The Garden Guide

Book: The Principles of Landscape Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 1: Principles of Landscape Gardening

Regularity and uniformity in design

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1465. Regularity and uniformity are, however, expressive of only common design. Hence, to confer a character of superiority in works of design, variety should be introduced; and as uniformity was the symbol of design, so uniformity and variety should become the symbols of improved or embellished design. 'Regarding, therefore, forms in this light as beautiful merely from their expression of design, the observation of Dr. Hutcheson may perhaps be considered as an axiom with regard to their beauty, viz. that where the uniformity is equal, the beauty of forms is in proportion to their variety; and where their variety is equal, their beauty is in proportion to their uniformity.' (Alison's Essays, p. 106.) To this stage, in the progress of design, may be referred the architectural ornaments introduced in garden scenery, such as seats, buildings, statues, urns, &c.; and in the later stages of the art, serpentine walks, labyrinths, verdant sculpture, and many other decorations. The variety and embellishment thus conferred on gardens produced in time many absurdities, that we should not wish to see resorted to in a revival of the ancient style, unless in examples considered solely with a view to imitation. The sculpture of trees, however, might, when first introduced, be greatly admired, even by men of sense, for its novelty, and the discovery of a certain degree of skill in the artist; but as, in our times, it would neither be new nor meritorious, it could scarcely be consistently introduced with a view to embellish design. To prevent variety from degenerating into confusion, and, as Professor Stewart characteristically expresses it, 'puzzling the spectator,' unity of intention must never be lost sight of. This, indeed, is necessarily implied in every work of art; since, without it, the slightest attempt at design would only end in a chaos of materials.