Thursday, December 20, 2012

Landscape-Gardening, The Aims Of Landscape-Gardening part III

Part 3

While landscape-gardening is more nearly allied to painting than to any other fine art, in some ways it more nearly resembles architecture. These are the utilities. Architecture is concerned with many matters not particularly connected with beauty. These are for the comfort, safety and use of those occupying buildings. In like manner, landscape-gardening is concerned with walks, drives, gardens, fences, location of buildings, and other features having to do with the comfort, convenience, and use of mankind. There is a similarity also in the professional methods of landscape-gardeners and architects.
The grading of surfaces, which is an important part of the landscape-gardener’s work, is not unlike the work of sculptors, while the planting material he uses makes an appeal to the senses of smell, taste, and feeling not made by the other fine arts. In illustration of this appeal, think of the smell of the rose, the woods, the meadows, the sweetbriers,
the hundreds of flowers of the old-fashioned garden, the taste of fruits, sassafras and all the products of vegetation, the feel of a mullein leaf, the bark of trees, the velvety lawn, the polished surfaces of cherries, the breeze from the sea, the water in the swimming pool, the snow and ice of winter.
Landscape-gardening, more than any other art, makes use of the natural sciences. Geology, botany, and chemistry are of special importance, and there is hardly any line of study that will not make the landscape-gardener better equipped for the work he has in hand and better able to meet and discuss with his clients the many subjects that go
with the development of land. Even if one should not intend to take up landscape work as a profession, there are few subjects the study of which will do more for one’s general culture. An appreciation of attractive scenery will add to the enjoyment of life, the pleasure of reading and to one’s interest in the history of the world. The Japanese have professors of the arrangement of flowers and this subject is taught in their colleges. The study of landscape, embracing, as it does, all that one sees out-of-doors, is one of the broadest of subjects. It is far more important as a fine art than painting, sculpture, architecture, flower arrangement and gardening, since it includes in a general way all of these, and its principles are those of all the other arts.
It follows, therefore, that the landscape-gardener works with his imagination. This is true in a greater or less degree of other men, but, for the landscape-gardener it is preeminently so. He must be a dreamer, a designer, an inventor, a creator, — a dreamer more than most designers because it may take years for his designs to develop. He not only dreams but he creates, working with land, plants, water, rocks, buildings, roads, and bridges. He puts two and two together, joining the work of the architect or engineer with that of nature. His aim is to produce beautiful outdoor scenery, the scenery that includes all one sees
whenever he walks or rides through country or city. He is often called a “landscape architect,” but architect implies building, working with lumber, bricks, stone, mortar, glass, metals, in short, materials that are for the most part rigid and fixed. The work of the landscape-gardener is largely with things that are alive, growing, changing. As Bryan Lathrop has said, “It is not the name so much as the idea behind it which is objectionable.” To use the word “architect” tends to take away that freedom and gracefulness that should go with the development of beautiful landscapes. The term “landscape engineer,” which has also been used, is even more objectionable than “landscape architect,” since engineering is not a fine art, and, while the products of engineering may and ought to be beautiful, its aim is strength rather than beauty. “Landscape designer” is not so objectionable, since it indicates the character of the work undertaken by the man to whom it is applied.
A “landscape-gardener” is one who may be thought of as trying to produce a Garden of Eden, a garden which is purely imaginary but is thought of as the work of a Power greater than man and more beautiful than anything the present generation has seen. The aim of the landscape-gardener is high, and this term, while not free from objections, conveys the correct idea.
All of the various terms employed are objectionable because each contains two words.
“Landscape” is common to all, and if but one word were to be used, “landscaper” would seem to be the most appropriate. It would be used just as is “painter.” The “landscaper” would landscape a tract of land, a park or a home. His work would be “landscaping,” and when finished, the tract of land on which he had worked would be “landscaped.”
The term used in this volume is the one that has been generally adopted by those who have written on the subject of which it treats, among whom the name of A. J. Downing stands prominently, because the wide influence of his writings entitles him to the distinction of being considered the father of landscape-gardening in this country.
In the following pages the materials employed in this art and some of the general principles of the art will first be considered; and then the principles will be applied to the treatment of special cases.

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