Is it possible to critique a garden without understanding the designer’s intent? by Felicity Waters

October 24, 2011

in Articles, General Interest

A discussion piece – what do we want from a garden? how important is the designer’s original intention? Given that this piece is a critique of thinkingardens’ reviews I think we need some answers and thoughts from our readers. Let’s have some comments?

Anne Wareham, editor

Felicity Waters:

Is it possible to critique a garden without understanding the designer’s intent?

Without understanding what a designer is setting out to achieve we run the risk of unfairly slaying a garden, and even worse, further delaying the maturity of a meaningful garden design discourse.

Despite the remit for thinkingardens there still appears to be an emphasis on garden reviews that assess whether there are enough ‘acceptable’ vignettes created by various planting beds, grasses and trees that make up each garden.

Garden design is more than creating pretty pictures – why is this not being reflected in the reviews? Surely there is some habitat stuff, water purifying or even a clever engineering stunt being performed in these gardens? How funny that there is limited mention of ecological issues?

Designers tend to be concerned with many issues not just view lines. To assist identifying these issues perhaps we need to ask what is a garden ‘doing’? And if it is not doing anything other than creating pictures perhaps we need to be critiquing the brief (or critiquing our own abilities to review?!).

To enable interesting dialogue we also need to understand that we bring our own set of assumptions to every garden. Perhaps those assumptions are creating blindness.  Complaining about a lack of views assumes that everyone has a right to a view and that views are inherently good. Maybe we should be asking different questions such as why are there no views. Should every landscape have a view?  Why do I want a view?

Felicity Waters

blog -Garden Accessories

Felicity Waters portrait copyright Felicity Waters

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