• Blinded by the reflection of degrees

    This story is dedicated to those who have succeeded in creating what they set out to create, despite being (often times) rejected by those who are more concerned by the number of degrees hanging on someone's wall, the expensive European car they drive, the size and furnishings of their office, or who their father or mother was..

    This is for those who succeeded because they had knowledge, desire, and confidence.They took these three ingredients and used them to create something of beauty for all the world to see, despite having little or very little formal education or training. But they had a vision! You know most of them, or should: John Glenn (college dropout), John D. Rockefeller (quit school at 16), Steve Jobs (college dropout after 6 months), Horace Greeley (no formal education - newspaper apprentice), Mark Twain (little formal education), William Shakespeare (no records of any formal education), Albert Einstein (high school drop out)...just to name a few.

    Here are a few you may not have heard of:

    In the area of interior design, there is Vicente Wolfe, considered one of the 10 most influential designers in the United States. He was self taught.


    (Photos by Vicente Wolfe - Pinterest)





    In the area of landscape design, there is Ahmed Hassan, a self taught landscape designer who began working as a professional maintenance gardener at the age of 15. Today is one of the most sought-after designers in California and a frequent guest on HGTV and the DIY network.







    (Photos Ahmed Hassan  ahmedhassan.tv/about)

    And there is another landscape designer with no formal education or training in landscape design, yet she has been able to transform what began as a blank canvas and turn it into a beautiful garden sanctuary. Certainty not as well known as Hassan or Wolfe, but she has created some spectacular 'scapes' for her family and a few friends.

    She began her informal education and experience with landscape design as a child at the feet of her mother, who was a national flower show judge, award-winning flower designer, and quite an accomplished artist.This landscaper's mother learned her love of beauty and flowers at the feet of her mother. Three generations of landscapers who accomplished much, without formal training. 

    This is a 'pano' of her back gardens as they look now. She began by removing all the existing plants, except for the beautiful Japanese maple in the center.. She spent hours just sitting, looking, and planning...before the first old plant was removed and the new one placed.


    She is not a nationally known landscaper. She is not even known regionally. However, she is very well known by a few close friends who value her planting suggestions and have even followed through on her designs for their yards.

    Many who seek the right landscape designer are blinded by elaborate signs. Several are influenced by degrees. Some are attracted to 'expensive must be better.' However, there are a few who look beyond all this and recognize true beauty.

    The landscaper who created this beautiful garden (above) does what she does in her own gardens and for those who seek her advice because she loves beauty and wants to share the peace one feels when surrounded by beauty.  If you know me, you know this landscape designer. She does not have a wall full of degrees. But, she does have a gift.

    Let me introduce you to this gifted garden designer who was largely self taught. - Sandra Lambiotte

    So, the next time you seek a landscape designer, look at what they have created - not what is on their wall, what they park in front of your home, or their glossy brochure.

    And that is the way I see it.

    Until next time,






    And then there is