Until about a century ago, the architecture of the garden was identified with its history (see History of the garden), since it was always attached to houses, palaces, private villas and very often the same architect conceived the whole as a single context to vary in different periods. It is only from a hundred years ago that the social demands and the different urbanistic concepts have led to differentiations in the field of gardens, as in the case of buildings. Just as the same kind of architecture could not be conceived today for a house, a hospital, a public office, a prison or a hotel, so the garden attached to them is different from each other and all are different from the public gardens that should not consist only of old open and re-adapted parks, but they should be built specifically. In other countries this has been, and is done extensively, so that the architecture of the garden takes the broadest name of landscape architecture and even includes cemeteries; in Italy we are far from all this and often we are content to leave around a school or a hospital an empty space to be planted in some way to the garden, no matter whether suitable or not to the function to which the building is intended. Therefore, pointing out this deficiency, we will deal with the gardens of private homes, small or medium, since today it is very difficult to expect the need to set up parks or grand gardens: this event is part of the exceptions and no doubt the few who can afford it will resort to a landscape architect who decides on the basis of the environment which solutions to choose among the many examples of the past or which fusions to perform among them. Of course, even with all these limitations, the rules that can be provided here for the planting of a garden are all of a general nature and based on the assumption that you operate on flat or hilly terrain (the gardens in the mountains can not be considered as a norm ) and subjected to a medium climate for Italy: the climatic extremes that allow the use of only certain essences must be studied case by case at the time of design. The first two problems that arise are the position of the house with respect to the surrounding land and the presence, or otherwise, of pre-existing tree species. Since the trees are slow to grow and reach good size, if they exist, it will be good to keep them, especially if they are beautiful, at the cost of varying the original design of the location of the house.
This, moreover, is not well in the center of the ground; it will be much cheaper to decentralize it, thus obtaining the impression of a larger garden because it is not interrupted; it will make sure that the avenue of access, which will have to be wide enough to be passable even with cars, is as much as possible short, or moved very sideways, almost to the border, so as not to disturb the general pattern of the garden. The plants must always be chosen according to the size of the land: do not forget that, even if slowly, even the trees grow and that the shrubs often become too intrusive. A carefully designed garden will not only be more harmonious, but cheaper,
because it will only require maintenance and not annoying movements. As soon as the weather permits it, especially if the garden is small, a free extension to lawn should never be lacking: this expedient seems to widen the space, particularly near the house. The plants that surround it should be graduated in height so that it looks larger and does not remain squashed by tall trees around. Except for the mentioned case of pre-existing and isolated specimens, the trees that grow the most in height must always be placed in the background or on the borders. Particular attention in this field should be placed on Conifers which, having a very cumbersome foliage, are admirable as isolated specimens but only in the midst of large spaces. Abies, Pícea. Thtgia and others can become a major nuisance when, so pretty at the plant, they will begin to grow on a small lawn, subtracting space while nothing will sprout from their foot.
The terrain can be flat or naturally wavy or inclined; it can also become so with some artifacts, by means of a land of carryover but in one case or another it must always have a background and be articulated on two or more planes that have the width on the edge not to distort the perspective in a negative sense, making appear smaller spaces rather than larger ones; therefore the first floor should be the widest one and, if there are others, they will gradually shrink. The connecting elements between the various levels can be a valuable decorative aid (see Gradoni) and also the various types of flooring or terraced (see Pavimentio, Terrazze). The flowers will preferably be gathered in flowerbeds and not scattered randomly, which would decrease the effect of much and increase the work necessary for maintenance; they can, however, form pleasant borders with passages or little walls, something which proves to be almost indispensable when the garden has a strongly inclined course, which requires strong gradients, as often happens in the hills. In these cases, real rock gardens can form an excellent solution.
Water is always a decorative element of considerable effect, but, unless it is a pool or a fountain placed in the middle of a lawn and therefore visible at large radius, it is more effective if it is an element of surprise. Thus, for example, a fountain gushing from a wall is more attractive if framed sideways by plants, so that it is present only in front view; a stream or a small waterfall, natural or artificial, in a rocky area, will be nicer if they appear the construction. For example, a background of natural bricks would cleave with bright red flowers and saddle those orange, while giving a sense of peaceful rest with all the range of blue and lilac combined with pale yellow and white; just as white itself would not stand out at all on an equal plaster. Another element, with ancient origins and still valid, is the pergola that can be very decorative even in a modern garden. It will preferably be kept airy and light and not made up of a dark mass of foliage and will be able to pleasantly connect the open spaces with the tree-lined ones, forming a gradual premise; moreover, if it is made up of climbing vines, it will sprout on the green of the arboreal essences, constituting a supplementary ornament for the entire time of the flowering. It will be necessary to choose carefully the types of support: they will be suitable for the general style and materials that can vary from wood to marble or simple poles and iron arches will be used. We must keep in mind that in a modern private garden, of not excessive proportions, personal taste has a considerable role, but it can not be separated from a minimum of architectural and landscape rules, intended as natural insertion in the environment that surrounds it.
News and curiosity
Man, who has built and planted beautiful gardens for his enjoyment or for his utility, is not the only living being to deal with cultivation: the termites, in their large nests in the tropics, build what is precisely called « termite garden >>. These destructive, voracious and terrible insects have, in their often very large buildings, special cells where they make real plant crops, accumulate leaves or parts of them, twigs, grass stalks and keeping them in the right humidity and heat. In this way the mycelium of mushrooms develops, which are fruited and are a tender and sweet food of extreme liking for them.