The garden is the connecting point between man and the world in which he lives since in all ages man has felt the need to reconcile with the surrounding environment and has thus created gardens to satisfy his ideas and their aspirations. The oasis irrigated in the middle of an arid territory, the garden of a monastery that separates the wall from the hustle and bustle of the Early Middle Ages, and our own ardent desire to cultivate plants to counterbalance technology, are all expressions of an ideal and a need of compensation, and the more a civilization becomes complex, the more deeply this need is felt. It is therefore not surprising that today more than ever there is interest in the gardens since for many people they represent not only a haven of peace in a noisy world, but also the only opportunity for creative expression and close contact with nature.
The task of the landscape architect is to create this connection by following the rules of harmony composition etc.
Yet today there are few gardens that give that total sense of peace that we seek above all else. More often they create a kind of restlessness and leave their owners with a slight sense of dissatisfaction far from the ecstatic satisfaction expressed in the inscription of the ancient Mogul gardens: “If there is a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it’s here.” A garden can give two different pleasures: the pleasure of the plant that grows, with its particular beauty, and the pleasure of the garden as a whole, as a world to look at and to live in. To create and savor the first, it is enough knowledge of horticulture and a certain sensitivity to the color and shape of the plants. Making a garden, which can confer the second and far rarer pleasure, requires the same understanding of the laws of harmony and composition that accompany the creation of any other work of art.
In fact, the design of gardens is true art and, just as we need to know painting and music not only to create, but also to fully enjoy a work of art, so a certain understanding of landscape architecture does not it only opens up the possibilities of application in one’s own garden, but also increases the pleasure of seeing those of others. Even without knowing why, we realize the immense peace of certain gardens, while others give a sense of gaiety that invites exploration. It is worth studying some of the great historic gardens that possess these qualities to a considerable extent, to find out if they have any common feature applicable to the present day. Blindly copying another garden never gives good results, because gardens are a personal expression of desire applied to an unparalleled series of circumstances: the tensions and aspirations of that historical moment seen against the background of the landscape and the climate of that place. A garden that develops in response to these conditions will never be worthless, however unrefined it may be; while another that is carried by weight from another age or from another territory lacks a basis of sincerity. This falsity can be felt in the Jardins Anglais created all over the world by discovering the English landscape garden, or in the Japanese gardens copied in England, without there is, in neither case, an understanding of the principles that underlie their design, or the affinity they had with life and the landscape of their countries of origin. On the other hand, the gardens of Persia, reworked and adapted to the conditions of India, produced that masterpiece which are the gardens of Shalamar and the Taj Mahal, while the classical Italian gardens were transformed and shaped in the 17th century France to evolve into the great tradition of the Versailles of Le Nótre. But these were the result not of an inspiration without inspiration, but of the adaptation of a fruitful idea for the creation of a new form. At the base of all the largest gardens, there are certain principles of composition that remain unchanged because they are rooted in the natural laws of the universe, those same mysterious laws that are revealed in the mathematical relationship between chromatic harmony and music. Since the earliest civilizations, man has drawn the deepest satisfaction in discovering and expressing his relationship with these laws. This was the basis of the classical theories of proportion and is still the basis of the pleasure that give us certain combinations of colors and certain combinations of forms. The search for this relationship between our mind and the universe forces us, first of all, to organize the natural forms into easily understandable schemes and then to rearrange them in new compositions that satisfy us by opening up new and less obvious fields of understanding. In every vital art, new forms must continue to appear, but these will be able to satisfy us only to the extent that they will be founded on the unalterable laws of proportion and rhythm. The laws of composition in the design of gardens are perhaps less evident than in any other art, because in this particular case a living material is used which, if left to itself, develops its own beauty. Nonetheless, the absence of these principles behind the arrangement of flowers deprives the vast majority of our gardens of the serenity we seek. It is not so easy to recognize the raw material of a work of art in those little gardens in places of scarce appeal that many homeowners have. Precisely because they are so limited, skilful planning becomes even more necessary than in the case of the larger country gardens, where the beautiful views and spaciousness can at least give random effects, while a small space surrounded by fences can only count on their own resources. The most successful of these small gardens often deceive because of their great simplicity, which is a fundamental part of the goodness of their design. They give the idea of a spontaneous inevitability, and it might be difficult to recognize that behind the apparently random arrangement of trees and sculptures are the classical laws of proportion and balance, or realize that it is thanks to the laws of chromatic harmony that they themselves identical flowers appear to us so much more pleasant in a garden than in another. Often the reaction of a gardener to a well-designed garden is the skepticism that the area was originally not better than his.
The hidden borders or made more interesting, the use of shadow and perspective to increase the apparent dimensions, the sense of quiet that derives from the right proportions, are all elements of the artistic technique of the garden. Their application is susceptible to infinite variations, but their principles are valid for gardens of all shapes and sizes and confer that serenity that is infused when the eye is satisfied with what it sees and is placed in tranquility. The absence of tranquility in many gardens is intensified today because, although throughout the course of history the traditions of this sector have been mutually fertilized, there have never been so many contrary currents and so few possibilities that the flood of ideas is channeled into a tradition adapted to local conditions. Only by understanding the reason why certain peoples have adopted certain forms will we be able to select, eliminate, adapt and finally develop for ourselves gardens that are able to express our ideas, our needs and the character of our environment in a form that can fully satisfy us. the great gardens of the past satisfied their owners. If we succeed in this endeavor, we will create something that future generations will find so fulfilling and be revealing of our age as we find the gardens of the past. If on the one hand, we value our private paradise, on the other hand, today we also need a shared garden with others, where those who live in the city can find that refreshment, that sense of space and that contact with nature that our ancestors knew every day in the country life. The landscape designed with awareness, once reserved for parks and gardens, is now necessary on a much greater scale, if you want to give a livable environment to everyone, wherever you live, and if you want to re-establish contact with the natural species of the earth.
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