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Landscape Gardening

Landscape gardening is an aesthetic branch of Horticulture which deals with planting of ornamental plants in such a way that it creates a picturesque effect. It is a very fascinating and interesting subject. There are several definitions and expressions to define this subject. According to Chambers’ dictionary, the definition of landscape is the appearance of that portion of land which the eye can view at once and landscape gardening is the art of laying grounds so as to produce the effect of a picturesque landscape. Landscape gardening can be defined as the decoration of a tract of land with plants and other garden materials so as to produce a picturesque and naturalistic effect in a limited space. So landscape may or may not include plants. According to Bailey, Landscape gardening is the application of garden forms, methods and materials to the improvements of the landscape and the landscape in this connection is any area large or small on which it is desirable to develop a view or design.

Landscape gardening can also be defined as the beautification of a tract of land having a house or other object of interest on it. It is done with a view to create a natural scene by the planting of lawn, trees and shrubs. Landscape gardening is both an art and science of the establishment of a ground in such a way that it gives an effect of a natural landscape. It can be also defined as the imitation of nature in the garden. It can also be defined as improving of total living environment for the people. The expression of landscape may be gay, bold, retired, quiet, etc. This expression will conform to the place and the purpose. It should be a picture and not a collection of interesting objects.

Since the landscape gardening is the making pictures on the ground with plant and other material, landscape designer should be proficient in art, ornamental gardening, ecology and physiology. He should be an architect and engineer to appreciate the relationship between plant form, colours and buildings.

Natural Elements of Landscape

Different types of landscape depending upon prevailing geographical and agroclimatic conditions characterize Earth. There are mountains, hills, glens, valleys, seas, rivers, forests, plains, deserts, lakes, swamps, streams, etc. which comprise major part of natural landscape. At certain points, there is harmony between natural elements like ground forms, vegetation and even animal life. The landscape of such place is beautiful and conveys the feeling or mood of the landscape character like exhilaration, sadness, ceriness or awe. There are many qualities of natural landscape beauty like the picturesque; the ethereal, the serene, the delicate, the idyllic, the graceful, the majestic, the bold etc.

Man has copied the natural elements for improving landscape around him and converted certain areas in the form of garden for his pleasure.

Landscaping Principles

General principles of landscaping are as follows:

  1. The ideal landscape garden is like ideal landscape painting which expresses some single thought or feelings. Its expression may be gay, bold, retired, quiet, etc.

  2. Beauty and utility should be harmoniously combined.

  3. Area should be divided into different parts and plan should be conceived for each area. Overall plan should be such that the observer catches the entire effect and purpose of the plan without stopping to analyse its parts.

  4. Simplicity of design should be aimed at in the execution of the plan.

  5. An ideal landscape should have open space.

  6. Let the garden and building merge into each other. There should not be stopping abruptly particularly in front of building. The view of garden from the windows and doors should be very attractive. Planting around the building, climbers against wall and on the porch, decoration of verandah and rooms with attractive foliage, flowering plants, hanging baskets serve to unique the building with garden. Every part of the compound should be planned in such a way that it gives surprising effect to visitor.

  7. Over crowding of plants and objects should be avoided.

Factors affecting the landscape design

There are several factors which affect the making of suitable design for particular site. These factors are:

  • Human choice: Man’s ultimate desire is to make his living pleasurable and surroundings confortable. His dominance in making designs and selection of plant material is very well evident. Therefore, different styles of gardening have come into existence.

  • Site: This is an important factor and according to site, suitable design is made. In formal style gardening, the site is selected according to plan. Topography of the site also affects the design.

  • Views: Distant views of mountains, hills, woods, valley, etc. are preferred from the place of garden.

  • Heritage: One inherits the knowledge of botany and aesthetic sense and uses accordingly. Our rich heritage teaches us to use flowers and fragrant trees to improve the surroundings.

  • Climate: The climate of particular place affects the selection of plant material accordingly. Ideally suited plant material according to climate should be selected.

  • Soil: According to characteristics of soil types, suitable plants should be selected.

Garden styles

Garden styles have been changed from time to time with the new ideas and necessities. Broadly, the styles of gardening are grouped into three categories i.e. (I) Formal style, (ii) Informal style and (iii) Free style of gardening

(I) Formal style: Main features of this style of gardening are: First plan is made on the paper and then land is selected accordingly. Plan is symmetrical. These types of gardens are of geometric design i.e. squarish or rectangular. Therefore, the roads are cut at right angle. It has some sort of enclosure. Flower beds are also of geometric shapes. The arrangements of tree and shrubs are necessarily geometrical and kept in shape by trimming and training. Other features like fountains, water pools, cascades, etc. are used for further attraction. The examples of such style of gardening are Persian gardens and Mogul gardens.

