Landscape architecture (Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues, Revised Edition)
Landscape architects work to manage and enhance the natural environment, and in so doing they provide many valuable services. Landscape plans and designs usually commence with analysis and research, including feasibility studies and environmental impact assessments. Landscape architects work not only with natural features but also with the built environment; they may be involved in designing for circulation and site security, for the preservation of historic and natural features, or for the restoration of blighted and decaying urban areas. Landscape architects have knowledge of plant materials, construction materials (such as woods, metals, masonry, asphalt, and concrete), soils, civil engineering, and structural landscape design.
(The entire section is 103 words.)
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History (Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues, Revised Edition)
From the times of the earliest civilizations—the Sumerians in the Fertile Crescent, the Egyptians in the Nile Valley, the Chinese and Japanese in the Far East, and, later, pre-Columbian societies in the Americas—human beings have developed techniques for manipulating the landscape, including soil, water, and plants, for the purposes of sustenance and shelter. Societies quickly progressed from growing life-sustaining crops to developing plant varieties not only for food but also for ornamentation. Renaissance Europe saw the creation of complex landscape designs as palaces were surrounded by grounds featuring extensive geometric and formal gardens, fountains and reflecting pools, and distinctive topiary, from the pope’s summer retreat at Tivoli, Italy, to the palace of the king and queen of France at Versailles.
In England during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries gardens were designed that utilized natural landforms and included the mixing of plant materials and water features that served functional purposes and resulted in a more naturalistic appearance. Inigo Jones, who brought Renaissance architectural design to England, became one of the most famous designers of English gardens and is generally recognized as the first landscape architect. In North America, and particularly in the United States, Jones’s influence played a larger role than did the more formal approach of the Italian and French designers of palace...
(The entire section is 459 words.)
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The Work of Landscape Architects (Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues, Revised Edition)
Landscape architects design, develop, and preserve many features in the built and natural landscape, including highways, pedestrian trails, parks and forests, scenic rivers, and historic sites. They are involved in all phases of design and construction, including analysis of the suitability of sites for specific land uses and the formulation of master plans that may become part of a community’s land-use plan for growth management. The site plans that landscape architects prepare include detailed graphic design specifications with written explanations and cost estimates for all elements, such as grading, drainage, irrigation, and the construction of retaining walls, decks, signage, lighting, pools, fountains, paving, and other human-made landscape features. In their role as aesthetic and functional designers, landscape architects collaborate with many other professionals, including architects and engineers, in the design and construction of roads and bridges and the arrangement and placement of buildings and structures within the natural environment.
(The entire section is 150 words.)
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Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues, Revised Edition)
Booth, Norman K., and James E. Hiss. Residential Landscape Architecture. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2007.
Hopper, Leonard J., ed. Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2007.
McLeod, Virginia. Detail in Contemporary Landscape Architecture. London: Laurence King, 2008.
Simonds, John O., and Barry Starke. Landscape Architecture: A Manual of Land Planning and Design. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
Swaffield, Simon, ed. Theory in Landscape Architecture: A Reader. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.
Vranckx, Bridget. Urban Landscape Architecture. Beverly, Mass.: Rockport, 2007.
(The entire section is 86 words.)
Landscape Architecture (American History Through Literature)
As Perry Miller persuasively argued in Nature's Nation, Americans have long considered themselves as inhabiting a space that has been defined by its relationship with nature. The relationship between Americans and American nature has been long-standing, but the terms of that relationship have changed as the nation has grown. The "howling wilderness" from which William Bradford (1663752) recoiled when he first viewed it from the deck of the Mayflower in 1620 had become by 1820 a prized emblem of both the new nation's past and its future promise. With the publication of James Fenimore Cooper's (1789851) The Pioneers (1823), the wilderness had become one of the principal locales for an emerging national literature. Ironically, in this novel, in which Cooper introduces his frontier hero, Natty Bumppo, and his Indian friend, Chingachgook (Indian John in this novel), the wilderness is under assault by the forces of settlement and civilization. In fact, The Pioneers, with its scenes depicting the slaughter of the passenger pigeon flock and the devastation of the forest, can be called the first ecological novel in American literature.
Five years later in Notions of the Americans (1828), Cooper would explore the European view of American space. In this work, a "Count," loosely based on Lafayette, the French ally of the American revolutionaries, writes letters home about what he observes in America. As Wayne Franklin points out, the Count perceives the distinctions between "settled field and wild forest," but he attempts to make these contrasting scenes "coalesce visually, reducing their difference to a mere contrast of huehe very finesse of which gives the tamely artful land dominance over the wild" (p. 215). Franklin reminds us that "Cooper's . . . practice as a novelist was to stress and intensify" this contrast (p. 215).
