The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Gardening in Japan, 1912
Chapter: Chapter 2. Garden Stones

Natural arrangement of garden stones

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The secret of the art of arranging stones in an artificial landscape is to make them appear as if natural forces had placed them in position. Extraordinary freaks of nature, as exhibited in certain lithic wonders, should not, however, be taken as models for imitation. The enormous scale and prehistoric antiquity of the overhanging rocks and towering pinnacles in real landscape reconcile us to their threatening aspect, but if such phenomena were artificially reproduced on a smaller scale, a sense of instability and danger would be aroused in the beholder, inimical to that repose which is essential in artistic compositions. A general rule exists that no stone should be utilised which is larger at the top than at the base, and though it would not be difficult to find violations of this law, the exceptions usually present certain extenuating circumstances. The object of such a rule being to create an impression of stability and repose, it no longer applies if the rock or boulder be flanked by a cliff or hill, or if its overhanging portion be supported by a companion stone. In using volcanic or water-worn rocks of irregular honeycombed shape, care must be taken to select forms such as are frequently seen in nature, so that the observer may be easily reconciled to their odd appearance.