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Grasp of whole is key to landscape design. . .

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Much as I welcome Maisie Rowe's positive promotion of the landscape architect's role in the article 'Brown and green capabilities' (AJ 22.3.01), I find myself at variance with her in defining our 'foremost aspect of expertise'.

If 'knowledge about trees and plants in the human environment' really is our stock in trade, it is little wonder that we are 'marginalized' in the real business of shaping our whole environment.

Surely, foremost in our toolkit is an understanding of how the human body and spirit respond to and inhabit outdoor spaces. Plants are simply one of the many ingredients that determine the health, beauty and usefulness of those outdoor spaces.

Beware also fixation with the landscape budget: important as this is, what the landscape architect spends 'on importing' landscape components invariably achieves less than the guidance given to others in a sensitive response to the landscape that already exists and embodies the 'place' that we foolishly think we 'create'.

Buildings may be the architect's 'product' but a landscape can never be produced, only changed.

As for integration, people collaborate - not professions.

Cohabitation within a macroinstitute is no more likely to stimulate creative collaboration than the interdisciplinary jealousies that often occur in local government and some large practices.

Ultimately, each individual landscape architect must select his or her soulmates and create opportunities by dazzling patrons with their grasp of the whole.

Tom Lonsdale, Camlin Lonsdale Marsden, by e-mail

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