The Idea of Landscape 2

The single most important function of a garden is to provide an outdoor living space in much the same way that a house provides an indoor living space. It serves a purpose different from but complementary to that of a house. Where a house provides a space to be sheltered from wind, rain, high or low temperatures, plants and wild animals, a garden provides a space to experience these things in a way that is more manageable than in wild nature. In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Empire, the planet Gaia and all of its plant, animal and human life is a harmonious whole, so that houses and gardens are obsolete – the winds are soft, the rain refreshing, and the day and night temperate. There is no need for protection from nature; humans sleep on the grass without blankets or roofs, and crops grow in abundance where they are needed, without fertilisers or field boundaries. This edenic world is a far cry from our own Earth and illustrates by contrast the primary function of gardens as an outdoor living space which is the happy medium of house and nature.

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