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So you want help?

Posted by pls8xx z8a AR (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 18, 12 at 11:13

Currently there are discussions here on how this forum functions. What follows are my own ideas on the subject. This forum doesn't work like most help forums. Never has and never will.

Now there are those who come here with a simple question such as whether a certain plant is adaptable to a location. Someone might know the answer and give it. Even better help might be had from one of the plant specific forums. I'm not talking about help of this type, I speak of those who are about to embark on a project that for the poster will be a significant expense and a major redo of a part of their property. Those people almost never receive any real help here. Why?

First, there are a significant number of people who post their questions and then vanish, never to be seen again. I call them "hit and run posters".

Second are those who come here with their mind already made up about what they will do. They're only looking for an endorsement of their plan. All the good advice in the world wont change what they do. You can't help these people.

Now there are a few who come here with an open mind truly seeking help. They don't get any real help either, but the reason is a bit more complicated.

For what follows keep one simple truth in mind; unlike many of the things you buy that can be returned to the store, a landscape is an absolute non-returnable item. What you buy is what you get.

Please follow my analogy. Suppose your goal is to buy a dress for your wife. You ask a group of very knowledgeable people to go to the non-returnable store to make the selection. All the dresses are looked at and there is much discussion on dress features, style, and intended use. Using the excellent advice, you make a selection and take it home. Woops! Wrong dress size. You made a totally useless purchase. That's what happens here; posters fail to adequately define their terrain. A few photos don't get the job done. The landscape suggestions may be good ones, but the chance it will fit your particular terrain is slim and none.

So I caution you, while it may look otherwise, until you give us the correct "dress size", all of the advice is nothing more than what might work somewhere, not what will work for your property.

For these reasons, and after spending years on this forum, I think I can count on one hand those people who have received real help with their particular landscape. Those that did started at the beginning of the design process. Few posters are willing to devote the time and effort needed.

I want to return to the dress analogy. If you are going to design a dress, it's a lot easier to do if it will be worn by a model rather than the first person to walk through the door. You can sometimes hang rags on a 22 year old professional model and it will look good. And you can overlay all kinds of landscaping over the perfect terrain and get something that looks good. But you can't modify the terrain after doing the landscaping. For that reason, landscaping should always start with an assessment of the terrain.

What I'm saying is that there is help available here on this forum, but the poster has to be willing to do their part of the work to get it. I hope those seeking help can see that those knowledgeable people that hang out here sometimes get a bit frustrated trying to help when posters are so willing to run off and start planting from advice based on nothing more than a couple of photos. For myself, I seldom try anymore.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: So you want help?

I agree with you 100% pls8xx but I have a feeling what you say will fall on deaf ears, talking of which you can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear but when you know what you have you can design accordingly this way preventing making a pigs ear out of a silk purse.


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RE: want help?

I meant to add that I have learned a lot from your pragmatism over the years and if someone as brilliant as me (eh drtgirl) can learn something what more needs to be said?


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RE: So you want help?

So basically what you're saying is "garbage in, garbage out"? Absolutely true of just about everything in life.

Me, I rarely get invested in any online discussions, merely intrigued by the problem-solving process found in some threads. And after
I've put my ideas and opinions out there, I can't get upset if the OP cares for them or not. It's his perogative - as foolish as that may be :)
I will have already gotten what I need from the forum - an opportunity to flex the right side of my brain.

I also agree with ink's notion of respectful collaboration. The other powerful word for that is "dialogue"...


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RE: So you want help?

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 18, 12 at 20:55

Perhaps a "What you need to get started" post might help.
Similar to the one put together for pictures.

If there is a basic set of criteria to get things off to a good start that might help. I agree there are folks that hit and run (I provide plant solutions on other forums and sometimes you have the "forum owners" go back and forth but the OP never pipes up to answer questions). But the majority of novices have good intentions, they just don't know where to start.

I completely understand your analogy but I'm personally having a hard time related the analogy to a landscape design solution. Isn't the whole point of an expert to ask the "right" questions to get a better understanding of needs, wants and other considerations. Its like an interview, you won't know until you ask the questions. But more importantly it must go both ways which leads me to believe you're more or less pointing to those that aren't truly vested in developing the dialogue to begin with.


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RE: So you want help?

In starting this thread I had no expectation of changing the way this forum operates. Simply, that isn't going to happen.

One thing I'd like posters to know is that the forum doesn't give up on them, they give up on the forum, or maybe get side tracked.

Every great once in awhile we get a rank amateur come in here willing to start at the beginning and do the work to develop a landscape plan. None of these homeowners know how to do a scaled base plan. But they can learn if they want to. One example that comes to mind is "v1rtu0s1ty". Some may have seen updates of his attractive landscape. But many homeowners would do well to go back at look at where he started. (see link below).

Like I said, there is help to be had here for those that want to start at the beginning and learn something.

Here is a link that might be useful: v1rtu0s1ty- the beginning


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RE: So you want help?

I prefer purses made from cows. But I don't usually carry purses or wear dresses...

The only problem with the dress analogy is that unless your wife is going to get plastic surgery, her terrain is fixed. With landscaping, we often change the terrain; try to turn it into a 22 year old supermodel before we dress it up.

I do however, agree with your premise, if not the analogy. A further problem is that those of us who try to help on this forum spend our valuable time (well, maybe except for Ink) giving ideas and feedback to so many hit and run posters that by the time a v1rtu0s1ty comes along we are drained from the whole process.


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RE: So you want help?

drtygrl said:

"The only problem with the dress analogy is that unless your wife is going to get plastic surgery, her terrain is fixed. With landscaping, we often change the terrain; try to turn it into a 22 year old supermodel before we dress it up."

Why would a homeowner not benefit from doing the same? Are we trying to hide some professional secret to developing good landscapes?

"I do however, agree with your premise, if not the analogy. A further problem is that those of us who try to help on this forum spend our valuable time (well, maybe except for Ink) giving ideas and feedback to so many hit and run posters that by the time a v1rtu0s1ty comes along we are drained from the whole process."

I feel the same way. But I also ask myself, is it just possible that we get a v1rtu0s1ty through here every week. How would we know? The average homeowner comes here without a clue of where to start. Do we guide that person to start at the beginning and go through the design process? Or do we side track him with eye candy photos? I would argue that until the homeowner has fully delineated the space he has, the suggestions we make with photos or otherwise are not much more pointed at his particular site than the multitude of eye candy photos to be found at any library.

I think I'll stop right here. I'm getting dangerously close to the concept karinl laid out in another thread. I saw the replies she got.


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RE: So you want help?

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 19, 12 at 10:01

pls8, I just want to throw this out there.

V1rtu0s1ty had a job in which he had familiarity and ownership of the tools to make sketches like that. The majority of those looking for advice don't. I do understand if someone doesn't want to pay for a professional and comes here for advice they should have a vested interest in taking the time to develop a scaled plan. Although it can be a challenge as its a one time deal.

Not making excuses just saying.


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RE: So you want help?

whaas,

I would agree that for a $200 project, a scaled base map might be a bit over the top. But it's never a bad idea. If you're contemplating a $10,000 project without a base map you're being stupid.

"V1rtu0s1ty had a job in which he had familiarity and ownership of the tools to make sketches like that. The majority of those looking for advice don't."

True, he did come here with some experience with graphics. But if you look at his first graphic posting, it was not to scale and did not come close to representing what he was doing on the ground. Later in the thread he posted a rough sketch that he had done the year before; a crude hand drawing, not to scale. I would say he learned the importance of a scaled map and how to do one from this forum.

"The majority of those looking for advice don't." (have tools to make graphic sketches)"

I would disagree. There are a world of free apps that can suffice. In another thread I tried to demonstrate that something as simple mspaint can be used.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drawing the Plan, mspaint


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RE: So you want help?

And you can always start by using a copy of your lot survey. Most people have one - it's usually a part of the documents you get when you buy the property, or it can be obtained from the appropriate municipal or county authorities. The survey is, of course, to scale and gives you the basics of the house in relation to the property lines.

You can start by scribbling ideas on a copy of that and then move on as necessary to making a larger scale drawing to include details of features like existing trees etc. It's fairly easy to measure where things like that are once you've got the house and lot lines as reference points. In the Dynascape landscape CAD program I took a course on at the University of Guelph last year, the starting point in most cases is to import and trace a copy of the property survey....


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RE: So you want help?

That's a very good point, woodyoak. For many property owners there are many resources that can serve as a big head start to developing a base map; lot surveys, subdivision plats, tax maps, and aerial photos to name a few.


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RE: So you want help?

pls8xx, if AR is Arkansas, what a great place! I lived in Berryville for a couple of years but hung out mostly in Eureka Springs as that's where the friends were. I loved it. (Have not been there for ages but wish I could have a vacation home in Eureka!)

