Industry Preview 2010: Landscape design -- Edible landscapes and climate change key in year ahead

The interest in edible landscapes will continue to boom in 2010, along with more focus on green infrastructure as a way of adapting to climate change.

This is the view of leading figures in landscape architecture and design, who are optimistic that 2010 will see a strengthening of the sector.

Land Use Consultants principal Dominic Cole said that after a poor 18 months, projects were now starting to pick up again. "I think there are little green shoots," he explained. "Commercially, I know there are a few projects where developers are pushing their clients to make sure that they go ahead this year."

Designer Robin Templar Williams added: "Confidence does seem to be back and it will gather strength. This coming spring will see things improve. Last year was a learning curve and there was a lot of talk about sorting the wheat from the chaff. It is all part of the economic ebb and flow."

According to Landscape Institute director of policy and communications Paul Lincoln, there will be a "much greater emphasis on individual responsibility for combating climate change".

"For landscape architects, a positive aspect will be increased numbers of people seeking guidance on using landscape to create green infrastructure to address climate change," he explained. "The topic of edible landscapes in the centre of cities will become increasingly important," he added.

Cole agreed: "The idea of productive landscapes will continue to influence people, not as major market gardening, but a few fruit trees or vines."

RHS chief assessor and landscape architect Andrew Wilson told HW that he hoped 2010 would be a better year and said a recognition of the enjoyment of gardening would boost the sector. "The interest in productive gardens will persist not as a way of saving money, but for enjoyment," he explained.

However, he warned: "People will be much more thoughtful about what they are spending their money on, which will lead to smaller-sized planting. They will be investing in the development of their gardens rather than the instant impact we've seen before."

European Foundation for Landscape Architecture president and former Landscape Institute president Nigel Thorne said he believed people would recognise the value of the profession as concerns about green issues came to the fore. "I would love to see us continue to progress the profession," he said.

Landscape Agency managing director Patrick James said the rocketing numbers at visitor attractions across the UK would mean work for the sector.

"A wide range of visitor attractions experienced excellent growth last year and this is a sector that is now investing in updated infrastructure and new design," he explained. "Clients including the National Trust, Royal Parks, RHS and English Heritage show this to be the case."


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