Research Paper on Garden Design1. Introduction
This paper is dedicated to the development of garden design. In this research paper I will investigate into different garden designs of world countries, Asia and Italy, in particular, and explore how different factors like culture, ecology, history and population influence designs of the gardens in general.
2. Historical background of garden design development
Even though the plants already exist for a long time, the first evidences about ornamented plant and trees were found in the tomb paintings of Egypt, which dated back to the 1500 BC. There were lotus ponds shown that are surrounded by the palm and acacias rows. The other ancient garden design tradition comes from Persia, where Darius the Great is said to own paradise garden. Later Persia had the great influence upon the garden traditions of Greece. The most prominent ancient gardens are said to be that of Ptolemy. In the fourth century the gardening traditions moved to Asia, Japan and China. Garden design in Asia was significantly retransformed and received new features, in the form of little aristocratic landscapes surrounded by ponds. As to the emergence of early garden design in Europe, in the 13th century it was revived in France and during the Renaissance period in Italy. French pattern of gardening had the great influence upon the designs of gardens all over Europe. The new perspective upon this craft was opened only in the 18th century in England. In the middle of the 19th century flower gardens reached their peak of popularity.
3. Four movements in garden design development
In general there can be name just four main movements that influenced the development of modern garden design. The first period is called Moorish gardens. The first known gardens were designed not for aesthetic beauty, but on the effects of irrigation on the very dry soil in Africa. The example of fertile soils was taken from the banks of rivers of Tigris and Euphrates, and it was evident that the cropland along those rivers was far more fertile. So, people understood that the water is the key element of rich soil and small oases became to appear as the idealization mean of agricultural land. Small oases were generally crossed with water channels and had a lot of trees that provided those places with shadows, which were a real miracle for the desert regions. Oases were commonly surrounded with high walls tat served as the protection from the outside high degrees. Such places were a real relief for those, who were passing across the desert. Then, such first gardens became very common upon the Moorish territories all over northern Africa. Spanish Moors started laid the foundation for the development of garden design, a new culture with the totally new environment. These gardens began to be reconstructed, updated and more structured and profound approaches were involved for their building. They were no longer just the mean of making the soil more fertile, they were also utilized for the purpose of temperature of garden and the building regulation. People were experimenting a lot with the basic elements of those gardens, which lead to the constant evolution of the Moorish garden style and increase in its overall effectiveness. The Moors with their design and approaches were at the higher level of garden design development then the rest of the world. Such gardening included vast knowledge in the spheres of horticulture as well as agriculture and through extensive researches and testing and the usage of experiences of past cultures, it grew and developed with high speeds. The Moors developed independent and free guidelines regarding the aesthetical views upon the design of the garden and its relation to the house. Culture’s favorite design was the hillside gardens, which were terraced, and were separated with white stucco walls. The influences of this culture are still evident in the garden and palace designs all over Western Europe. One of the brightest examples and Moorish gardening and architecture is the El Generalife in Grenada. It was originally built as the summer house for the king, and the structure was situated on the valley wall above the level of the city. The entrance immediately brings the visitor to the inner court, called the patio. In the center of the garden the long channel of water is situated, which leads to the main house. For the cooling purposes of the place, the channel was surrounded by high arcs of spouting water. There were two main buildings in the garden, and the ground floor of each was edges with ornate arches. The most spectacular feature of Generalife is the view down the patio from that open arcade of the ground floor. In the north, there was another water garden, called the Patio de los Cipreses. That yard had a lot of water jets and high buildings around. The main structure of the garden is surrounded with boxy hedges, which compliment the building and add more intensive color to the blank white walls. Many terraces still contain the original design of those times, but some rebuilt in later years.
