A larger question is how much that rising prominence will boost the cause of landscape preservation, which is at the heart of the Washington, D.C.-based Cultural Landscape Foundation's mission. Can it help slow the demise of Lockwood de Forest's garden at Val Verde, the Montecito estate, or bring renewed attention to the career of a figure like Garrett Eckbo, the landscape architect whose 1950 book "Landscape for Living" lent the title to last week's gathering?
It's hard to be entirely optimistic on that score. The emergence of celebrity architects over the last decade hasn't exactly helped the preservation of significant buildings. Frank Gehry's status as the best-known architect in the world didn't keep U.C. Irvine from knocking down one of his buildings four years ago. Nor, in far broader terms, has a Pritzker Prize for Santa Monica's Thom Mayne done much for aging landmarks in Southern California by John Lautner or Myron Hunt.