The basis of the design scheme in every piece of landscape work is geometrical, whether symmetrical or not, and the first consideration in designing the circulation is the handling of the traffic in the most convenient way. Once laid out, the lines of traffic determine the disposition of the planting masses and open areas, and have therefore a double significance. Particularly is this true of formal design, because the interdependence of circulation and planting is very evident in this type of work; a formal design looks either right or wrong at first glance.
Informal divisions allow much more latitude than the formal because experience has shown that the number of satisfactory ways in which rectangles may be formally divided is few. Although curved lines are sometimes employed in the formal style, straight lines are characteristic, and the angles are generally 90°.
In the accompanying illustrations, rectangles are shown in formal and informal divisions. In Figure 17 the square is divided symmetrically. Numbers one and three show ways of dividing by simple lines, and number two is a combination of the motives found in one and three. It will be noticed that all the lines are parallel with the sides of the square. These lines may also be parallel with the diagonals, which gives a certain amount of variety, although the scheme is virtually the same, and sometimes both may be found in combination where the scheme is large (see Fig. 8). The methods of division shown in Figure 17 seem to be the only satisfactory ones for the formal subdivision of squares.
Figure 16. CARPEAU's FOUNTAIN, LUXEMBOURG GARDENS, PARIS.
Where oblongs are divided parallel with their sides, the line of division across the short dimension does not often occur in the middle. This is seen in numbers four and six. Number four is a scheme frequently employed where a feature is introduced at the intersection of the axes. A spectator who is on the greater division of the long axis, in looking toward the cross axis, is likely to think that the cross axis bisects the plot, and thus an appearance of greater distance is imagined. Where the area thus divided is restricted, the device is often very useful.
Another frequent method of division is based upon two cross-axes, as in number six. Other subdivisions such as those in numbers seven, eight, and nine are applications of numbers two and three. Subdivisions by geometrical lines are very simple in the formal style, but all sorts of elaboration within the main divisions may be made by parterre bedding.
Figure 17. THE GEOMETRICAL, BASIS OF THE PLAN IN FORMAL DESIGN.
The subdivisions of rectangular plots in the informal style (Fig. 18) is a much more difficult task, and one which has not been crystallized into definite form. Every division is made solely on its own merits, considering it in relation to its surroundings. The points of entrance to such a plot are located and numbered according to their relative importance, which depends upon the number of people that uses them, and the frequency with which they are used. If there are two points between which the greatest amount of passing will occur, the path or drive between them should be fairly direct, in order to save time and annoyance.
In Figure A the three entrances marked 1 are of equal importance, but there is another entrance (2) which is occasionally used. The comparative infrequency of use of 2 does not warrant a path directly across to 1 on the opposite side, although it does necessitate a curving of the path between the other two points in order to allow easy access to the exits on each side.
In Figure B there are several entrances, with three degrees of importance. It is necessary for the paths to connect the most important entrances
(1) without much deviation. This brings the circulation near to points 2 and 3, which may be connected without much trouble. Point 4 is not important enough to warrant the deflection of the path between points 1, and consequently it has been given a separate communication. The same principles have been followed in the laying out of Figure C.
A garden may be so designed as to become a part of the household for use as a sort of outdoor room (Figs. 9 and 53). A room of any description must be more or less formal in its bounding lines, and if too great a change is experienced in passing from the house to the garden, there will be no feeling of unity. Consequently a garden of this sort is bound to bear the stamp of the formal type. If the garden is considered by itself as one of a number of areas, however, it may be informal, but its type will none the less surely be decided by the limiting conditions of the problem.
After the circulation is settled, comes the location of the utilitarian and esthetic planting, and the question of position and extent. The utilitarian planting is placed where it will achieve its greatest economic usefulness, and the esthetic where it will give the greatest amount of pleasure; but one must continually bear in mind the overlapping of these two features, and judge every solution from both points of view. Planting depends directly upon the circulation, because it directs the gaze of those who use the walks and drives in directions chosen by the designer, and screens service roads that might present objectionable features.
Figure 18. THE GEOMETRICAL BASIS OF THE PLAN IN INFORMAL DESIGN.