Shoptalk - Tim Moshier

What determined your passion for landscape design?

MOSHIER Since gardening as a child with my parents, I always had a love of plants and working outdoors with the earth. During college, I explored botany and the natural sciences, environmental psychology, and fine arts – which all led to an individualized concentration in Environmental Studies and Design. Having learned of the profession, I pursued graduate school in landscape architecture. It is wonderful to create outdoor spaces, consider how people interact with them, study the visual and aesthetic as well as how natural systems affect the design.

Can you remember your first landscape design project? Describe it a bit.

MOSHIER Well, I’ve been landscaping since I was a fourteen-years-old, driving the riding mower around the neighborhood cutting lawns. I suppose one of my first ‘designs’ was for my parents' suburban landscape. It included a specimen Eastern White Pine -‘Fastigiata’ - which still stands today. It is a gorgeous native, soft needled pine that grows in a vertical form. I also designed a serpentine flagstone walk to their front door. When finished, the mason cut out wedges in the stone curb. He told me it was his ‘signature’... I made him fill it in.

If you had no limits (money, resources), what public landscape would you create?

MOSHIER In a collaborative public – private venture, a string of diverse parks and greenways running throughout the downtown Seattle area. Beautiful gardens, art exhibits and outdoor performance spaces, integral cafes, plazas and both placid and playful water features. To preserve the beauty and safety of select parks, they would be closed at night but open to all during the day, much like the UPS Waterfall Garden Park on Second Ave. It is such a shame that the Central Park-like, Seattle Commons was voted down in 1995. Hopefully, the new waterfront boulevard, piers and greenspaces will be a big success and add greatly to Seattle’s urban landscape.

What is your favorite local or international travel destination for inspiration?

MOSHIER One favorite must be London and the English countryside. London is a great world city, steeped in history, and bathed in 21st century energy, innovation and excitement. From ornate, heavy wrought iron fencing covered in layers and layers of modelled paint, to the iconic Shard, to provocative art exhibits at the Tate, there is much to fuel the imagination and spark ideas. And the gardens... The British are wholly enamored of gardening and landscapes, including conservatories and horticulture, great estate grounds, urban parks, backyard plots or townhouse terrace gardens. To a landscape architect and plant person, it can be overwhelming.

Can you tell us a bit about your own garden?

MOSHIER I’ve lived in my mid-century modern home for over twenty years now. The landscape has a contemporary bent. I have stainless steel mesh and Lexan plastic screens, monolithic concrete slabs with exposed black slag and injection molded furnishings. I appreciate more mass plantings with specimen focal points. However, as a plant person, my palette is diverse. I try different plants, changing it up as some thrive and others not so much. I use a lot of ornamental grasses, loving the textural effect they bring to plantings. The garden has matured and changed quite a bit over the years. In my youthful enthusiasm, I planted over twenty trees on a 6,000 square foot lot. Now I’m editing with a chainsaw.

What are a few of your favorite weekend pastimes?

MOSHIER Gardening. Cooking in the garden. Watching birds in the garden. Sunbathing in the garden. Drinking wine in the garden. Chatting with friends in the garden. I also enjoy hiking, movies, farmers' markets, practicing Spanish, sampling microbrews, quick trips to Portland and Vancouver, touring architecture... However, my garden brings me the greatest joy.

What is one of your favorite Seattle area urban landscape projects?

MOSHIER Red Square at the University of Washington. It is the only vast, paved public space surrounded by buildings, in the city of such scale. Reminiscent of European central plazas with its monolithic red brick paving and surrounding buildings. The space itself can be alive with activity, crowded with hundreds of people gathering for an event during the school year, or very peaceful and relaxing, inviting a stroll across it in the late evening sun of summer. Of course, I also have to mention the incredible nearby allees of flowering cherries – visually stunning in full bloom, and I think even prettier when the petals fall on the ground, some fresh, others turning brown, a perfect example of the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi.

What projects are currently on the boards for Cambium Landscape?

MOSHIER A contemporary home landscape on Capitol hill in Seattle. The architect is using a lot of steel and architectural concrete. We’re bringing those elements into the landscape. In addition, the structure is wrapped around a courtyard much in a Japanese style. The interior garden must work from all viewing angles. It will be minimal in its execution as the client wanted this courtyard to be made-up of a maximum of three elements: water, rock, and singular planting. We of course, are lighting it also. The feature natural boulder will have to be set prior to framing of the house, requiring some careful consideration while setting it.

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