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Let’s talk about how landscape architects, homeowners come up with a plan

Maestro Raymond Leppard’s garden has been 18 years in the making. © Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Raymond Leppard’s garden will be abuzz next Saturday as the setting for a national conversation about the inspiration, design, budget, plants and other aspects of the creative landscape process.

Leppard, retired music director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, has been working with landscape architects Barth Hendrickson and Jonathan Hess for 18 years. Together they have crafted the north side property, called Orchard House, into a lovely arrangement of gardens.

“When people see Orchard House, they will think the large trees developed there, that they just grew in that location, that they were planted as seedlings. Actually the landscape architects moved several large trees” to create the view, said Charles A. Birnbaum, founder and president of The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

In the first of what Birnbaum hopes will be an annual event, the foundation organized What’s Out There — Garden Dialogues as a national conversation about how property owners and landscape architects work together to create a site.

What’s Out There is the foundation’s database, which allows visitors to search more than a thousand American landscapes by name, style, locale, type and designer.

Garden Dialogues enlivens the database with tours and conversations in about two dozen significant landscapes throughout the country. At Orchard House, Hendrickson and Hess of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects will lead the tour.

Besides opening the landscapes for public discussion, Garden Dialogues elevates well-known regional landscape architects to a national platform, said Birnbaum, one of the country’s foremost experts on cultural and historic landscapes. Prior to creating the foundation in 1998, Birnbaum, a landscape architect, was the coordinator of the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative for 15 years.

“Indianapolis is a good city for landscape architecture,” he said in a telephone interview, citing the work of George Kessler, who designed the city’s park system. “It also a has great country place era landscape (Oldfields) at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.”

Garden Dialogues is open to the public. Registration is required. The fee is $35.