So, the Islamic garden design began as the direct agriculture imitation and transformed to the study of temperatures and irrigation and overall plant growth. Gardens of the period were well-thought and relaxing, and remain impressive even nowadays. The next movement is called the Italian Renaissance. The emergence of new concepts and advancements in music, art, literature lead to the development of garden design as well. The heart of this new gardening movement was in Italy. During the correspondent period, the feudal system began to fall apart and rich families replaced feudal lords. Medici family in Florence was one of the most influential at that time. That family was erecting villas in the countryside of Florence. It is important to mention that the word ‘villa’ in Italian means not only the house, but also ell developed surrounding area. Therefore, in Italy, the grounds round the house and the level of their design had the same importance and influence as the house itself. There were no separate definitions or entities; it was the one to be evaluated. And therefore, it became the new trend in garden design called the formal combination of the outdoor and indoor to make the integral space. Returning back to Medici family’s property, Villa Medici at Fiesole deserves special attention, for the garden that seems the undividable part of the surrounding area. But still the best example of Italian garden design remains Villa Lante that is situated 50 miles from Rome. The villa was built in the sixteenth century by several people. The place is laid out in the almost flawless bilateral symmetry. There is a central axis and everything from on side finds the mirror reflection on the other. There are four terraces, which step back into the hill long the axis line. Terraced gardens are separated from one another, but still the movement from one to another is very smooth. There is a Lower garden that is arranged on a grid of squares with the fountain and the pool of four pieces. Gardens have box-like hedges and pathways of reddish gravel. There are almost no flowers in the Lower garden, instead, to make it more colorful, blue pools and color gravel was used. There are twin casini in the back corner of the lower garden. The second level is between the ground slopes and those buildings. The Fountain of Light, which is formed by concentric circles, is the most noticeable at this level and leads to the third level. In the center of the third level the large stone table can be found, which leads to the Fountain of the Giants. There are pools covered with moss and amidst them there are two stone men with two staircases (men’s backrests), which lead to the last forth level. On the lat level the Fountain of Dolphins is situated. It is an octagonal fountain with many layers, its pours into the central axis channel and nourishes the upper level of the Fountain of Giants. The whole villa can be observed from the standpoint of the geometrical experiment and is evidently the most prominent example of garden design of Italy of the period.
As the outstanding features of the Italian gardening style can be named: geometrically shaped beds, fountains, a lot of sculpture and the contrast of sun and shade.
The next movement is said to be Modernistic one. It refers to the spread of the Italian Renaissance to England and France. The concept of this movement had romantic origins and made an emphasis upon the natural beauty of the garden, and not its modern design. Nature at that time was percepted as the ultimate perfection that should be emulated as much s possible. The basic idea of the garden design during that period was that the garden should look like the man never touched it at all. But still it should have been not the nature itself, but the representation of it. Among outstanding designers of the period can be named Lancelot Brown and Frederick Law Olmsted. Lancelot Brown’s most outstanding work is the garden of Blenheim Palace, to which he was hired to improve the existing garden’s view and to make it more natural. To reach the set goal, the first thing that was done is the rise of the water level in the two lakes to make just one. The water rise was not only done for the purpose of lakes unification, but also for the complimenting of the stone bridge. To make an accent upon the old stone structure, the shoreline near the bridge was molded. Many spaces were redone to obtain meadows and rolling hills. This palace remains the bright example of the English Romantic Movement and reflects the essence of Modernism with its curving shorelines and irregular planning patterns. There is an impression for the visitors that landscape they observe is wild one.
Speaking about works of Frederick Law Olmsted, Central Park in New York, being one of the most famous parks in the world, remains his best masterpiece. Central park is the real natural oasis in the middle of the industrial city and high buildings. It seems that the existence of the park in the center of New York is impossible, but it still it exists. It emulates nature despite the place, where it is situated. There are a lot of winding paths, dense forestland and irregular curving lake shoreline. It is obviously the romantic landscape and there is a drastic contrast from the mad busy city and the soft and attracting green nature.
