Trees are great. Fact. They provide us with oxygen, shade, habitat for wildlife, timber for building, chemicals for medicines, screening, beauty, shade…the list really does go on. They have long been a symbol of permanence within the landscape, taking decades to grow to the lofty heights that we so admire. Yet it takes only an instant to cut them down and lose it all…
Therefore, safeguarding mature trees is an extremely important aspect of a Landscape Architects work and we’re helped by ‘BS 5837:2012 (see Bernie’s previous post!). 25-30cm girth replacements are great but they’re just not the same and feel like a meagre offering when you’ve lost a tree with a girth of several feet. The value of a large mature tree should have the potential to outweigh that of one extra house squeezed onto a development plot, since a pleasant and good quality landscape encourages us to pay a premium for property. What’s more, trees can really mean something to people and I’m always amazed by how attached we can get to a plant that we have no real link to, simply because it’s part of our daily scenery.
This tree is found on the A272 just outside Sheet. It hasn’t been felled, it’s just resting on its branches and has been for maybe 20 years now – as long as I can remember anyway. Consideration was given to cutting it down but people objected because it was so familiar and liked as a local landmark. The plucky tree that fell over but wouldn’t give up. What could be a better symbol that we shouldn’t be quick to cut down large trees? Trees inspire. Trees endure. Trees are great.
Posted in Future Landscape, green infrastructure, Historical landscapes, Landscape Architect, Landscape Architects, Landscape heritage, Landscape Management, Public open space, Residential landscape, Rural Landscapes, Soft landscape and planting design
Tagged Future landscapes, Green Infrastructure, Landscape Architect, Landscape Architects, landscape architecture, Planting, public open space, residential landscapes, soft landscape
It’s no secret that I’m into historical stuff. My mind often drifts that way, as it did when I was thinking about what to write in this blog. For me, the act of being in a place that resonates the past really fires the imagination. My daily commute to work involves a walk down a 10th century drove road, with a ‘magan’ (a bank and ditch marking a Saxon parish boundary) on one side, and an ancient semi-natural woodland on the other. I find it amazing to think that the first humans to walk the route which I walk were 44 generations before my own. In theory, it could have been my Great X 41 Grandfather who originally set out the track. My walk to work is tranquil, and at the same time it fires all of the senses. It’s a start, and an end to my working day which is beyond valuable. There’s something about it which is simply magical.
My daily trudge to work - horrid isn't it?
As a landscape architect I am in awe of places which invoke so much sentiment. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that no design can match the intangible depth of history, and I have to admit that as a designer I can’t compete. However, landscape architecture isn’t just about design. I was recently walking in the Royal Forest of Bere – another ancient semi-natural woodland near my home. Reminded that landscape architects are custodians of the landscape, it occurred to me that that might mean creating interventions befitting of the modern era, or it might equally mean looking after interventions from a bygone time.
As a designer, I don’t just look to the future – I like to keep one eye on the past. In the future my modern-day interventions will be considered as just another stitch in the ever-growing tapestry of history. Everywhere you look there is another thread in that tapestry – and each one tells a story. Some threads are short-lived – others have weaved from a point way back in history, and will go on into the future. Looking to the example of past interventions can help us consider how effective our proposed interventions might be.
This is why it is important for landscape architects to be skilled not only in design, but also in the practices of managing the land. There are some places where design is not the priority – if it denies us an ancient landscape that has much to teach. If I were asked to design a modern-day intervention for an ancient setting, I would make sure that my design respected the pre-existing threads in the tapestry of history. Moreover, as landscape architects we sometimes have the privilege of inheriting a weave started before us, and seeing it continues into the future.
Posted in Historical landscapes, Landscape Architect, Landscape Architects, Landscape heritage, Landscape Management, Rural Landscapes
Tagged Future landscapes, Human landscape, Landscape Architect, Landscape Architects, landscape architecture, Landscape Heritage, Localism
I was recently on a flight toBarbados (just had to get that in) and I was reading ‘predictions for 2012’ in the on-flight magazine. Several ‘experts’ independently see this new year heralding a mass yearning to get away from the fast-paced digital age and experience something a bit ‘rustic’. People will want to visit places where their Blackberries don’t work. Apparently there’ll be new markets in more adventurous tourism, with people wanting to explore places that have never appealed before. I expect that going somewhere without the luxury facilities we’ve demanded in the past will also be a bit cheaper – perhaps not a coincidence. Continue reading
Posted in Future Landscape, International Landscape Architecture, Landscape Architect Resource, Seasons Greetings
Tagged Future landscapes, Human landscape, Landscape Architects, landscape architecture, Landscape Heritage, Localism, Masterplanning, Wilderness
I have recently been back to my native Lithuania, where I’ve attended the annual general meeting of the Lithuanian Association of Landscape Architects and received a commendation from the Ministry of Environment for one of Terra Firma’s projects submitted for the awards ceremony. This has been specifically commended for the good use of methodology in regenerating industrial landscape. I also had many discussions about the importance of the politics of green urbanism and the current economical situation’s influence on status of the landscape architecture. As always, I left these events with a head full of thoughts and the nagging feeling that a plan of action must be started. Admittedly, coming over from the every day landscape life of a western European country,Lithuaniawith its Baltic neighbours does seem like a country full of opportunities. However, this is contrary to the views of a lot of Lithuanian based colleagues I have spoken to. Continue reading