It's not often that undergraduates are given the chance to work with some of the top names in their field. Though the intimidation factor must have been intense, six UC Davis landscape architecture students rose to the challenge last fall when they joined some of the world's most highly regarded landscape architects to create an installment for a garden attraction in Sonoma.
Their creation is on display at the new Cornerstones International Festival of Gardens. Inspired by European gardens, former Bay Area toy developer Chris Hougie decided to bring the concept home. And he added a twist -- his gardens would operate like a museum, with installations rotating in and out as temporary exhibits.
The UC Davis team, made up of Diana Walker-Smith, Lindsey Holm, Ying Lu, Nina Suzuki, Amanda Voltin and Vicky Wilson, knew they had their work cut out for them -- particularly since none had any construction experience. But that did not stop them from building the installment.
"We decided to create a garden that reflected the concept of the attainment of knowledge," said Walker-Smith, the team's leader who, at the time, was the president of the UC Davis chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
The outcome, a garden called "The Knowledge of Man is as the Waters," features a square pond in the center of a forest of red bamboo shoots. Heath Schenker, chair of the landscape architecture department, and landscape architecture professor Mark Francis oversaw the students and had final approval of their design.
Cornerstone's 9.5 acres of grassland currently feature 15 gardens. The gardens, located on Sonoma's Highway 121, are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Monday, and noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday. Admission is $7.