DRAWING ON EXPERIENCE
Richard Haag’s practice is now focused on residential
projects. But his plantsmanship and advocacy for public spaces are as strong as
By Linda McIntyre
Once a plant guy, always a plant guy.
Richard Haag, FASLA, will chat affectionately about the
residential projects he’s currently working on, and he’ll become animated and
ornery talking about what he sees as commercial encroachments on public spaces.
But steer the discussion toward plants, and his eyes light up.
Haag’s interest in and affection for plants have been
constants during his long and varied career as a landscape architect, teacher,
and advocate. The horticultural world first took note of Haag when he was a
four-year-old delegate accompanying his dad to the Ohio and Kentucky
Nurserymen’s Association convention in 1928. Now, asked what he does to relax,
he runs down the list: “I hoe, cultivate, plant, propagate....”
Architecture visited Haag, recipient of the 2007 ASLA Design Medal, at his
office in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood to talk about the evolution of his
practice and what he’s doing now, he couldn’t resist drawing our attention to
particularly fine specimens of Vaccinium
ovatum and Viburnum tinus. When
we admitted during our interview that, living on the east coast, we’ve never
knowingly seen a madrone tree, he insisted on a quick detour over to the
Washington Park Arboretum to find one, pointing out various other native and
ornamental trees on the way. Haag still operates the woody plant nursery he
established in Arlington, Washington, in 1962, and grows many of the shrubs and
trees that form the backbone of his projects himself. “I know my plants on a
first-name basis,” he says. “They’re like an extended family, my green family.”
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