Wylie landscape designer receives state award

Date: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

By Jamie Engle
Staff Writer

Flowers’ Gardens & Landscapes received honorable mention in the 2010 Texas Excellence in Landscaping Awards for its work at the Gabbard residence, displaying “excellent use of water-wise principles in landscape design.”

“I’m excited to have won the TEIL award,” Flowers’ Gardens & Landscapes owner Maribeth Flowers said. “It’s the first time I’ve submitted work for consideration, and it’s very exciting to have won honorable mention.”

Flowers is a certified landscape designer, one of three in Texas earning certification through the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.

“Landscape design is very different than just planting and maintaining a space,” Flowers said. “We incorporate design principles like flow, seasonality, focal points, texture, how the space will be used now and in the future, environmental and site considerations like drainage, property characteristics.

“We also focus on the customer’s vision and their personal style and work with them to create something unique. If it’s an outdoor living space with pergolas, stone pathways or other items like that, we can manage the whole project and bring in contractors to do what needs to be done. We really offer more services than people expect.”

Flowers explained that the first thing to develop is a master plan for the space.

“A master plan can really save money in the long run because it considers the big picture. You may want to use the space one way now, but in the future the use might change. We can plan for that so there is less cost to re-do the space later,” she said.

The easiest example is when starting a family, Flowers added. The space could be used one way now, but when a couple starts to have children, they may want a covered playground there instead. By incorporating considerations for that future use into the master design plan, it can save money when it comes time to re-do the area.

Plant now, not later
Contrary to popular belief, Flowers said fall is the best time to install landscaping, not spring.

“I know that’s not what a lot of our Texas transplants are used to, but that’s what works best here,” she said. “When you put in your landscaping, their growth habit is roots, not flowers, which makes it perfect for winter. Here, plants’ most stressful time is summer. If you plant now, the plants will have time to set down roots and be more established, so they are better able to withstand the stress of the summer.”

When picking plants for landscapes, Flowers said there are many things to consider, such as water-use, amount of sun and shade, height, color and more. She’s fond of not only native plants, but adaptive plants.

“Adaptive plants are those which are not native to Texas but really adapt and thrive to our climate,” she said. “The crape myrtle is a great example. It’s from China and absolutely loves our Texas heat and humidity.”

More hands-on
Before becoming a landscape designer, Flowers had a career in environmental policy, which she left to do something, “more hands-on.”

She relocated to Wylie in 1997 and began working for related companies such as Calloway’s, Nortex and landscape companies. In 2003, she opened Flowers’ Gardens & Landscapes.

Flowers learned landscape design through on-the-job experience, taking classes through the now-defunct Richland College Horticulture department and seminars offered by professional organizations like the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, through which she became a certified designer.

To earn the certification, a member must have been practicing landscape design for a minimum of four years and submit documentation for three installed projects and required drawings, plant list, design intent statement and photographs. As the only national/international certification program for landscape designers, APLD certification also has a continuing education requirement of 30 CEU credits for recertification, required every three years.

“It’s not an easy process,” Flowers said. “The projects have to be in growth for a couple of years so the panel can see how the project filled in. You have to be in business for a few years to be able to earn the certification.” Only 20 percent of APLD members are certified.

This was the first time Flowers submitted an entry for the TEIL Awards, which are presented annually by the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association. This year, 35 award-winners were selected. TNLA said the award program was designed to recognize excellence in landscape design, installation and maintenance by independent landscape and law care professionals in the state of Texas.

For more information about Flowers’ Gardens & Landscapes, visit www.flowersgardenslandscapes.com.

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