And finally the last influential movement is connected with Asian garden traditions design. In Japan the natural approach for garden design is very significant form the standpoint of the religion. The main religion of Japan called Shinto goes around key elements of the Universe. The deep respect is shown to the sky, the sun, the earth and the animals. The idea of this movement is the combination of everyday life and landscape with the religion. Intellectual enlightenment is proposed through the contemplation of the surrounding nature. Garden became the thing to adore, respect and worship. It became the part of the everyday experiences. It represents the connection between the man and the nature. There are three main categories of Japanese gardens- the Tea Garden, the Flat Garden, and the Artificial-Hill Garden. The Artificial-Hill Garden, called Tsukiyama, usually consists of hills that serve as the representation of mountains, and they are usually places in the background of the place. Those hills form the stage for water in form of streams and ponds in the foreground. Rocky island surface in the ponds are often planted with weathered pine and grasses. Turtle and crane are represented there as the symbols of long life and luck. The pond’s shoreline is formed involving small plantings and rock arrangements. In general the garden is planted with evergreen plants that symbolize vitality and life even in winter. Symbolism is very important to the Asian garden design traditions, but I will discuss them later in the separate paragraph more detailed. Waterfalls with tall stones are traditionally placed in the left side of the garden. There are also winding paths for visitors to enjoy picturesque views. The Artificial-Hill Garden, Tsykiyama, has obviously the most scenic and romantic garden design.
The Flat Garden, called Hira-niwa, is the garden with no water and no hills. But still particular means are chosen to symbolize elements of water and ground. This type of landscape is often called Dry Landscape, or Kare-sansui. There are a lot of rocks in such garden, which are carefully placed in the gravel and grass. Flat Garden is walled from all sides and form all other types of garden design is the most harmonious one and is greatly appreciated for its tranquil atmosphere and religious significance of details. And finally the last important Japanese style is Cha-niwa or the Tea Garden. It is the most ceremonial type of garden and it took its name from the historical placement near the teahouse, where tea ceremonies were held. The Tea Garden is usually divided into two parts - the outer and the inner garden. The outer garden, called roji, consisted of the entrance to the garden and actually served as the transition point between the out-of-garden space and the inner garden. It served as the mean of breaking connections with the rest entire world. Outer garden has the narrow shape with the path and amazing natural views upon plantings. It is a kind of preparation to the inner garden and the mean to forget all troubles. And finally the inner Tea garden contains the small place, where everything is small and miniature.
It is essential to remember the difference between Japan and China garden design. Even though both garden tradition are supposed to evoke the natural landscape of rivers, lakes and mountains, Chinese gardens are intended to be view as the part of people’s everyday life, while Japanese gardens, mainly, are viewed from the house, like diorama. Other insignificant differences include that in Japan the climate is wetter then in China, and therefore Chinese gardens include more ponds and lakes. Chinese gardening traditions also prefer to treat plants in their naturalistic ways, while in Japanese tradition plants are usually sheared into the shapes of mountains. And the tip regarding stone placement- stone elements in Japanese garden can be places as the part of the landscape, while in China, one stone can be placed upon the pedestal for everyone to appreciate it.
4. Japanese Garden
So, returning back to the Japanese garden design, that is one of the most inspiring to me, I would like to pay more attention to garden style details. As I have already mentioned, Japanese garden involves the combination of such natural elements, as water, stone and plants, aiming to create tranquility, purity, reverence and harmony. Pond tradition in the Japanese garden design is very old and dates back to about 1000 years ago, when noble people used to build their palaces and surround them with water corridors. The pond, called kokoro, is said to be the soul or the heart of the whole garden. Water is generally viewed as the blood, and the pond, being the heart, distributes and nourishes the garden, as the body, with it. Tortoise islands are very popular in Japanese garden design, as Japan is the island itself. Tortoise islands symbolized immortality in ancient myths, where immortal people lived. Waterfalls are also called veins and arteries of the pond. They can be of two types. The first one is like water cascades like on Mount Fuji. In the second type of waterfall, the water flows gently and quietly like waterfalls in Kyoto. Stones are placed in the water to direct the water, as well as to provide the stream with more natural look. The special attention is paid to the plant and the planting method. The planting method is called “conceal and reveal” and goes about careful plants placing so that they hang over the water edge and slightly hide it. The overall picture of the garden in this case appears to be deeper. It enlightens and revives visitors’ real spirit. Such evergreen plants, as Japanese black pine and Hinoki cypress, are often used. But their texture is rather harsh, and for the balance, flowering and fragrant plants (aucubas, azaleas, camellias, etc.), which add softness, color and beauty, are installed in the picture.
