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Planting in the Informal Scene

A great deal of the effectiveness of the informal scheme depends upon the flowing lines and the blending of various groups. Many plants of great charm can be used in such a garden that would be inappropriate in the more formal situation. Picturesque forms like Korean pine, Myers juniper, and the spreading yews do not harmonize easily with straight lines. In such locations the trimness of spiny Greek juniper, Hicks yew, Swiss Stone pine, or Douglas arborvitae is more appropriate.

Much the same thing is true of herbaceous planting. In the informal garden the luxuriant perennials, those that sprawl, or even the more weedy types like hardy asters, boltonias, monarda, and eupatorium can be used in bold masses. In the formal scheme, they would take up too much room and make the whole composition look unkempt.

Color is less important in the informal than in the formal garden. There is likely to be less of it and you will rely for effect on beautiful lines, interesting contrasts and harmonies of textures, larger and smaller masses of greater or less density. Color, when present will act principally as accent rather than as the most important part of the composition. This tends to make informal schemes much more restful.

In all informal work the danger of becoming merely formless is always present. You cannot let everything just run wild, and plant your garden without any guiding plan and expect it to please. Informal planting must be studied even more carefully than formal planting. All the effects are more subtle. You will employ rhythm, repetition, occult balance, sequence, just as in formal work but in a less obvious way. The late Henry Ford once complimented his landscape architect by saying, "Mr. Jensen this garden you have made does not look as though anyone had done anything about it." Mr. Jensen is said to have replied, "That is where art comes in— the effect looks natural, but in fact it is more highly studied than any mere reproduction of a natural scene would be."

In informal or naturalistic work, avoid trying to duplicate nature, try rather to produce a scene which has the attributes of nature, and also those of art. Nature is not selective. Anything can happen and does. The art of naturalistic gardening consists in selecting and combining natural elements into a harmony so subtle that the hand of man cannot be discerned.


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