The naturalization of a feature may be carried to absurd extremes. For instance, an Italian well-head might be introduced into Norman-English surroundings. If the landscape-designer felt that the nationality of the well-head should be carried rigidly throughout the scheme, the result would be an Italian design which could not fail to be in discord with the dwellings for which the garden was intended. The well-head might, however, be considered as an exotic accent only, and in that case could be harmonized merely by colors and shapes. That would seem to be the only sensible solution.
The same principles of composition obtain in landscape that hold true of every other art: each part must be subordinate to the whole; every part of a design must articulate with every other part, serving to enhance the entire scheme rather than insisting upon its own importance.
Figure 6b. ANOTHER SCHEME FOR THE "NATURALIZATION" OF THE FOUNTAIN FROM THE BOBOLI GARDENS (Figure 5).
The disposition of areas in landscape falls, broadly speaking, into two large classes, known technically as the formal and the informal arrangements. In each case the handling of the areas is distinctive. The points of primary consideration are the same, whichever type of design is to be employed; but the style chosen determines the method of approach, which differs markedly in the two classes. Informal design may be called a study of space relations, and formal design a study of lines.
No one can listen to a conversation about landscape design, even for a very few minutes, without hearing the "formal and the informal schools" mentioned, probably with no slight degree of bitterness on one side or the other. It is the survival of an ancient feud between those who claim that every planting scheme should seem to be the work of nature herself, without suggestion or interference from man, and those who are equally positive in asserting that every piece of planting should bear the impress of the designer, nature being quite evidently subordinated to his will.
Those who really understand informal planting have no quarrel with, the formalists, if only they will admit the usefulness of the informal school. It is the sentimental "landscaper" who has slid over the surface of things who alone is bold enough to state that nature will take care of herself in a harmonious fashion about the artificial habitations of man, though unrestricted in any way. It must be a very crabbed and perverse formalist who will not acknowledge the beauties of informal design, and it must be an equally narrow-minded informalist who will admit no good in the opposite school. At any rate, the extremists run the best chance of being misunderstood.
Photograph by The Garden Cities and Town Planning Assn., London.
Figure 7. PLANTING TO BREAK THE LINE OF TRANSITION BETWEEN A BUILDING AND ITS SURROUNDINGS.
The conditions governing a problem, such as location, use, extent, topography, and other existing natural surroundings, the style of architecture, present or proposed, and the taste of the client, will determine the style to be employed.
In most cases it is very desirable to use native material in planting rather than to go far afield, though the fact that a specimen is indigenous to a locality is not sufficient in itself to warrant its use in a planting scheme. Its shape, color, or habits of life may unfit it for use in the particular type of problem in hand. The golden elder, Sambucus Canadensis aurea (Fig. 34), which, it is said, was first found growing native, would not harmonize with a typical native planting scheme in any case, but could be made to harmonize with a more gar-denesque-like treatment. Sumac, with its irregular branches, brilliant coloring, and general informal appearance, would not do at all for city planting.
In the city home the selection of trees and shrubs is not controlled by natural features, such as existing plant material and contours, for city conditions are artificial, and a naturalistic treatment would serve only to accentuate the artificiality. Evergreens, provided they can withstand smoke conditions, may here be used to advantage, considering them as units of a whole mass rather than as a natural part of their surroundings. They seem to have an inherent stiffness which fits them for artificial conditions.
Trees and shrubs in city planting are useful only for contrast of form and color. Woodland conditions would seem as much out of place in stiff city surroundings as would a collection of topiary work and hybrid roses under natural forest conditions, because its very nature would lead one to question its appearance among such uncongenial surroundings. One would wonder, despite himself, just how much per foot the land was worth which had been devoted to the growing of lawn grass, and this would interfere with a sense of enjoyment. The informality of appearance of a lawn of any extent among piles of stone and brick, city traffic, smoke and noises, would create somewhat the same impression as white flannels at a formal evening party.
On account of the different conditions which prevail, a specialized plant may be used to advantage in the city, while its type is more suitable for the country, because its hint of artificiality will more readily harmonize with the surroundings. Nevertheless, only such trees and shrubs as will withstand smoke conditions can be used in civic planting schemes.
The surroundings of all dwellings should partake at least in some measure of the artificiality of the architectural features, for this tends toward unity. The line of division between the turf and the buildings is always harsh, and something should be done to soften the transition and make it more gradual. This can be accomplished by the use of vines, which will climb over the sides of the house, or by grouping shrubs about the foundation. In this way the house will seem to be more closely welded to its setting (Fig. 7).