We’ve talk to a lot of companies, from landscape designers in Pacific Palisades to garden artists in Salisbury, England and landsculpters in Mutsu-shi, Japan, to get a firm grip on what the future of landscape contracting is going to be as the world economy struggles and malingers.
It turns out that all over the civilized world, garden design is being motivated by social and demographic changes — quite rapidly and in some cases radically. The current fashion in England will reach the US in a matter of weeks and Japan in less than two months — by which time it will be out of fashion in England and some new micro-trend will have emerged. (To be clear, the trends just as often move in the other direction or in entirely different ways altogether; that’s just one example.)
Back before the housing market collapsed, landscape design in Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo was all about concrete. Hardscaping was the name of the game, and fantastic outdoor kitchens, crazy multilevel pools, and all manner of concrete creation was the norm. Landscape in Pacific Palisades was all about having cutting-edge tools to perform stunts like craning in whole, live, mature trees so the east half of the pool could be in shade.
Today, all that has changed profoundly. Today, with Wall Street under occupation and the rich receiving lots of anger from the bottom 99% of every country, ostentatious displays of wealth and power over the natural world are very much gone from the world of landscaping.
Modern gardens are all about humility, austerity, and eco-friendliness. Even those people with an ample budget have turned away from stainless steel water features and shaped-concrete pirate islands in their half-acre swimming pools, and toward a lower-key, kitchen-garden kind of backyard.
The gardens of the UK have reverted back to their 80′s style: they’re once again sanctuaries from the outside world, where the family goes to be with one another — not so much for massive American-style barbeques and parties like they were in the naughties. In Japan, the idea of the kitchen garden has truly bloomed (no pun intended) and many people even in urban areas have dedicated what space they have to growing their own organic food in a beautiful way.
In the next article, we’ll look more into the effects these trends are having on the art of landscaping and what it means to be a landscaper in modern LA.