URBS in Horto – City in a Garden


The APLD International Landscape Design Conference was held in Chicago, IL, July 21-July 25, 2022, and I had the glorious opportunity to attend. I spent time with and around, amazing talent, enjoyed tantalizing gardens and most importantly, soaked in the company of my friends, many of whom I had not seen since they joined us in July 2019 for the Seattle APLD Conference.

Deep dish pizza, Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House and, lots of hugs marked our first day in Chicago, and I say 'we' because I was gratefully traveling again with my 'Chief of Staff' and bestie, Katie Weber CPLD. Soon though, both of us would be meeting many new friends as more than 50% of attendees were first timers and members of the APLD Virtual Chapter, coming from all over the United States.

Selfie of two women downtown and Group photo of adult men and women in downtown Chicago
Left: Katie Weber CPLD and Lisa Port CPLD in Chicago. Right: Group photo before pizza, L-R: Past-President Danilo Maffei CPLD, Board member Katie Weber CPLD, Jen Niziolek with Vectorworks, APLD President Eric Gilbey PLA, President Elect Richard Rosiello, Past President Lisa Port CPLD

Two standing women smiling, drinking, and talking  and Two standing women talking about the phone and contents
Left: Margie Grace CPLD and APLDWA President Sue Goetz. Right: Katie Weber CPLD and Susie Thompson CPLD both APLDWA Chapter members at the Opening night reception, #apld22 #apldchicago

Downtown city skyline with high rise buildings and a river and boats in the foreground
Chicago skyline

Stone archway with two doors
Chicago architecture, stone doorway

downtown Chicago skyline with tall tower high-rise building
Chicago skyline with the St. Regis Hotel tower (third tallest structure in Chicago, designed by architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang in Chicago

I am heavily influenced by architecture and architectural design principles and was enthralled with the exposure to several high-rise buildings and plazas that I learned about back in college architecture classes. Chicago is a hotbed of structural design motifs, styles, technically-challenged solutions, and design for the ages. I was in heaven on the 90-minute Architectural River Cruise I did with Katie, craning our necks upward, receiving a firehose of historic and current day information all along the river front. Highly recommended!

Sidewalk and brick house with urn planter
Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Robie House

group of adults lined up along a railing overlooking a park
Dine Around evening at the Italian restaurant, with several APLDWA members in this shot; Claire Lidell Hanna, Lisa Port CPLD, Susan Ryan CPLD, and Tom Lawson

Group of adults sharing wine and preparing to eat Italian food
Enjoying APLD networking with members from all over the US and the Dominican Republic

The third tallest high-rise in Chicago, the St. Regis Hotel, was designed by female architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang. I was enthralled by the structure, the colors, and the plaza at the tower base. The tower serves as a 'porous connector' as opposed to a barrier, for pedestrian travel at the street level. Care was taken to create connection from the public Riverwalk pathway to the public park on the other side of the building. It stood out to me from wherever I was in the city. Creating connections, not barriers is a theme I can employ in my practice.

Brick house and gate, set in a garden setting
Craig Bergmann home and office tour

Generally, speakers educate attendees on day one of the conference, and this year was no joke. We laughed in the morning with the wit and wisdom of keynote speaker, award-winning APLD landscape designer Margie Grace CPLD, with Grace Design Associates, as she cycled us through her gorgeous and inspiring images of projects with the 'Art of Outdoor Living'. Her inspiration comes up regularly in my work. Swoon.

Craig Bergmann RLA, with Craig Bergmann Landscape Design, presented an engaging talk sharing imagery of his award-winning gardens and humorous moments. We followed up his words with a tour of his home and studio garden on Saturday, where there was just not enough time to see all the outdoor rooms, plant combinations, sculptures, and whimsical moments in his garden. Landscape design is a journey, and his garden is full of mystery, whimsey, sustenance and, passion. Again, more experiences and words to inspire me!

table and chairs and water feature set in a landscape garden
Gardens of Craig Bergmann RLA

Self portrait of three women in a garden
Lisa Port CPLD, APLD Executive Director, Denise Calabrese, and Katie Weber CPLD

inside view of a greenhouse structure and plants and plants and garden sculptures
Left: Garden greenhouse of Craig Bergmann. Right: Garden of Craig Bergmann

Woman standing next to a planter full of yellow daylilies
Katie Weber CPLD and some matching daylilies-who's matching whom?

Woman standing in a garden
Welcome new APLDWA member Clair Lidell Hanna!

