The History of Plants and Animals in Landscape Design: Antiquity to the Present

Does horticulture have a role in landscape architecture? Do wild animals have a place in garden design and urbanized areas? This seminar offers answers by reviewing the history of human interactions with flora and fauna from Ancient Rome until 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity.The 2004 Dumbarton Oaks (DO) symposium looked at the cultural agency of horticulture. Topics ranged from the impact of qat in Yemen to the \”rose of eros\” in Judaism. DO\’s Botanical Progress, Horticultural Innovations and Cultural Changes (2007) thus gives a new perspective on medicine, religious practices, eating habits, perfumes, etc., that need re-iterating within landscape architecture. The 2010 DO symposium was entitled Designing Wildlife Habitats. Topics ranged from the wild and wilderness in Ottoman gardens to definitions of wildness and domestication from the time of Darwin. It posed the question: while landscape design has typically promoted botanical diversity, what has been its impact on zoological diversity? Professor Laird\’s forthcoming horticultural and environmental history The English Gardening Milieu, 1650-1800 provides a third entry point into managed natural systems of the past, showing how women in particular helped compass the circle among habitats, organisms, and humanity (e.g., butterflies, host plants, and life cycles).This seminar promotes open discussion of weekly readings so as to link history to the design studio. Students may direct their three assignments towards research papers or conceptual design presentations. The prerequisite is a grounding in history (e.g., history of landscape design, environmental history, architectural history, history of science, etc.). Limited enrollment.