International Styles

Garden Light and Shade

As display of form in objects depends more or less on light and shadow, and as, in works of art, they become pleasing or defective, according as they are produced agreeably to certain rules, it is necessary to understand them, that in the business of planting, the forms adopted shall be such as to produce well regulated effects of light and shade; and the plantations of the boundary give plenty of means to obtain them. If these be planted in order to form large bays and bold promontories, well disposed to receive the glancing rays of the sun, it is evident that broad effects of light and shade must transpire; so, in large masses of planting, if they be developed wisely, the irregularity of their plans will, at all points of view, show effective light and shade, without which, such objects are tame and vapid.

In making arrangements to produce the effects of light and shadow, the objects must be governed upon the same principles as a painter would dispose them for the purposes of his art; they would then acquire prominent and modified lights, broad shadows - in part re-illuminated by reflections-middle tints, and actual depths or darknesses; it is from the disposition and due proportion of all these, that what is called force in a picture, is produced, and it is not otherwise in landscape improvement. Under the term Light, may be considered the illuminations of the object, whether within the actual and sparkling effect of sunshine, or subdued by the operations of distance: The shadows form the relief and repose of the scene, the small and brilliant touches, and the deep and vigorous shades that give force by opposition, are the powerful means of creating the bold effects so greatly admired in works of art, and which may be produced with equal success in the actual landscape. The broad glare of sunshine on an uniform surface cannot please, and the calm equable tone of shade alone, is dull and insipid; but when both are wisely modified by form and situation, and relieved and contrasted by each other, they become all that the tasteful mind desires to create by them.

For the purposes of contrast, or for relief, it is not unordinary to place small white objects in grounds, as statues, vases, busts, &c.; it may not be imcorrect to observe, here, that these are generally more injurious than useful - particularly if they are of white marble; the contrast is too abrupt, and at a distance the object seems but as a place which, however, acts so forcibly on the sight, that it seems actually near, and thence lessens in appearance, the real extent of the ground. Indeed, so powerful is this effect, that where several marble busts and statues have been introduced in grounds, an experienced eye has been deceived in more than half its area; these decorations are best in retired places and in buildings-they do not always mix agreeably with the landscape.


The pleasing effects that may be produced by light and shade, are capable of increase by colour. Vegetation, in the hands of the landscape improver, is a substitution for the palette of the painter, and both use them upon the same principles. But, as the green colours of the landscape artist may generally be divided into the simple denominations of light and dark, he cannot do better than view them as such, and proceed accordingly: so he will augment his efects of light in his general arrangements, by light-coloured trees, and increase his depths by the dark ones; and so'he will produce contrast and opposition, and give general effect of disposition and colour, even without the invigorating benefit of sunshine.

The blossoms of some trees present another feature of colour which ought to be carefully applied-they admirably decorate the near grounds and home plantations, by their gaiety and brilliancy; but on those accounts they are not suitable to the general scenery, because they either produce a placety appearance, or otherwise disturb the general harmony and park-like character. In low growths, however, if sparingly brought forward from the masses of trees they contrast, they are certainly decorative and inugly.

In the dressed grounds and the flower garden, where gaiety and splendour should prevail, every thing that suitably contributes to them, in art or nature, is desirable aid, and there is plenty of space for an ingenious and tasteful display of them: Towards accomplishing this, a few hints, well known to artists, may be useful.

Red and blue are called hot and cold colours, and all their modifications are considered as warm or cool, as red or blue are found to prevail in them; they are strong in contrast to each other, but do not harmonize without the intervention of a third. The colours that are said to be in perfect harmony are red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple - they are nevertheless perfect contrasts, or in the extremes of opposition, green possesses a greater portion of repose than any other colour; Nature, therefore, has beneficently made it the mantle of the earth, and with which all colours agree. The use of white is too well known as the means of increasing the lustre of coloers, to need further observation.

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