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Earlier this Month I returned from an extraordinary trip to Japan where I explored many remarkable gardens, including the garden at the Renge-ji Temple. Renge-ji Temple is a minimalist Buddhist temple of the Shingon sect, located in northeast Kyoto.
 
The garden’s central area includes a pond filled by water that flows from the northern mountains; the backdrop is provided by plantings on the shore and the hillside. The stones, bridge, and plantings are mirrored perfectly in their reflections on the water’s surface.  The gardens combine rocks, trees, shrubs and moss, creating a layered and lush forest landscape.

Japan was inspirational – the mindfulness of the people and their deep appreciation for the importance of exterior space, regardless of scale, is wonderful and fulfilling.


Sketch "En Plein air" by Virginia.
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, OC Honoured
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, OC honoured with the inaugural Governor General's Medal in Landscape Architecture
 
Virginia was honoured to attend a wonderful event on September 20 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa with His Excellency Governor General David Johnston awarding our dear friend Cornelia with the inaugural Governor General's Medal in Landscape Architecture (GGMLA). A garden tour and walk with Her Excellency Sharon Johnston followed the ceremony. Later that evening the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) celebrated Cornelia's achievement with a gala at Chateau Laurier. As the nominator, Virginia had the opportunity to speak about Cornelia's extraordinary life and work. The GGMLA is the highest honour bestowed on a landscape architect by the CSLA.

"Thank you to the folks who assisted Virginia to make the nomination submission and the presentations a success: Jennifer Hanna, Susie Maurer, Daphne Jaques, Hilary Sadler, Howard Brown - these things take a village!!"
Virginia Burt Designs receives OCASLA Merit Award
In September, Virginia Burt Designs received a Merit Award for one of our residential projects in the Cleveland area.  This project was unique in that we were able to salvage stone foundations, woodwork, windows, sandstone paving and mature trees which became the building blocks for a sunken garden, an arbor and matching garden sheds.  It was a joy to work with clients who believed passionately in the principles of sustainability and were willing to reconstruct from these salvaged materials.  One principle of Japanese garden design included the concept of “wabi sabi” – the Japanese aesthetic that finds beauty in imperfection and transience.

Susan Maurer (Pictured) accepted the award on the firm's behalf.
Garden Principles
One of the many garden principles is Borrowed Scenery, or in Japanese garden design terms, “shakkei”. This is a technique of enlarging the visual scale of the garden beyond its actual physical boundaries by incorporating the trees and landscapes beyond.

Photo: Virginia
Here: Ryoan-ji Temple – the famous enclosed garden designed for respite from the world beyond and yet enjoyment of its enfolding landscape softening the surrounding wall and tile roof.

Photo: Richard Mandelkorn
Here: An example of a Virginia Burt Designs rooftop garden where the plants lead the eye to tree tops beyond, mimicking the wooded hills of the client’s childhood home.
In June, Virginia was delighted to be accepted as a member of the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects (BCSLA). This membership allows Virginia to collaborate with colleagues in BC as a licensed Landscape Architect in the province and expands her licensure across Canada.
Recent Publications
Virginia Burt has been featured in the recently release book; Breaking Barriers: 10 Entrepreneurial Women Share Their Stories. Authored by Trish Tonaj, "Breaking Barriers", creates a foundation of mentorship by sharing Virginia's story and that of nine other entrepreneurial women to inspire and motivate others in their own journey to success. Virginia Burt is featured in one chapter entitled "Expanding Your Territory - The Confidence Game". The book is a great read for any entrepreneur and is available for purchase on Amazon.
Virginia was also a contributor in the book "Designing for Autism Spectrum Disorders". Several of Virginia's healing garden related drawings and concepts are referenced in the book. It too, can be purchased on Amazon.
Speaking Engagements

Newfoundland & Labrador Association of Architects (NLAA): 2016 Public Lecture Series“For the Greater Good: Advocacy through Design”. The event is hosted by The Atlantic Provinces Association of Landscape Architects (APALA). St. John’s, Newfoundland. Friday October 13th 2016.

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Annual General Meeting, “Architects of Healing; Mending Life and Landscape in a Broken World” (Panelist). New Orleans, Louisiana.  Friday, October 21st, 2016 10:30AM.

Hardy Plant Group, Home: Locally Inspired. Vancouver, BC. October 29th, 2016, 10:00AM.

Landscape Ontario Congress, “Transformative Landscapes: Healing Gardens and Sacred Spaces” (January 11th) and “Finding Voice: An Examination of What Makes ‘Home’” (January 12th). Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Congress Centre – January 10–12, 2017.
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