Summer is wonderful for many reasons, but at the top of many lists is the idea of fresh vegetables, bright flowers, and the satisfaction of working in a garden. For landscape designer Bridget Huzar
, a passion for exactly these things has lead her down a bright path (likely stone, and lined with flowers) to owning a successful business that focuses on beauty, practicality and earth-consciousness.
Bridget’s work has even lead to her designs being featured on the national network A&E on a show called “Fix This Yard!”. Read on to learn about how the dream and desire of a once 19-year old girl has lead to a life and career of art, science and passion. It’ll be a beautiful journey.
How did you become a landscape designer, and how does that differ from “landscaper” or “gardener”?
I am a landscape designer. A “landscaper” is the person that installs the designs that I create. Growing up on a 200 acre farm in upstate NY, I was always walking in the woods and fields with my sketchbook. I have always painted with watercolors and done pencil drawings of landscapes. I am an artist first and a horticulturist second, although the two disciplines must coexist equally to create a garden design. I love the combination of the science of horticulture and the art of designing. Even though I was taught to use CAD for landscaping, I will always only hand draw my designs, to keep a strong emphasis on the organically artistic nature of nature!
What sort of education do you have in this field, formal or informal?
I have a BS degree in Ornamental Horticulture and Environmental Design from Delaware Valley College. They had a wonderful hands-on program, focused on “real world” designs. I met my husband, Shawn Huzar ( an excellent landscaper) while at school. We both have the same degree and this year we will be working together at French Gardens. We are so excited to be combining our talents into one exceptional landscape company!
Can you describe your areas of expertise? How does your business differ from other garden planning businesses?
Well, the farm in NY had a late 1700’s home that our family fully restored, so I know a great deal about period architecture and garden styles. I can help the homeowners determine the period that they want to represent and design a garden that will reflect that era. No matter what the style of the home or garden, I pride myself in always producing a design that combines the needs/desires of the client with the restriction/assets of the site.
I just love designing courtyards. Courtyards are intimate spaces that are usually surrounded by at least 3 walls, and if designed correctly–make you feel like you are in your own private room. You can have an entrance courtyard, which feels welcoming and invites you to sit on a bench or journey slowly to the front door. A courtyard for the back of your yard, helps create an old world ambiance and invites you to relax and have a few glasses of wine!
My business is different because it is focused on you, not a plant I have been told to push or a style that I feel comfortable designing. I spend many hours listening to what the homeowner wants, analyzing the site and creating a unique design specifically for you.
What are some of our favorite projects to work on?
My favorite projects involve a definite theme. Not a theme, as in something cheesy, like “Kozy Kottage” (all in K’s) aghhhhhh!!!! Its hard to describe, but when you see the house, meet the client , discuss the direction of the project, and it all flows together perfectly…thats when it is a dream!!! For instance, if I pull up to a great stone house, I think–“ohhh I would love to design a flagstone walkway to a kitchen garden, and a hedge of roses by that stone wall.” Then, the owners come out and say how they were thinking about growing veggies and want an old world and uncomplicated feel……then I am truly happy. As with any artist, it is impossible to not inject a little of yourself in a design. I like to think that by getting to know a client and really listening to what they have to say, the unique design that I create is what the homeowner would have done if they could have done it themselves.
How does garden design enrich the lives of the people living with it?
Horticultural therapy is the best kind of therapy. You get satisfaction and gain knowledge on so many levels. To plant and cultivate a living thing, that also brings visual joy is an amazing feeling. Children especially, learn so many wonderful lessons and experience such pride in being involved with any type of garden.
I see you give garden talks and mentoring. How does one attend a talk or become mentored?
I love talking!!! Seriously, it’s a problem. I am grateful that I have a job that allows me to meet new people constantly and talk. My poor husband knows this very well. When my work begins to slow down during the winter months, I give talks for local organizations, shops or events. I have no talks planned for this year, because this is my busiest spring ever.
When I get a chance to breathe, I will plan my winter speaking engagements.
The garden mentoring is a wonderful service. It is very similar to a on-site consultation, but it is more focused on a particular event or do-it-youself project. There is more about this on my website, where you will also find information about contacting me for a mentoring session or attending a talk.
Tell me about the concept of “earth friendly landscapes”.
“Earth friendly landscapes” is my term for using the right plants in the right place. I try to use native plants as often as I can, because they do well in this environment, therefore require less “non-earth friendly” things like, lots of water, pesticides and fuel for maintaining.
When natives are not aesthetically correct for a site, it is important to choose a plant that will do well in that spot and not need to be pruned constantly, sprayed seasonally or become invasive. Planting large trees is also part of a responsible landscape. So many homeowners are worried about “all of the big leaves” . Well, they are crucial to our environment and without those big scary leaves, we would not have oxygen to breathe, so I design as many plans with canopy tress as possible.
Do you have any photos of your personal garden? What are some of your favorite flowers and plants?
Yes- I have pictures, but I am just like the cobbler, whose kids have no shoes! I am so busy during the gardening season, giving other people beautiful landscapes, that my house is last on the list. We love our charming, little cottage and wouldn’t trade it for any of the sprawling mansions that I have designed. Well, maybe a smallish mansion. My favorite plants are Geranium Sanguineum, Sweetbay magnolia, floribunda roses, all hydrangeas, lemon thyme, lavender, and heuchera ‘Lime Ricky’ paired with its cousin ‘Plum Pudding’.
Can you talk about your experience working with A&E on “Fix This Yard”?
WOW!– is the first thing that pops into my head. What a whirlwind of new experiences and “sure-why-not” decisions! It is wonderful to realize that I have reached the point in my career that my expertise is desired and my designs have such value.
When you start your business at 19, it takes a while before you even let yourself think that you have reached some of your goals and obtained a high level of respect in your field. The funny thing is, I never knew this was even a possibly as a goal, let alone have such success as to get the show that I helped create picked up by a major network. In a nutshell– awesome people, unforgettable experience and who knows what’s around the corner!
Do you have tips for novice gardeners about the care of a garden? Any tips on choosing plants for someone just getting started?
I don’t mean to sound like I am trying to drum up business, but please have a professional come out to your yard. It will save you soooo much time and money to have someone come out and give you a site analysis of your property. The tips and advice that a designer/consultant can give will get you started the right way towards a successful DIY project. Like anything you do with your home, start with what you love–plants, colors, textures, styles and work from there to determine what will live and thrive in your yard.
Check out the work of the landscapers Bridget works with here: French Gardens