Your message sounds a touch bleak and I'm not sure I agree with the basic premise. I wonder if your standards for getting help on a forum are set too high. The way I look at it is that most residential landscapes are done without any professional guidance at all. They're done by homeowners copying what they see and know. And they're done by builders (usually on a very tight budget) doing the same thing. Most builder landscapes are not done by someone who's actually studied and become accomplished in landscape design. They're done by "landscapers" who've fancied themselves as "acquiring a knack for it." By professional standards most are mediocre or not good. Even people who become bitten by the horticulture bug usually do not produce good landscapes. Their obsession with acquiring all the plants they fall in love with works against them. But to the lay person, all these landscapes are just fine. Most people can live with some very bad landscapes and not mind them at all or be totally unaware of their poor quality.

I agree that the person who comes here is likely to get out of it proportionately what they invest in interacting and sorting through the material that is presented by various posters. Some duck in and out. Some ask a lot of questions and give feedback. They control how much input they will accept. But whatever they take, it's likely more--sometimes much more--than they otherwise would have had. Some say that, and are appreciative, and I believe they're telling the truth.

There are two implications in the statement, "...posters are so willing to run off and start planting from advice based on nothing more than a couple of photos." that I find troublesome. The adage that "a picture is worth a thousand words" is something that people here seem to forget. A picture can contain a tremendous amount of information that otherwise might take a manuscript to describe or explain. I sometimes don't understand the written directions and descriptions that contributors post here. Most lay people do not comprehend plans and specs very well. But they "get" perspectives and elevations. I see offering marked up photos as tailoring information to a poster in a way that is easiest for them to understand. Even if they don't agree with it, they usually understand what's being communicated. I know that some people disagree with my style or technical information and that's fine. I'm not trying to change the world. I think if I defend my own offerings that's about all I can do. But I think that saying pictorial graphics are not helpful, is an oversight.

Further, I think most people who come here are looking for a cheap, quick fix. They can't, or for their own reasons don't want to spend $ to hire a local designer. Sometimes they just want to understand the issues better before they hire someone. They are not looking to learn about and immerse themselves in "the design process." And for the smallish areas that most of them are considering, they can usually get some pretty good answers. (Whaas' current thread on hellstrip comes to mind as one example.) I think it's asking too much to expect visitors to the forum to "start at the beginning of the design process" and work their way through to the final conclusions. In spite of the fact that many of them don't, I believe that what they ultimately produce is better--sometimes far better--than what they they would have produced had not made the visit to this forum.


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RE: So you want help?

Yardvaark,

AR is Arkansas. I live in the central part of the state.

There is much that you have said that I would agree with. You are a relative newcomer to the forum, where I have been here for many years. Know this, you will make a great number of posts before you equal the number of photo mockups I have posted. And when I started doing it there were a number of the professionals here that took a dim view of using a photo editor for anything.

We might ask the question "Do we give the poster what he thinks he wants, or do we give him what he needs?" I am reminded of the old saying "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." I do think you are right; most posters aren't willing to expend the effort to go through design process. For them, maybe something is better than nothing.

What I'm saying is that we should make posters aware that there is another level of help available here and encourage them to take it. Those willing to do the work with forum members looking over their shoulder stand to get it right the first time and be warned of any major mistake. Those that want to wing it can keep redoing until they get something they like. Sometimes they have to live with a bad drainage problem that could have been avoided.

And I do think there is a miscommunication between forum members and posters seeking help. Many of the excellent suggestions are those that will generally work for situations similar to those represented by the poster's photos. But the homeowner takes the suggestion literally as a detailed plan he should implement. It's only when a homeowner has detailed his property with a base map that there is a high probability that the suggestion can be directly applied to his particular site.

I'll change my opinion on this as soon as posters start coming back a year later to show how great their landscape is after building those photo mockups.

Does this mean I'm going to stop posting photo mockups? Not at all, I love my photo editor.


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RE: So you want help?

I'm confused--are you suggesting that the only way to do landscape design (or perhaps even interact with this forum) is to be willing to strip an area down to carefully sculpted soil and structure and build up from there? What about those of us who have some structure in place that makes it impossible to strip it down to a blank slate?
I've also been trying to work with the drawing plans for my front yard this morning, and it's very difficult for me to work digitally instead of the old standby of graph paper. I'm pretty computer savvy, too, so I can't imagine trying to do it if I didn't already spend most of my fiddling with a computer. pls8xx, I really admire your mspaint skills, but what comes easily to you may not be so simple to the rest of us! I'm not trying to be rude or be a difficult "rank amateur," but I'm here, ready to learn, with what seems like a decent amount of prior knowledge and preparation, and I'm wondering if you're expecting a bit too much.

PS. The lot survey that came with the house is pretty crappy. It's literally impossible to make simple deductions from it, such as how wide is my driveway? The surveyer did a sloppy job with everything but the house, so it's not terribly useful as a starting point.


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RE: So you want help?

"...you will make a great number of posts before you equal the number of photo mockups I have posted." I will get right on that!

pls8xx, I believe you are possibly short-changing the intelligence of many homeowners who post here. By and large, I would guess that most of them are somewhat skeptical and not willing to spend cash without convincing themselves, first (probably using other resources, too) that they are doing the right thing. I "feel" skepticism coming from some posters. Certainly, not all that I offer advice to are taking it. And those who are, are not taking all of it, I suspect. (While this disappoints me, I'm sure there are others whom it thrills. Therefore, balance and harmony is achieved!) To be sure, the advice coming from the forum arrives in 30 different flavors. So whether it's via photo, verbal, telepathic or whatever, the OP has a lot to filter out before they arrive at a workable game plan.

Now, I like the idea of informing posters that there is another level of help here and can see how it would be extremely useful for someone doing the larger project... half or all their yard or hardscape & such...if they were willing to put in the time and effort. (It would be nice to have a basic information page that attaches to this particular forum that explains how posters can best obtain value from the forum. Also, it would be nice to explain some basic things just once and be done with it. I've had dismal results with the search feature of Gardenweb when I've tied to use it for many queries so can understand why people would repeat questions that have been dealt with before.) And, you're right, it would be nice to SEE results. If people would return and show what they've accomplished with the advice they got, it would be useful and enjoyable.


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RE: So you want help?

pbl_ge said:

"I'm confused--are you suggesting that the only way to do landscape design (or perhaps even interact with this forum) is to be willing to strip an area down to carefully sculpted soil and structure and build up from there? What about those of us who have some structure in place that makes it impossible to strip it down to a blank slate?"

Bulldoze the site? Not at all! What I am saying is that it's important to quantify the space you have with some appropriate precision and identify all those constraints dictated by existing structure you choose not to remove. It's part of the assessment of the resources available to you.

"I've also been trying to work with the drawing plans for my front yard this morning, and it's very difficult for me to work digitally instead of the old standby of graph paper. I'm pretty computer savvy, too, so I can't imagine trying to do it if I didn't already spend most of my fiddling with a computer. pls8xx, I really admire your mspaint skills, but what comes easily to you may not be so simple to the rest of us! I'm not trying to be rude or be a difficult "rank amateur," but I'm here, ready to learn, with what seems like a decent amount of prior knowledge and preparation, and I'm wondering if you're expecting a bit too much."

There is nothing wrong with working with paper and pen. One can always take a picture of your drawing and upload it, just as you did on your thread. I hope that the elements you show are accurately placed from measurements.

Thank you for your comments on my use of mspaint. I normally use a full fledged photo editor. That was the first time I had ever used pmspaint. It took me a little bit to get the hang of it, but it's not rocket science. Some will find it easier than others.

I have been known to help by doing some of the drawing. If you would like to dabble in computer drawing, I could maybe convert your hand drawing to a computer one to give you a head start. What I can't do is make the needed measurements of the site. I try to base my expectations on the abilities of the poster and their effort to learn.

"The lot survey that came with the house is pretty crappy. It's literally impossible to make simple deductions from it, such as how wide is my driveway? The surveyer did a sloppy job with everything but the house, so it's not terribly useful as a starting point.

You survey maybe sloppy, but it likely contains a lot of useful information such as the lot dimensions and boundary. This can be used to verify and check for major errors in the drawing you made. I suggest you mask off any personal information, take a picture, and upload it.


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RE: So you want help?

I do as I'm told. ;-)

I would definitely encourage the "Forum owners" to take this opportunity to generate an introductory FAQ or two for newcomers. Most of the other forums have them, so it's a little odd that this one doesn't. Since there's community dialogue at present about forum processes, this may be a great time. They could include the information in the link below that I use as a guide to post pictures and links (the author somehow managed to put the exact text, instead of needing to include instructions like "Change the [] into <>" which can be very confusing), some general guidelines about what information is needed for good response, perhaps your guide to MSpaint, and perhaps some community-generated suggestions about how to best use this forum.

My two cents. =)

Here is a link that might be useful: Awesome html intro


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RE: So you want help?

