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The representation of vegetation is an illogical necessity but not unreasonable.

 

By Bruno Gadrat, School of Landscape Architecture, University of Montreal -
février 2000 - rev 04/05/2000
Communication Abstract for CELA 2000
gadrat/articles/2000/20000215en-rep-vgtl-illo.html
Version française 20000215-rep-vgtl-illo.html

 

The garden is a representation of the world as it should be. Vegetation is a part of this representation. The landscape architect's clients require of him to know how to represent the vegetation before entrusting him with their project. Do we ask a painter to know how to paint paint before entrusting him with a canvas? There is no logical relationship between the knowledge of the vegetation and the capacity to create a garden with the vegetation. The exploration of the most common representational learning methods (1) of horticultural paradigms, and the inadequacy of the communication of our "savoir faire" to the public at large, help us to understand how this question comes about. Should we know how to represent the vegetation? Logic says no! However, the weakness in representing the vegetation seems to be at the origin of problems in planning encountered in the second half of the twentieth century (2). The lack of attention to the individual plant and in particular to its root system has led to unsustainable plantings (3). The acceptance of the economic paradigm by the whole of society, supported by horticulturists and landscape architects, has lead to the impoverishment of the plantings. The ecological awareness of the 70's (4) was not successful in stopping pollution through the use of pesticides, even though a cause and effect relationship was simple to demonstrate. Nevertheless, the implications of our outlook on the natural environment are beginning to show. The notion of sustainable development which motivates responsible the authorities of large Quebec municipalities is translated through clearly stated actions which will soon bear fruit (5). The possibility of root development and species diversity are seen as the principal issues in the survival of urban plantings. Horticultural and forestry trends are aiming towards a reduction in genetic diversity of populations. In a given territory, the 5 to 10% threshold of a species (6) which contributes to a greater stability over time leads to a loss in the variability of vegetative form, and consequently, of the garden. Re-establishing the existence of the vegetation in the garden can not lead by deduction to the production of meaningful and sensitive effects in plantings. The absence of mastery in planting viability leads to the material impossibility of producing representation through vegetation. A new look at plants is therefore perfectly reasonable. This response does not logically lead to the production of a garden with plants. A greater interest in the role of vegetation in garden representation opens the door to logical implications.

 


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