Landscape Rhythm The Dynamic Line Of Force

By Kent Higgins

This principle is less ephemeral than unity and more easily defined, and can even be set down in nearly precise mathematical terms. Essentially, the elements or areas of a design have a visual weight; and these weights achieve balance like that of the old-fashioned scale, or seesaw. If the seesaw is unbalanced, the result is distracting or disturbing. The principle of balance is usually mandatory, but the methods of achieving it are not. There are many ways to arrange elements and areas to achieve a balanced design; and here is where originality and personal taste improve the picture.

Two types of balanced composition are generally recognized - formal and informal. Formal balance calls for a focal point or center of interest in the center of the design, with areas and/or elements of equal weight on either side. You can't go wrong with formal balance. There is no question that the geometric arrangement of classic rose gardens are of good design; or even that Colonial or Victorian settings seem suitable for formally balanced decoration.

In informal balance the focal point is off-center--above, below, to one side of the exact center; and it often achieves a lively, interesting effect. To break a broad expanse of garden wall, a vine is planted at one side of its center; or a pillar rose used as an accent is placed similarly off-center - in either case, the larger, unbroken or unaccented areas are large enough and have sufficient weight to balance the object of interest or accent.


Vitality and "dynamic line of force" are somewhat synonymous terms for rhythm. It is a basic principle that creates interest because it gives the effect of motion rather than of static immobility, variety rather than dull monotony. Using lines to create fluid effects contributes to rhythmic quality. For example, a combination of horizontal and vertical lines is more active, more mobile, than a set of running parallels, either horizontal or vertical. Hanging a vine down over the edge of a table, or letting it climb a wall behind a bookcase, at right angles to the horizontal line of the furniture like the hepa air filters, is more effective than training it in a parallel direction.

Using a variety of colors and tones, textures, and structural forms also helps create rhythm. So does allowing one element to overlap the next. - 29857

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