Monday, 9 February 2009


So I think I need to start with the boring stuff. What’s this blog about? Other than allowing me somewhere to spout off my sometimes, irrational views about the modern world (like who the hell thought that flavoured water would be a good idea?). Anyway, as I’m a Chartered Landscape Architect and hence spend quite a lot of time thinking about this, it seemed not a bad starting point for me to write about landscape architecture.

Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm, but there’s a problem here, isn’t there? You don’t know what landscape architects do or what landscape architecture is about, do you? What do you think it is then?

No! Don’t say that word, godammit!!!

OK. *Takes deep breath*

Well for a start don’t worry, I suspect you’re in good company here, as not many people seem to know what a landscape architect does either. Sadly, I’d probably include many of the people I seem to encounter through work in that too. But where can you find out, you cry?!?

Well you would think a good place to start would be the Landscape Institute’s website,, seeing as how they’re like, the people what look after landscape architects (including me of course). Hmmmmmm, not a lot of explanation of what we do there, but there is the lovely slogan, “The Landscape Institute – Inspiring great places.” Not really inspiring an understanding of landscape architect unfortunately. Handily, it also has a link to This is the Landscape Institute’s propaganda site for grooming children into the profession; luring them to their gingerbread house on Great Portland Street with pictures of fountains, fopps and fauna. To be honest, you’ll actually have to look pretty hard amongst, “The Genius of Place” and “The Power to Change”, before you find some sort of definition, but here it is:

“Landscape architecture combines environment and design, art and science. It is about everything outside the front door, both urban and rural, at the interface between people and natural systems. The range of ways in which landscape architects work is staggering.”

It continues in that vein for some time and then if were beginning to get some sort of idea about the subject, it then has videos of a whole load of landscape architects, giving ‘their definition’ of landscape architecture. Anyone would think we are a little bit unsure ourselves. Personally, I think it’s ‘staggering’ that we can’t all agree on a common definition. So here’s mine.

Landscape architecture is the design of exterior space.

Easy and inclusive of trees, planting, paving, management, urban design, masterplanning, ecology, public realm and a whole heap of stuff that is not immediately springing to my befuddled, mind. Crucially for me, it has nothing to do with landscaping.

You see landscaping, pronounced, “land ·skeyp ·PING (see what I did there?) is often assumed to be one in the same with landscape architecture, and there our problems start.

We all like gardening and some people think landscape architects are gardeners. Gardeners are game amateurs - cheery, ruddy faced types, with muddy fingers, no bra’s and who turn up at your house unannounced and makeover your garden, accompanied by the Batley Colliery Brass Band. But would you want Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock involved with your multi-million pound urban regeneration scheme?

Landscaping is the commercial end of gardening, but their reputation is less cosy. You see landscape-ping is closely associated with tarmacing. People who do tarmacing turn up at your house unannounced, tell you they they’re doing some landscaping round the corner and that they can do you a great deal on a new drive, before edging your house with flapjack, slapping you with the Royal Bank of Scotland’s debt and threatening to sell your Granny to the white slave trade if you don’t pay up.

So you see, people round the country are assuming that landscape architects are either bumbling amateurs or the type of people you see running away from Roger Cooke. I hope you see my problem and why I hate the term landscaping with such vehemence.

My solution is simple.

The first rule of landscape architecture is, you do not talk about landscaping.

The second rule of landscape architecture is, you DO NOT talk about landscaping.

Finally, if you really have to say that word, adopt an incredulous expression and pronounce it “landscape-PING!?!”, as if you’ve never heard it applied to your profession before.

1 comment:

  1. "Landscaping is the commercial end of gardening, but their reputation is less cosy"

    That may not be true for long!