The Evolution of Weatherwood Design

David Hughes knows native. Like the plants that he promotes, he is right at home in the historically and ecologically unique Delaware Valley. If you want to plant a Blue Colorado Spruce or a Norway maple, find someone else. Or maybe not. Spending a few hours with the creator of Weatherwood Design will enlighten you about the benefits of going all-native.

At a young age, David evolved his interest in nature by romping through the woods of the family retreat in north central Pennsylvania where he aggressively sought to rid the landscape of all invasive plants and return it to the way it was when the native Americans roamed the area. His love for all things wild led him eventually to a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture at Penn State University in 1990 and a graduate degree at the University of Massachusetts in 1999. During this time he gained practical experience by working for Carter van Dyke Associates and for Classic Gardens Design/Build firm, both in Doylestown, Pa. From 1992 to 1994, he worked as coordinator of Facilities Master Plan for the USDA Forest Service in Radnor, Pa. Their only complaint was that he worked too diligently, thus setting a bad example for other employees of the bureaucracy.

Through working with various other firms, David has learned all aspects of landscape design and installation – from AutoCAD computer drawing to operating heavy equipment. David has worked for nationally known landscape designer Larry Weaner, especially in his wildflower meadow design and installations. He has also worked for Diceroad and Wolff, architects in Hatfield, Pa., and for Glackin Associates in Newtown Square, Pa. as well as Landstudies restoration and planning firm in Lititz, Pa.

Additionally, he has been employed as Property Manager for the Bucks County Audubon Society and has been an active member of Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve where you can see an example of his work in the woodland garden at their visitor center. He has been a popular speaker with both professionals and native design novices. Audiences look forward to his entertaining and informative talks at the Preserve’s Winter Lecture Series and for numerous other organizations in this area, including the Millersville Land Symposium.

In 2004 David co-founded Fringetree Design Studios, LLC in Upper Black Eddy, Pa. For several years he helped create some of the most distinctive exhibits at Bucks Beautiful garden show.

He is now the principal owner of Weatherwood Design, which also incorporates another of his passions – building rustic furniture. One a rainy day you might find him in his workshop, or next to a campfire, crafting a bench or chair from a distinctive piece of wood found on a hike through the woods. Maybe he could find a unique piece on your property. He’d love to chop down that Norway maple.

Written by Merritt Hughes (May 2010)

The Origin of Weatherwood's Rustic Furniture


The history of the sustainable rustic items I craft has evolved – like most pursuits – over a lifetime. Its roots sprung from my interest in native plants and natural  landscapes, and recently found a productive outlet when I began to create furniture and other useful items from excess garden vegetation.

Common practice in landscape maintenance is to relegate the old, overgrown, and undesirable plant material to the curb and, ultimately, the landfill. I now view this ‘debris’ as the raw material to create other elements of beauty and enjoyment in our lives – functional forms for the home and garden.

Since WeatherWood’s expertise is also in resilient native landscape design, we regularly remove undesirable, aggressive, non-native species from client sites that threaten to degrade indigenous habitats and overrun a property. “Invasive thugs,” such as Norway maple, white mulberry, and Eurasian honeysuckles are numerous on many sites, therefore my recent focus has been on these woody species. In addition to non-natives, many desirable native plants such as black locust, eastern red cedar, osage orange, and sassafras have key building qualities like natural decay and rot resistance. Some of the first rustic pieces I crafted use these hardy natives.

As my craft evolves, I have plans to experiment with many other invasive species to discover the qualities they can provide for structure and form. A further step I hope to take within the next year or so will be to sustainably grow native plants in hedgerow landscapes to supply an endless array of raw materials for Weatherwood’s rustic sustainable furniture.