Friday afternoon was filled with more talks about biodiversity expressed through wild planting combinations, technical business solutions, and ecological restoration practices. At least we all stayed cool in the hotel with AC!

Flower border planting and grass
Flower border at the garden of Craig Bergmann

Over the next few days, the group of 100 or so attendees visited several residential and public gardens, including the Chicago Botanical Garden and Lurie Garden at Millennium Park, to learn and grow our professional exposure to landscape design. I cannot express enough how the two garden tour days have influenced my design practice after I am back in Seattle. If I see one new idea, hear one tip from another designer, or even identify one new plant combination that I can utilize when I come back to my practice, the expense of a conference is easily justified. While we have a great time on the bus, getting out, walking the sites, taking copious photos, asking 'What's that plant?', 'What app are you using?' and 'How did they do that???', can turn into a wealth of information shared amongst colleagues that carry us well into future months.

Edible food garden with structures for beans and vegetables and Blue arched, front door, with steps and colorful containers
Left: Edible gardens, obelisk, and bean teepees in a food garden. Right: Front door with Boston ivy and colorful containers

Several people sitting and standing in a garden under an oak tree
Garden lounging under the massive oak tree, beating the heat!

Garden setting of seating and pool
Poolside seating

group of standing adults with the Chicago night skyline behind them
Extra-curricular night out to the Navy Pier to eat ice cream and watch fireworks; L-R, Jock Lewendon CPLD, Viktoria Prudnikova, Katie Weber CPLD, Danilo Maffei CPLD, Gordan Ngo, Lisa Port CPLD, Richard Rosiello

Allee of trees and gravel pathway
Dan Kiley's mid-century allée at the Chicago Botanical Garden

Group of three standing women in the garden next to the lily water feature
Susie Thompson CPLD, Katie Weber CPLD and Chapter President Sue Goetz at the Chicago Botanical Gardens

curving brick pathway and flower bed
Flower border at the Chicago Botanical Gardens

outdoor seating and colorful pots
Café seating and pots at the Chicago Botanical Gardens, Herb and Vegetable garden

meadow field of flowers, dark hedge and city skyline beyond
Fields of flowers including these Echinacea, and copious pollinators at the Lurie Garden meadow, the ‘shoulder hedge' and the city skyline beyond

field of flowers including agastache and echinacea
Prairie style meadow, and biodiverse and ecologically sensitive ‘wild' plantings, surrounding the Field Museum

Curved, reflective sculpture in the middle of a public park in downtown Chicago
The ‘Bean' aka Cloud Gate sculpture, at Millennium Park, an attraction that hosts millions of visitors trying to find themselves in the reflective surface each year.

Tall black high-rise buildings, surrounding an open plaza and an abstract orange sculpture at the base
The grace, beauty, and meditative quality of a good plaza; here with the Mies Van der Rohe-designed Federal building and Calder's Flamingo

Our Farewell Reception landed us on the 99th floor of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower, 1451' tall and currently the tallest building in Chicago at 110 stories). We celebrated the long weekend, took in the amazing vistas, and enjoyed the Chicago skyline, yummy hors d'oeuvres and sunset through the clouds. I met several new designers and conference attendees last week, including new APLDWA member Claire Lidell Hanna, (welcome Claire!) while spending valuable, quality time with all my APLD friends and staff. I have missed this in person event for years now and I cannot recommend it enough. My cup is overflowing.

Tall, black high-rise building in a downtown setting and view from a tall high-rise of downtown Chicago and out to Lake Michigan
Left: Willis Tower, aka the Sears Tower, 99th floor out of 110, where we had our Farewell Reception dinner. Right: The view from the 99th floor of the Willis Tower, looking east towards Millennium Park and Lake Michigan

Despite a two year 'virtual gap', the in person APLD 2022 Chicago Landscape Design Conference did not disappoint, and if anything enlivened my current practice mojo to keep pushing limits, creating beautiful aesthetics, and challenging ecological norms. Thank you APLD!

Congratulations APLDWA Member Robin Parsons

Shout out to APLDWA chapter member Robin Parsons, who received an APLD Silver Award for her Palm Avenue Contemporary project in West Seattle. This award was presented to Robin at the 2022 APLD Conference in Chicago last month, in front of a live audience. Congratulations Robin!

Slide show image of a contemporary garden
Slideshow image of Robin’s award-winning project in West Seattle

Woman accepting an award at a presentation
Robin Parsons accepting her Silver Award plaque from APLD President Eric Gilbey