The highest personal note in the art of landscape design is the flower garden, and no scheme of landscape development is complete, no matter how small the property, which does not provide space for a garden. It is in the garden that our individual fancies as to the choice and arrangement of flowers may be indulged. There we may have a profusion of flowers, harmony of color, charm of effect and, above all, seclusion and restful quiet; for the growing of flowers is indeed the simplest yet most satisfying of pleasures.
We would emphasize again that fitness is the very foundation of all artistic excellence and in none of the arts is this more applicable than in garden design. The flower garden, although a separate unit in the general landscape, and subject in itself to a greater freedom of treatment, must be in harmony with its surroundings. If the house is of simple design simplicity must dominate the garden. That the charming box-bordered gardens of Colonial days were so in keeping with the residence was due largely to the simplicity of design - gardens with not only unpretentious outlines, but the variety of plants so limited that very simple color combinations resulted.
It is most gratifying to witness, since more attention is being given to the arrangement of the home surroundings, that the miscellaneous beds, which in former years were scattered over the lawn in a most heterogeneous fashion, are gradually being supplanted by the more orderly arrangement of plantations confined to the boundary lines of the property, bordered driveways or paths, or within enclosed areas, as formal or informal gardens.
Enclosed gardens are by no means of modern origin. Space may not be given here to a full classification of various types of gardens, but it will be well to consider briefly those which have had great influence in the development of our present day garden. Of these, the Italian, French and English gardens are most important.
The Italian gardens did not depend on floral ornamentation for their chief beauty. While not entirely devoid of flowers they were mostly appreciated for their architectural embellishments. Built upon three levels, ample opportunity was afforded for retaining walls, capped with balustrades of the most ornate character. The use of water in the garden was brought to its greatest perfection by the Italian architects. Remarkable water effects were achieved within a small compass and with little quantity.
The French gardens were also very architectural in design, but more extensive in area. Much consideration was given to vistas, particularly along diagonal lines. Many plants trimmed to formal outlines were used. Even the trees were treated as units in the architectural scheme, to be pruned and fashioned in harmony with the structural parts of the garden.
The Italian and French gardens, though softened by the elements of time and made interesting by the charm of romance, are not so satisfying as are the English gardens. The English garden exists more for its flowers and, although not devoid of architectural features, the masonry is softened by the abundant display of flowering plants. It is from the English garden and its flowers that we shall derive the greatest inspiration for our own gardens.
It is to the flower garden as an enclosed feature, of formal or informal design, that these notes will chiefly apply.
The flower garden should be treated as a unit in the general scheme and the principal views of the garden should be considered from the house. It should be an enclosure separated from the lawn by a wall or hedge. Such a scheme provides privacy and seclusion for those who would walk or work among the flowers; it is a protection to the growing plants and, in concealing this feature from without, leaves something to the imagination and more to be appreciated from a vantage point in the house.