So you want help? Yeah, I could use help. I need help improving the design of my garden. I could write a book about what is wrong, much of which is beyond my control or would be too costly to fix. Yet I garden for my own pleasure and enjoy my plant zoo. I would like to stop fiddling with bed shapes and focus on the maintenance tasks that I enjoy despite my worsening arthritis.

Yardvaark has posted about the differences between gardening and landscaping. I am far more interested in the former. This forum seems to attract few avid gardeners and, in the past, many members of the other gardening forums avoided this one like the plague. (Unfortunately, many interesting GWebbers have disappeared entirely). I suppose no plant collector wants to be told to cull their zoo. I like flowers! I lost a mature tree in my back garden and want to get a new one asap. The most aesthetically pleasing placement would probably be in the middle of the vegetable garden.

I think many new posters do not want a garden, they want their house landscaped. These are vastly different things, to me.


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RE: So you want help?

Your dress analogy makes perfect sense until you throw in the existence of the Kitchen Forum. Where people have been giving and rec'ing advice on complex issues involving everything from plumbing, electrical, design, architecture, lighting and so on. I couldn't have done my kitchen without those folks and I couldn't have returned my kitchen if I wasn't happy with the end result either.

I also hired a kitchen designer and general contractor. The free advice I rec'd on the kitchen forum allowed me to interface with those professionals in a meaningful way to get the best end product. I had no reno experience when I went into it and asked a lot of stupid questions which were answered in a respectful helpful manner. Not all the advice was helpful, but I could take what I wanted from it. Seven years later, I still love hanging out on kitchens.


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RE: So you want help?

maureeninmd,

Landscaping is the modification of a terrain to a accommodate a desired use. Gardening qualifies.


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RE: So you want help?

daisychain01,

I'm glad to hear that things are great at the Kitchen Forum. I've just got one question - When you went shopping for appliances for your new kitchen, did you take a photo of the kitchen with you? Or did you take the measured dimensions of the space they would fit in? I suspect there are many here at the Landscape Forum that would go with only the photo.


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RE: So you want help?

When I posted about what stove I should get, they asked how much space I had. I got out my tape measure and checked. They also asked about my cooking habits and budget. Are really you telling me that the posters here, if asked, wouldn't measure if you suggested? If so, you're right, they are too stupid to get advice. Continue as usual - it seems to be working for you.


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RE: So you want help?

What I'm saying is that if they did their kitchen the way they do landscaping there wouldn't be any measurements taken.

(That's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.)


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make it fit

daisychain01, you might get a kick out of this ...
We have a very tiny kitchen. When my wife bought new appliances she did a careful measuring job then bought an oversize stove and a huge frig. They all fit- barely. You can open the dishwasher door on one side of the kitchen. You can open the frig door on the other side. But you you can't open both at the same time.


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RE: So you want help?

Too funny pls8xx. I wonder if she had taken a picture with her to the store, if the appliance salesperson would have sold her different appliances (sorry, couldn't resist).

Now kitchens is a pretty feel good place, but I'm not saying there aren't stupid questions asked (over and over and over again), as well as regular threads chastising posters for their (lack of) etiquette (in fact everything you listed in your OP is true of posters on kitchens). But I wonder why it has such a feel good atmosphere and reputation while this forum ... not so much. I'm assuming you all know that you've been occasionally accused of eating your young by posters on other forums.

As an early years educator, I often think I have a brilliant method of teaching a concept. Only sometimes they don't get it. Then I have to change my method and explain it a different way. And sometimes when I get really frustrated, i give myself a timeout and just walk away until I can come back and try (yet) again.

So how is it going so far? Do you think the recent discussions are helpful for those with questions and those with answers? I know the snarky comments are easy to make in these discussions (I'm only referring to myself here), but underneath it, are things progressing in a positive direction?


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RE: So you want help?

"So how is it going so far? Do you think the recent discussions are helpful for those with questions and those with answers? I know the snarky comments are easy to make in these discussions (I'm only referring to myself here), but underneath it, are things progressing in a positive direction?"

Change? Nope, not gonna happen.

Now about that reputation we have here. I might just be a part of that. But I assure you, compared with my treatment of incompetent professionals, I'm on my best behavior here.

Once I had construction oversight for everything but the buildings on a sixteen acre project where my employer was the client that hired an architect to do the design. He did the building design himself and looked for the cheapest civil engineer he could find to go joint venture on the site plans.

The plans were a disaster. When I reviewed them there was a dirt quantity error that would have run the project way over budget. Grading would have destroyed every tree on the project and resulted in something like a WalMart parking lot. Strangely, their cute perspective rendering showed lots of trees.

I'm out on the project the first morning and the architect drives up and comes over with a set of plans which he lays out on a truck hood.

He talks about the project for a few minutes. When he's through he asks me if I could use an extra set of plans. I pick up the plans and flip through a page or two and say "I've studied the concept and I think I have extracted all the worthwhile information." I walk over to a ditch and threw the plans in the water. Turning back to the architect "I'm ready to build this project now, you're welcome stay and watch if you don't get in the way."

He loaded up and left. No doubt in a hurry to call my boss. The contractor was LHAO


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RE: So you want help?

My mistake, from your OP I was under the impression you weren't happy with the way things operated on this forum and wanted things to change. I must have misread.

I see your story as a wasted opportunity to educate someone. That architect is probably still out there creating lousy plans, but it sure must have felt good for you for those few minutes and now you have this great story to tell.

I wonder if Gardenweb couldn't form another forum (garden design possibly?) rather than infringe on this one.


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RE: So you want help?

The forum won't change much and it really doesn't need to. It is different from a lot of the other forums. Some have a problem getting used to it.

I shouldn't have told that story last night, less I encourage someone to do something similar. Putting your job on the line and assuming authority and control way beyond what was given to you is generally not a smart move. I did it successfully several times over my career, but even if you get away with it there are consequences. Because then everyone is always a bit wary of you, it screws up the personal relationship development with everyone and you can never go back.

And that project, look at what I brought on myself. Instead of just running the job, coasting along and spending a lot of time at the coffee shop, I had to do all that work that the civil engineer should have done and didn't. It was 10 and 12 hour days for several months for the same pay. I risked my job for that? What was I thinking.

But I did get my part of the project built for the budget amount and everyone liked it. The company acted as their own GC for the buildings. Those guys didn't throw away their plans, but they should have. They had over 200 change orders and it got totally out of control; way over budget.


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RE: So you want help?

good lord....all i gotta say. way over the top, ya know? as daisychain stated, other forums here can give excellent advise/ideas with a picture, but landscape finds it all so difficult! ;)
actually... i think these threads are rather insulting to us visual, what would ya do kinda folks. we aren't as stupid as you are making us out to be ;) if you care to help us...fine! if not , don't! but don't critisize those that are willing to give/show ideas.

too funny about the wife/kitchen fiasco....perhaps she should have posted a picture and gotten some advice on the kitchen forum ;)


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RE: So you want help?

I really am hearing you that this forum doesn't need to change (although I'm not sure I'm really convinced since you and others are obviously pissed about many issues- most notably hit and run posters). And I'm absolutely serious about starting a new forum for dealing with what I think Yardvaark referred to as minor residential projects. There is obviously a large group of people who want a kitchens-like forum for landscape/garden design. This just isn't it and like you say, it may never be. So why try to change it and not just start a new entity with a different agenda.

I should probably just stop here (or several posts ago), but this is such a sexy issue, I just can't. In terms of changing the nature of hit and run posters and other such, I have to wonder what is happening here. On all forums there are always a few hit and run posters, but on most design forums it is the norm for people to post progress pics and final product pics and engage in a back and forth until the project is complete. And then many of those posters stick around to comment (using knowledge they've gained from the forum and elsewhere) on other posts and projects. You sound fed up enough with the hit and run and other issues to stop posting. I think that would be a shame. What if there was an easy fix, would you be interested?


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RE: So you want help?

christina923

Most of the people here do want to help. But those of us that have more experience than the average layman often see a potential problem outside the interest of the poster. Mostly our words of caution go unheeded.

And I don't know what it is about women. They want a frig big enough to live in and a vacuum that will suck asphalt off a road. That frig has a door 8 inches thick and still it's so deep my arm will barely reach the back. And you darn sure can't see what's back there.


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RE: So you want help?

"The forum won't change much and it really doesn't need to. It is different from a lot of the other forums. Some have a problem getting used to it." If that sums it up, I guess I, too, misunderstood the original message of this thread. pls8xx, with that statement I think you may have eyes wide shut. There is a problem with tone and attitude coming from professional types (or those who fancy themselves as such) that really seems to turn people off, or so they're saying. And from what I've seen (and felt) I believe it. A free forum that's open to anyone to give or receive advice is not the place for a prima donna attitude or posturing. I can't see what positive purpose it could serve. People offering advice here are not going to fix all that's wrong with the world. With the level of disagreement even about WHAT LANDSCAPE IS and how to fix it, that exists on this forum, there couldn't possibly be consensus. So what good does it do to promote an "exclusive" tone to the forum. On one hand, you're saying that the help offered is futile. And on the other hand, you're saying that the forum doesn't need to change. I'm not in agreement with this.


