Column: Planting the seeds of ‘triple-threat’ settings

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Commentary by Randy Sorrell and Bill Bernard

We have long been a proponent of what we consider the design world’s “triple threat.”  The idea of a triple threat is something you hear about in a variety of settings. In the theater world, a triple threat is having the ability to act, sing and dance. In basketball, it’s the ability to dribble, pass and shoot.

In our world of architectural and landscape design, the triple threat is described as spaces that consist of commodity (meeting the functional needs of its occupants), firmness (meeting the structural needs) and delight (meeting the aesthetic needs). These concepts have been the subject of discussion and interpretation for centuries, but they remain the three essential characteristics required for a well-designed space – both inside and outside.

Specifically, as it relates to our plant selections, our triple threat is to provide plantings that are easy to maintain (commodity), plants that survive and thrive in our climate (firmness) and plants that present three seasons of interest (delight). We have weeded through a list of more than 1,000 plants that can survive in our climate to develop our list of the top 100 plants that satisfy these qualities.

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