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Good Design Starts with Miss Rumphius' Rules

Sometimes you only need to look as far as your own backyard for a beautiful garden and wonderful garden blogs. That is where we found, or shall we say revisited, the always informative, wonderfully engaging and redesigned for the new garden season, Miss Rumphius’ Rules. The latest recipient of our Best Gardening Blogs for 2011 award is an eye-catching garden design blog authored by landscape design professional and our very own Contributing Editor to Horticulture magazine, Susan Cohan.

playful color

An art school graduate, Susan set off to live what she describes as a creative life. Flash forward to today and her creative life is a reality. As a garden designer Susan’s work and the way she is wired visually, permeates every aspect of her day. Like many of us, her mind and creative thoughts are focused on gardens, garden design and writing. So how does she get it all done I asked? Ask a silly question and you get an obvious answer- she works very hard.

“I’m self-employed so I’m always working even when I don’t appear to be working,” Susan explains. “As a designer, my life is entwined in my work and there are few clearly defined boundaries. I try to compartmentalize functions so that each area has its own time frame.”


The key to juggling many projects is to know when we perform each at our best.

“I get up really early when the world is quiet so that I can work in relative peace. Once the phone starts ringing or the day’s distractions start it becomes harder to get into the flow. I write in the afternoons and find it to be very relaxing. Writing helps me organize the hundreds of convergent ideas I have at any one time,” Susan shares.

Susan is quick to point out that she is a garden designer first and a garden design blogger second. That is perhaps an indiscernible distinction for followers of Miss Rumphius’ Rules, a garden design blog with a presentation of ideas that is as well-crafted as one of Susan’s gardens.

“With my blog I can reach people I would never have had access to before. It adds color and texture to my on line presence and allows people who might hire me now or in the future to see what I like and think on a deeper level than a portfolio based website can.”

Sometimes I just see something and say YES! This garden table was one of those. Funky and modern, this table would not be easy to use on just any patio or in any garden.


While Susan may maintain laser focus on her garden design endeavors, she does enjoy a bit of self-indulgence from time-to-time with Miss Rumphius’ Rules.

“When I’ve chosen to indulge personal garden design fantasies with the blog they often become my most popular posts for months. I recently wrote a piece about a Chanel inspired garden that gets a lot of traffic and I thought I was being totally indulgent with that one,” Susan revealed.

First and foremost, Susan is a landscape and garden designer so when she blogs, she writes about design. That her blog happens to include plants as a means to achieve her designs is secondary.

“I think that’s what gives Miss Rumphius a unique voice, that it’s not only about gardens and plants but about how they intersect with the larger world of design in general,” Susan explains.

Jenny Koester, AKA The Landless Gardener, is the Garden Blog Editor for Horticulture magazine and the author of The Garden Life.