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RE: So you want help?

My initial experiences on this forum were not happy ones, way back when... But I'm opinionated enough and wanted more than just plant discussion, so I stuck around. Now it's the forum I visit every day to see what's up. Every 6 mos.-a year or so, there is a round of angst and recriminations like the one that has just happened. Believe it or not, the tone on this forum has gotten more civil over the years. As I have commented often, my interests, taste/style is largely out of sync. with most people these days. I have broad interests in garden history in all its aspects (including esoteric ones like history of aesthetics...) I'm not a 'pro' but have been gardening literally all my life (I was about 3 years old when I started helping my mother in the flower garden her grandmother had started in the late 1800s and helping my grandfather in the veggie garden...) I am, to put it mildly, an avid gardener. I use 'garden' in the broad sense of everything to do with the entire space - our 1/4 acre is 'wall-to-wall' garden. While I have had difference of opinions with posters here at times, this is the only forum I have found on the Web that has a broad enough range of posters to provide an interesting range of discussions from providing straightforward advice to basic homeower requests to exploring/discussing/debating more 'theoretical' issues, often as tangents from basic posts (which may leave the OP bewildered but provide enjoyment for other participants here.) It's that mix of interests and personalities that keeps me coming back here. Yes, periodically manners go off the track - especially in winter when everyone is a bit bored and cranky! But there is value here for those who are willing to seek it and it would be a shame if the baby got thrown out with the bathwater.


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RE: So you want help?

Yardvaark said:

"So what good does it do to promote an "exclusive" tone to the forum."

I don't promote this forum as exclusive. If a homeowner has a landscape problem this is the right place to come for answers.

"On one hand, you're saying that the help offered is futile."

Often true. But the cause lies with the one seeking help, not the forum members.

I think the reputation of this forum is mostly a bad rap. I don't think you have to look far for an example.

There is currently a very nice lady seeking help with a steep slope behind her house. She asks a very simple question that is basically "What can I plant to make the situation better."

I hope she doesn't get the simple answer she's looking for because she's asking the wrong question. She did get the very best advice possible from 'adriennemb' -

"Yikes, I would heartily recommend consulting a local LA about the runoff and stabilization issues before adding any cosmetic plant material. It would be money well spent in the long run. Utimately, it looks as if much of your budget will need to be allocated to "invisible" yet proper corrective drainage systems and hardscape. Not sexy but what else can you really do...

Will she heed that advice? Probably not. It would not surprise me if she posts on another forum that her experience at Landscapes was that she asked a simple question and the reply she got was about something she doesn't know, doesn't care about, and didn't ask for. And our snooty reputation continues.

You said:
"There is a problem with tone and attitude coming from professional types (or those who fancy themselves as such) that really seems to turn people off, or so they're saying. And from what I've seen (and felt) I believe it."

There could be some truth in that. Since you posted it on my thread perhaps some of it is directed at me. Let me say that my expertise does not extend to all areas of landscaping. While I feel free to participate in any discussion on principals and theory, I try to refrain from giving specific advice to homeowners outside my area of knowledge. If and when I enter a discussion, it's usually only after I have spent an hour or two studying all of the information available.

Some background on me- I started following a survey crew around on civil projects when I was 10 years old. By the time I got out of high school I could operate all standard survey instruments and perform most field engineering calculations.

A lot of my career was spent working for engineering consultant firms followed by employment in land development. I have assisted legal counsel in civil litigation on drainage and flooding issues on many occasions and been qualified and testified as an expert witness at trial. My fees for many years has been similar to that charged by competent attorneys.

In short, over 50 years of experience on what is done with land. I have visited and made a visual assessment of tens of thousands of properties. Am I a bit of a prima donna? Maybe, but I like to think I earned it.


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RE: So you want help?

pls88xx...you don't wanna know whats back there... ;)

anyways....yup, this is a landscape design forum...and some of you are professionals at it.

i, as an avid reader, in the kitchen, home decorating, and this forum on a lesser degree, appreciate the "free advice" *gasp* that is given. the visuals that are done, some basic principles that are shared. personally i find it disturbing that a forum would expect posting conformation of its members.

yes, it would be nice if those that ask for some guidance could, as suggested, call in a professional to address ALL the pitfalls that MAY come up..... but honestly most of us can not afford that. so we muddle through, drag out the wheelbarrow and shovel...and ask some dumb and not so dumb questions....;) and with a little bit of luck, it turns out ok! but a lot of the joy was in the journey...


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RE: So you want help?

Oh I agree, there is a lot of fun in learning or just trying something new. Buy some new furniture or move what you have around. Try some new plants or move them to a different location. What's not fun is paying to have your house jacked up and the foundation repaired or having your yard torn apart to fix bad grading.


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RE: So you want help?

shush!!!! don't jinx me!!! just moved in here 7 months ago...we are still discovering! think we are almost caught up...well except some cross sections on the deck that i guess were cracked from a hot tub previous owners had so that were those loud bangs at night! water in the basement, whatcha expect of a house with marsh in the back and all the rain we've had! hmmm....wonder if i should post that marsh, the trees that had to come down, and the boulders that were moved for the septic years ago and ask...what would you do? ;)


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RE: So you want help?

There are probably several people who contribute to this forum who have earned the right to a prima donna complex. But that doesn't change the need to keep it very under control, or better yet, secret. It's a bit like trying to catch flies with vinegar.

I guess I see people complaining that sometimes, those who offer help seem a little too full of themselves... maybe even little nasty. What would be the point of that? It doesn't matter how well qualified a person is. Manners are manners. Also, I think some of those offering help tend to misread or misinterpret the post and then jump the OP's case. No point in that either. If a person is not familiar with this discipline, they very well may not see far enough into the issues to know how to ask the right questions. That's understandable. Again, no reason to jump their case or give attitude.


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RE: So you want help?

For many years I never spoke of what my background was. Many here may have made a good guess based on my posts. That changed for me as more and more homeowners were advised to install those stupid french drains and dry wells in inappropriate locations. I felt that someone with experience should step forward with the truth.

There is a huge difference between a concept and a plan. A concept details a desired result, where a plan details the materials, methods. and operations needed to produce a known result. Concepts are a great tool as long as you don't try to use them as a plan.

Concepts sometimes masquerade as plans. I've seen elaborate autocad drawings that were in reality nothing but a concept. Going forward with construction with a concept is what gets a lot of projects in trouble. (You already know what I do if you show up at construction with concept drawings; I throw them in the ditch.)

Lately I've seen a lot of edited photos purported to be a plan. I have a problem with that. Such photos are a concept, not a plan. They can be very useful as a concept, but it is a disservice to a homeowner to call them a plan.

I'm blunt. Some may not like my style but I don't care to write a book. Now before folks start to think that I'm suggesting you should have some credentials to post on this forum, I say hogwash. Some of the best ideas come from rank amateurs. The odds may not favor it, but it does happen. Those who take the time to study the problems given and formulate an answer stand to learn a lot more than those that don't. You can't learn to swim sitting on the bank, jump in.


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RE: So you want help?

"Lately I've seen a lot of edited photos purported to be a plan." Can you give a recent example of that? (especially if it's mine!)


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RE: So you want help?

Yardvaark,

I'm not picking on you. The most blatant examples are at another site that I don't care to mention. But I see this forum moving in that direction. It's not the photos I find problematic, but the text accompanying them that might mislead a homeowner to think it can serve as a plan. It gets down to what is in the homeowners mind, which is difficult to know. I have no opinion on whether the text that you use with your photos is perceived as a concept or a plan. Since I have no control, it would be useless for me to study your posts.

On the other hand it could be that you consider your photos to constitute a plan. In that case we have a difference of opinion.


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RE: So you want help?

Thank you, pls8xx.
Your original post describes what I remember from around here. I do like the energy and input from new voices. What I'm less sure about is whether the old way will continue, the way that helped some of us work through our original post until we came away with something far more than what we came for in the first place.

Life got very busy for me for a while. I haven't been around and don't have a clue if you remember me from before.
Here's what I always thought when I came to a post from you: Very practical. And, very generous with your time.
Also, I thought of you as very much the gentleman.
Still think so ... Loved your story about the plans and the creek. Gentleman are permitted to protect their integrity. It often means they are also protecting others.

(Learned the above lesson from my father, a geologist with the USGs in his early career, surveying Western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. My brother, a PE, still occasionally has had reason to look at old survey maps and has found Dad's name on some. I was born in Ft. Smith. Mom's family are all AR folk. )

Maybe I'm wrong on this one, but I don't recall you ever being one who talked down to someone who posted. You've been more forthcoming here.

