First I want to say that I have tremendous respect for what landscape architects do (which is why I hired one). If this comes across as minimizing their importance or anything like that, then please know that is not my intention.
Here's my project: our <1/4 acre front yard has an awful (and redundant) circular driveway made from gravel and we're removing it. We're replacing it mostly with lawn, but also some native plants and a bluestone walkway. Simple enough, but one of the landscapers we had previously spoken with about the plan had referred us to an LA who he said could help us with plant selection/placement specifically.
So, we paid a $2,500 retainer to work with the LA last summer, with the goal of starting the project this upcoming summer. After meeting with us, she drafted up a base plan (a drawing of the project with a planting list). That cost us an additional $1,800 on top of the retainer, which we paid in September. When we got the plan, there were a few things that needed to be changed. Nothing major, just things that were different than what we had talked about, or that were inaccurately placed based on the layout of our yard. She said she'd fix them before the final draft, so that was obviously no problem.
In October, we talked again on the phone about these changes (it seemed like she may not have taken notes from our previous call), and she said that we'd hear from her in a couple of months. We didn't, so at the beginning of January I reached out again. We re-discussed the things that needed to be changed in the plan (this was the third time now, so she definitely had not been taking notes during previous two convos), and we also made two other minor changes (decided to use bluestone instead of another type of paver, and picked a few different perennials for the flower bed). She then said that she would come up with the final plan and send it out to contractors once we approved it.
Last week we received and approved the final plan (which had only very minor changes from the previous one) and she subsequently submitted it to two contractors for bids. Today, we received a new invoice from her for $2,200. In the invoice, she's charging for 15 hours of work on our project since our payment in September. As far as I can tell, the only thing that's happened during that time is she fixed the minor mistakes from the original plan, swapped out some perennials for different species, picked a different paver material, and submitted the project to two contractors for bids. We were shocked that this set of changes would cost more than the entire plan itself had cost to make in the first place. I really cannot understand how 15 hours of work could have gone into this (at $140 an hour), and I'm also feeling somewhat frustrated because we needed to have two redundant phone calls (which I'm being charged for) in which I was just repeating the same things because she had forgotten what we had already discussed.
When we first started working with her, she had told us that she anticipated the total cost of her services would be around the value of the initial retainer, and she specifically said that she might end up writing us
a check at the end of the project if we don't make it up to the full $2,500. Since we're now at $4,000 and we haven't even started the project yet (she told us that she will be working closely with the contractors throughout, so she'll be billing us for those hours), I imagine that we probably haven't even paid half her total fee yet.
Is this standard practice? Is $6-10k a reasonable amount to pay a landscape architect on such a simple project? I don't want to be an asshole and complain to her (I'm sure there's a lot going on behind the scenes), but I've been walked on so many times by contactors in the past, and I worry that my wife and I (new homeowners in a high COL neighborhood) are easy targets for overcharging. Edit: Here is the design: https://i.imgur.com/mfhKhFu.jpg It's drawn upon a map of our property/house that I provided her, so less than half of what's on there is actually drawn/written by her. This is just to give you an idea of the scope of the project
It's time we start taking a deeper look at some of Dark Souls 2's covenants. These three tie pretty neatly together, I hope you enjoy! Links for the other chapters are at the bottom. Chapter 11 The Way of Blue, The Blue Sentinels & The Brotherhood of Blood
In the days of Drangleic, The Way of Blue was not a developed religion. It was a humble prayer that spread naturally amongst those seeking help. The journey of an Undead was long and treacherous, they faced invaders from other worlds at every turn. Members of the Way of Blue would cry out for help and proclaim faith in the Blue Sentinels, who watched over them in their benevolence.
The Way of Blue had its origins in Heide, before it was subsumed by the sea. Whether Heide referred to a kingdom or was just a name for the land was not clear, for no records dated back far enough to tell. Those in the covenant gained ranks by defeating invaders. For defeating these invaders they were rewarded with the Bloodbite Ring, the sorcery Hush; used in the eastern land of Mirrah by a traditional order of shadow knights, who quietly carried out unspeakable tasks, and the Blue Tearstone Ring; set with a large rare tearstone jewel. This stone was said to be a tear of sorrow of the goddess Caitha, and of course, tears were always more beautiful near death. Caitha, goddess of tears, mourned those who had lost loved ones by shedding pure tears of blue and it was said that the stone set in this ring was one such tear.
The Blue Sentinels had vowed to uplift themselves through tireless training and selfless adherence to order and justice. The Golden Wing Shield was likely a symbol of guardianship used by Knights of the Blue. This shield was exceptional amongst the enchanted blue shields as it enabled its wielder to parry spells.
One member of this group was Targray. He could appear obtuse, but the blue knight meant no harm. He only wished to offer guidance to those in need; for that was his purpose, and his Halberd was a fitting weapon for a shepherd of lost souls.