Rather early on, then, in American life and letters distinctions were drawn between the wild and the tame landscape. Just as there were Americans who celebrated the wilderness, by the 1820s there were also those who advocated a tamer, more domestic nature. By the end of the first two decades of the nineteenth century, parts of America had been settled long enough for their inhabitants to think about how nature could be incorporated within their private and public spaces. While Cooper was introducing readers to the American wilderness as a threatened site of national drama, he and other landowners in New York and elsewhere in the more settled eastern parts of the nation were beginning to take an interest in English and European concepts of landscape gardening.
EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF LANDSCAPE GARDENING IN THE UNITED STATES
In his study of the early history of horticulture in the United States, Ulysses Hedrick observes that "in the first half of the nineteenth century the fever to improve grounds was increased by every visitor to England" (p. 226). James Fenimore Cooper quickly caught the gardening fever. His daughter, Susan (1813894), who would later write Rural Hours (1850), wrote in her journal of the avidity with which her father sought to improve the grounds of Angevine, the family residence from 1817 to 1822. Americans were visiting England and coming back with ideas for their gardens, and Englishmen were also coming to America and bringing with them their gardening concepts. When William Cobbett (1763835), later to become famous as an English political reformer, took up residence on North Hempstead, Long Island, in 1817, he remarked on the lack of variety found in the American kitchen garden. In 1818 Cobbett recounted his experiences on Long Island in A Year's Residence in the United States of America. He later reworked some of the material from this book into The American Gardener (1819). In his preface to this work, Cobbett tartly observed that the vastness of America and the relative cheapness of the land militated against careful gardening. Cobbett noted that "where land is abundant, attachment and even attention to small spots wears away" (p. xxiv).
English gardens and gardeners were a decided influence on American landscape design, but, according to Hedrick, it was André Parmentier (1780830), who arrived in America from France in 1824, who first achieved success as a "professional landscape gardener" in the United States (p. 227). Although he lived only until 1830, Parmentier had a profound impact on the growth of landscape architecture in America. Upon his arrival in America, he established a botanical garden near present-day Brooklyn that provided him with the nursery stock he needed to implement his gardening designs.
Parmentier enunciated his theories on gardens in "Landscape and Picturesque Gardens," an essay that appeared in Thomas Green Fessenden's (1771837) The New American Gardener (1828). Parmentier argued that "gardens should be treated like landscapes, whose charms are not to be improved by rules of art" (p. 184). For Parmentier, naturalness, with its surprises, pleased more than artifice. A proponent of curving and winding vistas, he asked how any person of sensibility and taste "would not prefer to walk in a plantation irregular and picturesque, rather than those straight and monotonous alleys, bordered with mournful box?" (p. 185). According to Hedrick, Parmentier's theories influenced the later work of Andrew Jackson Downing (1815852), whose Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1841) was the most influential work on landscape gardening in America in the mid-nineteenth century.
Parmentier's publisher, Thomas Green Fessenden lawyer, political satirist, Hudibrastic (mock-verse) poet, and horticultural authoras another force in the growth of landscape gardening in America. In 1822 Fessenden moved from Brattleborough, Vermont, to Boston and started The New England Farmer, to which he contributed until his death in 1837. He also edited The Horticultural Register and The Silk Manual. Fessenden was well enough known that Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804864) wrote an essay on him, later reprinted in Fanshawe and Other Pieces (1876). Hawthorne praised The New England Farmer as an original venture, claiming that "Numerous papers on the same plan sprung up in various parts of the country, but none attained the standard of their prototype" (p. 580).
Among Fessenden's contemporaries who were also important figures in the history of landscape architecture in America were Bernard M'Mahan (c. 1775816) and William Prince (1766842). In 1802 M'Mahan published the American Gardener's Calendar, which was among the first works to provide planting dates that corresponded with the climate of the eastern United States. Prince's contribution to the growing body of literature on the topic was a Short Treatise on Horticulture (1828). Robert Squibb published The Gardener's Calendar for the States of North-Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia in 1809.
THE LITERARY RESPONSE TO CHANGING PERCEPTIONS OF LANDSCAPE
By the 1830s American attitudes toward nature and landscape had changed so profoundly that essayists were educating the American public on how to view what they had previously either ignored or taken for granted. With the publication of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature in 1836, Americans were introduced to not only how to "read" the landscape but also how to draw spiritual sustenance from it. In this important essay, Emerson (1803882) laid claim to the land that others only imagined they held. He observed that "Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape" (p. 9). In terms that reveal his debt to English Romanticism and its extolling of the primacy of the child's vision, Emerson declared that "few adult persons can see nature" (p. 10). Only those people who have "retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood," are, according to Emerson, capable of truly appreciating nature (p. 10). For Emerson, those who can truly perceive the underlying forms inherent in nature are poets.