Just keep in mind, Pls8xx, it's all about making sure you are not planting a garden. They are not allowed in a real landscape. Just keep the garden out. and remember how to create a proper tree form. Tidy is very important, and that includes shaving all your trees. Nothing is a tree if it's a shrub. Oh, and plant ivy. Lots of ivy. Who cares if you--the homeowner--don't like ivy. Never mind the negative slope toward your basement window. Oh, Plant a little ivy there, too.

And the really really weird thing is that I like the new guy. It's just so funny when he calls a pro out for talking folks down.

So, please, pls8xx, keep doing for this forum what you do so well.


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fond memories

Thank you wellspring. I remember you well, and I suspect I have learned more from your posts than you have from mine.

I'm not going anywhere. The only way to upset an old redneck is to ask to borrow his gun (I don't have one) or insult his dog. And I'm not posting any photos of my mutt.

I guess I better not be posting any photos of my own yard since it's planted in flowers and a few vegetables. But some day when I'm too old to garden, I'm going to take all that I have learned here and convert it to a conventional landscape. Maybe some of the fine folks here will help me with the aesthetics.


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RE: So you want help?

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 20, 12 at 23:58

I find myself finding some common cause with various people here, it's never all or nothing and there's always many different ways to solve design problems. I'm probably considered by some here as being one of the more opinionated responders on this forum, but I also feel anyone not put off by botanical Latin and willing to consider that I might have regional expertise regarding plant choices might not be so quick to blow off my attempts to respond. I tend to be a bit less diplomatic with replies when it is a fellow professional giving what I'd consider an unbalanced reply. I try not to get personal about it, but where's the harm in playing the occasional role of devil's advocate? For what it's worth, I don't believe that landscaping can't also appeal to gardeners or collectors, and also work with strong nicely designed and detailed site planning and design. I'm definitely not a big fan of simplistic planting plans that hew to a more "commercial landscape" approach. Generalizing here, but too often such approaches seem too devoid of personality or local regional context.


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RE: So you want help?

Well now, if everyone is going to start being reasonable and getting along, it's going to be a boring 4 weeks until spring.

You know what's going to happen now, don't you? Word will spread that you don't eat your young and you'll get all sorts invading landscaping ;-)


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RE: So you want help?

"It's just so funny when he calls a pro out for talking folks down." So, wellspring, you think there's a need to talk folks down?


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RE: So you want help?

"So, wellspring, you think there's a need to talk folks down?"

Where the hell did that come from?

Yardvaark, I admit I am an opinionated, blunt, grumpy old man. But I have been here for many years and if I have offended people they have not complained. That is, until you came along to point out that my demeanor, or others like me, might be lacking. Is it not a bit strange that I, with all my character flaws, have existed here for so long in harmony with the many pros, semi-pros, and well-studied amateurs, whereas you with all your charm seem to be so edgy, acting like you have a target on your back?


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RE: So you want help?

"Where the hell did that come from?" It was a general comment from wellspring. I don't think it had anything to do with you pls8xx. And I "did not come along to point out [your] deamanor." I'm talking about anyone who posts in a tone that seems angry and haughty... which many complain about. Don't take it personally. In case you hadn't noticed, I can be blunt, too! And I don't think being blunt, by itself, is nasty. Wasn't really thinking about you AT ALL relative to comments in this vain. Take it easy.

No one has ever accused me of having charm before!


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RE: So you want help?

Wellspring, glad you are back. I am so tempted to add to your garden, tree and ivy list. Love your sense of humor.

Bahia, if it means anything coming from a snarky poster like me, I consider your posts to be very diplomatic and measured. Especially on fshyplnts recent thread - its a perfect example of what is happening, imo.

pls8xx I agree with the thoughts you share here. I have often felt that everyone has a unique perspective that contributes to the discussion, especially your site expertise. I appreciate blunt and value concise.


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RE: So you want help?

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 21, 12 at 11:20

Selective quotes don't necessarily reflect the actual message. Wellspring also wrote that she didn't recall him talking down to posters. I think you're more likely responding to sarcasm about the "English Ivy" comments, which are clearly a response to the other sarcastic comments made in response to Kim's quite reasonable comments on how ivy can be a problem here in California. I would have to agree that Yardvaark's approach can be both helpful and a walking target at times, and didn't grasp the magnitude until I saw some of the other hot topics floating around currently.

As Yardvaark has given his background as a campus grounds maintenance crew at one point, it explains a lot about a landscape versus garden point of view, as well as a preference for monotype plantings such as ivy. I'd have to agree that ivy and turf can be easier to maintain over large areas and generally also require less of a skill set to keep looking good. Definitely points in their favor for certain uses, but it crosses the line when one refuses to see that certain plants are/can be real problems in other parts of the country. Defending a point of view is one thing, but sarcastic replies based on the perception of being personally attacked are what I'm seeing here. On the other hand, at least one poster does seem to want a target to aim at on Yardbaark's back.

I see a lot of enthusiasm as well as experience/knowledge behind some of your posts, even when I don't always agree with them. I will continue to react in my own fashion when I feel I can add something pertinent, as I suspect other long term posters will. A little orneryness in the depths of winter seems to be typical in a lot of these garden related forums. I only wish that all of us can see the kernels of truth that may apply to all of our responces and reflect upon how common courtesy is the best policy over the long term.


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RE: So you want help?

Yardvaark,

I'm gad to hear some of your remarks were not directed at me. I guess I was confused because I can't think of a member prone to actions that might be perceived as bad behavior other than me. Well, there is that guy Inkognito. His wit is sooo deep I'm almost certain his posts contain hidden meanings I can't grasp. It makes me feel dumb, but I never thought of it as offensive. I'll ask you now, is that bad behavior.


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RE: So you want help?

You're hardly dumb. After spending time here and on HT, I even get mixed signals on what might be considered bad behavior given we all have different pain threshholds.

With some of Ink's posts, I have to read them once to mentally add punctuation, then again to grasp some meaning. I will admit to a sense of being somewhat "inadequate" when subsequent posters follow with "great insight", yadda yadda yadda. It might be considered bad form to ask to have it all parsed out.

No offense intended, but I often think back to college (or to staff meetings at work) with the usual brown nosers looking thoughtful and nodding in assent without really having a clue. Not calling anyone out though.


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RE: So you want help?

Hey(exclamation mark) I thought we were having a pop at pls over here, (comma) with a side order of yardvaark (full stop)Now we seem to be having a go at me (comma)not that there is anything unusual in that (full stop) Sob (exclamation mark)


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RE: So you want help?

"There are probably several people who contribute to this forum who have earned the right to a prima donna complex."

Hmm.

I never minded poster "attitude" here all that much. But it's surprising that those who display it are sometimes shocked, shocked at getting disrespect or snark in return.
An even more dismaying possibility is that if you announce your departure in a huff, the forum will keep moving merrily along without you. It's happened more than once.


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RE: So you want help?

A fundamental issue is that we rarely see ourselves as others see us, so it's always a shock to hear/read a description of yourself that's at odds with your internal image of yourself....


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RE: So you want help?

I find it interesting that people who make no other contribution to this forum come piling on when there is a chance to gossip about or complain about those who do contribute. I don't know what to call it but I do know that bees are attracted to nectar and flies are attracted to sh*t.


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RE: So you want help?

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 21, 12 at 17:43

A sign of the times, people like to pile on when the situation presents itself. I don't know if it was really any different pre-internet days, but the "Jerry Springer" approach to discourse is so pervasive, there is no turning back. It is what it is, and people can choose to dwell in it or attempt to rise above it. At least it has never resulted in physical threats or name calling as I've seen on some other horticulture/design forums...


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RE: So you want help?

Or, perhaps, lurkers feel so strongly about the issue that they feel that they have to contribute?

After all, the original post, which created all the controversy, was against what most people love about internet forums, ie anybody is free to contribute in any way they want, and the only real constraint is to be civil to others.


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RE: So you want help?

This has been very informative and changed the way I think.I have never posted because I'm terrible at drawing, graphs, measurements and don't take photos. A purely verbal description of a design problem is a waste of other people's time. But if I become committed enough to improve some skills, I will think several times before I post about how to present the problem and how to convey the information and challenge succinctly.

You folks really opened up the process of exchanging information as well as the history of some personal interactions and feelings that periodically bubble up. I'll read this forum with a different perspective understanding what I do now.

Thanks,
idabean/Marie

who lurks here quite often.


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RE: So you want help?

"After all, the original post, which created all the controversy, was against what most people love about internet forums ..."

That comment reminded me that yesterday I was wondering, if we were to rate this forum on its level of success, what would we base that rating on? Would it be general popularity, how pleasant the forum is to visit? Maybe it should be based on the average number of responses to a thread. I've seen forums where a post gets no responses and that is certainly not a successful forum. Or should we rate Landscapes on the quality of the posts? What would "quality" be? Or something else? All of the above? None of the above? What say you.


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RE: So you want help?

