Principles of Plant Arrangement
MANY flower gardens are merely planted left to grow in their own way. The results are often passable, and occasionally good for brief periods, but they could be much better if more thought were given to plant arrangement. This should not be difficult for most people, especially flower garden club members, since they so competently apply the principles of design to their flower arrangements.
The two kinds of design, plant arrangement in the garden and flower arrangement in a container, are closely related, yet skilled arrangers often fail to develop the possibilities for charm and beauty in their gardens. Actually it is only the application which differs.
These principles are not new nor the result of one man's thinking. They are the residuum of centuries of conscious study and application. They apply to all art forms and cannot be disregarded. Sometimes we confuse principles with rules. Rules are the outline of methods for carrying out principles. Rules are many and various. Principles are few and constant.
As a beginning designer, you must solve your problems by the use of certain rules which you accept and follow. As you become experienced, you may develop different rules to guide you to successful solutions, but at first you should be exact in applying the old rules. Later, with experience, you can be more casual.
The principles of design apply over and over again in gardening. They apply equally to the pattern of the garden, to the general planting, and to the incidental planting. They are essential to the development of color schemes and to succession of bloom.
In discussions on art the word composition is frequently used. What exactly does it mean? Simply the orderly arrangement of parts into a pleasing whole. It is as simple as that. Two things only are essential—that the parts be arranged in an orderly manner, and that the result please. The second follows from the first since the cultivated mind reacts favorably to order, unfavorably to confusion.
Through the ages artists have attempted to devise a formula for producing this pleasant order called composition. They have evolved principles, which operate universally— segregation, unity, balance, and accent. There are many ways of putting these into practice. Mass, line, repetition, texture, sequence, rhythm, color, and variety are keys to the methods, and these methods are familiar enough, if you have been concerned with any of the arts, including flower arrangement. All you have to do, then, is to apply them to your garden.
- Segregation - Segregation, in gardening, serves the same purpose as a frame for a painting, or a pedestal for a statue. It sets apart and at the same time holds together the composition within.
- Unity - In the garden pattern all parts of the design, path, bed, or border, must be interrelated. The whole must hang together. Anything extraneous detracts from the quiet satisfaction of a unified scheme.
- Balance - In American gardens we tend to rely on formal balance because most of our garden sites are level, or nearly so, and boundaries are made up of straight lines and right angles.
- Accent - Always remember that an accent is in reality an exclamation point, and use it that way. Place accents so as to create interest through contrast in form, foliage, or color.
- Sequence and Rhythm - These principles are employed to create a feeling of logical follow-through, a leading up to the climax of the garden. They produce interest throughout the entire scheme.
- The Garden Climax - Towards this point everything else leads, the garden paths, the beds, and the planting in them. Here are placed the most effective groups, the best plants, the richest compositions. All clearly say, This is it!
- Principles of Plant Arrangement - The two kinds of design, plant arrangement in the garden and flower arrangement in a container, are closely related, yet skilled arrangers often fail to develop the possibilities for charm and beauty in their gardens. Actually it is only the application which differs.
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