Someone once shared during a workshop the observation, “Nature is the best mentor for landscape architects”. It is a simple, broad, and perhaps an even ambiguous statement. But even so, I think about its meaning regularly whenever hiking.
I remember one particular hike – one of the toughest ever – up Mt. Zion in Utah. In between pauses for water and while catching my breath during the hike, I noticed numerous details of beauty across the landscape: how perfectly the trees would frame the view of distant mountains, or how seemingly out of nowhere, a small plant in the middle of nothing but rocks and sand was blooming pretty purple flowers.
It was while framing and capturing these special moments discovered across the arid landscape, I realized how landscape architects employ similar strategies while designing: highlighting a focal point, integrating an element of surprise, providing moments of rest, alongside a multitude of other techniques utilized in the creation of “moments” for people to experience. Every time I hike I now recognize how nature is truly an excellent mentor – always ready to offer insightful examples of color, arrangement, processes for all working within the profession of landscape architecture.