A tailor made garden
Why should you hire a professional to create a garden and what should you expect from him? And what should you watch out for? What purpose should your garden serve and what are the most common maladies? These and many other questions will be answered in a serial written by the team members from the FLERA studio, which will be presented on this website all year round.
So far, we have presented various topics on this site which have been more or less related to the work of a landscape architect without any attempt to link the particular parts together. As we would like to offer you something more, some sort of a concept and a useful opinion, we decided to seek cooperation with a successful landscape studio team. This will provide you with an introduction to the issue of landscape architecture, as well as some basic aspects of its work throughout the year and will do so continuously and in an original way which reflects its original approach.
“In my opinion, many people would still consider having their garden created professionally by a landscape architect to represent the manifestation of some kind of snobbery, as well the desire to show everybody that he/she has enough money. Meanwhile, those architects designing buildings have indisputably carved a position in the services field, while garden architecture remains a marginal and less prestigious discipline,” says the landscape architect, Ferdinand Leffler, by way of explanation as to why his team decided to embark on the serial.
Natural swimming ponds provide gardens with a peaceful and natural water feature. You will not only enjoy looking at it all year around, but you will also be able to take a dip now and then in its fragrant pond water.
The end (as well the beginning) of landscape architects in the Czech Republic
Although it may sometimes not seem so when viewed through a hedge of thuja plants, garden architecture has a rich history in this country. During the 18th and 19th centuries, mankind was in first place, as a creator and a user. The “spiritual dimension” and deeper intentions faded a little in those times. The gardens of this period became strictly rational and functional. Some changes came later as a result of the humanisation of thinking. The era of postmodernism had begun; a landscape architect was entrusted with role of “a personal physician” not only to the garden, but often to the client himself.
Gardens planned and made in the Czech Republic in the first half of the 20th century were perfectly thought-out. Each of them was a work or art and a landscape architect was also perceived as an artist. This tradition was interrupted by so called “socialist regime“, when the authors of garden concepts were mostly the owners themselves without any assistance. In those days, the services of a landscape architect were unavailable to most people and, what is more, the maintenance of a private garden symbolized a kind of escape from the social reality. It is a slow process, but some owners are now finding their way back to landscape studios and are discovering the benefits of a garden designed by a professional.
Working with materials – this may be also a task for a landscape architect. Wattle fencing and larch slats on a terrace subtly enhance the selected of plant species.
The modern concept of the garden
All periods are characterised by certain trends. The same is also true about landscape gardening. “The common tendency for family garden design after the so-called “Velvet Revolution” got slightly stuck in pompous pageantry without any taste which tried to compensate for its inner void by the use of unnecessarily expensive materials,” says Ferdinand Leffler. “For all that, people have recently started to notice the absence of a story, depth, a concept, and humanity. They are therefore turning more and more to experts: landscape architects and designers with whom they can plan and tune their garden so that it complies with their specific lifestyle, with the surrounding environs and, last but not least, with the history of the place.”
As a result, gardens are becoming truer, more recognisable and more reasonable. They have become a kind of refuge which can serve people and not vice versa. “It would be a great satisfaction for me, if we could demonstrate to the owners of family gardens how to get rid of all those phoney “fashion trends” and how to get back to the very core of the use of an outdoor space. If they would begin to ask questions such as what they really expect from their garden, yard and patio and would understand that we architects are actually on their side,” explains architect Ferdinand Leffler.
Even a small yard can be converted into a beautiful place to relax so an apartment is enlarged with an additional “outside room” for not much money.
The most common errors
Commonly deep-rooted trends, as Ferdinand Leffler sees them when looking through the fence, often introduce exaggerated decorativeness to many Czech gardens, as well a tendency to put as much “appealing embellishment” as possible in all possible and impossible combinations into the given space. The overuse of decorative gravel, coloured exotic stone, sparkly balls and intricately shaped trees with coloured leaves is common. Other frequent errors encountered by the team from FLERA studio include ponds without a context and beds with plants which do not respect the curves and proportion
of the land or cases where it is obvious at first sight that the intention was to make a garden which is entirely different to any other and where there is a complete absence of coherence and continuity. “I think we ought to be more humble in our surroundings, as well much more thorough and uncompromising in meeting our own dreams, wishes and needs. This may sound like a contradiction, but the ability to combine both would lead to a perfect result”, says the architect.
Each part of the series will be assigned a room in which we will look at an example of a less than successful garden implementation and its defects. We hope, that you will cooperate with us in these cases, since you will have a chance to join us in the creation of the ‘www.gardenshit.cz’ website. The members of the FLERA studio team are already eagerly awaiting your entries – snapshots of some unsuccessful gardens, comments and suggestions. You can even compete for prizes.
Studio FLERA commentary: “This is a typical example of a wannabe ornate garden. The owner has obviously been trying to present almost all the fancy and quickly visible procedures to beautify the garden. Sure, it may be tempting and coloured gravel and stone will bring an immediate change, but in this context it looks more like a gardener’s showroom.”
“Light a fire with your children, lie down on the lawn among daisies, pick the raspberries – just enjoy anything which can give you that little bit of nature at your house! Go back a few years and recall the times you ran barefoot looking for bugs or flicking marbles.”
The authors are now returning to the garden’s original function in some contemporary projects, such as the cultivation of crop plants, for example. An “old fashioned bed” simply gets some modern content.
Collaboration with an architect
Mr. Ferdinand Leffler and some of his invited colleagues, whose work he recognizes and respects, would like to offer you a deeper insight into landscape design. In the following eight episodes, we will perform a simulated collaboration with a landscape architect. We will look into the question as to why you should approach a landscape architect for a help and how you should choose him. In addition, we will advise you on what to consider and what to prepare before the first meeting with the architect; the questions you should discuss together at home and the things other than your private preferences which may influence your garden’s final form. We’ll try to show you how crucial the story you would like to create in your garden is, because it should tie all these aspects into a single, harmonious complex.
There will, of course, also be room for different garden styles and concepts which it is good to know about. Maybe some people will prefer a minimalist form, while others will prefer the type of garden their grandmother had … We will also try be more practical too and will describe what a project for a professionally designed garden looks like (i.e. what you should demand from it) and the subsequent procedure for the standard implementation of the design plans. How should you choose an implementing company? What should you watch out for? What should a proper established garden look like? When is it better to pay a little more and on the other hand where and when can you save? We also hope that you, our readers, will come up with some challenging questions and will create the series with us.
Ferdinand Leffler is a garden architect and designer and the founder of the Flera studio. He selects careful, reliable and creative architects for his team. He will help you to come up with a garden which is made to measure to meet your requirements and needs and so that you feel good in it: “We are advocates of the fact that the architecture of a property should express a story which has a beginning, gradation and a point… The garden should arise from the consistent interconnection of all the elements, functions and motifs which the client’s requirements bring to it and it should have a single author.
Source: Home Architect 02/2013
Text: Ferdinand Leffler
Foto: Studio Flera, www.gardenshit.cz
Managing editor: Dominika Záveská