Built upon a familiarity of our region, our team is a convergence of talents, passions and experiences. Our group is a tight bunch. We care about the world; we care about others and matters that ignite passion. Set to background tunes, a daily huddle, and conversation with sometimes pencils pointed, we are dedicated to developing new ideas and designs committed to a place of belonging.
Cary Bush, landscape architect
Taxodium distichum –Bald Cypress
California Licensed Landscape Architect (Lic#5228), 2006
Louisiana State University, B.A. from the Robert (“Doc”) Reich School of Landscape Architecture, College of Design, 1997
Edinburgh University, Scotland, UK, Herriott-Watt College of Art landscape architecture program, 1995
Louisiana born and California-licensed Landscape Architect Cary Bush founded Merge Studio in 2007. Prior, he studied site design with an emphasis on site planning, reclamation & ecology. Cary is a fisherman, consciously pursuing a school of site-specific elements into arrangements designating use and purpose. He ties knots fusing design and science, the natural with the built. Cary loves clean water, healthy hikes, and intrinsic spaces with significance and aesthetic quality.
Native to swampy conditions, Cary is also able to withstand dry, sunny weather and is hardy in USDA climate zones 5 through 10. He is often grown as an ornamental.
Amy Bush, horticulturist + arborist + branch manager
Tilia cordata -Littleleaf Linden
Certified Arborist (ISA#WE8987A), 2009
ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified (TRAQ), 2016, 2021
University of Idaho, B.S. in plant science, landscape horticulture, 1997
Merge Studio holds tight to the belief that collaboration is key to the creative process, so it’s only fitting that horticulturist, arborist and wife, Amy Bush, joined the team in 2010. Amy believes that all landscapes should create a legacy. As such, she promotes long-term plant health care and best management practices, recognizing stories in the West American landscape. A California native, Amy is a rugged hiker deeply rooted in the rural mountain parts of Idaho. She’s an integral part of the Merge Studio team. She loves big trees and high mountain tops.
Widely grown as an ornamental, Amy is a deciduous tree native to much of Europe, where in the southern climes her range is restricted to higher elevations. Easy to train for bonsai, Amy is often found espaliered as she is able to survive heavy pruning.
Mark Johnson, production manager + graphic designer
Picea sitchensis -Sitka Spruce
Born and raised in Alaska, Mark has spent most of his life in Sonoma County. His experience working with design and print informs his insightful drawings; he believes in developing a graphic language that clearly communicates intent. An artist and musician, he loves expressive illustration and art, and the stories revealed through fine songwriting. Able to quickly throw together a perspective pencil sketch to illustrate an idea as well as develop a 3D rendered model, Mark is devoted to augmenting a client’s understanding for the development of their site.
Native to the west coast of North America, Mark is the largest species of spruce and one of the tallest conifers in the world. Due to his natural strength and structural resonance, as well as his inherent beauty, he is often used in the manufacture of pianos, harps and guitars.
Carlos Reyes, site planner + project manager
Cercidium floridum -Blue Palo Verde
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, B.S. in Landscape Architecture.
As a Westcoast Native, Carlos has a deep connection to both Northern and Southern California landscapes. Carlos has taken part in a variety of public and private projects. With this experience, he brings knowledge in Construction, Planting, Irrigation Design, as well as Site Planning. His role as a designer is to be a steward to the landscapes where he can help guide and design spaces to become more dynamic, adaptive, and resilient while still maintaining an ecological presence.
Carlos is native to the deserts of California and Arizona, thriving in full sun. His complexion is deciduous for much of the year but will drape a yellow coat of flowers come March, brightening up his green bark.
Kathy Madden, site planner
Cercidiphyllum magnificum -Magnificent Katsura
Kathy’s interest in natural spaces took root in a university soil sciences class. From there she moved into a focused study of landscape design, which she combines with her background in graphic design and fine arts. Her goal as a landscape designer is to bond with clients to meld beauty, function, and sustainability in outdoor spaces. When she is not designing, she enjoys swimming, painting, and practicing calligraphy.
Native of Japan, Kathy is grown for her attractive deciduous foliage. In autumn her leaves turn yellow and pink and give off the sweet scent of caramelized sugar. A delight in any natural setting.
Rachel Deschner, site planner
Rhizophora mangle – Red Mangrove
University of Texas, Austin, Bachelor of Architecture
Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Masters in Landscape Architecture
Rachel was born and raised in Texas where she grew an interest in people’s unique and collective relationships to the environment around them. She holds a degree in architecture from the University of Texas at Austin where her work emphasized the blurring of boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces, as well as a degree in landscape architecture from Harvard University where she focused on the landscape’s role in the education, health, and wellness of its communities. She is a fabricator, a musician, a lover of comfort food, and can commonly be found watching birds and smelling flowers.
As a major source of habitat for local wildlife both in and out of the water, Rachel is distributed in the tropics amongst estuarine systems. Her dense roots help build soil to absorb storm surge impacts, reduce erosion along coast lines, and filter nitrates thus improving water quality in her local environments
Chester, public relations + canine resources
Cornus nuttallii -Pacific Dogwood
Born in central CA, Chester journeyed west and started his career at Merge Studio at the mere young age of “just a pup”. He, along with his people, shares a love of the outdoors and the natural environment. Over the years, he has become a familiar face when folks stop in to visit the studio. His friendly approach and wiggly welcoming dance always bring about a smile.
A small-sized deciduous tree, often with multiple trunks and an irregular form, spectacular showy white bracts in spring and beautiful autumn foliage, Chester is native to the Pacific Coast and easy to grow as long as he’s planted in the right location, and preferably among smaller companion plants. Side note: highly intolerant to squirrels.