In The Garden With: Andrew Keys

I am having so much fun reading all these contributions from all my friends all over world. Are you?  Going closer to home though, I introduce you to my cross town neighbor and extraordinary plants-man, Andrew Keys, creator of the always enjoyable Garden Smackdown.

Besides being a landscape designer, I’m also a web designer. It’s what I did before starting my landscape design practice, and what I still do to fill in the gaps as I build my landscape design business. I’ve done all of my own sites myself, as well as friends’ blogs (check out eatniks), and I also handle the design end of projects for a local web developer who does sites for area
non-profits, museums, green businesses, and the like. (See: danvers bipeds and cuvilly arts and earth center)  I’ve come to realize how nice it is to be able to put the work I do relative to my passion for plants down once in a while and write code instead. I think I’ll probably continue to do that even as my gardening business grows, if for no other reason than to guard against burnout.

My Favorite things: Andrew Keys

Oh, well, whatever these things are, they’d have to be plants. Should I be more specific? Okay, okay, how about my favorite plants this time of year? Top of the list would Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose.’
pennisteum karley rose by andrew keys

It’s a photo finish, but I’d say this one takes the title as my favorite grass too. Incredibly vigorous, big but not huge, with pink-aging-to-wheat tassels of bloom from June to fall.

Another favorite this season is Physocarpus Coppertina(TM). I’d mistakenly thought it was another cultivar until it hit me this season that hey, those leaves are **orange.** Orange kind of freaks me out, but this one’s a winner. It may be my orange gateway plant.
physocarpus coppertina orange plant andrew keys

What do you do to find inspiration?

There’s nothing I find more inspiring than experiencing the real deal, whether it’s a visit to a botanic garden, arboretum, or art museum, or seeing a great film in the theater. Experiencing and absorbing the real thing is hands down the best thing I can do for myself as a designer.

Best Garden or Design Advice Ever (Given or Received)?

I’m not sure it was the BEST advice, but it was certainly great advice: I once asked a panel of several established landscape pros what advice they’d give to someone just starting out in the business. All of them said to focus on work/life balance. Not “learn about plants,” or “buy a big truck,” or “work hard and make lots of money,” but don’t forget to take a break, put work
down for a while, and remember the things that matter most in life. It surprised me, but I take it to heart, and I take work/life balance very seriously.

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.
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  1. The Rainforest Gardener on July 30, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    You have the best jobs ever. I’ve been going to school for graphic design but would have made it landscape design in a heartbeat if the program was offered where I live. My blog has ended up being a combination of my two passions so its nice to see that someone else has done the same!

  2. Kari Lonning on August 5, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I’ve been off working the basket side of my life (teaching), and haven’t been on the internet, not doing photography, and not working in the garden. How fun to check in and find Andrew guesting here! I completely agree with the balance comment. When one pursues diverse interests, the extra details add depth to the other applications. The catch is not being lured off into competing directions. (I bought a “Coppertina” this spring and it has survived this summer’s harsh weather beautifully.)

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