01 Nov 2013

Putting Things into Perspective

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Last week’s blog concentrated on proportion, this week I want to talk about perspective.  With all of my garden experience there has not been anything that is more important in the design as perspective.  I learned my trade in a garden,or several gardens, that had been around for centuries and they were still very relevant in and throughout the surrounding landscape.  This was largely due to proportion, but even more so to perspective.  What do I mean by this: If the garden sticks out like a sore thumb, within its environment, then that garden is not in perspective.  We have all seen this phenomena it can be interesting and startling to the eye, but can never really look natural because the human eye is conditioned to respond to visual anomalies, so an out of perspective space of any kind will always be noticed!

There was a very talented, and, now famous, garden designer that lived around the turn of the 19th century.  Her name was Gertrude Jekyll.  She was a watercolorist, horticulturist and garden designer influenced by the impressionists.  Her garden designs were among the first in Britain to incorporate the idea of the whole experience in a garden adding sound, texture and myriads of color to her designs.  Gertrude’s most prominent contribution was the idea of outdoor rooms,often enclosing rose gardens, perennial gardens, long pathways with reflecting ponds and hedges in order to make them feel intimate and worth lingering in.  She would tease the eye with an entrance at one or both ends of her designs, leaving just a glimpse into the next garden room.

I try to incorporate some of her teachings through the gardens I design simply because it feels both natural and exciting to be in another world whilst being within ones own private space.  Sound, texture, scent and sense are all incorporated into a truly well built garden, resulting in a pleasant experience.

Most of us have reasonably small areas that we utilize as garden space so proportion and perspective are paramount.  If we live in an urban environment and want to disappear into the surrounding landscape we need to rely on our sense of perspective and build accordingly. Otherwise mother nature will try to eat our space; surrounding it with all of her bravest and most vigorous elements, claiming it once more as her own!

Gertrude and Capability Brown were two very different styles and their priorities were driven by the time they lived in.  So, given these two styles and epochs, I would pose this question to all who read and enjoy the blog:

                  What is relevant about our time that makes it unique, and how can we fit in softly whilst creating beauty around us?

When thinking about these questions it may cause us to look around at the relationships  between what is already here and what we create to enhance or hide.

Happy Halloween,




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