Landscape Design School MN /Twin Cities

iclimbtrees(4a)July 25, 2013

I am searching for a college with some type of degree in Landscape Design.
I'm not wanting to go the Landscape Arch route nor do I want to be a Landscaper.
University of Minnesota just did away with their Horticulture Degree and look to be focusing on sustainability and the science end.
My wish is to be gain plant knowledge and technical knowledge as it pertains to creating beautiful spaces.
I am considering going the Master Gardner route but that won't give me the depth of knowledge I wish for.
Anyone know any programs or even certificates in the Twin City area?

Thanks so Much!
P.S....I know I will never become wealthy by taking this path:)

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oldgraymare(4 WI)

River Falls College has a horticulture/designer program. Not too far from the cities.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 11:24AM
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Don't know how convenient any of these would be to you but Rochester Community and Technical College, Hennepin Technical College and Century College all offer horticultural and design programs, typically AS degrees.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I would highly suggest that you check into Hennepin Technical College's horticultural programs.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 2:17AM
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I have some amazine plants in my garden that I purchased through HTC programs. I'm sure you the instructors will help you find your niche. Just call for an appointment to meet with them and take a tour.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 2:20AM
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Rochester Community and Technical College
Hennepin Technical College
Century College
River Falls

Thank you everyone for these great suggestions!
I have done preliminary research on all of them.
To any of you who work on the industry...could you please address these questions?
* Do any of these stand out as well respected schools?
* Are any not well respected?
* Will an AA be sufficient if I plan to focus on design? Or due to the climate (excuse the pun) of the industry- would I be best served with a B.A.

Thank you so much for you time!!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 10:13AM
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trees, it depends on the specific curriculum as to whether any of these are better or worse for design training. Visiting and talking with instructors or even sitting in on a class or two can be helpful. In general, an AA degree typically provides the necessary technical training you need as a designer but there is only so much you can learn in a classroom or from a book. Apprenticing or mentoring with an accomplished designer can be a huge and invaluable learning experience!

FWIW, in all my years as a garden/landscape designer, I have never had a prospective client ask about my education - all they were concerned with were completed designs and could I meet their needs. Now as a horticultural consultant I do get questions from clients asking "how in the world did you ever learn all this stuff?" or similar but that question is more rhetorical curiosity than really inquiring as to my educational background :-))

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Thanks so much for such great advice!
Will begin my meeting with some schools...and see where it takes me.

Take Care!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 9:49AM
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I'm of the belief that at it's root, landscaping is practical art. So a person needs to become a good artist -- who knows about practical matters (like grading, drainage, utilities & physics) in order to be able to "create beautiful spaces." Schooling in horticulture may touch on landscape design and help with learning some of the fundamentals, but it won't ensure that you will become a good landscape designer. (In fact, I think that some of the perspectives coming from the world of horticulture may actually be anti-design.) If I were you, before committing to "getting a degree," I'd consider taking a job with a landscape installation company that is known for good quality work. Within one year you would know about many practical things that some designers probably never learn. During the course of daily work (for which you are getting paid, I might add!!) you will have an inside track to the designer's mind and thinking. Depending on your powers of observation, you may be able to learn more than a school could teach in the same amount of time (like how to make a profit, for example!) Also, you might obtain an inside track on career opportunities. I'm not anti-school. But many times I think it is over-rated. And no matter how low on the pay scale you started, you'd be making more than any student's hourly wage. At the end of one year of working in such a capacity, you'd have a much clearer vision of the best way achieve your goals.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 4:32PM
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Hi Yardvaark!
Great to know that I don't need a pricey degree.
That is great advice regarding the learning of practical matters.
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Hi back and you're welcome.

I'm not saying a "pricey degree" isn't useful, but it depends on what kind of work a person intends to do to know if it's needed, or not. If I was to do it all over again, I think I'd be following my own suggestions above and determining later if I needed the piece of paper to go along with it. There's a lot that can be done without the degree, but one must work their way up the chain of accomplishments ... observing, evaluating and learning as they go.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 6:26PM
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LOL!! While I think apprenticing is an excellent plan ( and I mentioned that myself), it is pretty important to assess the quality of the individual or firm you wish to apprentice with. Since there is really no qualifying or certifying body for landscape designers, skill levels and design aesthetic can vary widely. And since most of the general public has no way of assessing these skills themselves either, popularity of a particular individual or firm is no guarantee of quality work!!

FWIW, there are basic design principals which can and should be taught to anyone entering this field. That's why there are degree programs in this field and scores of textbooks outlining these principles. Not the easiest of concepts to learn on the job with a harried designer/foreperson trying to get a project completed.

And while no client has ever asked me what my educational background was, I have never, ever regretted getting formal design training. Like getting a fine arts degree, learning how to develop aesthetically is just as important - if not more so - than learning the technical functions.

I'd also argue that in no way is horticulture anti-design. Rather, there are a whole lot of designers/landscapers that have not a clue about horticulture and their designs scream it in bizarre and inappropriate plant selection, placement and installation. The key to being a good designer is melding the proper combination of aesthetics, horticulture and technical implementation.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 6:46PM
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"And since most of the general public has no way of assessing these skills themselves either, popularity of a particular individual or firm is no guarantee of quality work!!" Agreed. The best chance of assessing a firm's/designer's skills will be through seeing examples of past work. There might be differences of opinion on who's work is the best quality, but that's the way evaluating art goes.

