I’ve spent the past year of photographing and writing about interesting and richly varied gardens and plants. It’s been immensely enjoyable and satisfying. But something strange has happened. I’ve recently found myself unexpectedly drawn to the simple beauty of geometrically shaped shrubs and trees- something I’ve never had any interest in before. I keep noticing them and I’ve realised I really like them.
The geometric shapes can occur naturally, as with these cypresses,
or as the result of a vision, planning, and careful clipping and shaping.
Many small flowering plants form natural, spherical clumps which are quite delightful and look great in street plantings.
I asked myself, why has it taken me so long to wake up to the pleasures of geometry in the garden?
Naturally I consulted the ultimate authority, Wikipedia, and found the following quote from philosopher Bertrand Russell, which seems quite apposite:
Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show. The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry.
Many gardeners in my home town, Mudgee, are already onto this. Now that I’ve got my eye in, everywhere I look I see beautiful geometric shapes emerging, that I’ve never really noticed before.
This young garden promises great things for the future.
I love the drama of this row of graduated cypresses. That they’re hardy and tolerate our harsh, dry climate, makes them even more appealing.
This Mudgee garden is looking interesting with a combination of geometric shapes, colours and textures.
These silvery grey spheres look fantastic against the rusty-brown woodchips.
On my recent trip to Armidale I found this delightful example of geometry in the garden.
The spheres are irresistible!
The pleasure and purity of geometry is reminiscent of other simple pleasures- tea and toast after an excess of fine dining, an hour with a good book after a weekend of hectic socialising. I’ll always be drawn to gardens with “gorgeous trappings”, but my new appreciation of simple, “stern perfection” has enriched my understanding of what a garden can be.