Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Landscape Gardening The Aims Of Landscape Gardening Part II


LANDSCAPE-GARDENING
THE AIMS OF LANDSCAPE-GARDENING
Part 2
The landscape-gardener works in the same way. He studies the out-of-doors. He looks at nature on lines usually varying but a few degrees from the horizontal. He notes the sky lines, the masses of foliage, the lights and shadows, the varying colors and shapes of leaves and flowers, the lay of the land, the reflections in water. He learns the things that make
a view pleasing, and then when he grades lands, plants trees, shrubs, and flowers, introduces water, rocks, or other objects, he makes use of the pleasing effects he has learned to produce pleasing scenery appropriate to the situation and the locality. His canvas, the background for his work, is the sky. Against this he may see the earth itself, the ocean,
mountains, hills, prairies, or forests. Against this canvas he plants trees and other objects to form a pleasing composition, a picture if you will, and if he is wise and has the opportunity he will leave a generous open space on his canvas for nature to fill in with clouds and sunshine, with stars and moonlight. Nature indeed is a most helpful and willing partner
in all the real work of a landscape-gardener, and also his best teacher. She teaches other artists as well, but for the one who tries to help her in beautifying
the earth or in keeping it beautiful, she produces an infinite variety of plant growth and plant-food; she brings rain and warmth and sunshine; she provides air to breathe and a stimulating companionship to encourage growth and beauty; and she spreads a protecting blanket in winter.
The painter completes his painting in a few hours or days. It may then remain for years just as left by his. finishing touches. The landscape-gardener, on the other hand, must wait years for the picture he conceives to develop fully. His conception of the effect he wishes to produce may be the result of minutes or days of study. It is gained as quickly as the painter’s idea of his composition, and the time required for recording his conception on paper is comparatively brief. Sometimes the scheme he has in mind will be worked out directly on the ground without the use of drawings. The result he is after is out-doors, and as it is usually produced by living things — trees, shrubs, flowers, grass, and various ground-covering plants — which necessarily change, it becomes a moving picture. In other
words, his efforts result in a series of pictures or effects resembling each other but gradually approaching his ideal. His skill will depend first on this ideal, on his ability to form a satisfactory composition, to imagine a view with lights and shades in proper relations to each other, with harmonious outlines and colors — in short, on his appreciation of beauty; and next on his success in grading, selecting materials, planting, outlining open areas,
lakes, woods, groups of trees and shrubs, the selection and placing of herbaceous plants, and in his treatment of water, rocks, buildings, and other objects that may appear against his canvas.
Certain rules should govern his work. There should be unity. This means that from a given
point looking in one direction there should be one picture and in this picture some special feature should predominate. The rule of unity is violated when, in looking out of a window, one sees two vistas, two or more dominating trees, two lakes, two valleys, two hills or two mountains of equal importance. It is violated when a garden with bright colored flowers, pergolas and seats is made to compete with a view of the ocean. There may indeed be flowers in the ocean view, but they should be incidental, like clover blossoms in a meadow, the blossoms of apple trees, lilacs or locusts. Green foliage, rocks and trees may enhance the ocean view, helping to frame it or at least not competing with what should be the main feature of the picture. What is true of an ocean view would be true of a mountain view, or of a picture in which a valley or lake, a lawn, a house, the prairie, a distant
city, or a church spire formed the dominating feature. There may be several pictures seen from one point, if they are in different directions, but they should usually be separated from each other by some object such as a tree, a bit of woods, or a mass of shrubs. In landscape work the fact that the point of view can easily be changed must be constantly borne in
mind. It may be a window, a veranda, a seat under a tree or in a boat, any point along a walk or drive. or any position one may be in while strolling about the grounds. The landscape-gardener, therefore, designs a great number of landscapes in one piece of work, in all of which the rule of unity as well as the other rules to be mentioned will have a guiding influence. These rules also govern in pictures that are painted, in music, architecture, sculpture, and literature. There should be balance, but this does not mean that one side of a view should be just like the other. A tree may be balanced by a shrub, a rock by a building, a mass of flowers by a single blossom. A judicious arrangement of light and shade is desirable. In a well-designed land-scape there should be harmony of shapes, sizes and colors. A plant with foliage like the yucca would not be pleasing next to a maiden-hair fern. The leaves of pie plant do not harmonize with those of the rose. Magenta flowers do not go well with scarlet. A certain amount of contrast and variety give life to a landscape but if used to excess they may deprive it of repose. Repetition in landscapes as in painting tends to make a scene restful. Thus all the rules of composition that are applicable to paintings apply also to landscapes designed or appropriated by landscape-gardeners. A painter sometimes speaks of the “heaven-born ratio of three to two,” meaning that the focal point, the point to which the eye continually reverts, should be three units from one side and two from
the other side of the canvas, and the same ratio from the top and bottom, instead of being in the center.
The same ratio serves well in designing an actual landscape, since a tree or other subject placed directly in the center usually looks badly. The interest in any view is increased by
an arrangement which piques one’s curiosity. In illustration of this, think of woods into which one gets glimpses leading to unknown depths, bays of lakes disappearing behind islands or promontories, lawns partly hidden by projecting groups of shrubs.
These give possible opportunities for making discoveries, and such opportunities compete with variety in giving spice to life. The shape of a tree, the graceful or strong arrangement of its branches, the outlines and texture of its leaves, the color and forms of flowers, the curves of the earth’s surface, the reflections in water — are all objects of interest and beauty, but beyond all these in making a view interesting are the elements of curiosity and mystery.

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