Committee for 5+ years and is now moving onto other endeavors. Her departure leaves a vacancy and we would love for you to join us.

Please contact any of us if you are interested in being part of this committee! It is a great way to be deeply involved in APLD. You will become an integral part of providing educational opportunities to elevate the knowledge and professionalism of our community. There are good networking opportunities as well. Please contact any of us with more questions about being involved!

Unveiling 2020 Educational Programs

We are super excited about the programs that we are bringing to you next year! With the changes to the requirements of becoming a Certified Designer on the horizon, we are striving to bring you more technical education opportunities that will not only help you in your day to day business but prepare you better for the upcoming National requirements as well.

January - We will be kicking off the New Year with a reboot of our Marketing Tactics that Produce Real Results program that we had to reschedule. Where do you see yourself in the next year? Do you have a focused marketing strategy? How do you target your desired clientele and grow your business? A marketing expert will lead you through these questions to help you create a mission statement, a company tag-line, and marketing strategy. Pricing and promotion, utilizing key contacts, online networking, social media and SEO will all be discussed.

March - We will be digging deeper into Environmentally Critical Areas in the spring. For those of you that joined us for the ECA program in 2019 this will be part 2 to build on what we already learned in the first program. If you missed the first one, don’t worry this will still be very informative. The focus will be on developing areas with steep slopes and areas adjacent to water bodies. We are bringing in expert Elliott Menashe of Greenbelt Consulting and are very excited about the knowledge he has to offer.

June – Our very own Kryssie Maybay of Kismet Design will help us do a better job of Designing with Grades. This will be a hands-on workshop so bring your pencil and calculator! We will explore how to read contour lines, analyze slopes, calculate slopes, and determine stairs and wall heights in your designs.

September - Garden tour focusing on gardens in ECAs. This garden tour will build off the spring season’s ECA program to explore a few case studies and get insights from designers / contractors that have worked on ECAs projects. We will also tour these critical landscapes.

October - Our last education program of the year will focus on Decks. Don’t let the complexity of decks intimidate you any longer. The Ins and Outs of Designing a Deck will cover the technical details of what to know when designing a deck, putting together a permit package, what to look for in construction, and the thresholds of when a deck should be permitted or when a structural engineer will be needed.

Join us!