In "The Poet" (1844), Emerson develops his platonic theory of how the poet apprehends the forms residing in nature. To the poet, "Nature offers all her creatures . . . as a picture language" (p. 452). Emerson's ideal poet is one who needs no stimulants to spur his imagination. The poet's "cheerfulness should be the gift of the sunlight; the air should suffice for his inspiration, and he should be tipsy with water" (p. 461). It is not in wealth, or in the seats of power that the poet must seek inspiration but in nature. Nature alone is noble: "new nobility is conferred in groves and pastures, and not in castles, or by the sword-blade, any longer" (p. 467).
What America had to offer that made it a special place was not like the castles and grand ruins that had so affected the imaginations of European painters and poets; what America offered was space in which to dream. When Margaret Fuller (1810850), the editor of The Dialhe journal of the transcendentalist movementecounted her travels in Illinois and Wisconsin, it was the spaciousness of the landscape that most impressed her. In Summer on the Lakes (1844), she wrote that, on the prairies "a man need not take a small slice from the landscape, and fence it in from the obtrusions of an uncongenial neighbor, and there cut down his fancies to miniature improvements which a chicken could run over in ten minutes" (p. 26).
As Annette Kolodny informs the reader in The Land before Her, although they were not often acknowledged in their own time or later, women were central figures in the process of settling and domesticating spaces such as the prairies. Among the authors Fuller read before she embarked on her journey to the Midwest was Caroline Kirkland (1801864), who, in A New Homeho'll Follow? (1839), offered an unblinking look at the reality of trying to reproduce Eden on the American prairies. As Kolodny points out, Kirkland's narrative persona, Mary Clavers, grants that the new Adams and Eves in the Midwest might create a new Eden but it would be a New World garden. Although there might be "tall oaks near the cottage," the rest of the setting would lack the "rocky . . . glenny . . . streamy" landscape so dear to the heart of European Romantics (Kolodny, p. 145).
If the Midwest and the open spaces even farther west were uncongenial to Emerson's ideal, perhaps a life connected to nature could be worked out closer to homendeed, almost in Emerson's backyard. No one took Emerson's advice so seriously and tried to enact it so fervently as did Henry David Thoreau (1817862). Emerson schooled his fellow citizens on what to look for in nature and how to live in harmony with nature. Henry David Thoreau reported to them on his experiment in living according to those precepts Emerson had laid down. In Walden (1854), Thoreau recorded the results of his attempts at living life "deliberately." For Thoreau it was not space itself but the spaciousness of the imagination that counted. "Though the view from my door was . . . contracted, I did not feel crowded or confined in the least. There was pasture enough for my imagination. The low shrub oak plateau to which the opposite shore arose, stretched as far as the prairies of the West and the steppes of Tartary" (p. 83).
Although Nathaniel Hawthorne never experimented with life on the level of Thoreau's experiment at Walden Pond, he did participate in a utopian experiment at Brook Farm in Massachusetts; later, he used his experiences at Brook Farm as the basis for The Blithedale Romance (1852). Hawthorne also had a personal connection to Emerson, as he lived in the Old Manse at Concord. The Old Manse, formerly the minister's home, was the home in which Emerson lived in his youth. Hawthorne rented the Old Manse from 1842 to 1845 and recounted his time there and his impressions of the grounds in his American Notebooks (1804864) and Mosses from an Old Manse (1846). When Hawthorne and his new bride, Sophia Peabody, moved into the Old Manse, Thoreau planted a garden for them as a wedding present.
When Hawthorne later moved to Pittsfield in the Berkshire mountains, his new friend and fellow author Herman Melville (1819891) moved there also. Melville moved into a farm nearby that he named Arrowhead after the quantity of Indian artifacts he uncovered in the farm's fields. In the title story of The Piazza Tales (1856), Melville described the one deficiency in his new old home. "Now, for a house, so situated in such a country, to have no piazza for the convenience of those who might desire to feast upon
COTTAGE AND ESTATE: DESIGNS FOR LIVING
Hawthorne, Melville, and other literary figures were not alone in their search for rural tranquility. Even those who did not desire to nurse a muse felt the need to create a way of living that allowed them to feel less constrained. Andrew Jackson Downing, who designed the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and whose Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, adapted to North America (1841) was the most important work on American landscape design in the first half of the nineteenth century, felt that not only the wealthy but also the working classes deserved living spaces that connected them to nature. In The Architecture of Country Houses (1850), Downing argues that the United States should eschew becoming "a nation, whose rural population is content to live in mean huts and miserable hovels" (p. v). If the country were to tolerate such mean living dwellings for its rural inhabitants, it would find itself "behind its neighbors in education, the arts, and all that makes up the external signs of progress" (p. v). Downing felt that if rural Americans followed his precepts about home and garden design, they could avert the "gross blunders in taste" that he observed elsewhere (p. 205).
