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Garden Patterns

Every successful garden is designed and planted according to a pattern, and each pattern is based on principles of design, which are common to all the arts unity, coherence, and balance. Garden patterns, unlike those used in dressmaking and foundry work, cannot be mass-produced, since each one is an outgrowth of a particular site. Herein lies the charm and distinction of gardens. This being so, why do we attempt a general discussion? Because each well-designed pattern contains ideas, and one or more of these ideas may help you solve your own particular garden problem.

For the purpose of study and comparison garden designs may be classified as formal and informal, conventional or naturalistic, geometric or of free form. All these antipodal words fit some gardens. Many contain both formal and informal elements, naturalistic and conventional motives, geometric and free patterns, so that the terms are often more confusing than explanatory. Of course every pattern must be a complete unit whether it be symmetrical, or one that, at first glance, appears almost devoid of organization. A garden should be self-contained and not just ramble around the property indeterminately, running off here and there into nothing, or bringing together incongruous lines and shapes.

However once it is completed, it is unimportant whether you call it formal or informal, geometric or free. Actually it probably will be a little of each. If it has a pleasing composition, it is a success; if not, no matter how closely it follows academic rules, it is a failure.

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