Farrer On ... Professions should draw strength from unity

A recent article in the Homes & Property section of The Evening Standard caused quite a stir. In it, a garden designer appears to play off his profession with landscape architecture.

I am sure this is, in part, a journalist wishing to create tension and division for the purposes of reader interest (we do gardens and planting while you do the railings and lighting), but this is absurd.

However, it is worth taking a moment to encourage one another to see our strength as being in our unity. As professionals engaged in the environment, we have no small challenge in getting our agenda heard. Our voice is too often lost among other political issues that appear easier to understand and sell. So any platform that we do get, surely must not be wasted in doing down our fellow colleagues in order to get a leg up.

As with every nonsense story, it is more powerful when laced with a little bit of truth. It is true that garden designers are more focused on horticulture and plants, and that the recognition and importance of plants in our towns and cities is growing. This is good news for us all. Of course plants and horticulture help create a sense of place and provide unique environmental and aesthetic benefits that make economic sense. This is a message that landscape architects, garden designers, ecologists, gardeners and more have been saying for decades. As an industry we must be concerned with creating places and we all have a part to play here.

Andrew Wilson is regarded as one of the best teachers of garden design. I know his courses are strongly influenced by his own landscape architectural training. For my part, I employ both landscape architects and garden designers and find my own team is stronger for it.

We must not be distracted with this journalistic nonsense but work together and learn from each other, recognising the contribution we all make. We will achieve much more when addressing the challenge to green and improve the quality of our cities if we do it together.

Landscape Institute president Noel Farrer is a founding partner of Farrer huxley associates

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