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Mass

Mass is fairly easy to achieve in the garden, if you think in terms of plant groups instead of in terms of individuals. Specimen planting, with emphasis on perfection of development and placement of a single plant, tends to make a garden episodic. This destroys unity and impairs coherence, making it impossible to understand a garden easily. A garden that is episodic is restless instead of calm and quiet.

Plant material used in broad masses gives a sense of peace. The lines of plants flowing into one another draw a composition together and carry the eye easily from one part of the garden to another. Mass is also essential to good enclosure, and an obvious means of securing balance. A small garden can rarely present more than one idea at a time, and small groups need to be closely related so as to blend. A pleasing composition presents a mass effect rather than a collection of separate ideas.

The tendency to regard plants as specimens rather than as a part of a larger picture is noticeable in our treatment of trees and outstanding shrubs. Many gardeners space them far apart and constantly prune, or even shift them about to prevent them from growing together into a mass, whose texture and line would be interesting. Such a procedure is advisable in an arboretum, a nursery, or a display ground but rarely in a garden. Here the idea is to employ massive plants to frame, enclose, shut out views, and to strengthen smaller, more intimate pictures. Only a few specimen plants can be accommodated in one garden and these must be outstanding.

Mass is a powerful means of building up to climaxes, heightening interest around terminal and other focal points, and relieving monotony or flatness. Mass plantings should be used whenever possible but always in scale with the garden scheme. Very small gardens must have smaller, lower masses so as not to appear dwarfed; larger, more open developments must have bolder masses. This precludes the use of narrow shrub borders for enclosure, or of a great many specimen shrubs and trees.

Texture and color have a bearing on mass. Strong color like purple-plum, the heavy color of some evergreens, or coarse-textured plants appear more massive than other plants.

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