Targray could teach the miracles Emit Force and Heavenly Thunder to Knights of the Blue, the latter of which emitted lightning in random directions. Scholars bickered over whether this was the original Lightning Spear, or a derivative. One could never gain full control of the power of the Gods, but with a little favour from lady luck, this spell would destroy your foes. Targray sold the Morning Star, normally wielded by clerics, but clearly intended to draw blood. He also sold the Halberd, known as the Red-Hilted Halberd in the times of Lothric, which was associated with clerics.
Targray resided in the Cathedral of Blue. The Cleric’s Parma, used by clerics on pilgrimage, could also be found here. It was enchanted with a somewhat fragile blessing that allowed spells to be deflected by parrying. Unfortunately, the shield provided very little physical defense, and was more of a lucky charm than a proper shield. Along with this, the Tower Shield could also be found, the same shield that the Syan Knights wielded.
The Blue Sentinels’ ring, The Guardian’s Seal, was engraved with the crest of the Way of Blue. It symbolized the dignified oath to protect each world’s master from dark spirits. They were the only ones who could use the Cracked Blue Eye Orbs; to punish the guilty so as to strengthen the bond with their covenant. Wearing this ring and shining light upon stone, they could hear the voices of the blue apostles. Listening for their cries of help, they repelled the malicious invaders. This was their way to elevate themselves to a higher plane. They walked along an endless path, and challenged themselves, until they breathed their last breath.
They were rewarded with Tokens of Fidelity, recognizing that the owner had travelled worlds to help others. Simply carrying these tokens showed the depth of the holder’s fidelity. Knights of the Blue had to rely upon one another to achieve their greater goal. Using these tokens they could test their strength against other Knights of the Blue.
Gaining ranks in their covenant rewarded them with the Spirit Tree Great Shield, a rather well-built shield decorated by the spirit tree that appeared in the allegory of Quella, god of dreams. It had a faint residue of magic, and could deflect spells by parrying. This was the shield of the Drakeblood Knights. In the times of Lothric, it would be known as a knight’s shield and was one of the enchanted blue shields, greatly reducing lightning damage. The spirit tree on this shield was similar to another that also appeared in the allegory of Quella; the Grand Spirit Tree Shield. Once there was a boy who was easily frightened, until the talking tree of dreamworld transformed itself into a shield to protect him.
Rising in the Blue Sentinels’ ranks granted a Knight of the Blue the miracle Wrath of the Gods. Little was known about the origins of this miracle during the time of Drangleic, except that it shared roots with the Force spell. It made mention of certain Gods, but alas, their actual names were long forgotten. At the Blue Sentinels’ highest rank, they were granted the miracle Bountiful Sunlight, once kept by the Lindelt Monastery, but stolen and never recovered. It was a special miracle passed down through the ages.
In Heide, The Cathedral of Blue was defended by the Old Knights who carried Cracked Blue Eye Orbs. They were warriors from a time so ancient that there existed no record of their endeavours. Though their weapons and armor now had extremely low durability, sometimes, just as a thing fell to pieces, it unleashed its last flash of great power.
Within the cathedral resided the Old Dragonslayer. This Dragonslayer was reminiscent of a certain knight that appeared in old legends, though he now seemed infused with the power of Dark. He carried the Old Leo Ring, the beloved ring of a dragon-slaying knight. After many years of use, the ring’s face had worn down, but close inspection revealed an engraved lion.
A group calling themselves the Blue Sentinels had gained much power in Volgen. You couldn’t even run a shop without their blessing. They claimed to be working for the greater good, but Maughlin the Armourer believed it to be absolute hogwash.
Volgen, West of Drangleic, was a lively place, vibrant with trade and famous for their merchants; they even created the Binoculars. There were great bustling cities and it was very competitive. You had to grease the wheels to get anywhere.
The clerics of the great city of Volgen were perennially entrenched in scandalous power struggles, but among them remained a few strong-willed, upstanding noblemen. The High Priest of Volgen blessed the Ring of Knowledge and the Ring of Prayer, which increased the intelligence or faith of the wearer, respectively.
Fiorenza, the richest and the only truly moneyed merchant in Volgen, used his riches to buy trinkets of luxury and rare collectibles. He recreated the old lost weapon, Avelyn, after reading of it in an old book. This weapon, originally cherished by the weapon craftsman Eidas, had an elaborate design making it closer to a work of art than a weapon. Its intricate mechanism made heavy damage possible through triple-shot firing of bolts. Despite its use as a weapon, this crossbow was also a priceless work of art, and it bore resemblance to a musical instrument.
Fiorenza also owned the Clear Bluestone Ring, which shortened spell casting time. This wealthy merchant searched for the rare Engraved Gauntlets his entire life, but was not the one who found them. He was eventually ruined after years of excessive debauchery.
Domestic Volgen soldiers were infamously timid, so it was no wonder that a fierce band of mercenary falconers was hired to compensate. The falconers were rumoured to be untrusting of others, and demanding of prompt, full payment. But no wonder; they delivered much more than they were paid, and were well aware of it. In practice they served as bodyguards for the affluent elite, and they served well, such that nobody dared scrutinize their backgrounds. Their small shields appeared like a glistening gold falcon from afar and, even in the times of Lothric, many mercenaries remained who looked upon the golden falcon as a token of good fortune.
