- F. L. Olmsted
- Man And The Landscape
- Man's Influence Over Landscape
- Appreciation of Landscape Beauty
- Landscape Design As A Fine Art
- Qualities Peculiar to Landscape Compositions
- Importance of Utilizing Qualities Making for Unity
- Humanized Mode in Landscape Design
- Naturalistic Mode in Landscape Design
- Historic Styles in Landscape Design
- F. L. Olmsted
Naturalistic Mode in Landscape Design
By contrast the aim of the "naturalistic" mode in landscape design is to obscure or at least to subordinate all evidence of human craftsmanship and control over the landscape while securing a high degree of beauty through unity and the subtle kinds of order found in natural landscapes.
To get real pleasure from looking at the wilder natural landscapes such as mountains, deserts, and stormy seas, those landscapes most expressive of the absence of human control, is a relatively modern development if we can judge by the evidence of literature and painting. It is man's increasing domination over the world about him, which has created the desire and need for seeking this enjoyment of "natural" scenery as a relief from the too insistently man-made surroundings of civilized life. And deliberate control of landscape in a naturalistic mode, in artistic pursuit of these newly appreciated qualities in certain landscapes, is even more modern. It first began to be much practiced and studied in England in the eighteenth century, partly as a response to this deep-seated human need marking a new era, and partly as a mere passing reaction against an overworked fashion of the previous century for widely extended and exaggerated formality in landscape design. Many stupidities and blunders and affectations have been committed in the name of this naturalistic mode. These have been failures mainly in that they did not make the element of human control inconspicuous but focussed attention on it by transparent theatrical disguises. They have been due to lack of skill in a very subtle and delicate art, or to attempting this mode of landscape treatment in cases where no possible skill could have attained success and where a frankly "humanized " treatment would have been the only road to successful landscape beauty. Still more often a confused and hesitating purpose has led to hopeless compromises between the humanized and naturalistic modes.
But where it is possible and appropriate the naturalistic has a place of growing importance, side by side with the humanized mode, in a civilization whose people are so submerged among insistently man-handled surroundings as to become weary of all humanized landscapes, beautiful and ugly alike.
A simple example of the naturalistic is found in the treatment of a trail through a mountain wilderness, where the mere removal of obstructing vegetation may open beautiful landscapes, wholly "natural" except for these removals. A more elaborate example is a park created on a bare flat field by such shaping of the surface and such planting and other operations as will produce a landscape having essentially the same qualities as a natural landscape of a more interesting and beautiful type than that of the original field.
In landscapes more or less dominated by buildings, especially if, the land areas are small, as they are about most public buildings and about so many dwellings, the naturalistic mode tends to be more and more difficult and less and less appropriate compared with the opposite mode.
But it must be borne in mind that this fundamental distinction between the humanized and naturalistic modes is not a distinction of a physical kind, as between blue and yellow. Few naturalistic landscapes are without recognizably humanized elements. The distinction is one of consistent and deliberate emphasis upon one set of qualities or upon another, and can be successful in either direction only if circumstances permit those qualities chosen for emphasis really to dominate the character of the landscape as a whole. Here as elsewhere compromise is fatal.
The place more than all others where it is essential to have consistent adherence to the naturalistic mode at almost any sacrifice of admirable qualities incompatible therewith, is in the larger public parks and scenic reservations set apart primarily for the recreation of people nerve-weary from the routine of intensive man-made civilization. The term "parks" is applied to places of outdoor recreation of many kinds, for some of which the most elaborately "formal" of humanized landscape treatments are admirably adapted. But among the many kinds of parks there is great and growing need of those consistently naturalistic landscapes which alone can supply the sort of refreshment toward which the modern urbanized man is learning more and more to turn. The larger a park is and the more perfectly it can supply the qualities of natural landscape the more essential it be- comes to protect it against the injection of avoidable "humanized" elements.
— Frederick Law Olmsted
- Man And The Landscape - No one but a prisoner in a windowless house can escape being influenced by the beauty or ugliness of his outdoor surroundings.
- Man's Influence Over Landscape - The appearance of the land and the objects upon it generally results from the control which man himself exerts over the materials and forces of nature just as truly and as completely as the sculptor controls the appearance of the natural stone which he shapes.
- Appreciation of Landscape Beauty - Rules, recipes, and arbitrary preconceptions, like that landscape slogan, reflecting a half-truth, "Avoid straight lines," are the resort of the lazy and the superficial in matters of landscape as in all branches of art.
- Landscape Design As A Fine Art - Landscape design may be regarded as the art of choosing wisely between any practical alternatives which present themselves to us in dealing with land and the objects upon it.
- Qualities Peculiar to Landscape Compositions - The creations of landscape architecture — namely landscapes — are made by altering, adapting, or perfecting real landscapes existing in advance as such, much as an architect alters an old building to adapt it to new uses while respectfully conserving its fine qualities.
- Importance of Utilizing Qualities Making for Unity - Since without unity there is no beauty but only distraction, it becomes peculiarly important to note other inherent qualities making for unity in landscapes.
- Humanized Mode in Landscape Design - The older, simpler, and more direct mode, the "humanized" mode, frankly appeals, as do most works of art, to the deep-rooted human pleasure in exhibitions of the skill and power of man, and in evidences of man's control over nature.
- Naturalistic Mode in Landscape Design - A simple example of the naturalistic is found in the treatment of a trail through a mountain wilderness, where the mere removal of obstructing vegetation may open beautiful landscapes.
- Historic Styles in Landscape Design - Several designs in the "grand manner," which extended influence over Europe, even into Russia, and were often carried to extremes by incompetent designers, invited, as we have seen, a reaction towards the naturalistic mode.