Well, in case you were asking me :) , I see forums mostly as a place for people to discuss what they love/interested in and have fun while doing it. There are regulars (having fun), lurkers (trying to learn something), and bunch of annoying newbies with their silly questions ;). Overall, the participation is probably the major criteria for success. However, for regulars, the level of stimulating discussion (ie amount of fun) is probably more important, whereas for lurkers, it is how much they can learn, and for newbies, it is whether they can get a satisfactory answer to their question.
Personally, I mostly lurk on DIY and garden forums, and I find internet forums to be the most valuable learning tool.


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RE: So you want help?

I do see where one of the "controversial" threads has been taken down. Enough said.

Wonder if some folks who briefly stop by this particular forum by can't get passed the idea that good, bad, and indifferent aren't necessarily so simply because one says/thinks it is. Perhaps that's hard to accept; perhaps
shattering preconceived notions is thought to be cold and snarky. A thread on planting the resulting several thousand winter-sown seedlings would be "to plotz" in some quarters; improving curb appeal would be met with unbridled enthusiasm elsewhere. Picking your audience comes to mind.

I don't know what sustains this forum if not for the endless supply of posters who feel some inner drive to make their piece of God's Little Acre into more than it currently is. Responders are pretty generous with their time and expertise.

Theory is fine, intellectual stimulation is terrific. It's all good. If it weren't, this all would have dried up and blown away ages ago. And if someone gets antsy about the less toothsome threads, either start one that satisfies or scroll on by. If nature abhors a vacuum, it fills up - and so it goes with forum responders.


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RE: So you want help?

Fly here.

Probably shouldn't post now as I've been up half the night with a sick kid and lack of sleep makes me grumpier than an old timer on the landscaping forum, but I really have to take issue with the dismissal of all "drop ins" as ambulance chasers.

I think it's pretty clear that there are a significant number of people who are interested in participating in a forum on landscape/garden design, but havent felt that this was the forum for them.

Pls8xx (through his willingness to honestly share his perspective) has convinced me that he's right and that this forum isn't going to change and that it could be for the best. The topics brought up and discussed, benefit from the wicked back and forth you all are capable of. You seem to all agree you have thick skins and can take it (well, except for during the long winter when skin chafes).

What you have to understand is that, right now, there is no where else for those of us who desperately want to learn, grow and contribute to a garden design forum but dont have a googleplex years of experience and skin like an elephant. Some of us like holding hands and singing koom by ya at the end of a really significant thread.

The only way I can personally judge the success of a forum is how it works for me. I dont care if it's popular or not. I have a full-time professional job and a busy family, I just want a place I can go and learn (and contribute) a little bit about garden design I know I'm not alone in this.

So what is the solution?


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RE: So you want help?

daisychain you are exactly right. The link I actually click on is the garden design link, not the landscape design link. I think if a bunch of us contacted GW and asked for a new forum and the garden design link on the far side of the front page go to that new forum it would be beneficial for not only a lot of us but a lot of newbies coming into the forum. In fact I am going to do that next.

The thread that started the nasty one has been come back into and lectured to the OP about why they should do things another way and home forum has been blamed for taking down those links. I for one would love a nice forum for garden design.
CH


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RE: So you want help?

chohio, I've written several times about it before and could not agree with you more that "garden" and "landscape" design would be best as separate forums. Each discipline has it's particular direction and motivation that drives it. I think this would do a great deal to alleviate some of the pressures that are needlessly felt in this forum, where it's all lumped together. For myself, I cannot think of a reason NOT to separate these two areas into different forums. There is a forum for every plant type, garden type and locality. But for some reason, when it comes to design, GW seems to think there's only one kind. It's not as though it would take any more hard drive space!


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RE: So you want help?

Separate forums? I would disagree. Some on here might like for gardeners to leave so that all discussions were on principals and theory. The forum would dry up and blow away. It's the posters that come here not knowing anything that keeps the activity up and moving.

On the other hand, those new to gardening might find it more pleasant to have a forum of their own, where simple questions got simple answers from others new to the subject. What they give up is the exposure to those with experience that might spot an unseen consequence.

Suppose a poster has pared down a decision to one of three trees to plant. He posts a picture of the area with the tree location marked and asks which tree would look better. It's a simple question with a simple answer. Until someone notices that the photo shows a power line directly over the new tree location. Which forum will have members that notice the power line, the new garden forum or the old landscape forum with the guys that have been around the track a few times?


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RE: So you want help?

Below is a link to an old thread that might help to inform the discussion of whether a second forum is required. I've bumped it up as well, but it may not stay up for long.

My own opinion is that there is no harm in asking and no harm in trying. Since Chohio was so successful at getting threads removed here and on HD recently (in the last post on my thread, perhaps not seen by many people as it was so quickly removed thereafter, Chohio explained his/her complaints to GW), I have no doubt that a request for a new forum could be successful.

But it will be interesting to see where the traffic goes, both of posters and responders, and also, where traffic comes from. A lot of the people who might participate may not be currently here but rather on Perennials, or perhaps Cottage, or other specialty or regional forums. I don't know if they would abandon those forums, or add a new forum to their roster. Lurkers demand a good show and good behaviour, but they rarely seem to appreciate the donation of time and expertise that a good answer represents.

For potential posters, the American Idol rule may apply. Aspiring singers are more eager to hear from Simon Cowell, even if it might hurt, than they are to hear from Paula Abdul, sweet and beautiful though she is. They're nervous about hearing his view, but they know it is honest, which is sometimes useful. So people looking for input of a certain kind might still post to LD. But I'm sure others would like to just talk about the appearance. Is that the idea?

A test for those who want a garden design forum, and thus who I assume are eager to contribute in one, would be to look at some recent threads that got little response here, and see if you would enjoy responding to these. Perusal of more of the back catalogue might find more of the kinds of questions you like.

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/design/msg0117104016153.html?1
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/design/msg0208413932619.html?3

As a matter of fact, nothing is preventing you from answering these questions here. If you have good advice to offer, no one is going to bite you if you respond. And even if you don't have good advice to offer, as long as you're having fun and the OPs are happy, who cares, right?


Karin L

Here is a link that might be useful: Is good design really that important?


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RE: So you want help?

karinl you are a trip. I did surely complain about the post here but did not in homes. They removed the posts because of your awful contribution. Attacking someone is your mo and you don't quit. Intimidation is what you do and at all times blame others for your problems.
CH


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RE: So you want help?

I feel there would be many missed opportunities if there were two separate forums.
Garden and Landscape Design overlap broadly and by segregating them would limit the potential for further education and discussion.


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RE: So you want help?

Design threads do show up in Perennials. They also show up in Trees and Shrubs. I expect they also show up in Cottage Gardening, though I don't go there to know. So there actually are plenty of places to go to find less hard core design help, since I've never seen anybody chastised as being off topic for asking for help in arranging plants. So that all the specialty topics, regional topics and pretty much any other forum in garden web is capable of dealing with design. Some of the speciality topics have had loooong, well thought out threads on design with or around their particular plant.

So what do you want from here that is different?


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RE: So you want help?

What did you think of the threads I posted, Chohio?

I decided not to bump up the long one, by the way - creates a trap for an unsuspecting reader that I've fallen into too often myself.

Karin L


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RE: So you want help?

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 22, 12 at 15:13

Pls, not sure why you're assuming a separate Design forum would attract only new gardeners. Most likely it would be a combination of newbies and those with years of experience ... just as it is on many of the gardening forums here.

Karin, I know who requested the HD thread be removed and it wasn't Chohio. I'm assuming that your attack thread here was removed after GW removed the other.


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RE: So you want help?

Pls, not sure why you're assuming a separate Design forum would attract only new gardeners.

natal, you could be right. I think a separation would be the death of this forum and then those left might migrate over to the new forum. It could end with the same thing we have now.

This forum and the long time members that stay here need the endless stream of situations presented by those merely seeking to make their property look better. And those people are better served by a forum with experienced and knowledgeable people. These two groups may not always like each other, but they darn sure need each other.


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RE: So you want help?

"Which forum will have members that notice the power line...?" It seems there are a good many posters here who's strong interest is garden design and also, they seem to have eagles eyes at noticing just about anything in photo...or perceiving what might be on it's edges. To think that watching out for a power line is not a garden design consideration and only landscape design pros can catch it, is not realistic. The principle that factors in would apply and be working equally well on both forums.

"I feel there would be many missed opportunities if there were two separate forums." Dividing a forum where there naturally occurs a division of theory and purpose (as there is between landscape and garden) means that those who's interest lies in one camp, don't have to be continually burdened by bothering with what does not apply. If an OP is interested in low maintenance landscape design--not garden design--is it really to their benefit to be encouraged into plant-centric, garden style solutions? By the same token, if they are interested in those kinds of solutions, should people like me (with my strong view of the difference between these disciplines) and my lack of interest in garden-esque design solutions, get much involved in that discussion? I'd sooner not have seen the thread because it's not in my area of interest, here. As the two forums are now combined, there always seem to be confusion--which is perceived as "tugging" by one discipline or the other--at the beginning of many threads. But what would stop a person from participating on both forums if their interest was in both areas? Nothing. Landscape design broadly overlaps with many other forums: shrubs, trees, stonework, and on and on. But it would be cumbersome to be including these other forums into this one.

