Landscape design as an art is less artificial than any other form of design because it deals almost entirely with natural objects in formal or informal combinations. The landscape-designer uses trees and shrubs instead of spots of paint. He uses the real sky instead of an artificial representation of one, and his hills and ravines should appear as the results of natural forces rather than as man's creation.
In every form of design, structure, as a fulfilment of conditions, is of paramount importance. This structure may be the rocky framework of the landscape or the skeleton of a building. The remainder of the problem, the esthetic treatment of this structural part, is a question of means to an end. No matter how much or how little enrichment appears, it must always recognize the function of the parts upon which it is built.
Landscape design in the abstract may be termed a problem in the composition of areas. Areas have only two dimensions, length and breadth; but for the final consideration of the design scheme the designer must constantly keep in mind the three dimensions, length, breadth, and depth. This is because the design is to be viewed from different points. In drawings and sketches, however, only two of these dimensions can be treated at one time. The plan and elevation must constantly be correlated in order to produce a satisfactory result, and different elevations should be drawn from the same plan.
The failure to observe this principle carefully is one of the great weaknesses of French architecture. A fine enthusiasm for beautiful geometrical design often permits the plan to become an abstraction, beautiful in appearance rather than in function, and from many aspects the elevations frequently appear weak. A building planned in such fashion is designed to be seen from only one or two stated positions.
Figure 4. TWO DIFFERENT ELEVATIONS OF THE SAME PLAN.
The landscape-designer must prepare his work with much greater conscientiousness, since it will be seen from a variety of positions. If elevations are drawn from several different aspects, and all "compose" well,-that is to say, seem to have the proper space relations,-a satisfactory design in three dimensions is assured. This is Rodin's method of working in sculpture. He models entirely for the silhouette of his figure from all possible positions. This accounts in a measure for his magnificent results.
As may easily be seen in a photograph, all masses of three dimensions appear to the eye, or rather pictorially, as areas possessing only two dimensions. One actually beholds only width and height, for the impression of depth is an illusion.
Landscape design may safely be defined as the satisfactory and consequently beautiful composition of natural areas-shapes of earth, trees, and sky-in three dimensions.
As used in this book, the term composition means the "putting together" of certain various elements in such a way as to produce an appearance of unity and harmony. It is the assimilation of all the different parts of a problem and their amalgamation into one underlying design idea. Every design should bear the stamp of man's handiwork, and yet the trees, shrubs, walls, roads, and other features should not appear to be "pressed into service." Any element in the design that is not perfectly assimilated and harmonized with the surrounding parts in accordance with the basic idea is not composed to the best advantage.
It is a matter of frequent occurrence that the client may wish to introduce elements quite foreign to the spirit of the designer's scheme, and these elements, though they may be either architectural or horticultural, will often seem hardly possible of assimilation. It is then a question of omitting such elements altogether or of ruining an otherwise satisfactory scheme. In case the element under consideration seems worth all the rest of the scheme, it necessitates the re-designing of the problem so that everything will harmonize, and the client's pet ideas will have an appropriate setting. This has often been done where some accessory, such as a statue, a wellhead, or a fountain required "naturalizing"; that is, the designing of a favorable location so as to make it seem in harmony with the surroundings.
Figure 5. FOUNTAIN FROM THE BOBOLI GARDENS, FLORENCE, ITALY.
This is illustrated in Figures 5 and 6. It is assumed that the fountainhead, which is one of the features of the big basin in the Boboli Gardens, has been transported to another locality, and is to be used as the principal accent in a fair-sized garden. Two solutions of this problem are shown in Figure 6, the position of the fountain being indicated by a spot of black.
Certain garden accessories demand favorable location from their very nature. A sun-dial, to be of any service, must be placed in an open space, or it will not receive the rays of the sun. A statue, on the other hand, looks rather pitiable when exposed to the noonday glare, with no shade at hand. Any delicacy of detail is lost in a statue placed in an exposed position, as the reflection of the sun from its smooth surface is too dazzling to permit careful appreciation.
Figure 6a. SCHEME FOR THE "NATURALIZATION" OF THE FOUNTAIN FROM THE BOBOLI GARDENS (Figure 5).