If these floors could speak: Design direction at the Charlotte Airport

I am fascinated with the way our surroundings impact our movements.  We take cues from architecture, color, pattern, materials, etc... and move accordingly. Long, narrow spaces cause us to move quickly.  Repeated patterns and high contrast signal to our brains that it's time to pick up the pace.  Less contrast and open spaces encourage gathering and slowing down. At the Charlotte airport recently, the floor pattern in the rental car corridor caught my attention.  The flooring in this area is amazing!  It is designed for people to subtly understand when, where, and how to move - without signs! Let's take a stroll through this area and see how the design works.

When you come off the escalator or come in from the doors, this compass-like pattern in the flooring greets you.  This is a clear focusing spot - where you pause and consider your options.  Decisions are made at places called nodes.  And nodes aren't helpful in a linear, high-energy place.  You need a little time to think - and the space to do it.  The circle surrounded by evenly sized points creates a square shape with a central core.  Everything in this 15'x15' space is encouraging you to slow down.

You make your decision to enter through the doors, and you're greeted by this striped floor pattern. People walk through here, wait in line, and (finally) approach the rental car counters.  The flooring helps make all this happen. Triangular stripes of dark and light tiles encourage movement and increase the energy associated with the space.  This is high contrast, lively territory! You're supposed to walk through this part. 

Floor color detail

Floor color detail

Navy blue, white, and grey were used for the flooring. This provides a slightly less harsh contrast than black and white would.  Blue is a soothing, calming color and surely works overtime at the airport!

As you turn towards your rental car desks, you move off from the navy-white-corridor and into an area dominated by the white tiles.  Some grey and navy remain, but the softer contrast and higher white percentage is far less intense.  This keeps people calmer - what we all need in an airport. Long thin lines of navy delineate each area, and the triangles subtly direct people towards the desks.  Brilliant flooring!  How can we relate this to a client's landscape?  One of the primary considerations of any space is how it's intended to be used: to move, to sit, to relax, to work...  What's under our feet, along with all the other elements of a design, should support the role of a space.

Garden Ornament- Ceramic Spheres

These simple ceramic garden orbs caught my eye at Earl May (of all places?!?) the other week. I loved their simple shape and deep vibrant colors. I can imagine one of these nestled into a soft groundcover planting – try artemisia or bearberry, or incorporated into a container display with similar pots. They were weather-resistant ceramic, but in case there’s concern about Iowa’s harsh winters, look for glazed fiberglass or other options to leave them out all year.

Garden Container Inspiration - Go Big!

Looking for some container garden inspiration?  Check out these amazing containers! I love getting inspired by large corporate installations – they are so grand!  Our own home gardens might not require planters that tower overhead, but the punch and strength of these babies can be scaled to back patio size, at a fraction of the cost. These containers were outside a Michigan mall, and some were along the main street in Frankenmuth, MI. Check out other inspiration from Frankenmuth here!

The standard recipe for an awesome container is just three parts: thriller, filler, and spiller. The thriller stands high, the filler adds dimension and medium-height, and the spiller drapes down the side of the container. It’s easy to get a container right if you use the basic recipe. It’s not the only way, but it’s tried and true.

So if you're wanting some container garden inspiration, look around your yard and think about going big!  Stick to the thriller, spiller, filler formula if you're nervous, or riff on it if you're confident.  Enjoy the garden container inspiration you can find all over- big or small.

Hellstrip Plantings- Great Grasses

I've noticed the landscaping outside an office building near me for a few months.  The strip of ornamental grasses between the parking area and the road has consistently looked amazing.  The "hellstrip" - that area that is baked in the sun and surrounded by asphalt - is a tough area for anything to grow.  These grasses make it look easy.  The tawny flower heads are looking great right now, but even as new green shoots they held their own.  The plants completely fill the space.  Dense and soft and airy, they really change this narrow, l-o-n-g space.  Just imagine what it would feel like if the same strip was filled with rock! A planting in a nearby hellstrip shows another commonly used plant - a Stella d'Oro daylily.  It's so sad! 

These daylilies looked great in early summer, I'm sure, but no longer.  Part of the deal with hellstrip plantings is that this area requires plants to be okay with low, low maintenance and high, high stress.

Can't wait to see these golden beauties as they age into autumn color!