Organic landscaping has become a popular choice for homeowners and businesses alike, as people become more conscious of the impact their choices have on the environment. But what exactly is organic landscaping, and why is it important? In this exclusive interview, we sit down with renowned landscape designer, Chung-Chiang Chen, to uncover the secrets and benefits of organic landscaping. Chen believes that organic landscaping is not just about creating visually appealing gardens, but also about fostering a connection between people and the natural world. His designs often incorporate elements that evoke a sense of tranquility and balance, inviting individuals to immerse themselves in the beauty of their surroundings. Through his work, Chen aims to create spaces that promote well-being and inspire a deeper appreciation for the environment.
New York Art Life: Hi Chung, first of all, thank you for coming to our studio and discussing your art and knowledge in landscape design.
Chung-Chiang Chen: Good morning to all NYAL readers and thanks for the invitation.
New York Art LIfe: Your garden and landscape design is very eclectic, with interesting fusions between Mediterranean and English styles, and with a strong focus on organic design. You can see it in all its strength in the Taksa project in southern California. What inspired you to merge these two styles?
Chung-Chiang Chen: Creating a garden that blends Mediterranean and English landscape styles is a unique and intriguing challenge. Each style has distinct characteristics, but they can be harmoniously merged to create a beautiful and functional outdoor space. The key is to find a balance that respects the essence of each while creating a cohesive and inviting garden space. In the Taska project, we have succeeded in this harmony. Use of natural stones, Mediterranean colors, and English lines. An innovative and vibrant project and challenge. The merger resulted in a functional and aesthetically pleasing garden.
New York Art Life: In a recent project, Latt Residence, one of the major design components was a dry creek, explain to us what characteristics it has and what impact it has in areas where water is not exactly abundant.
Chung-Chiang Chen: Exactly, in this reconstruction of a mid-century garden, we have recreated a dry creek, an element with a strong aesthetic impact, which was a central element of the landscape project. A dry creek bed, also known as a dry stream, is a landscape feature that mimics the look and feel of a natural creek but without water. In this project, the stream bed is dry for most of the year but serves to receive stormwater from roof downspouts and give the water a chance to percolate into the ground, rather than simply runoff into the street. It’s an excellent solution for managing drainage issues in a garden, adding visual interest, or simply creating a naturalistic feature in a landscape design.
New York Art Life: You believe that organic landscaping is not just about creating visually appealing gardens, but also about fostering a connection between people and the natural world. Your designs often incorporate elements that evoke a sense of tranquility and balance, inviting people to immerse themselves in the beauty of their surroundings. Through your work, you aim to create spaces that promote well-being and inspire a deeper appreciation for the environment.
Your memorable project was the restoration of Saint Patrick’s Apostle Church Garden in Los Angeles. Through careful observation and analysis, you identified the native plants that once thrived in the area and reintroduced them, creating a biodiverse habitat for local wildlife. The revitalized garden became a beloved community gathering space and a testament to the power of organic landscaping in transforming neglected spaces.
Can you give our readers some more information on this project?
Chung-Chiang Chen: It was an ambitious and interesting project. Create a space for togetherness and socialization for students and neighbors. One of the main guidelines of the project was the choice of native plants with good drought resistance. This is a very important aspect of landscaping in Southern California.
A garden in perfect organic style. With sinuous and irregular lines making the landscape natural.
New York Art Life: What are the benefits of an organic landscape?
Chung-Chiang Chen: Organic landscaping offers numerous benefits, both for the environment and for those who enjoy outdoor spaces. One of the key advantages is the preservation of biodiversity. By using native plants in their designs, organic landscapers provide habitats for local wildlife and help maintain a healthy ecosystem. This, in turn, contributes to the overall health and resilience of the landscape.
Another important benefit is the conservation of water resources. Organic landscaping techniques such as mulching, proper irrigation, and the use of drought-tolerant plants help reduce water consumption. This is particularly crucial in regions where water scarcity is a concern. By implementing these practices, organic landscapers not only save water but also create landscapes that are more resilient to drought conditions.
New York Art Life: What are your sources of inspiration?
Chung-Chiang Chen: I am inspired by the search for beauty. By the love of nature. By the respect for the environment that surrounds us. Furthermore, some designers inspire my creativity daily. Other notable designers share a similar approach to organic landscaping.
Piet Oudolf: Known for his naturalistic planting style, Oudolf creates landscapes that mimic the beauty and diversity of wild meadows. His designs often incorporate perennial plants, grasses, and native species.
Julie Moir Messervy: Messervy’s designs focus on creating outdoor spaces that inspire and engage the senses. She believes in the power of nature to heal and rejuvenate individuals and communities.
Dan Pearson: Pearson is known for his ability to create landscapes that seamlessly blend with their surroundings. His designs often incorporate natural materials and native plants to create a sense of place.
New York Art Life: What would you recommend reading for those who want to approach landscape and garden design?
Chung-Chiang Chen: For those interested in delving deeper into the world of organic landscaping, there are several resources available. Books such as “Think Like An Ecosystem” by Amélie des Plantes and “The Living Landscape” by Rick Darke and Douglas W. Tallamy provide insights and practical tips for implementing organic practices.
New York Art Life: Could you close this interesting interview with a quote from you?
Chung-Chiang Chen: The art originated from the observation of nature and the landscape architect designs with nature.
New York Art Life: Organic landscaping is not just a trend; it is a sustainable and responsible way to create beautiful outdoor spaces that harmonize with nature. Through our exclusive interview with Chung-Chiang Chen, we have gained valuable insights into the philosophy and benefits of organic landscaping. By implementing organic practices, we can preserve biodiversity, conserve water resources, and create landscapes that inspire and nurture both people and the environment. Last question, what project would you like to do in the future?
Chung-Chiang Chen: A dream is to design the gardens on the terraces of an entire neighborhood here in New York. Create green spaces at different levels. Green green, cities need green. A utopian but achievable idea.