Monthly Archives: December 2011

Lady Boothroyd wants to get rid of her garden mole problem

Garden molehill problem?

The former Speaker of the House of Commons was on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, asking for advice on her garden mole problem. She said they are mole mountains, not molehills. BBC staff found ‘experts’ who recommended poison gas and mole traps. They also advised that when a mole dies, another mole ‘comes to his funeral’: they re-use the tunnel system. So here is my advice to Lady Boothroyd: get rid of ‘the mole problem’ by re-conceptualizing it! Forget about ‘How to be a lawn expert’. Retire from the field of battle. Learn to love your enemies: the ‘little gentlemen in a black velvet waistcoat‘. Admire those beautiful mounds they make in the laughing meadows of Olde England. Cast your mind back to 1970: it was European Conservation Year. Say HAPPY NEW YEAR to the animal kingdom, as does to its readers.
Images courtesy: zoer, Mick E. Talbot, alh1

Tim Mowl's Youtube garden history lecture on Claremont and William Kent

Congratulations to Tim Mowl for providing the best garden history content on Youtube (one can’t be quite sure: The FAQ says ’48 hours of video are uploaded every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day’). The lecture was given at Claremont Landscape Garden and was about the history of this garden and William Kent. Though Tim Mowl obviously knows more about the period than me, I offer the following comments:

  • Mowl mentions Renaissance Italy and Ancient Rome, in relation to the development of England’s eighteenth century gardens, but I wish he had said more about them.
  • In my view, Mowl over-emphasises the concepts of ‘nature’ and ‘geometry’ in explaining the ‘great revolution in taste’. Since most English garden historians do this, one can hardly complain. Conceptually ‘Nature’, belongs more to the history of philosophy than the history of art.
  • I would have like to have heard more about the transition from Baroque to Neoclassical, in art, literature and gardens. Conceptually, the links between these topics are closer than then link between gardens and philosophy. There is however no doubt about the importance of ‘Nature’ as a philosophical concept (rather than as a geometrical concept).
  • I agree about the eclectic character of the first (Augustan) phase of the English landscape garden, but see it as a consequence rather than a cause of the revolution in taste. The cause was a desire to see, know, understand, learn from and represent the classical world. ‘Eclectic’ is almost a term of abuse and ‘Historicist’ may be a more useful term.

See also:

Conceptual gardens, folding, Deleuze and landscape design

What is a conceptual garden? - and what is a folded landscape?

The RHS has a conceptual gardens category, at the Hampton Court Flower Show, which has produced excellent work, pathetic work – and much confusion. (See: Hampton Court Conceptual Garden Applications for how the RHS explains the Concept Gardens idea). So let’s take the Folded Landscape, by Voght for the Laban Centre as an example.

  1. Conceptual art foregrounds ideas, with visual imagery taking a backseat.
  2. Gilles Deleuze put forward a set of ideas which derive from deconstruction, and which have almost superseded deconstruction as an influence on design theory. The underlying principle is monist: the world is only one thing (which Spinoza identified with God) and it constantly folds into new forms. The One becomes the Many; the Many is always the One (is there a Buddhist resonance here?)
  3. Voght designed a Folded Landscape for the Laban Centre. It is a prime example of a Conceptual Garden Design – with room for fruitful debate as to whether the visual image is the foreground, background or reflected ground.

The folding concept, though explained by its advocates with the greatest possible linguistic obfuscation, is an attractive principle for the re-integration of architectural design with garden and landscape design – after modernism rent them asunder. welcomes the Christmas (selling) season

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[With thanks to M J Hop for help with product placement etc]

Greenwich landscape architecture urban design project 2011

The Isle of Dogs to Silvertown reach of the River Thames is becoming de-industrialised. This project looks 300 years back, 3 years forward, 30 years forward and 300 years forward. It has a musical theme, reflected in the cello playing, which envisages a succession of waterfront areas, with the tempo moving from fast to slow as the river flows east. The zones are linked by two greenway corridors: (1) a modulating waterfront greenway-blueway (2) an inland service corridor with a Highline-style greenway above, for sustainable green transport, shopping and leisure.
The project was done by University of Greenwich MA Landscape Architecture students in the autumn of 2011.