Top critical review
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Money, money, money.
on 30 September 1999
"This book fills a gap hitherto surprisingly neglected by Landscape Professionals: it aims to provide a simple, direct and concise introduction to what can appear to be a vast and daunting subject, especially so to those on an introductory course or for new practitioners continuing their professional development"^Åand so begins one of the most insultingly patronising books on the subject I have ever read. I first became interested in Landscape Design in the 1930's, inspired by a family friend and the first President of the Landscape Institute, Thomas Mawson. It was a labour of love, an inspirational hobby which you could, if you were fortunate, receive remuneration for. There were no such things as Landscape Architects then and we had no need for books to tell us what was good design. We certainly had no need for books containing chapters entitled "Earning a living in a tough world". The very fact that the author needs to include such a chapter worries me. We should not be encouraging today's youth to padlock their BMX bicycles and become landscape designers because of the financial rewards.
A book is a labour of love. It should not be published until it is perfect in the author's eyes. In the preface of this book however, the author seems to be instantly excusing himself; "It is because landscape design is such an immense subject that this book cannot claim to be a complete guide and the space available for each section is limited." That is like a student saying to a lecturer on the day of a review, "I have deliberately kept the scheme simple" when really they were up until one o'clock the previous morning having been dancing at a disco and eating drugs. Does the author really think that 26 lines even begins to cover the subject of colour, even if space is limited.
This book caters for nobody in particular. It is too waffly to be a serious use to any but the most pompous student; "^Åby abstracting it and conceptualizing it, the designer is able to break away from the preconception of the subject" and "Concepts like beauty and quality are phenomena somehow encountered on life^Òs leading edge, as our senses (and perhaps souls) literally cut through time, like the stylus point on a record groove, amplifying raw creativity". Nor is the book any use whatsoever for the serious professional. It is too lightweight and flippant; "tall-growing, evergreen shrubs can be used for structure planting", "Walls can be made from many materials, such as brick or stone", "where access is required between two different levels, steps can be used".
Whilst this constitutes my initial gut reaction I have sent a more in-depth review to The Landscape Institutes journal Landscape Design (as I have many times previously) under the title ^ÓIn which direction has the legacy late 80's Thatcherite greed taken Landscape Architecture in the 90's ?^Ô With their apparent endorsement within the book, I wait with interest to see whether I shall be published this time.