The Wild, Wild West

My favorite author of all-time is Louis L’Amour or, as he branded himself, “America’s Storyteller.”

Every book started with a bang, literally--somebody shooting at somebody in the start of a black-and-white conflict ultimately ending with the good guy winning the girl and defeating raw evil all while holding himself to a moral standard the reader admired and, in my case, secretly hoped to emulate.

The good guy always had several traits: physical strength (able to withstand unbearable amounts of agony and suffering without complaint), discipline (no drinking or swearing), and mental strength (a desire to use his brain to outwit his opponents).

In all conflicts, the hero never did anything for the sake of money. In fact, he lived his life in pursuit of simple pleasures--a good horse, a good ranch, a good woman and the strength and determination to live his life his way.

Invariably, these characters had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, in all its forms, and that desire always seemed to translate into shrewd decisions.

In one book, the hero settles into a somewhat parched valley and uses spreader dams to self-irrigate his property with run-off from the nearby mountains to create a paradise; the “paradise” becomes attractive to nearby ranchers who were not using good water practices and were finding their land unfit for raising cattle. A range war followed and, as you might guess, good won over evil.

Right or wrong, this little nugget jumped immediately to mind when I was reading Kevin Sloan’s feature “More Than A Trend.” In it, he espouses the concept of “performance-driven” landscapes and suggests they are more than a trend. In fact, he believes “performance has the gravitas to carry the cultural landscape beyond its primarily aesthetic concerns”--and I for one believe him.

It’s clear the ongoing global conversation on climate change, environmental stewardship and water use is only going to intensify and, out if it, are bound to come design ideas that integrate solutions to these problems with the aesthetics of landscape design we’ve come to love.

It’s an exciting time in landscape design--one that begs for creativity and experimentation. Like the wild, wild west of L’Amour’s stories, landscape design is suddenly a wide-open field where rules and theories are being actively evaluated, tested, broken, repaired and created daily.

As history teaches, out of this wide-open process will come something extraordinary. Somebody or maybe a group of somebodys is quietly becoming the next Frederick Law Olmsted--and my guess is this person or group of persons is creating landscapes that perfectly meld performance and aesthetics and creating new rules and processes to govern landscape design and, by default, our culture.

Hopefully, those folks are reading Landscape Architect Business--and continue to do so--because we plan to keep publishing these types of designs and working to further the global conversation.


Rodney J. Auth


Bryan BuchkoComment