Philosophy Training: Landscape Architecture, Client, Designer, Environs

Mitzi VanSantPHILOSOPHY
I take these words of Russell Page, a famous garden designer, as inspiration for my ideal of the cooperative relationship between client, designer, and environment:

"In the town as in the country, a wise garden designer will study [her] site in silence and consider carefully [her] clients, their taste, their wishes, their way of life, their likes and dislikes, and absorb all of these factors at least as important as the ground that lies before [her]."

The Fragrant Garden is a small residential landscape design office, located in the southeast metropolitan Austin area. Design services are available in greater Austin and along the Highway 71 corridor and into the Houston Metro Area. Mitzi is Sole Proprietor and lead designer, occasionally bringing in other design professionals (such as architects or engineers) to consult on complicated structural issues.

The design process is very personal and driven by the following goals:

  • To make the garden design process a pleasure for both the client and the designer
  • To educate the client about the many possibilities for the garden in terms of both style and structure
  • To develop a plan which takes the client's wishes into consideration and weaves them into a garden based on the basic design principles of unity, scale, time, space division, light and shade, texture, tone and color
  • To coordinate the design phase and the construction phase so that designer and contractor are working together to address client needs and goals
  • To produce a garden that will please the client, be in harmony with the architectural style of the house and the local environment, and remain stable over time


TRAINING
Mitzi graduated from the University of California, Berkeley Extension program in Landscape Architecture in January of 1997. Her 3.9 grade point average was accumulated by taking 17 courses (55 semester units) over a four year period. She has long been interested in gardening and garden history, and made a personal study of both those areas (with a botanical emphasis on Old Roses, fragrant plants, and old fashioned plants in general) that has gone on nearly 35 years.

Mitzi also has experience in managing a 16 acre small ranch/nature preserve in the Lost Pines of Texas. The land was purchased in 2005 and since she has been working with Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologists to create a more stable Pines/Post Oak Savannah eco-system. Removing many (but not all) of the Red Cedar and Yaupon Holly is allowing the Pines, Post Oaks, Hickories, and understory trees and shrubs to survive during years of drought. Through this work she has learned much about native plants and their horticultural requirements. Additional training at the Wildflower Research Center has rounded out her knowledge of native plants of Texas and sustainable landscape practices.

Mitzi's previous 26 years as a Registered Nurse contribute to her ability to organize tasks, space, and time, and her ability to work with many different kinds of people. Helping partners who may have differing visions of the proposed garden to see both what is wanted and what is needed, and to bring the two together, is a specialized service of this small, personalized design firm.

 

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