As I was celebrating my Mom’s birthday this last week, we made a Chocolate Mousse Cake together. Baking has always been a wonderful part of my life and wonderful memories with my Mom and Grandma's, nothing beats homemade. While this was a gift of time and amazing tastes- it was also a time I thought of our industry. The #GreenIndustry has become an industry of cakes- now just indulge me for a moment. Look at this Mousse Cake- homemade mousse on the outside- carefully crafted to have the most beautiful of appearances. Isn’t that how we view our landscapes- every blade of grass in its place, everything pruned and trimmed to sometimes unnatural shapes and sizes because we are trying to make it ‘fit’ into the place, exotic plants in the Midwest, and everything carefully orchestrated. But what happens when we cut into the cake? Is there just a cardboard form on the inside like what is used in window displays for 4-H cake decorating classes? Or is there a rich fudge chocolate center with extra mousse that completes the whole package?
I would argue that many of our #landscapes are window dressing with empty forms underneath. There is no substance for our landscapes and #outdoorlivingspaces either for nature or for us. We are planting exotic plants that provide no ecosystem service value. We are using pruning techniques and systematically cutting off flower blooms year after year with no thought to the value those provide. We are creating vast expanses of lawn with high maintenance and no added value. We are installing the cookie-cutter large rectangular patio space with the same plant palette for every landscape in suburbia with no connection to anything around it. Not to say that some of these elements have their place in the landscape but there needs to be balance and creativity. A layered cake will not stay layered unless it is balanced on top the layer
Our #ecosystems work the same way- we must care for each element to help support the whole system. As #LandscapeArchitects and #LandscapeDesigners, we must create systems that have value, creativity, and longevity. As #Homeowners, we must demand value, quality, and understanding in our outdoor living spaces. Let us think beyond what has been with this carefully crafted exterior and look to what should and could be and enjoy our cake!