To use a different "American Idol" analogy. If one watches that show, they'll notice, over the years, the phenomenon, where, as the final rounds approach, a competitor--who is top caliber and everyone knows should make it to the number one or two position--well, they get voted off in the number 3, 4, or 5 position! Why does this keep happening? Because a voting system that only picks people who should remain, utterly fails at accurately selecting who should be removed. A simple change in this system would solve the problem. (But for "political" reasons it will never happen.) Seems to me that a simple change in dividing two forums that have profound differences, would automatically solve some conflicts before they happen.

I know that some people will misperceive my comments and take them to mean that I'm someone who is against gardens or gardening. It's not at all the case. I just keep my interest in things garden separate from my interest in landscaping.


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RE: So you want help?

a lurker here, who felt the need to say something, as the only one who actually *showed* ideas sans a bucketload of words, had a thread directed at him...not in a nice way. ;)

soooo.... am i a fly?


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RE: So you want help?

Yard - I have trouble seeing the logic of saying they are separate issues with, presumably, separate design principles. If you don't like the posts you perceive as gardening, ignore them...


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RE: So you want help?

Count me in as another who fails to see the need to devolve into two different forums... unless we really want this debate about
"landscape vs garden design" to become like another Quebec - separate but distinct. Because that always works soooo smoothly :)


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RE: So you want help?

Woodyoak, the way I see gardening is as a very free, liberating discipline. At its heart, what one wants--an owner's sheer desire for a particular plant or collection of plants--may be it's most important principle. Beyond that, artistry comes into play: color, form, texture, line and all those standard elements of art... and time. But what does not necessarily come into play is the notion that NO plant belongs if it first does not contribute to the larger goal of what's around it and what it's part of. This is the domain of landscaping, where no plant or other material belongs, regardless of the owner or designer's passion for it, if it doesn't first exceed other plants and materials in its contribution to the larger space, belongs.

And it's not that I can't ignore posts that I perceive as gardening. If posts were marked as such, that's what I'd do. It's that during the early part of some posts, before the owners intentions are clearly evident, that there has to occur that "tugging" process as I mentioned. And if thread leans to landscaping, some "gardeners" refuse to ignore it!

Are there "separate design principles" for gardening vs. landscaping? I can't speak to a set of formal "garden design principles." But I can say that, for the most part, garden designers as a whole do not respect the subordinate role that planting plays to architecture. More often than not, they will pinch off a building entrance and make it smaller. They put their gorgeous plants in front of, and obstruct the view from windows. They put plants smack in front of views to entrances. They cover architectural details. They use corrals and barricades to keep people confined in tight places. They take what could be a great or grand object created of one or few types of plants and make it less grand, and deplete its visual strength, by making it many, or of many, objects. These are GENERALIZATIONS. (I'm sure no on here does these things.) Nevertheless, I recognize that all these things are legal. Many people want them. I just don't think of these kinds of things as landscaping or an understanding of landscaping.


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RE: So you want help?

pls8xx, I understand your concerns and still (basically) adore you, but what you've said is: you can only play in my sandbox if you follow my rules AND you cannot go next door and play in your own sandbox either.

And I'm really sorry, but there are people out there asking their 19 year old leaf raker what they should plant in their back yard. There are landscaping decisions happening this very minute that have not been vetted by the landscaping forum. I might go to cottage gardens and tell someone to plant an elm under a power liine, what's the diff if I do it in a forum called garden design. People make their own decisions. I've seen people give lousy advice on the bathroom and kitchen forums, others catch it - or not. Life goes on.

I do share your concern that one might succeed at the loss of the other. That would truly be a shame - for both. Natural selection happens - but not always for, what I perceive, to be the best. I've just started a gardening program at my school that is going to take my few free minutes so I don't have time to nurse a new entity. I hope others would, but who knows.

I'm liking this forum more and more (if I squint), but man I need to participate and feel heard without being whacked - I have very thin skin. I mean, did someone actually call me out for having a sense of humour they don't share? WTF?!


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RE: So you want help?

Yard - with all due respect... Stuff and nonsense! You seem to be trying to replay the old debate between William Robinson and Sir Reginald Blomfield (although I suspect you might not have Blomfield's formal orientation...) In the end, Blomfield summarized it as "The gardeners said the architects knew nothing about gardening, and the architects said the gardeners knew nothing about design, and there was a good deal of truth on both sides." It's a silly and artificial divide - good plants used well and creatively in combination with good basic design are going to produce the best result, and that's what needs to be encouraged. More from the historical debate:

'Garden historians have revelled in the debate that exploded between the irascible Robinson and the genial but combative Blomfield. Given his superb intellect and power of words, Blomfield undoubtedly got the better of the argument, but public sympathy lay largely with Robinson's naturalistic ideas.

There were two main outcomes, both rather surprising. The first was the emergence of the modern English style of garden-making, a compromise that combined the formal structure advocated by Blomfield with the informal planting championed by Robinson. Gertrude Jekyll is perhaps the best known of its early exponents, and she worked very closely with Edwin Lutyens, who was decidedly in the Blomfield camp. The second result was that Robinson invited Blomfield to visit him at Gravetye Manor in Sussex and the two of them got on rather well together.'

Anyone who is interested in reading more on this issue, check the link below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Blomfield


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RE: So you want help?

"...good plants used well and creatively in combination with good basic design are going to produce the best result..." WoodyO, I agree with this quote. But I disagree that the "garden" orientation has the greater likelihood of producing this result. In general, gardeners use too much "creativity" and too little design. I will bet it was because "the architects knew nothing about gardening" and "the gardeners knew nothing about design" that landscape architects were created.


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RE: So you want help?

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 23, 12 at 2:48

There are enough examples of landscape architects out there who have mastery of both planting design and site planning/hardscape. So to assert that the two don't mix is just wrong, even if it is rare. Some designers that come to mind that do both well include Roberto Burle Marx, Steve Martino, Raymond Jungles to name a few. It may be worth noting that each of them are as adept at designing private residences as they are large scale urban design projects. I'm a firm believer that landscape architecture should give planting design greater value for their own merits.


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RE: So you want help?

Bahia, If your comment is referencing mine, I'm NOT asserting that landscape architects don't or can't have mastery of planting design, site planning & hardscape... just the opposite, actually. I'm asserting that many "garden" designers do not. Obviously, it's a generalization and like all, are going to have plenty of exceptions. And I don't think that there's anything wrong with using gardens as components in a landscape design. But, commonly, the garden designer's focus is directly on the plantings and does not seem to keep awareness of the bigger picture as they plan their plantings. As I said, I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions and I'm not pointing fingers at anyone so no one should take the comment personally. I'm just saying, as a general rule, that's what I observe.

If a house has different colors of wall-to-wall carpet in each room, is it design? Or the arbitrary imposition of art? Endless mixing is a primary design operative I see carried forth by many garden designers. I would say it's the rule more than the exception. Am I saying it's always not good? No. Can it have charm? Yes. Do people like it? Frequently. Is it landscaping? Not the way I see it. I view it as the arbitrary imposition of art. It can be lovely and good. As good as the artists skill. I can enjoy it for itself. But if "landscaping" is so broadly defined that any level of whim or arbitrary design qualifies to be it, then there needs to be another word that accurately describes outdoor design that is clean, uncluttered, organized and site-centric. ("Formal" does not work.) I don't see these two things as being the same.


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RE: So you want help?

Bahia - right on the money in my books!

Yard - I think you're making an issue where there shouldn't be one be one re trying to separate the two things, but clearly we're not going to reach agreement on what is 'right', so there's no point in continuing to discuss the issue.


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RE: So you want help?

Woody, I agree that we will disagree on this. I already quit talking about it right before you made your last comment. : )


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RE: So you want help?

I already quit talking about it right after I insulted half the people on the forum.

Glad we are finished talking about that.

Back to the OP - I thought of an analogy that may help some of the newer posters understand what some of us believe has gone awry.
4 years ago we added a new kitchen to our house as part of an addition. At first we were going to use a kitchen designer. I met with her and got a price and just the design was going to be $20,000. Not kidding. So even though that would have been really nice, it would have made the project unaffordable. We asked our contractor for other options. He suggested working with a cabinet company and have them do a design based on us potentially buying the cabinets from them. They gave us a great mock up of what the kitchen would look like, how all the different cabinets could be used, and we loved it. When it came time for the contractor to order the cabinets- he found the mock up was unusable because returns, hinge space, cabinets banging into one another, corner space was not considered at all. ( Sounds like a nightmare, and it did delay our project, but it worked out in the end because the contractor found a specialty kitchen carpenter who built us an entirely custom kitchen for half the cost of the cabinet company :)

So when someone posts a question here about their landscape, a mock up might appear to be a really good viable solution. It is simple clean and DIY. Unfortunately when you go to DIY it may not be as simple as all that and you could end up wasting your time on the forum and in the yard. Or worse, creating problems for yourself. You don't have to hire a $20,000 designer, although it probably would be nice. The "arguments" posters read here are the result of people who just want a a simple solution for everything and the people who realize that the reality of designing a landscape is not always a simple thing.