Country Houses offered the public not only plans for villas and country houses but also designs for cottages and farmhouses. Downing addressed the designs of rural residencies more directly in Cottage Residences (1842). His ideas on cottage design would survive into the early twentieth century. Many of the prefabricated houses sold by mail-order firms such as Sears and Roebuck were based on designs that can be traced back to Downing's pioneering work in this field. In addition to writing on home and landscape design, Downing founded the Horticulturalist (1846), a magazine dedicated to advancing the practice of
Downing was not alone in his interest in the design of cottages and gardens. Walter Elder published The Cottage Garden of America (1849) and Lewis Falley Allen wrote on Rural Architecture (1852). In 1850 Susan Fenimore Cooper published Rural Hours, in which she encouraged rural landowners to consider how to shape and maintain their wood-lots with an eye to creating a pleasing vista. The language of flowers was also a topic that received liter-ary attention. In 1830 Sarah Josepha Hale (1788879) published Flora's Interpreter. In 1852 Frederick Law Olmsted (1822903) published Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England.
If Downing was the most important figure in American landscape architecture in the first half of the nineteenth century, Olmsted was the most important American landscape architect in the second half of the nineteenth century. Perhaps best remembered for his work on public spaces and parks such as New York's Central Park, Brooklyn's Prospect Park, and Buffalo's Chapin Parkway, Olmsted also worked with his partner, Calvert Vaux (1824895), in laying out the plan for Riverside, a Chicago suburb that combined proximity to the city with the spaciousness and green space of a country setting.
As John G. Mitchell notes in "Frederick Law Olmsted's Passion for Parks," it was Olmstead's connections with literary figures such as Washington Irving and William Cullen Bryant that helped him secure the position of superintendent of what would become New York's Central Park. Olmsted's association with public spaces and streetcar suburbs signified a shift in the American vision of landscape architecture. Although there would still be efforts to construct country retreats on the grand scale of European chateaus (Olmsted himself would later work on the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina), the projects taken on by Olmsted and other landscape architects during the latter half of the nineteenth century reflected the urbanization of America and the need to provide green spaces for city dwellers.
In A Writer's America, Alfred Kazin describes Olmsted's plan for Central Park as a reaction to the monotony of the city's urban gridlines. "For his park he wanted a rural unkemptness, picturesque roads. In the vast planting to replace the old swamp wasteland he emphasized wild plants, random tufts, a thick growth of low brambles, ferns, asters, gentians, irregularly spaced trees" (p. 168). If the city dweller could not escape to the country, Olmsted would bring the country to the city. Although Walt Whitman (1819892) voiced his objections to the plan because the miles of carriage-ways obviously catered to the wealthier classes, he did concede that Olmsted's grand plan "represented at least a trial marriage of art and enlightened enterprise, nature and life in the city" (Kazin, p. 171).
As Lee Clark Mitchell points out, "Olmsted's vision extended well beyond city limits" (p. 49). Olmsted campaigned for restricting the commercialization of Niagara Falls and when he moved to California in 1863 he worked to preserve the Yosemite Valley and the Big Tree Grove in Mariposa (pp. 490). In 1865 he wrote a report on the Yosemite Valley for the California Yosemite Commission. Olmsted's efforts were instrumental in removing Yosemite from private control and placing it in the hands of the government. Twenty-five years after Olmsted's report, John Muir (1838914) and others were finally able to move Congress to enact Olmsted's plan to preserve the Yosemite Valley (Mitchell, p. 50). In this instance, it was Olmsted, the landscape architect and designer, who showed the way for environmental writers such as Muir.
Muir, who would write The Mountains of California (1894), Our National Parks (1901), My First Summer in the Sierra (1911), and The Yosemite (1912), among other works, is perhaps the best known of the preservationists who came of age in the late nineteenth century. However, as Mitchell notes, it was George Perkins Marsh (1801882), author of Man and Nature (1864), who defined the science of ecology at a time when the term itself had not yet come into use (p. 59). Marsh argued that through "careful control and intelligent planning" the nation might be able to preserve its natural legacy (quoted in L. C. Mitchell, p. 60).
