Landscapers are not just professional gardeners. They create, they design, they build and they have a vast knowledge of all plant life. They also need to understand irrigation, drainage, public liability responsibilities, and even local building codes and government regulations. The job definitely requires more than a person simply turning up with their lawnmower!
There are varying degrees of landscape work. There are landscape gardeners, who will help you build your garden from scratch. They will be there at the start, organising waste bin hire ready to clear out the old yard, and will work through all aspects of creating the new garden. Such as choosing the plants, planning and installing the irrigation through to the actual planting of trees, shrubs and bulbs.
Then there are landscape architects, who are involved in the planning, drafting and designing of gardens. Although they sometimes work on private homes, landscape architects usually work on larger projects such as public parks and gardens, campuses and playgrounds. They can also be involved in planning the location of roads, buildings, pathways as well as the placement of flowers, shrubs and trees within these areas.
The term ‘landscape architect’ was coined way back in 1857 by award winners Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux. This is how the duo described themselves when they entered one of their designs into a competition, and the title has stuck.
There have been many great landscapers and landscape architects throughout time, and they have paved the way to where we are today. Here are just some of the many great leaders from the industry:
Roberto Burle Marx
Roberto Burle Marx was a Brazilian landscape architect in the 1900’s. His mark was to use native plants to create blocks of colour, and enjoyed working with nature instead of against it. He didn’t like to use symmetry in his projects and opted instead to place plants in batches by species. The Copacabana Beach promenade and the Flamengo Park in Rio de Janeiro are among his many famous designs.
Andre Le Notre
If you’ve ever been to France, you will know of the stunning gardens at the Palace of Versailles. Andre le Notre, the kind of gardeners, was the person responsible for this masterpiece that still pulls thousands of tourists each year. Louis XIV engaged him to create the gardens in the 1600’s, which are still the most extensive gardens in the Western world. Andre liked symmetry which is evident in these gardens and city planners have used his designs as a blueprint for town planning.
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown
Lancelot Brown lived in the 1700’s, but is still to this day considered to be England’s greatest gardener. Lancelot moved the gardens of England from a formal style into a more naturalistic parkland style, which is still popular in the country now. He implemented soft, irregular lines as well as placing trees of varying heights together. He loved to imitate nature as closely as he could.
Lancelot was nicknamed ‘Capability’ due to always saying the homes and estates he visited had a ‘great capability for improvement’. With over 250 commissions to his name, the list of gardens he designed is too extensive to put here!
Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted was an American landscape architect in the 1800’s. He is known as the father of the American landscape architecture, and as mentioned above, he even coined the phrase ‘landscape architecture’. Frederick is responsible for many of the famous parks in America, the most well known one being Central Park in New York. It was actually Frederick who ‘invented’ public parks, as he was a big believer that green spaces in urban areas should be equally accessible by citizens from all social classes. We can thank him for the urban parks that we can all use freely with our children today.
Gertrude Jekyll is considered to be the best female landscape designer of all time. Originally from London, Gertrude’s work spans across the UK, Europe and the USA. She studied botany as well as art, and combined the two interests to make beautiful gardens. She treated the landscape as a canvas and painted it with colourful plants and flowers, and with her extensive botanical knowledge she knew exactly what would thrive and where.
It may come as a surprise that the third President of the United States was a landscape architect. Most famous for being the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas kept himself busy in his own time by designing the grounds of his own home as well as creating the masterplan for the campus of the University of Virginia.
The biggest impact he had within the landscaping world was the advocacy of the grid for the subdivision of territory and for rational town planning.
Professor Yu of China currently heads up Turenscape Landscape Architecture practice, which is involved in creating amazing new landscapes in China. Turenscape uses the agricultural landscape as a basis for designing new urban parks, such as paddy fields and irrigation channels. Yu has designed many striking parks, including the Floating Gardens at Yongning River Park, which is also a solution to flood control.