As a student I try to get a broad perspective and at the same time try to understand concepts at a closer level. We had a great lecture from James Yoch this week on Italian Renaissance gardens. In his lecture he mentioned that some of these Italian gardens were so low maintenance that it only took a few of gardeners one day a month to maintain them, and they were extremely long lived. While Gertrude Jekyll's gardens disappeared within months or short years after her death and maintenance was discontinued.
Is a garden only as good as its maintenance crew? What good is a garden that only the designer has the ability or know-how to maintain?
I don't necessarily believe we should strive towards zero maintenance gardens. Part of the joy of a garden is the actual care we give to the garden.
In my mind there is a balance. I want perennials and annuals, but I also want structure and longevity. I'm not afraid of the evolution of a garden or design, but my planting design should work now, 10 years, 30 years and 100 years, with normal garden modifications.
I think peoples attitudes change with time, so why not design a garden that can be reworked in 40 years? However, at the end of 40 years, there should be a magnificent framework of trees and shrubs and plantings to work with.
James Corner leaves some of his designs open ended. However, he designs the environmental aspects to mature and anticipate future changes.
I think we can recognize bad planting designs. They are very evident within a few years of planting. It is the great designs that still work and can be modified gracefully as they age and mature.
I run across this blog: http://www.badlandscaping.com/ check it out.