Giving Someone Too Many Choices

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My mentor Don Kingsbury, taught me that there are always many options to offer clients when we are designing their gardens.  Often there is one option that is spectacular while the others may be just great. Because it takes so much time to design each different option, I often present all of my creations to my clients. I have just started to rethink that process. This last project that I designed had two different design ideas. Of the two the architect and myself loved the one that was edgier and more interesting. When I met with my client, he seemed to favor that particular option. However over the weekend he ended up selecting the more ordinary solution. While I loved that solution while I was designing it, I think the second solution would be so much more interesting and contribute to the art of the neighborhood. So now I am rethinking the idea of presenting clients with all of the ideas that I design when I am taking a preliminary look at the at the the site and the garden.

Of course, all of this rumination makes me also think about my underlying philosophy of designing the landscape to please the client. In this case the building is a condominium project so my client won't actually live there. However, should people really have the option of choosing what they want to see around them? Should the designer be so arrogant as to"know" what is best for the client? This is the reason that I give clients different options. I want them to be surrounded by a landscape that is personal to them. I want their landscape to entice them, to express them, to delight them. It is only by doing these things will my clients become personally involved in their landscape. It is only through personal involvement with the nature on their property will my clients come to appreciate nature and life around them. This is the path to healing. This is the reason that I do what I do.

So now I have come full circle. From the disappointment of my client's choice, I will wanted to eliminate that choice. Yet I see that by doing that I also could diminish their ability to enjoy their garden and to be healed by it.


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