Making lemonade out of lemons.

Losing my office to the ravages of Hurricane Sandy (as evidenced by the minimal output of blogposts since late October), I invite opportunities to take advantage of the change.

My new landscape design office is on the 26th floor of a building overlooking New York Harbor.  I’ve gotten into the habit of using my iphone to photograph Lady Liberty and Ellis Island from this perspective on a regular basis.  Some of these photos are from the grey days of New York winter, where there is much beauty to observe in its monochromatic light.

Recording the landscape change per the elements, time of day and year is an effective study in “light and landscape”.  Last fall an installation at Storm King Art Center addressed this topic. It is also the notion that A.E. Bye, famed landscape architect conceives in his book “Moods in the Landscape.”

Photographing landscape sites at different times of day, weather and season is an action I regularly perform when analyzing a site and then designing a landscape.  With the beta data included (time and date stamp) among the information a digital camera captures, the photograph is a record, a study aid, a reference to review when making design and planting decisions. “Seeing light” and witnessing the seasonal changes is another tip I pass on to graduate students in landscape design I work with.  Whether it’s becoming intimate with a plant that you’re not familiar with on your route to work each morning thru the year, or making a photographic record of a familiar landscape, you are viewing through a more critical lens.

Landscape is not three-dimensional, rather there’s the fourth element that is time –understanding the complexity of landscape in all its dimensions.  Many clients will request a new residential landscape design for their just bought landscape within three months? Arguably, the less a designer is familiar with a site, the more challenging it becomes to design. How thorough can you design a landscape instantly without understanding it’s sense of place in the landscape and how it changes over the course of time.

A landscape evolves.