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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Searching for Answers in Contemporary Practice
by Forsyth, Kelley Jean, M.L.A., Rutgers The State University of New Jersey, School of Graduate Studies, 2021, 110; 27743577
Abstract (Summary)

Even though we, the human species, have a deeply rooted connection to flowers, a prejudice against them holds sway in contemporary landscape architectural practice. These prevailing trends to suppress the expression of flowers denies the profession many opportunities. The most obvious is a loss of color, fragrance and texture; however, flowers also tie into two issues important of Landscape Architecture – environmental sustainability and social justice. By foregrounding flowers in landscape design, the profession can engage in mutability, stewardship and habitat reclamation—concepts central in the quest for addressing issues of environmental sustainability. Because of our universal love of flowers, the lack of flowers in a professionally designed landscape gives rise to discussions of for who and how we design public spaces, issues that must be resolved in the quest for social justice. The first chapter of this thesis reviews the winning projects for the American Society of Landscape Architecture Professional Awards. This analysis provides convincing evidence that a persistent marginalization of flowers exists in firms’ depictions of their projects. Three methods of dismissal are identified. Each method, defined as the “green” flower, the “gray” flower, and the “brown” flower, elicits discussions exploring different facets of this foundational prejudice. The second chapter reviews examples of flowers in the modern landscape. The parties responsible for their presence range from bereaved citizens to the large landscape architectural firm Turenscape and horticultural teams responsible for three of America’s largest perennial public gardens. This chapter demonstrates that perennials not only offer color, texture, and fragrance but through their constant cycling through senescence and rebirth encourages an iterative process or systems–led design methodology. The third chapter, the design component of the thesis, describes my personal journey, which led to my commitment to invent teaching methods that encourage the creative expression of a community of people while preserving the important contribution of the principal designer. In this case, teaching students flower garden design through an approach entitled “The Edible Meadow.” It was designed like a game, with instructions to read and rules to follow, broke down the complicated process of flower garden design into a series of steps. Even though the students’ projects were designed within rigorous parameters, their final results were varied, expressive, and beautiful. This thesis was instigated by the desire to see more flowers in the public landscape. Ultimately, the research revealed that the presence of flowers in a landscape represents much more. This thesis is a call for landscape architecture to expand its discourse and give credence to voices previously unheard.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Freytag, Anette
Commitee: Bakshi, Anita, Nelson, Holly
School: Rutgers The State University of New Jersey, School of Graduate Studies
Department: Landscape Architecture
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: MAI 82/10(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Sustainability, Landscape architecture
Keywords: Environmental sustainability, Flowers, Frederick Law Olmsted, Piet Oudolf, Plant design, Social justice
Publication Number: 27743577
ISBN: 9798597096704
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