Roberto Burle Marx (1909–1994) is universally heralded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest landscape architects and an expert horticulturalist. His understanding of Brazilian flora was so deep that it is said he only used plants native to Brazil in making his landscapes. Alas, this statement is misleading. In April 2016 I had the privilege of spending the weekend at the Fazenda Vargem Grande outside Areias, an extensive and marvellous garden on the site of a former coffee plantation (1979–1990), designed by Burle Marx. Disposed on three levels and animated by a continuous flow of water issuing from a spring higher on the hillside, the garden is incredibly rich in its colours and textures and equally intricate in its selection of plants. Although I had seen almost two dozen Burle Marx gardens on previous visits to Brazil, this stay provided a new understanding and allowed intimate contact with his work. Most areas of his gardens, I learnt, were planted with a single species, each chosen not only for its colour and texture but also for the height of its natural growth. More eye-opening was the fact that not all the plants were indigenous to Brazil; in fact, one of the trees had come from as far away as Madagascar. Burle Marx’s philosophy seems to have been that if the plant would prosper in the Brazilian condition, its use was valid. (Of course, we can assume that none of the plants was regarded as invasive.) Is there a lesson to be learnt from this wonderful project?
Coastal planning in the twenty-first century must be ‘reset’ to respond to the intertwined challenges of sustained population growth, urbanisation and climate change. Are planners up to the task?
The concept of Smart Cities is becoming increasingly vague, to the point that it is defined differently by almost every author who writes about it.
Noted historian and critic of landscape architecture, Marc Treib, speaks with Fiona Johnson about his new book Austere Gardens, Isamu Noguchi and landscape design.
Anne Cochrane visits Australia’s oldest arid zone public garden in Alice Springs.
Irrespective of whether building information modelling (BIM) is being adopted by Australian landscape architects, it is only a matter of time before it begins to affect the way they practise.
Mangrove ecosystems along Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria suddenly died back in late 2015, yet the event has attracted barely any national attention.
An analysis of the likely implications of garden area requirements for land in Melbourne’s growth areas.
But what are the challenges associated with developing Hazelwood into a lake for recreational use?