|Free Books / Gardening & Planting / Natural Style In Landscape Gardening /|
The Native Landscape
WHETHER our foregoing definition of the natural style is adequate or defective, it must be plain that any naturalistic style of landscape gardening is largely dependent on the native landscape. The ideas, motives, and methods must come mainly from nature. Indeed, it would seem certain that any landscape architect of any school must know and love the landscape. Such knowledge and such sympathy would be fundamentally and absolutely necessary.
Whenever the designer professes, however, to do his landscape gardening in the natural style, it would seem doubly incumbent on him to bring to his work a critical understanding of nature's landscape and a love of the native landscape at once ardent, sane, discriminating and balanced. A mere boyish enthusiasm will not answer. It must be the true, tried and fixed love of maturity.
Thus it becomes the first and perhaps the most important step in landscape gardening, especially-naturalistic landscape gardening, to know and to love the native landscape. Both knowledge and love are required. Can we, now, point out any practical approach to the landscape? any way of understanding it better? especially any means of loving it more? Assuredly we can.
At the outset we may gain some respect for the landscape by observing its power. It does exert a truly marvelous power upon the intelligence of men; and their feelings, which lie deeper, are even more profoundly affected. Common men love the landscape passionately. The attachment to home is largely the love of landscape. When the army of Cyrus, defeated and disheartened, came back from their long campaign in Persia, they fell down and wept when, from the top of a hill, they caught the first view of the sea. It was to them the landscape of home. They were not especially susceptible or responsive men—certainly not artists trained to the love of beauty. Human nature is still the same. Any man, no matter how dull, who has grown up amongst the hills of Vermont has, necessarily and positively, a deep love of that particular landscape in his heart. Let him be exiled for a few years in Texas or France or Chicago and then let him revisit the Green Mountains. His heart will leap up like a mother to her child. His emotions will be stirred to their prof oundest depths. There is hardly a human experience anywhere of greater reach or power.
This particular experience, while universal and known of all men, is somewhat provincial. Cultivated men learri to love other landscapes than those to which they were born. A part of the value of landscape lies in its universality. The landscape is everywhere. The lover of books cannot always live in a library; the lover of music cannot find anywhere a perpetual concert; the lover of painting cannot shut himself up in an art gallery; but the lover of the landscape has his joy always with him. Even the hater of the landscape, if there could be such a man, could not escape from it.
Nbw since art is after all primarily the love and enjoyment of the beautiful, and since the landscape is physically present to all people, and since it appeals powerfully to practically all people, we must regard it as the principal source in the world of esthetic joy. It is the world's principal reservoir of beauty. It does more for the esthetic life of mankind than all the painting, sculpture, poetry and architecture in all the world taken together. This is a large claim, but it is a simple and obvious truth.
For this reason we should all greatly reverence the native landscape, should seek to conserve it for human use and enjoyment, should endeavor to make it physically accessible to all, should try to make it intelligible to all, should work to open up for it the way to men's hearts.
Let us take the case of the young man who proposes to become a landscape architect and who hopes to do some of his work in the natural style —or the informal form, if we prefer an exacter nomenclature. In his earnest desire to know and love the native landscape his first plain step will be to associate with it. He will go out with the landscape. He will spend hours, days and weeks with it. Instead of going to the bowling alleys, the billiard rooms, the dances and the movies, he will go to the hills, he will visit the lakes, he will follow the brooks, he will camp on the plains. All this is so simple, so obvious, so easy, that it needs only to be mentioned to be established as a fruitful means of landscape study.
Of course the student will visit the landscape— no, he will live with it—with an open mind and heart. He will be trying to see what the landscape has to offer, trying to hear what it has to tell. He will look long, quietly, silently, intently at the horizon, or at the distant valley, or at the mountains. And most of all he will consciously seek their spiritual message. He will know that as a man it is absolutely obligatory upon him to see something in that landscape more than the cow sees. Whatever he gets beyond what the cow gets is the spiritual harvest of the landscape. It is the only part which is of any human use.
In another place I have tried to extend the definition of the landscape to include such items as the sky, and the weather. The man who is thus conscientiously seeking the spiritual message of the landscape will look long and often at the sky. My own students are directed to spend frequent hours of solitude lying on their backs looking up into the depths of the heavens.
This exercise should be practiced nights as well as days. The deep infinities of the sky are more visible when pricked out by the twinkling stars than when illuminated by the sun. The exercise should be used also in all weathers—when the sky is full of fresh falling snow or of pearly raindrops. For the landscape lover must love all aspects of the sky and all moods of the weather.
While the fundamental psychological appeal of the landscape is universal, reaching to all men's hearts, there are differences in minor manifestations. The landscape does not mean the same to everybody. The landscape, like religion or any other great experience, is "all things to all men".