Landscaping addresses the out of doors. It’s true purpose, dating back literally thousands of years, is to provide an interpretive canvas of beauty and form to allow a human to appreciate the combination of Nature and man’s own work. In my experience, landscaping occurs in two precincts:
1. In the towns and social structures we circulate in. Cities have gloried in gorgeous landscapes from Babylon and even before that, to Central Park in New York City. It seems Mankind consistently desires something objective and pleasing amid the social whirl. The fountains of Rome and the fabulously whimsical park of Barcelona designed by Antonio Gaudi prove this utter need in a faultlessly direct manner. Chinese Gardens predate European constructions by, literally, thousands of years, providing a canal city like Zuchou whose Vienna-like canals and garden were constructed some 2,500 years ago. This town was constructed with the express purpose of being that “Garden City”.
We look at cities like Toronto, Canada and wonder what they can accomplish in all the cold winter weather and, yet, we see huge efforts by Canadians to please the eye. This plaza was designed as a wave-like soundscape, a computer-interpreted visual representation of music for those strolling there towards events in their downtown Music Center.
Park Guell in Barcelona is an absolutely eccentric “peak” of the landscape artist’s palette.
This is landscaping at it’s highest development – a unique brand of expression occupying enormous swaths of our social infrastructure whose purpose is simply nothing more than to please the eye and to provide a pleasant and sometimes- interesting place to meet and enjoy life. This simplicity of experience cannot be overstated.
In all our modern angst over events political and personal, there remains these monuments to our common need to enjoy ourselves and experience the positive aspects of growing nature and of man’s innate creativity.
The designers and the installers of landscapes believe in this notion. From city planning on the most massive scale, to a homeowner who wants to enjoy his home far from the madding crowd, landscaping provides a release of the troubled mind – its purpose from the get go. I must also admit that it becomes most obvious that our “modern angst” is nothing new. Pleasure has always served as the antidote to pain. The fabulous cathedrals of Europe were constructed during The Plague and during endless warfare. They gave people hope in a vicious world. The dialogue of landscaping is still working on this antipodal level.
2. The Home
Among the first celebrations of a culture who reach a certain level of prosperity has always been the construction of gardens and natural wonders of landscaping. Recent developments have made far more common a more local urge – to decorate our homes. The American Prosperity of the last Century has made a virtual “Every home a castle”, in strict economic terms. It has developed home ownership into a massive project – from gardening to landscaping – by paying far more attention to how we present ourselves (Front Yard Landscaping, driveways and the likes) to how we relax, out in the back yard. Patios, gazebos, garden structures, night lighting, waterfalls and swimming pools have changed the once-utilitarian abodes from a place to sleep to something more. It has also unleashed the creative juices of landscape and garden designers who have provided absolutely breath-taking scenes of utterly private beauty and sometimes strangeness.
Illuminating the night, we find our spaces expanded outdoors, providing virtual “rooms” which proscribe our patios and outdoor environments, and adding depth and mystery to the foregrounds.
The introduction of water is always a thrill as so many folks have opted to see and listen to the pleasant and encompassing sounds of water in their back yards.
Landscaping is succeeding at its primary goal. More and more people are aware of the healthful impact of a rested and relaxed mind, to say nothing of the microclimatic changes a small patch of land can yield around a house. Counter-designed landscapes providing abundant exchanges of healthy gases and moisture are a side benefit and among the more surprising effects that the study of plants and their impact on human beings can yield.
We now celebrate technologies which “feed” plants and environments in previously impossible places. Waterproofing technology is every bit as important as structural integrity becomes whole in previously precarious combinations. Our plants now climb walls and vice versa.
We eat in art and we joke in art. This is us at our best!
Landscaping is a total field. The elements in any landscape – at their best – include a myriad of trades and diverse levels of expertise, from electrical issues and plumbing to issues involving soil and bacteriology. For a member of the community devoted to providing all this to a client, I have to say that is has always been a learning journey, from the very start to every single day that passes yet. The thrilling accomplishments of those devoted to the landscaping field can take the breath away – and they mean to do just that.