Page:Olmsted report on Portland, Oregon parks, 1903.djvu/14

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26
REPORT OF THE PARK BOARD

colors and decorations of these rooms would be quite out of harmony if each room showed these things on the outside walls of the house. So, too, in park designing there may be a long stretch of tree masses of irregular shape and varying tints of green corresponding to a house wall, and designed to harmonize with the meadow or lake which it frames, while the opposite face of the same mass of trees may be planted to harmonize with some entirely different section of the park, such as a formal garden or a mall upon which buildings or statues are to face, or it may be faced with the special horticultural varieties of trees and shrubs which are developed by the nurserymen and prized by the gardener for their artificiality of form, odd-shaped leaves, peculiar color of foliage, conspicuous flowers, or their decorative effect in masses. A clipped evergreen hedge thirty feet high might be an ugly enclosure of an informal lake, yet it might be a most effective and suitable background for a collection of palms or to shelter an aviary from cold winds.

Unfortunately it seem to happen very often that a park is first improved mainly with a view to providing the beauties of landscape and afterwards has sprinkled over it every sort of thing which people are believed to admire. The usual result is analogous to the effect of the interior of a curiosity shop as compared with the library of the home of a family of good taste. The shop is a haphazard collection of objects many of which may be very beautiful but which do not unite with others to form a beautiful and harmonious whole, while in the home library each object is carefully selected and placed both with regard to the purpose of the room and with regard to the effect of each object seen in connection with its surroundings.

The designer of a park should assign proper places for sundry things for a variety of purposes and must meet many limitations and practical requirements always with the beauty of the whole as well as of the parts in mind as the prime consideration.

For instance, if a meadow is to be provided as a prominent landscape feature because of its usefulness for strolling and for field sports, it must constantly be borne in mind that the beauty of a meadow consists in its breadth and simplicity, in its smooth, continuous green sward and in its naturalness. Many things are done to a park meadow in direct contravention of these obvious characteristics. Its breadth is broken by conspicuous drives and walks, its simplicity is ruined by flower beds, its greensward is injured by excessive trampling or by short-cut paths being allowed to be worn in it and its naturalness is destroyed by grading it to a flatness not characteristic of the surrounding topography, or by harsh obvious artificial turf terraces, or by planting regular rows of trees along it borders.