Bringing Vegetation Back to the Forefront
A unique, innovative course on vegetation landscape design took place this year at Ramat Hanadiv
“Much has been written about defining the essence of the unique Israeli garden, but after four generations we are still fumbling and it is difficult to pinpoint characteristic lines of original creation…” It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that even today, in the State of Israel’s 70th year, the words of Shlomo Ilan in his book The Fertile Garden are still relevant. We are still in a continuous process of searching for the essence of the unique Israeli garden, an essence suitable to our location in the Mediterranean region, but also to the unique spirit flowing through it that links between that past, present and future.
The extreme climatic environment, ever-increasing density, and disappearance of wild vegetation from the built-up environment are only a few of the issues that landscape architects in Israel must deal with, as in many regions around the world in the 21st century. The State of Israel boasts diverse landscapes of culture, heritage and climate typical of each part of the country, but with respect to vegetation design, many places look too similar. Therefore, we believe that vegetation design that suits the location and flows from it is an important value for the future of open landscapes in Israel. The existing gap between the innovative solutions suggested for design, materials and technology and vegetation landscape design, and the need for landscape architects to have more in-depth knowledge of planning vegetation that suits local conditions, and empowers its character and unique spirit, brought landscape architects Anat Kaufman, Liat Hadar and Dafna Helbitz to the realization that this is no less than a national mission and to initiate and open a course on this topic.
In partnership with Ramat Hanadiv and the Israeli Association of Landscape Architects, a profession course on vegetation landscape design with respect to sustainability, usability and esthetics, opened last February.
The course ended last week after 7 meetings, 25 lecturers and dozens of different lectures, with the participation of 54 professionals from landscape architecture and environmental professions. The course included tours in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Kibbutz Kishorit in the Galilee, lectures that were designed to provide useful tools and a ‘toolbox’ for the planner, as well as enrichment lectures by researchers and philosophers, and meetings with top-level planners in Israel. The course was accompanied by the “Landscape, Land” exhibition by the Jerusalemite photographer, Yoram Buzaglo. The writer Meir Shalev, who lectured on his book “Wild Garden” and related his experiences as an amateur gardener, aroused much inspiration.
A special guest in the course was the esteemed landscape architect Thomas Doxiadis, who has to deal with similar climatic and environmental conditions in his work in Greece as those existing in Israel. Doxiadis presented extraordinary use of local, wild plants with respect to their natural spatial patterns, solutions for integrating them in open spaces and development of private and public gardens with a sustainable approach.
“Among other things, the course dealt with principles of design and composition, planning of green roofs, green walls and water bodies,” says, Liat Hadar, Head of Research at Ramat Hanadiv. “We learned about the tension between conservation and development and about the efforts to conserve existing trees in urban landscapes as well as planning of new plantings, about established gardens and their reflection in the mirror of time. Among other things, we heard about the influence of the environment on our well-being and about mental health, about integrating wild vegetation and traditional agricultural gardens (bustans) in gardening, planning vegetation along infrastructure strips and more,” added Hadar.
The many positive reactions from participants in the course, as well as requests for additional courses on this topic, encouraged the course’s initiators and aroused hope that the course will inspire professionals to implement its principles in the field, to really bring vegetation back to the forefront.