Up to the seventeenth century landscape gardening was essentially garden design. Garden design in turn was really included in the profession of architecture, and almost all the architects of the time designed the setting as well as the building. In these early gardens find that garden and house form one composition, and that the architectural features predominate in the garden (Fig. 53). This is essentially the emphasis of the formal element, and it is well illustrated in the Italian gardens of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The villa was designed as the controlling feature of the grounds, massive and formal in every line. The degree of elaboration depended upon the type of architecture used, the size of the space available, and the amount of money to be spent (Fig. 55). The design in its larger aspects was simple and direct, bringing the villa into a close relation with the grounds, and the grounds in turn with some distant view or special landscape feature such as water, plant growth, or topography. The planting was mainly evergreens (Figs. 54, 55) of large scale, using the decorative plants as accent. The whole garden was designed for use, and was considered really as an out-of-door building, the outer wall as a framework, and the interior hedge and plantations as divisions or partitions.
Photograph by Anderson.
Figure 52. THE GARDEN AS AX OUTDOOR ROOM, VILLA PAMPHILI DORIA, ROME.
In feudal times, preceding the development of the English garden of the Elizabethan period, the garden was of necessity in the castle court itself, or within an adjacent walled inclosure, and architectural surroundings were therefore considered indispensable. Even after the need for defenses had passed, the idea of architectural propinquity had been so thoroughly stamped on garden design that the outcome was the formal garden.
Later, beginning in the eighteenth century, when horticulture came to be more commonly practised as a profession, and landscape gardening was regarded as the province of horticulture rather than of architecture, the gardens were considered as entirely separate problems, making no attempt to harmonize with the house, because the emphasis was laid entirely on the horticultural side. So great was the enthusiasm for the new styles of naturalistic planting that wonderful old gardens, literally hundreds of years old, were ruthlessly chopped and torn up to be replaced by the sentimental wilderness popular with the romantic tendencies of the age.
The craze for the open lawn, with its conventional border of shrubs of garden-like or wild character, and its regular shave once or twice a week, is in every way as artificial a conception as the formal garden, and it is very frequently less beautiful. Consequently, at that time a controversy came up between the landscape-gardeners and the architects that has continued down to the present date. The architect looked at the subject entirely from the point of view of design, and the landscape-gardeners considered only the plant material to be employed, neither contestant realizing that each side was of equal importance.
Photograph by Anderson.
Figure 53. LAVISH ARCHITECTURAL TREATMENT, VILLA ALBANI, ROME.
The arguments concerning the relative merits of formal and informal design, which really may be a heritage of that controversy, are looked at from an entirely different point of view at present. The architect is beginning to see that it is impossible for him to understand the many things necessary to good architecture and at the same time have a thorough knowledge of horticulture, because of the immense possibilities of both subjects. This would necessarily hinder him from indulging in extensive landscape practice. The horticulturist also realizes that a sound knowledge of plant material alone is an entirely inadequate equipment for the successful practice of landscape design. Consequently the architect and the landscape-gardener are now working more in harmony, each admitting that it is possible for the other man to understand the general principles of design that form a common meeting-point for the discussion, and acknowledging that a satisfactory result cannot be obtained in either field without the recognition of these principles and a wholesome respect for the other man's point of view.
The position of a garden and the character of its surroundings are the great primary considerations in working out a problem in garden design.
If the garden is conceived as being a part of the house design, it may be of four kinds, patio, court, entrance, or terrace. The type which is of greatest usefulness will of course be selected for the problem in hand. In order that the garden may harmonize with the buildings, the way in which the idea is carried out must agree with the style of architecture which in turn dominates the garden scheme, and it is this consideration alone that determines the manner in which the scheme is to be executed. Before discussing these four types in detail, the three purposes for which a garden may be designed must be recalled, namely, utilitarian, museum, and pleasure purposes.
Utilitarian gardens are those in which display is considered as of entirely secondary interest.
Figure 54. ARCHITECTURAL PREDOMINANCE, VILLA d'eSTE, TIVOLI ITALY.
Photograph by Anderson.
Under this head will fall the gardens that have been made to utilize space which has been left available for one reason or another, but which was not primarily intended to be used as a garden. Thence can be traced the development of the formal garden.