In the 1870s and continuing into the 1880s and 1890s America awakened to the need to preserve its natural wonders. The movement to create and preserve national parks was and remains a laudable endeavor. It was, however, equally important for writers to remind Americans, as Thoreau had done almost a quarter of a century earlier, of the pleasures to be found closer to home. In a modest work of less than a hundred pages, Charles Dudley Warner (1829900) did just that. Warner is best remembered for being both Harriet Beecher Stowe's and Mark Twain's neighbor in Hartford, and perhaps best forgotten for being the author of some truly turgid prose published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine. But in My Summer in a Garden (1870), Warner takes off his stiff workday collar, rolls up his shirtsleeves, and celebrates the elemental passion for dirt. "The love of dirt is among the earliest of passions, as it is the latest. Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts. So long as we are dirty, we are pure" (p. 6).
Whether the nineteenth-century American's desire to commune with nature took the form of Thoreau's impulse to thrust himself headfirst into the soil or Warner's more pedestrian wish to get his hands dirty in his garden, the nineteenth century witnessed America coming to terms with the disappearance of the frontier wilderness and the need to preserve what was still wild and amend what was tame. Literary figures and landscape designers each participated in the project of celebrating, preserving, and recreating the American landscape.
See also Agrarianism; Americans Abroad; English Literature; Foreigners; Nature; Taste; Transcendentalism; Urbanization; Walden; Wilderness
Cobbett, William. The American Gardener. 1819. New York: Modern Library, 2003.
Cooper, James Fenimore. Notions of the Americans. 1828. Historical introduction and textual notes by Gary Williams. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991.
Cooper, James Fenimore. The Pioneers. 1823. New York: New American Library, 1964.
Cooper, Susan Fenimore. Rural Hours. 1850. Edited by Rochelle Johnson and Daniel Patterson. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998.
Downing, Andrew Jackson. The Architecture of Country Houses; including designs for cottages, farmhouses, and villas, with remarks on interiors, furniture, and the best modes of warming and ventilating. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1850.
Downing, Andrew Jackson. Cottage Residences; or, A series of designs for rural cottages and cottage villas, and their gardens and grounds, adapted to North America. 1842. 4th ed. New York: Wiley and Halsted, 1856.
Downing, Andrew Jackson. A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, adapted to North America. New York, London, Wiley and Putnam; Boston: C. C. Little and Co., 1841.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Essays and Lectures. Edited by Joel Porte. New York: Library of America, 1983.
Fessenden, Thomas Green. The New American Gardener. Boston: J. B. Russell, 1828.
Fuller, Margaret. Summer on the Lakes, in 1843. 1844. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Mosses from an Old Manse. 1846. Reprinted in Tales and Sketches. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1982.
Kirkland, Caroline. A New Homeho'll Follow? or, Glimpses of Western Life. 1839. Edited by William S. Osborne. Schenectady, N.Y.: College and University Press, 1965.
Melville, Herman. The Piazza Tales. 1856. Edited by Egbert S. Oliver. New York: Hendricks House, 1948.
Olmsted, Frederick Law. The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted. Vol. 1, The Formative Years, 1822852. Edited by Charles Capen McLaughlin. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and Other Writings. New York: Modern Library, 2000.
Warner, Charles Dudley. My Summer in a Garden. 1870. Introduction by Allan Gurganus. New York: Modern Library, 2002.
Dean, Sharon L. Constance Fenimore Woolson and Edith Wharton: Perspectives on Landscape and Art. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002.
Franklin, Wayne. The New World of James Fenimore Cooper. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.
Hedrick, Ulysses P. A History of Horticulture in America to 1860. New York: Oxford University Press, 1950.
Kazin, Alfred. A Writer's America: Landscape in Literature. New York: Knopf, 1988.
Kolodny, Annette. The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630860. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.
Leighton, Ann. American Gardens of the Nineteenth Century: "For Comfort and Affluence." Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987.
Miller, Perry. Nature's Nation. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967.
Mitchell, John G. "Frederick Law Olmsted's Passion for Parks." National Geographic 207, no. 3 (2005): 321.
Mitchell, Lee Clark. Witnesses to a Vanishing America: The Nineteenth-Century Response. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981.
Thacker, Robert. The Great Prairie Fact and Literary Imagination. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989.
Wolschke-Buhlman, Joachim, and Jack Becker, eds. American Garden Literature in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection (1785900). Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1998.
James J. Schramer