In her article, Nature and Artifice, (AJ 10.6.99) Clare Melhuish draws what seems to me to be a surprising conclusion from the fact (which she rightly observes) that the 1990s have seen an increasing amount of literature published on the subject of landscape design. But rather than demonstrating, as she claims, 'a degree of ambiguity about landscape design's identity and purpose' could this not simply be the result of a growing interest in landscape design - and an appreciation of its richness, diversity and potential: which, after all, is something very different?
To draw a straightforward comparison, surely few of your readers would interpret the extensive and wide-ranging material that is published each year about architecture as an indication of architecture's ambiguous purpose and identity? And if they did, it would just as surely be undeserved.
I don't really intend to take issue over the point in which she claims that 'Lassus breaks the taboo of mixing the natural and the artificial,' except to say that that seems an extraordinary misconception in the light of the fact that practically, without exception, the entire British landscape is a combination of the natural and the artificial.
True, there are many who like to regard the countryside as 'natural' - but that is largely a perception and not a fact. Perhaps what she means is that Lassus is happy to openly express the artificiality of his ideas, while in Britain we have a tendency to pretend that the landscape is natural: or at least to want to see it that way. But that is a whole different story and is based on a different set of conceptions.
Matilda Palmer, London SW7