Landscape designer Cameron Scott sustains the practice of sustainability
Landscape designer Cameron Scott saw the beauty of "going green" long before it was fashionable, and his work is still spreading the gospel of sustainability.
Cameron Scott of Exteriorscapes was designing and building sustainable gardens long before anyone thought "green" gardens meant much besides leaf color, let alone a theme for this year's Northwest Flower & Garden Show.
Q: Do you have a display garden at the show this year?
A: I'm building a stone wall for the Marenakos Rock Center display garden. We're debuting a new community of stone workers who will be at the show pushing our passion for stone.
Q: Is stone sustainable?
A: With dry (mortar-free) stone you quarry one product, and it's ready to use. Dry-stone walls drain, flex and grow stronger and more beautiful with time.
Q: What is your favorite stone?
A: I love our local granite, but I always keep the site in mind.
Q: Can display gardens really be "green"?
A: I've made three green gardens, in 2003, '04 and '05; two of them won the People's Choice Awards. We showcased green walls, rain barrels, water runnels, a straw-bale house and a worm bin with a window so kids could see in.
The night of the gala in 2005 a guy bought my greenhouse right out of the show. It has recycled window walls, a green roof and planter boxes that rotate as the windows open. You can see it from I-90; we installed it in his Mount Baker garden.
Q: How can we make our gardens green out in the real world?
A: There's no silver bullet of sustainability; nearly everything has its good and bad points. Try to buy from local companies; it's like the 100-mile diet. Look at the afterlife of materials. Sure, Trex is made of recycled wood and plastic, but it'll end up in a landfill, while a natural wood deck can be recycled. We use screws instead of nails to put arbors and decks together so they can be deconstructed and recycled.
Think creatively about using repurposed materials. It takes time to retrofit them, so it isn't always cheaper. Use durable materials. If something lasts three times as long, that's sustainable.
The biggest, most unsustainable factor in most gardens is the maintenance. If you start by making good soil, the plants will do better and you'll cut way down on maintenance.
Sustainable gardens don't need to look like a "Sanford and Son" garden. They can really look pretty great, particularly when you bury cisterns underground rather than strapping together a bunch of blue rain barrels.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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