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Ten Landscapes: A Talk with Topher Delaney

Listen to Ketzel's interview with Topher Delaney Listen to Ketzel's interview with Topher Delaney, a San Francisco-based artist and landscape designer, who talks with the DofD about the sanctuary of gardens and her recent trip to New York.

Topher Delaney has an irresistable energy. You can see it in the pictures on this page. She is unorthodox and gutsy, open-hearted and fierce. And though you might not guess it by looking at her, Delaney is one hell of a fighter.

Ketzel and Topher
Ketzel and Topher chat amidst the bamboo in the Stamper Garden, designed by T. Delaney.
Topher Goofy
Topher with her cat-ate-the-canary grin, mugging for the camera.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in the mid-80's ("one on, one off!"), Delaney turned her prodigious energies to creating healing gardens at hospitals (realizing at the time she could have used one herself). "All the gardens center around reflection, and the passage of time," she says. "People hang on to see the cherry tree blossoms. The gardens can't be static, they must change."

Garden Statues
Topher as art, with some of the more fanciful inhabitants of the Stamper Garden. Sculpture by artist Mavis McClure.
Ten Landscapes
Hot off the presses! Ten Landscapes is a collection of Topher Delaney's residential work.

As is often the case with radio interviews -- particularly with this one -- a lot more was said than made it on the air. Here are some thoughtful comments from Topher Delaney you didn't get to hear:

"I look at my work as a spiritual practice. I view it as somewhat of a calling. I try to acknowledge my conflicts as I work."

For instance?

"O.K., I'll say it: I'm a control freak! And that's why I do this. Gardens are humbling; I can have no control. And (knowing)that I have no control over anything... actually, that's what's kept me alive".

Do you have a garden?

"No. I paint, I do photographs, but I don't garden. I happen to be very knowledgeable and good at helping people make gardens themselves. But that's as far as it goes. I am simply a vehicle to get the community to a place where they are connected with the land.
I am a teacher."

You can reach Topher Delaney at

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Copyright © 2003 National Public Radio, Washington, D.C.