Those who put faith in an absolute good also believed in the existence of true evil. But to others, the distinction between the two could be quite unclear. There were those in this forsaken place who had only a lust for blood. They conspired to ambush blue apostles on the road.
Deep within the Undead Purgatory resided Titchy Gren, the covenant leader of the Brotherhood of Blood. Those in this covenant were believers in Nahr Alma, god of blood. This servant wore attire that increased the number of souls acquired for each kill. Those who professed faith in Nahr Alma had rejected all that is this world, and vowed to travel a path stained with blood. Titchy held the scythe of Nahr Alma, normally used only in ceremonies and imbued with the power of Dark. This is no place for talk of such things, however.
Titchy sold Hexing Urns, filled with hexed black lacquer, which exploded to inflict dark damage. With the dark art of hexing strictly forbidden, who would dare fill an urn with such power? The very origins of the art were unclear, yet another reason why hexing was feared. He also sold the Delicate String, a soft string-like ring tied around the finger that made it easier for invaders to find the wearer’s world. Who would create such a ring, and why? Perhaps the answer is better left unknown. To accompany this ring, Titchy also sold Silver Talismans which were tiny charms embedded with imitative magic that could be used to hide from invaders.
Those that pledged themselves to the Brotherhood received the Crest of Blood. The ring was nothing special. Perhaps, in the end, an oath was but a window into the ambitions of the oath taker. If you have taken this oath, then you know what you want. To be soaked in the blood of your kind and this ring secretly augmented the amount of bleed damage dealt from weapons already causing it.
Invading another world and claiming the souls of its owner granted one a Token of Spite, which recognized that the owner had traveled worlds to defeat others. Simply carrying these tokens showed the bitterness of the grudges the holder had accumulated. Some Undead persevered along the honourable path even after crossing into the dark. The Red Sign Soapstone, also sold by Titchy Gren, was for them. Not all dark spirits were unsporting, or they wouldn’t have made use of this soapstone.
Titchy Gren granted the Curved Twinblade to those who ranked up in the covenant. This twinblade was imported from a foreign land, and its razor-sharp blades caused bleeding. When wielded by a master, this dual-tipped blade was an unparalleled weapon that hardly allowed foes the opportunity to retaliate. Growing further within the covenant gifted these Undead the Crescent Sickle which was enchanted by magic. It was not intended as a weapon, but rather, a ceremonial instrument. Achieving the covenants highest rank gifted them the spell Great Chaos Fireball, thought to be known only to the Witches of Izalith, found to be preserved within the Izalith Pyromancy Tome. The rest of the chapters so far: Chapter 1: The Madness of Seath & The Progress of Sorcery Chapter 2: The History of Demons, Pyromancy & The Great Swamp Chapter 3: Records of the Darkmoon, The Goddess of Sin & The Painted World Chapter 4: The Teachings of the Way of White & Their Undead Missions Chapter 5: The Lost Knowledge of Oolacile & The Birth of The Abyss Chapter 6: Astora, Balder & The Fate of the Chosen Undead Chapter 7: The Hypocrisy of Lindelt & The Slumbering Dragon of Shulva Chapter 8: The Old Iron King & His Corrupted Lands Chapter 9: Fallen Forossa & Frigid Eleum Loyce Chapter 10: The Lost Bastille's Prisoners & Those Who Migrated to Melfia
This is the most unethical company on the internet. Although they scammed me for only $69.76, I am determined to exhaust all of my options to expose their fraudulent practices. They truly insult customer’s intelligence with their false advertisements. What you see on their site is not what they will send you.
On April 19th, I went to their site and order 2 Lupine Woodfield Hybrids and Lupine Mini Gallery™ Red. It shows the picture of the plants and colorful flowers. At the end of the order, I never receive the status of my order. I then sent them two emails which they never replied to. On April 29th, I received a generic email that shipping time is “The Week Of May 3rd, 2021”. Please keep in mind that this company is in Ohio, and I live in Georgia.
On May 11th, I received tiny dead plants, no flowers as shown on their site, the soil was parched ( they were not in a soil pot), and most of the plants had gray dead-looking stems.
With the two attempts to reach them before, I feel they are aware of their fraudulent practice, so not answering calls or emails. While the review link on their site is loaded with fake positive reviews, other external sites say otherwise. There are countless decent businesses available to the consumer. When it comes to Bluestone Perennials, buyer beware!
Online plant nursery offering trees, shrubs & plants. Buy plants online with the lowest prices guaranteed. Where to Buy Plants Online. Nature Hills Nursery. Select Seeds. Bluestone Perennials. Fast Growing Trees. Brick’s. Etsy. Homestead Farms Nursery
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I see there are a couple of online sources that have them (High Country Gardens, Bluestone Perennials) but I am reluctant to blindly choose one site without any input.
Any thoughts on this? I live near Atlanta and I'd like to get it in the ground in the next week or two.