Is Landscaping an Art or Therapy or Both?


(Photo above: Sarah Whipple of Bend Pine Nursery | Courtesy of Bend Pine Nursery)

Some have discovered that working with nature can be a healing experience. With a fine art degree and her masters in art therapy, Sarah Whipple in Bend, Oregon knows how to access this inspiration that nature offers.

Twelve years ago she exchanged her mediums from clay to trees and from drawings from the subconscious to project plans. Her career has evolved into running Bend Pine Nursery. She brings the same work ethic and people skills to her role as the manager of her nursery as she did as a counselor.

On weekends you can find her in the nursery answering questions, taking with clients and loading up clients vehicles with nursery stock. However, probably the best way you can distinguish Whipple’s skill is the amount of laughter and hugs she gets from her clients. During the season she admits she’s a bit of a workaholic, but for her it’s a labor of love. Maybe her time perception gets a little distorted, but in a good way!

Whipple pursues the best practices and has become an expert at efficient watering with drip irrigation. She keeps up with industry education – one of her favorites is the farwest nursery tour in Portland with radio show hosts, columnists, authors and nursery professionals from around the world.

She is the co-author of the popular book 55 Myths, Tips and Secrets: Bend’s Essential Guide to Landscaping. She went through the master gardener program and will tell you she learns a lot from her clients too. She delivers and plants nearly a 1,000 trees and shrubs every year.

Annually she tours dozens of nurseries around the state to find the best items for Bend’s high desert climate. She visits dozens of projects monthly as a tree planter and designer as well. She even does the trucking, hauling and runs the heavy equipment to move the big trees for planting.

In this day and age where people “compare” tree prices over the phone or learn “design” on the internet, it’s refreshing to work with a person who really knows the subject from experience. She’ll tell you her focus is trees, but when you look a little closer you’ll see how well she understands the big picture.

Whipple has worked on scores of low maintenance style landscapes and appreciates working with native plants. She regularly visits jobsites and sees for herself people’s mistakes, failures and also their successful projects, so she clearly recognizes what does and doesn’t work.

Landscape is an art and art takes skill to produce. However the mastery of any subject also takes dedication, a love for it and a natural fit. Therapy comes in many forms and when done right it genuinely helps people solve their problems and improves their life. Working with a professional who understands both people and nature is vital.

“Most of us moved here to Central Oregon for the lifestyle,” says Whipple. “How much better if our home environment is a place we love too. Your life and mine are affected by the people, ideas and places we surround ourselves with, yet it’s surprising that the day to day enjoyment of the landscape a person lives in is still rare. But – with a little help from a landscape therapist it’s not hard to accomplish.”

Bend Pine Nursery
19019 Baker Rd
Bend, Oregon 97702
Landscaping: 541-382-5188
Nursery: 541-977-8733


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