My Journey to Discovering Landscape Architecture

For me, it has been exactly that… more of a journey, rather than an event. Small moments over time have influenced, shaped and guided me to where I am presently now. I’ll share three….

Growing up in Wyoming, particularly with a father who worked for the NRCS with a strong agricultural-family background, planting a large vegetable garden every year has always been a ritual. I can remember myself as a young girl with my brothers driving our yellow toy Tonka trucks around in the freshly tilled garden soil while my Dad hilled the rows in preparation for planting potatoes. I gained an appreciation for the law of the harvest and the land as we each claimed our rows for the season.

The sand box was probably one of my other favorite retreats as a young girl as well. My brothers’ and my own imaginative designs together took shape every summer into sand castles or forts with accessory pieces gathered from the woodpile for drawbridges, the raspberry patch for old canes to be incorporated into fencing and leaves for roofing. The best part was filling our deep, dug out moats with water watching with excitement as the moats’ capacities were tested and trying our best to stop the causes of erosion and flooding as our walls would slowly cave in over time.  Imagination and creativity were limitless.

The lima-bean flower bed. This was probably the second largest nudge that helped me discover the thought of designing outdoor spaces.  I must admit, I began with the saying, “When I grow up, I’m going to be an Interior Designer.” I loved watching “This Old House” and everything about restoring old historic homes and transforming and arranging rooms into beautiful living spaces was my love.  My mother would let me rearrange the living room from time to time, but my hopes to paint the walls were never permitted. To my mother’s credit, the paint would have not lasted on the walls of our home. Things changed one day when the Gurney’s Catalog arrived on the kitchen table with a small image of lima-bean flower bed displayed in plan view on the cover advertised for ordering. I was intrigued and remember asking if I could order the lima-bean flower bed kit and install it. The answer was yes and so began my first flower bed in my folk’s yard. My dad smiles now when my mom reminds him that he used to have the rule that, “If you couldn’t eat it, it doesn’t belong in the yard.”. There is a lot of wisdom in that saying, and I understand its value more now, but I certainly bent the rules as a child. That simple lima-bean flower bed was the introduction of thoughts for me to consider designing outside instead of inside. Soon after, I discovered the career choice “Landscape Architecture” as part of my high school vocational exploration class and the dots quickly connected together. I found the commencement of my pathway toward Landscape Architecture and the approaching threshold of future possibilities for work  I never imagined that could be accomplished through obtaining the correct knowledge and keys.


JoEllen Grandy, Utah ASLA Secretary