"I'd also argue that in no way is horticulture anti-design." I see anti-design advice come from all quarters: plant selection, spacing, arranging, and especially, maintenance. Almost all plant maintenance advice comes from the perspective of the plant species ... completely disregarding its setting and how the plant is used. In some cases, those producing the plants are responsible for popularizing inferior structural forms. The scrawny looking crape myrtle where I live -- per the advice of horticulturalists -- comes immediately to mind.

This post was edited by Yardvaark on Sat, Aug 3, 13 at 11:52

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 11:38AM
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If you are proposing that plants should be maintained specifically according to so-called design criteria rather than addressing the needs of the plant, then yes, we have a disagreement :-)) Ideally, a skilled and thoughtful design will consider both good design sense and proper plant selection so that one is not sacrificed at the expense of the other.

As I am both a degreed horticulturist and a landscape designer and practice both of these disciplines simultaneously in my business, I fail to see how one should negate or interfere with the other.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 1:54PM
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"I fail to see how one should negate or interfere with the other." I did not say it SHOULD. I said, by default, frequently does.

"...If you are proposing that plants should be maintained specifically according to so-called design criteria rather than addressing the needs of the plant..." I am not proposing that. Plants offer tremendous latitude in what they require and are usually happy to comply to design standards without "feeling" any loss to so-called horticultural standards (which often are arbitrary.) But design standards don't yet seem to be in the eye of the public, or most professionals. Plants, for the most part, have the ability to serve human needs of some kind ... not just be part of a "museum" collection.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 2:57PM
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Wanted to give a follow-up and maybe ask for a shoulder to cry on:(

Since you are all so knowledgable...could you all please help me put things into perspective.
I followed many of your fantastic suggestions for schools, careeer paths, etc.. While doing this footwork, I decided to apply for the Master Gardners Program in my area (Minnesota, Ramsey Co).
Thought it might be a good starting point.
Well, I was REJECTED. I cried for 2 hours:((
I thought the interview went well. They have unlimited seats for the program, so I can't even blame it on it being full.
For goodness sakes, it's a volunteer position that you pay them to take! I feel that I present well, come from a 15 year background in viticulture (wine grapes), enjoy public speaking.
Shot a show for PBS 2 years ago, in France...on the wine culture. So, if I'm comfortable being on TV, I'm certainly comfortable speaking to people at diagnostic clinics!

And no, I usually don't brag this much:)

I've asked for feedback, but they won;t return my calls. At the very least, I'd like to learn from this experience and become better.

Any thoughts as to why I wasn't accepted?
Should I actually take this as a compliment??

p.s.: I do have a BIG personality so my husband says it's because they're afraid I'm too try to manage me...haha

p.s.s: and yes, GardenGal...on another forum, I know you warned me about MG's

Thanks for you help!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 10:34AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I was (am) a master gardener who moved to a different county. The new county is in a large, metro area and picky about who joins. I was rejected because I have a full time job and they didn't feel that I could fully participate :-)

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 12:40PM
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I can't see that the master gardener program is capable of helping you with your desire to learn about landscape design so, to me, it doesn't seem worth crying about. For that, your powers of observation might be your best hope, if you put yourself in a position where they could be employed and used.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 11:30PM
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Hi Yardvaark,

Thanks for your response!
Yes, for my purposes of career development, you are absolutely correct. An MG program is of no use.
But, in my community (urban), I had several projects that I wanted to pursue. I won't go into detail since I explained this in a previous post. But my wish to do community work is a sidenote to my career path. Hence my pursuit of the MG program and their resources.

Again, thanks for your input,

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 8:03AM
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Typically, rejection of one's application into the MG program is related to the degree of gardening/horticultural experience one has and time commitments. Folks who already have a strong background in horticulture generally are excluded because it is assumed they already have the knowledge base available to answer the questions AND they may not be as easy to train into the methods preferred by that MG chapter. For example, as a degreed horticulturist, I am not even allowed to apply!! (even if I wanted to).

The other factor is one's time commitments. Full time employment or family commitments can reduce the amount of volunteer time one can devote and that can put any candidate pretty far down on the list.

I wouldn't take it personally :-)) While I do think it is a good program, it is not for everyone and if you still have the interest and desire to pursue horticulture and/or landscape design in a more formalized manner, I'd say you just saved yourself some time and $$ that can be focused into a proper, career developing education! And there is all kind of community work you can do without the auspices of an MG title......and you might even get paid for it as well :-)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Hi gardengal,

Good to hear from you..and thanks for your advice.
My background is in winemaking/viticulture of about 15 yrs.
My training was through UC Davis.
Although I only know about grapevines, it might explain their decision.
The only reason I even considered going that route is because in my particular area (urban with many immigrants) most community based Hort projects are bankrupt. My local MG program claims to be into diversity and food to table so thought I could get some support.
Otherwise, yes, a MG title is useless as far as industry pursuits.

On a side note....
I read your GardenWeb Bio and saw that you have dogs.
I have 3.
Here's the million dollar question...
Any suggestions for a dog resilient ground cover??
Would love to know what you use. I'm in zone 4.

Thanks again for your input and hope all is well!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 8:29PM
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