Even though I mention stones in the last line, I must say that each garden design should start with their installation. The important task of the designer is to pick right stones and place them properly. There are several particular Japanese tips for placing stones. They include: stones should be placed in odd-number arrangements (groupings of three, five or seven); there should be the definite place for each stone so that chi energy flow smoothly. Stones can also be used as walls and edges or serve as the indication of the pathway. Japanese legends claim that each stone is an actual being with its own spirit; therefore they should be treated carefully and with respect.
5. Chinese gardening traditions.
Speaking about Chinese gardening tradition, there are two key elements that deserve particular attention: feng shui and the art of bonsai. Feng shui is the ancient art of placing things and it literally means “the wind and the water”. According to this ancient art, the energy flow through the garden and home can influence the well-being of their owner. Feng shui specialists claim that all spheres of people’s everyday life, including success, fame, finances, and health, can be easily manipulated and desired results achieved by means of balance garden design and proper placement of furniture and stuff in the house. The key goal of practicing this art is achieving harmony through proper use of the life force, called chi energy. In the garden, according to this Chinese tradition, to use the chi energy correctly, there should be present three basic elements- mountains, greenery and water. There are also many useful tricks and tips in case when the person is not able to have the pond in the garden or mountains in the backyard. There can be created the sense of elevations imitating mountains. Balance is the key principle of feng shui, and therefore all three elements should be places in the strict sequence and be close to one another. According to this tradition, having the flat garden is not very good for chi energy as there should be different layers and levels so that chi energy could flow easily for the well-being of garden’s owner. Pathways in the garden should not be straight, but circular or meandering, as straight paths, especially directed to the house, create fast moving chi, which will bring discomfort to the owners. Another interesting thing about feng shui and the garden design, is that it is believed that particular place or area in the garden correspond to the definite part of person’s life. For example, when the person enters the garden, the far left corner is the representation of wealth. Therefore, to be wealthy, the person should plant bright flowers, for instance, in the area, as everything bright and light attracts chi energy. Fame and reputation are represented by the center of the garden. In order to attract them, archway can be rather helpful. The far right corner of the garden represents love, marriage and happy family life and this area can be enhanced with white, red and pink flowers- they attract love chi energy.
As to the bonsai art, it cannot be called in the fullest extent the garden design, it is more the tree design, but yet it is undividable part of the garden. Even though Japanese bonsai trees are very popular at the present moment, originally this kind of art was started about thousand years ago in China. In order to practice this art, the person should start with the simple pot to grow the tree. Roots of the tree should be trimmed, tree anchored into the pot with wire help and soil added. And from this very point the true design begins. The person should decide the future shape of the tree and where he or she wants it to grow. Trimming should be done at least once a year. If the tree grows very big and the person doesn’t want to replant it, roots can be cut again. What is important about this art is that any tree can be cut into the bonsai. Big trees go through all staged of annual transformation –they can flower or loose their leaves. In general bonsai art demands a lot of care and daily interaction, so if the person is going to neglect it, it is better not to plant it at all. Bonsai is a real decoration of each garden, and adds the spirit of magic to it.
In the conclusion I would like to summarize all key points of my research that was interesting not only from the standpoint of acquired knowledge about garden design, but also laid the foundation for me and my future inspiration in gardening. When finding out things about how garden design was developing, I received the primary source for my knowledge. Hope, I will be able to see as many gardens as possible with me own eyes I order to be able to evaluate them through the frame of my personal experience. So, different geographical areas have different garden designs. In Africa, development of garden design was not aiming to provide people aesthetic pleasure and satisfaction, reasons for first oases to be constructed were rather practical- to hide from the heat for visitors and develop agriculture in general.
Italian garden design was greatly influenced with the ideas of Renaissance and inspired the further gardening revolution in Europe and Great Britain. Italian Renaissance gardens contained many scenes from ancient mythology, sculptures, fountains, terraces, tree labyrinths. They were all masterpieces in their geometrical decisions.
Asia, with Japanese and Chinese gardening traditions, remains the unique and separate garden design school. Design is tightly connected with religion there, which only adds attractiveness to it and leaves an impression of touching something divine. But the general idea is still the same- the water (streams, lakes, ponds, waterfalls), trees (including bonsai art), and stones put in particular order.
So, it becomes obvious that different climate, cultures and populations form different approaches to garden design to be admired and followed.
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