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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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The Music of Foreshortened Flowerbeds.

A fresh metaphor has found its way into the world of gardening. It may not be fresh to the intrepid, well-read, gardener, but for bloggers, it is big news. It is about gardening as music. Yes, music! Some gardeners have a jazz combo playing in a corner of their back yard made up of a few esoteric plants, namely a tall bass player, a medium height guitarist, and a squat drummer. Occasionaly, one will place a chamber orchestra in an island garden where several unusual plants get together to create sensible but fascinating music. Some gardeners grow flowers that sing to them. Others, like me, have a symphony orchestra playing in a 60 foot mixed border. Sadly, the sound of music in that flowerbed is not as rich as I had hoped.

On occasion, I have referred to a garden bed that runs along the width of my back yard. I have remarked how the floral compositions run horizontally from left to right and vice versa. Most of the strategy of combining color, texture, height, and even repetition is lost because one can never view the flowerbed design in its entirety. What ought to be an exhilarating visual experience is not. An instantaneous admiration does not take place because I can never see my garden with one glance. The size and shape of the back yard does not permit the viewer to get a foreshortened perspective and long shots are impossible. I suppose that if I climbed into the center of the left corner of the bed and aimed my camera  at the right corner in the distance, I might get the picture I was looking for; but that is not a sensible allocation of time when there are so many clients’ gardens to be tended.

The criteria that I use to determine if a garden perspective is making beautiful music is based on the breathtaking photographs that I found in coffee table picture books that feature English gardens. Most of the images were captured on large estates, where photographers’ long shots and perspectives are abundant. The best musical images result from flowerbeds that run at right angle to the viewer’s line of vision because, according to the optical phenomenon of foreshortening, the viewer sees all of the plants, colors, height, and textures at the same time. This visual experience creates the most exquisite music that any flower orchestra can produce. Imagine listening to a passage of a symphony when practically every instrument is playing. It is a sublime experience.

Recently, while stumbling and scrolling through more gardening sites than I should, I came across a site titled Gardens of a Golden Afternoon, posted by the astute gardener, Hermes. This horticulturalist collects stunning garden images and shares them with visitors. Here is an image posted on October 30, 2009. It is a perspective of twin flowerbeds, planted with mostly Nepeta and Geraniums, that run at right angle to the viewer’s line of vision. This is beautiful music. Thank you, Hermes, for the concert.

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Reader Comments (2)

Wow! That is a gorgeous composition. I can hear it singing to me. :-)

February 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJean

That's a beautiful garden ... I too recently stumbled across Hermes' two blogs and have been a regular visitor every since.

March 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBernie

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