Did you know that landscape garden designs are made up of two discrete elements? That it is these elements, working together, that produce the finished article, that blending of nature and order that we humans like to call a garden? One would have supposed (at least, this one would have supposed) that landscape gardening, as a term, applied basically to the arrangement of plants and trees and grass and what not into a vaguely pleasing scheme. Actually, landscape gardening involves a total rearranging and ordering of an outdoors environment, where two distinctly opposed strands bind together to form a coherent whole.
The first strand of landscape garden designs, unsurprisingly, is the plants- the grass, the trees. The non man made organic matter of which many gardens are mostly constituted. Not all, of course think rock gardens and patios and youll realise that some gardens are only very slightly made up of plants. The soft elements of a garden, referred to collectively as soft landscaping, are everything that grows in it. A landscape gardener will arrange these elements so as to present a coherent feeling or view, often with several different, seasonal, views incorporated. These elements might not all hail from the same country of origin, or have the same nutritional requirements. Effectively, soft landscape garden designs strive to create an ecosystem that one is not likely to find outside the fences and borders of suburbia where plants from all sorts of background are drawn together for their beauty, either in terms of colour or shape.
The second strand of the landscape garden design is the stuff that doesnt grow- rocks, fences, trellises, sheds. This stuff, the man made stuff, is called hard landscaping, and its what gives every garden its definite status as a garden. An arrangement of plants without borders, after all, isnt really a garden a garden needs beginnings, endings and divisions otherwise it loses the control the gardener has sought to impose on Nature. Hard landscape garden designs, or rather the hard landscaping elements of garden designs, involve stamping a definite human hand on the wild world putting paths through it to show where a person should walk; putting a fence around it to show where outsiders cannot walk; and putting a shed in it to enable safe storage of the tools used to prevent all those plants from growing wild.
Thats a phrase often used in the gardening world, and a very telling one at that. The whole point, it seems, of landscape garden designs, is to take the wilderness out of the wild. One cannot have plants growing wild in gardens, because that would mean that the gardener has lost control that all the plants he or she has tried to civilise, by pruning and cutting and bedding and hemming the lot in with paths and borders and fences, have revolted, risen up, returned to Nature.
Landscape gardening is an epic and beautiful thing a constant struggle against the over enthusiastic fertility of the world, an attempt to keep that world nicely ordered. The best landscape garden designs do this almost without thinking and they do it by blending the natural and the man made in perfect proportion.