When architectural features are used as garden accessories, or to fulfil some similar function, it is not necessary, or indeed really desirable, that all be exactly alike. The general masses should be the same, but the details may differ considerably. The large shapes, by their similarity of appearance, will insure the unity of the design, while the different fancies indulged in their details will claim the attention and give a charm of variety in such fashion that the element of variety will not conflict with the main idea.
On both sides of some of the long leafy avenues of Versailles statues occur at regular intervals for considerable distances, serving to act as accents, and to emphasize the idea of distance by calling attention to the perspective. The statues tell as light masses against a dark background from a slight distance, but on closer examination all are found to be different, each attracting by its individual charm.
If the balance achieved in a design is the result of monotonous repetitions only, it will be a sort of lifeless thing, a static equilibrium. If rhythm is introduced, however, a dynamic equilibrium will result, giving to the design a new vitality.
Rhythm is the enlivening quality in design, and embodies the idea of change or progression; it is usually produced by changes of sufficient regularity to lead the eye in one direction or the other, refusing to let it come to a full stop.
A perfect example of rhythm in nature is the rolling surface of the ocean, with all its waves recurring at regular intervals, but nevertheless carrying the eye in one direction with a powerful sense of motion. If one looks down a long avenue of trees of regular height, the diminishing perspective creates a powerful pull upon the attention, and the gaze is focused at the distant point where they seem to meet. A rhythmic setting of this sort is used for special features on a larger scale, for it is a well-established custom to place an imposing structure at the end of a regular vista.
Carpeau's fountain (Fig. 16) is at the front of a vista, and yet the enframing trees set it off powerfully in the same fashion. The rhythm in this case is due entirely to perspective.
Rhythmic quality may appear in lines, in the shapes of areas, or in colors. It may be a recurrence of accents which must differ sufficiently to express development, or it may be an undulating line like a river-bank, which compels the attention to follow it.
Figure 15. REPETITION OF SIMILAR TREE FORMS, HILL-TOP, FIESOLE, ITALY.
The growth of plants is always rhythmic; the boundary of an informal walk should be. The word rhythm has been used in so many different ways that it has a number of loose connotations, but for the purpose of landscape design, as treated in this book, rhythm will mean the regular recurrence of an accent of some sort, which entails the idea of change. Repetition-sequence, rhythm, and balance-is the foundation of design.
In solving a practical landscape problem, repetition is not taken into consideration until its appearances are to be determined, and this cannot be done until the economic side of the question is settled. First will come the arrangement of all the parts for the greatest practicability, and this is fixed in designing the. plan. The study of this plan means the arrangement of all its elements in such a way as to obtain the maximum of practical and esthetic fitness. It is the plan which determines finally the position of all the members of the design.
The first thing to decide will be position of buildings and architectural features, both in relation to each other and to the surrounding landscape. In studying the positions of the architecture, pleasing views must be taken advantage of, and objectionable ones eliminated as far as possible. One does not care to gaze from his library window upon a populous and curious chicken-yard, nor yet upon a collection of service buildings, no matter how neatly they may be kept. A railroad, newly made land, or slatternly neighbors may require "screening," for one should, wherever possible, look out upon pleasant surroundings. This is called the design of the "off -scape," and is of the utmost importance.
Medieval castles, wherever possible, were built upon rocky peaks, as much for ease of defense as to allow their owners a wide survey of the surrounding country, in order to recognize the approach of danger at some distance. Although they commanded a remarkable view, it is quite probable that it had no esthetic appeal to the "robber barons."
Defensibility in the Italian hillside gardens was no object, but the view was, and the garden was consequently placed in a commanding position. The result, so far as location is concerned, is the same in both cases, although the determining factors were practicability on the one hand, and pleasure purposes on the other.
After some idea of the general requirements of the problem in hand has been gained and the buildings have been located, the next important step is the placing of the principal areas,-the kitchen-gardens, service-courts, stable-yards, and so on, in regard to their greatest usefulness and availability. The position of these larger units will then determine the placing of the smaller masses that are generally of greater esthetic interest, and are intended to bear close scrutiny.
The next consideration is the circulation; that is, the disposition of walks, drives, and approaches. The careful placing of these is most essential, as they determine the points of view from which the design is to be visible, and esthetically are consequently of the utmost importance. If they are not likewise laid out in a practical fashion,-that is to say, so as to facilitate progress and to segregate traffic of a utilitarian nature,-paths will be worn over grass plots in a manner most disturbing to the designer, though he should really accept the situation meekly as a well-merited rebuke.