A plant is not a stone

A prerequisite for innovative design with plants is the rediscovery of their specific qualities. With unprejudiced perception, free from preconceived ideas, one is in a position to recognize the exceptional and to pursue new avenues of development. A comparison of materials makes clear that plants differ from other media less through their outward form and far more through their exceptional potential for adaptation and their ability to direct themselves. Plants are both the active opponents as well as the pas­sive medium of the landscape architect. This double nature confronts the designer with an unsolvable contradiction that can be seen as both a prob­lem and an opportunity.

Landscape architects who wish to design with plants must deal with many different facets because of plants’ complex nature. Not only aes­thetic-cultural aspects play a role, but biological and practical issues must also be considered.

• If one considers the plant as a biological phenomenon, the most interest­ing aspect is the multitude of dynamic processes that can be seen at all levels of the plant’s existence.

• If one considers the plant as a medium and therefore, as an aesthetic – cultural phenomenon, it conveys fascinating ideas, meanings and mod­els for living.

• If one considers the adaptability of plants as a methodological chal­lenge, it is interesting to consider the methods and strategies available for reacting flexibly to the unexpected.