(II) Informal Style: This style reflects naturalistic effect of total view and represents natural beauty. This style is just contrast of above formal style. In this, plan is asymmetrical and according to the land available for making garden. Roads, paths are made curvaceous and bending. Water bodies are made of irregular shapes. Hillocks are made to create natural mountainous scenery. Flower beds are made of irregular shapes suiting to surroundings. Plants are allowed to grow in natural form and instead of trimming, annual pruning is done. Japanese gardens are the best example of this style of gardening.

(III) Free style of gardening: This style combines the good points of both formal and informal style of gardening. Rose garden of Ludhiana is an example of this style of gardening.

Art principles of landscape

Landscaping is making of pictures with plant material and, hence, its principles are same as those of art. They are as follows:

  • Rhythm

Repetition of same object at equidistance is called rhythm. It can be created through the shapes, progression of sizes or a continuous line movement, rhythm creates movement to the eye. In gardens, generally trees of single species of equal height and shape are planted to create this effect. In Mogul gardens, fountains and water canals have also been extensively used to create such effect. Now-a-days other objects like lights are also used to create the effect of rhythm.

  • Balance

It is very important to maintain the balance on both sides of the central line. The principle involved in making balance of see-saw game can help in understanding this. Equal weights can be balanced only when they are equidistant from the centre. If weights are unequal, the heavier must move towards centre for making balance. The balance may be formal, informal or symmetrical types. Imbalance will look lopsided and will distract the attention. In making the balance with the plants, their form, colour, texture etc. are kept in view.

  • Accent or emphasis

The accent or emphasis is created in the gardens to avoid the monotonous view. It is the method to stress the most important thing. This also serves as the centre of attraction. Mostly unusual objects like tall fountain, tree, statue etc. are used to create the effect of accent or emphasis. In English gardens, statues have been used extensively to create such effects.

  • Contrast:

This principle is most useful in emphasising the best features of an object. It can be very easily understood by following contrast colour theory. Against green background, a fleck of scarlet colour will make a contrast and will make scarlet colour prominent. In nature this is very common. Other contrast colour can also be used. Similarly, weeping growth habit against upright growth, dwarf against tall, rough texture against soft texture etc, are some of the examples which can be followed. It is also very important that one of the two contrasting objects must clearly dominate each other. In this way, one becomes feature whereas other acts as supporting background. The contrasting elements of equal power may create visual tensions.

  • Proportion

It is the relation of one thing to another in magnitude. When two or more objects are put together the proportions are established. In a landscape design, space provided for lawn, paths, herbaceous borders, shrubbery border, trees, buildings and other garden objects should be in a right proportion. It will create harmonious effect and look better. Such effects can be noticed in Persian and Mogul gardens. Out of proportion allotment of area in garden will distract the attention. Proportion helps in space organization.

  • Harmony

It is an overall effect of various features, styles, and colour schemes of the total scene. The degree of harmony or unity of various elements of landscape is a measure induced in us and is called as beauty. Therefore, the beauty can be defined as the evident relationship of all parts of a thing observed. When different parts of landscape are correctly placed in right way, produces a harmonious effect. Such landscapes create picturesque effect and appeals to visitors. On the contrary, the absence of harmony or lack of unity is ugliness.

Some important Landscape Gardening terms

Axis: It is an imaginary line, which divides garden into two parts. This also connects two or more points. It is presented in the form of a path, line of fountains or trees, etc. If this axis divides garden into two equal parts, it is called central axis. In formal style, axis is central whereas in informal style, it is oblique. This axis controls the movement in the garden from the entrance to the terminal. An axis in garden is directional, orderly or dominating.

Symmetrical plan: In this plan, the different objects are in equilibrium about a central point or on either side of an axis. Symmetrical plan or formal plan is synonymous of beauty and is pleasant and handsome. This is because the symmetry is to be associated with plan clarity, rhythm, balance, unity, etc. Symmetrical plan being precise and disciplined, it requires precision in detail and maintenance and bold in concept.

Dynamic Symmetry: In such symmetrical plan, each pole generates its own magnetic field and between these two fields there is a field of dynamic tension.

Asymmetrical Plan: In such plans, there is absence of symmetry on both the sides of axis but balance, unity and harmony are maintained.

Circulation in Landscaping: In landscape gardening it means a pathway from entrance to terminal point. Circulation varies with the style of gardening and topography. The more of circulation patterns, it has more points of views and attraction. Common circulation patterns are depicted.

Vista: It is a three dimensional confined view of terminal building or dominant element of feature. It may be natural or man-made. Natural vistas are very common around the lofty mountains and snowy peaks. Overall effect of vista may be of its characteristics. It may be calm or induce motion. There are three different parts of a vista viz.

  • It should be subject to a close control.

  • It should have a viewing station to see object or objects.

  • It should have intermediate ground. These three should be satisfactorily united and thus result into an effect of totality.