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RE: So you want help?

Which half? The half that design gardens or the half that design landscapes?


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RE: So you want help?

I'm pretty convinced now that it is more about getting the last word in and being agreed with .
I fully understand the virtue of standing ones ground and the importance of getting one's point of view across but beating the subject into exhaustion doesn't elevate the discussion nor the forum as a whole. .. it does just the opposite and turns people off .

I suppose you might say that this post, being the last ( but probably not for long) is calling the kettle black.
I'm not going to say much more but hope that there is less pulp making and more substance as it once was on this forum.


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RE: So you want help?

Black like "black hole" black.


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RE: So you want help?

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 23, 12 at 15:30

Actually my post was more about how so many landscape architects have no real interest in plants and too often a rather limited planting vocabulary, resulting in funtional yet often rather bland designs. At least here locally, I don't see the dichotomy regarding gardenesque versus landscape approaches in many residential gardens designed by folks without professional schooling in landscape architecture programs. That may have something to do with a higher level of interest in gardens and design as a west coast thing, or greater exposure to good designs and a plentiful community of both landscape architects, garden designers and landscape designers. I'd tend to agree that L.A.'s in general place less emphasis on plants and more on overall design issues and creating a sense of place. No doubt Yardvaarks opinions are locally influenced by
what he sees as the majority around him. It probably also reflects client's tastes and budgets which are less concerned with broader design issues and more about simpler issues such as curb appeal or foundation shrub plantings. No slight intended towards these sorts of design problems, but they tend to limit more diverse design responses. A designer of any type has to work with what they're given, or work at broadening the possibilities through exposing potential clients to other possibilities. This whole conversation reminds me of similar posts by LAAG addressing the reality of the fit between design, client's briefs, the balance between design and meeting a client's objectives/expectations and their budgets.


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RE: So you want help?

To: Daisychain01:

It's great to have you with this bunch. There is a sense of newlife around here, and it's good.
I remember the very first post I made on this forum. I came to GW, scrolled down through the forums that were listed, and clicked on this one. I barely knew how to use a forum, so had no idea what this one was like. After reading just a few threads, I picked up on the humor, some of the sharp critique, and something of the breadth of perspective and expertise.
I posted a question about one small garden bed, just outside my front door. It had something to do with a tree we had removed and "what should I plant here".

Were I to post that original question in the mythical future, I'd be voted off the island, banished, exiled, excommunicated, quarantined away from the exclusionary landscape zone, told to go play in the garden forum.

Instead, I found an incredibly rich resource and a diverse group of regulars who are, for the most part, deep down, a bunch of softies. I learned how to think about a whole landscape, what a design process might be like, cool information about landscape aesthetics around the world, and very useful things about drainage, negative space, screening techniques, space, time, and the meaning of life, which is, of course, 42.

Geez, I read so much here and was applying what I learned all over the place, so that, after a time, I helped out on many of the questions posed by first time posters.

Truly worth it. My landscape is still a landscape, even if the garden function is one I'd require of any designer. So, no, I don't support segregation.

And don't tell about the "softies" part.


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RE: So you want help?

  • Posted by catkim San Diego 10/24 (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 24, 12 at 14:43

Some of the members may recall when a push was made here to create a separate Garden Restoration forum, seeing Restoration as a distinct element from Design. The effort was successful, and a very knowlegeable person took it upon him/herself to answer questions and engage participants in active discussions and problem solving.

The latest 2 threads in that forum were started Feb. 3rd and 5th; prior to that October 2011. Languishing, by any measure.

Division of topics makes sense when purposes are clearly distinct. Californing gardening has nothing in common with Florida gardening. Fruits and Orchards will have little overlap with Bonsai. I submit that the typical visitor to GardenWeb will not see any distinction between Garden Design and Landscape Design. Even those who would like to see a division admit to a significant degree of overlap.

I visit some very narrowly targeted forums, and even there, I will skip over maybe half of the threads because they do not interest me. Any post mentioning snow will give me a brain freeze. Others will avoid any thread involving a milder climate than their own. Still there is abundant information for everyone and enough overlap for everyone to enjoy the forum and coexist in relative harmony. In fact that forum is far more active than this one.

It's always a little disappointing to me when a new visitor asks a question and is immediately told to go to the tree forum or the cottage garden forum. I'd rather see people engage the questioner in a conversation about their garden first, and possibly stimulate some curiosity to learn more.

Like it or not, these are social networking sites. Social networking thrives on activity. Activity attracts more activity. The more we can engage people here, the livelier it will be, and the chances increase for attracting more qualified design experts. Nobody wants to tiptoe into an empty room to ask a question only to hear it echo on the walls.

Conversation: "exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas." Not at all the same as jockeying for dominance.


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RE: So you want help?

Bahia, that was an EXCELLENT dig on two counts! Hopefully, no one missed how you do that!


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RE: So you want help?

Aaaaahhhhh, I get it now. You guys set these crazy threads up on purpose as bait when things are getting slow over here. I should have known there couldn't be characters as wacky as this in real life.

Thanks for the welcome wellspring. I'm going to clip your post and go back and re-read it when (not if) someone hurts my (easily injured) feelings.


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RE: So you want help?

Okay then: open season on daisychain (is that a Lady Chatterley reference BTW?) ....just kidding. What Kim said is just about how I see it too. I remember when Wellspring first spurted into this forum and she epitomizes exactly what Kim is talking about, Karin too. When Karin first came on the scene with a thread meant to show off her expertize and I criticized it she was injured but not defeated. Maybe, just maybe if I had said oooh! luvly thanks for sharing she would not still be here years later.


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RE: So you want help?

I'm honored, Daisychain.

And, I'm interested in your school garden project ... and where you are located ... and whether your sick child is feeling better now.


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RE: So you want help?

Well now we are really going off topic, but my school garden project is one of those things that I'll go on for hours about. Shortish version: I started the first version about 4 or 5 years ago because my kids school had a year round greenhouse that hadn't been used in years. I made unit plans for each grade (grades 1-5). Each unit had a different emphasis (including: bulbs, garden design, gardening in planters and garden sales), but each was academically rigorous. I did this program for a couple of years and the administration liked it so much they hired me to teach 4th grade full-time. Of course then I didn't have the time to run the garden program at the same level. So I scaled it back and another teacher stepped up to help. Right now we are starting the planting for what's become our annual plant sale (pretty small scale, but done by a group of about 15 5th grade students). This year the students are using the proceeds to buy something for our new outdoor classroom (my administrator is a dedicated gardener and went to great lengths to get this large garden space in place).

Next step is to help the non-gardening teachers plan to use the garden space with their classes (without making them hate me for adding to their already crushing workload).


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RE: So you want help?

Hmmm ... the older kids might get into some of the site analysis stuff. If only you had a software program that could demonstrate what happens when too much water on too great a slope causes a wall to collapse ...
My son (now 20) still appreciates a nice demolition demonstration.

And, someone around here ... it might even have been pls8xx ... gives a great explanation of how to use longitude, latitude, and height of a structure or tree to determine the shade pattern over the course of the year.

I wonder what 4th and 5th graders would make of the modern use of fertilizer? How did food crops grow before we had the pure chemicals (poison, in fact, in that form) to throw around on everything?

I am wandering, aren't I?

That may be my greatest and only real gift on this forum. Going tangential and then getting back on track ... well, sort of, right?


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RE: So you want help?

Well, I've had my say and I want to thank the many who have contributed to this thread. I titled the discussion to appeal to those new to the forum in hopes that it would give them insight into who and what we are here.

Landscaping is not a subject where one can turn to an authoritative reference manual to determine what is right and wrong. It is multifaceted. The long time regulars here all have different backgrounds and different knowledge sets. We come at landscaping from many different directions, each of us with our own mental definition of what landscaping is.

It may seem confusing to newcomers that we so often appear to give conflicting advice. But the truth is that even in disagreement there is merit in what each of has to say.

People of intelligence are often loath to repeat themselves. And among the long time regulars here I think that that is in play. You may refrain from repeating those ideas you have already expressed. But when; two, four years ago? There are new people here who have not heard what you have to say. And then there are us that heard what you said long ago and didn't understand it. We are not the same people we were then; give us another shot; this time we might get it.

I'm done.


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RE: So you want help?

And to take us to an even hundred posts on this thread, the classic:



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RE: So you want help?

Hilariuuuuuuuus!


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