Informal planting allows a much wider range of shape, scale, and color in the same planting scheme than does the formal. Informal planting may be seen close at hand or at a distance. If it is always to be seen at a distance, as in large parks, far from the driveways, detail is of no consequence, and any subtle plant characteristic will be lost. Therefore, in distant planting, it is necessary to seek for bold effect. If informal planting is used in a foreground planting scheme, as a bordering for driveways, the individual interest of the plants may be emphasized, and a great deal of attention given to detail.
Figure 28. WOODLAND PLANTING Natural growth on the Massachusetts coast.
Formal planting consists always of regular forms regularly placed, but in a majority of cases, though this is not usually understood, the regularity is obtained by selection rather than by clipping. A certain amount of regularity must be the characteristic of a formal scheme. Straight lines and angles are emphasized on account of their greater precision, while the informal type lays larger emphasis upon curves and rounded masses.
In the formal type little is left to the imagination. Few unexpected arrangements appear. The whole scheme is visible from one point, instead of unfolding gradually to the view. This emphasis of lines and angles may be attained by the position of plants, spacing so as to define the outline sharply by the selection of plants of naturally regular shape, and still further by keeping the plants restrained by clipping or tying. Formal planting is always used in connection with architecture where the architectural effect is to predominate, and the prevailing character of the lines appearing in the architecture must be repeated in the plant masses. Accent can here be obtained merely by change of outline.
Falling more or less under the head of informal planting are several groups known to the landscape profession as woodland and wild planting, gardenesque, naturalistic, park-like, and seasonal planting.
In woodland planting (Fig. 28) the trees occur close together, and are irregularly disposed, with the native varieties predominating. Undergrowth may be used, or the ground may be kept clear. The trees are set at intervals, wide enough to permit the plantation to be seen into easily and have a more or less open appearance. Such planting is useful only on a large scale.
in wild planting (Fig. 29) trees, shrubs, and vines are allowed to grow at will, without any training, and wherever they may choose to strayj This type of planting is seen oftener as a result of accident than premeditation, though there are rare instances where it is quite desirable. Wild planting will of course consist entirely of native material, and will vary with the character of the soil.
Figure 29. A PICTORIAL COMPOSITION IN WILD PLANTING.
In gardenesque planting (Fig. 30) the emphasis is laid upon the horticultural element, and the plants are selected for their individual value. This may be due to the leaf, color, or perfume of the flower, as well as to the general shape and texture of the plant. The plants may be grouped, and count as a mass from a distance; but upon closer inspection the individual plants should appear, otherwise their varying attractions will be lost. The position of plants in gardenesque planting is due to their character rather than to their height, so that scale would not necessarily be a determining factor in placing plants according to gardenesque treatment. Japanese planting as well as topiary work may be included in the gardenesque type. The English border, where shrubs are "faced down" with perennials, is a type of gardenesque planting, for the charm depends here upon the individual plant, the rather delicate beauty of the perennial being strongly silhouetted against the darker shrub mass.
Naturalistic planting is generally to be seen from a distance, and is composed of trees and native shrubs. The mass is unrestrained in growth and color contrast. The position of the shrubs will be due to their height, and they will be "faced down." "Facing down" is the planting of small varieties close to the edge of larger ones in order to make them appear as a bank, and tie them down closely to the ground. As a rule, naturalistic planting is intended to be seen from a distance, and its boundaries are not often precise, but are allowed to merge gradually one into the other.
Park-like planting (Fig. 31) tells first for mass and secondly for individual values. Trees are grouped in large masses, and small clumps occur near the edge of these masses, often with single trees of unusual size and beauty at some distance from the mass planting, so that an impression is created of large masses gradually becoming subdivided in such a way as to emphasize the individuality of single plants. This planting is not faced down. It occurs frequently in England.
In seasonal planting any type may prevail, since the selection of plants is determined by the season at which they reach their greatest attractiveness, and this type of planting is such as will be used in an estate which is open at only one season. Consequently it is not necessary that the garden or the surroundings should appear to advantage at any other time of the year, and this permits a more highly specialized type of planting. Seasonal selection may apply in greater or less degree to any of the planting types.
Figure 30. GARDENKSQUE PLANTING.
It is essential that the landscape-designer should arrange all his data in such a way as to be able to find the plants he wants for any special reason in the shortest possible time. He may have designed a garden for a specific purpose, season, and color, quite without reference to plant material, and now it is necessary for him to find the plants which will produce the effect he desires. The easiest way to do this is by the card-index, but it is very difficult to work out a card-index scheme that will contain in simple and accessible form all the characteristics of plant materials. Plants are grouped, regardless of their botanical classification, according to certain marked features which lend special emphasis or attraction. Under these headings are height, form, quality, characteristics, season, value, texture, color, and soil.