There is one particular sort of garden which I particularly like and that is gardens associated with the Arts and Crafts heritage. I think it's because they are very much about the quality and integrity of the visual experience.
This blog post aims to summarise some of the features of these gardens - which one would expect to maybe see featured in any artwork associated with them.
Features of the Arts and Crafts Garden
This is a summary of the sorts of features associated with or found in the arts and crafts garden. I've used a variety of sources but Wendy Hitchmough's book, and the other websites cited in 'links' have been helpful.
- The garden is the inspiration and canvas for design and visual art
- Emergence of the artist/gardener; the owner is associated with the design and/or maintenance of the garden; gardening is seen as a pleasurable activity - particularly for women (for a modern equivalent - see this post by Laura on Laurelines)
- Nature is a powerful force and forms the bedrock of national identity
- Rejection of the styles of other countries and cultures in favour of features which are related to the local area and style of building
- A determination for the whole family to live in harmony with nature - using the garden becomes part of the normal lifestyle
- Open and dynamic relationship between houses and gardens
- integration of house and garden in a symbiotic relationship. Design lines extend from the house into the garden and back again.
- design features in the house are reflected in the garden and vice versa (eg at Mackintosh's home, the Hill House, there was a rule about what colour flowers could be used to match decorative features of specfic rooms)
- the garden becomes an exterior room of the house
- the garden itself may be separated into different rooms - sometimes following a sequence (eg Sissinghurst; Great Dixter)
- clear architectural structures feature alongside natural/wild planting schemes - designed to show respect for nature and diminish the hard edges of buildings.
- The garden celebrates nature and rejects artificiality and straight lines. Planting schemes aim for a 'natural' style (first advocated by William Robinson) or a cottage style and relate to the site and soil conditions, local identity, the changing seasons and how plants grow naturally. They are planted in drifts and are allowed to spill over hard edges. Plants are allowed to develop seed heads and self-sown plants are encouraged. The principles apply to gardens both large and small.
Design reforms reflected the changing social and political values of the ageAlthough the features identified above are specific to gardens, I thought that they also provide some scope for thought about how these principles might apply to other areas of the visual arts. What do you think?
Tomorrow I'll highlight some of the Arts and Crafts Gardens I've visited - and the images produced as a result - and the books I've read.