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Balance - Garden Design

There are gardens around the world renowned for their beauty, classical design and grandness.

The core element for these gardens is formal symmetry, which creates a masterpiece of balance design principles emulated throughout the world, including Australia and some local gardens.

The essence of a symmetrical balanced garden is 'what's on the left is on the right'.

Traditionally used in European gardens, this style of garden has become popular for modern homes that adopt a minimalist design approach.

Crisp clean lines of architectural buildings are complimented by linear defined squares, rectangles and triangles, in addition to circles characteristic of these garden designs.

Courtyards, small backyards and large acreage can all adopt principles of symmetrical balance. It is a matter of deciding each garden owners preference for style and theme.

If considering creating a symmetrical garden it is highly recommended that preparatory drawings be done on paper, and that a landscape designer be consulted.

First priority is a central axis. Central axis is a line of sight through the middle of a garden, or a section of the garden. If only a section of the garden is to be developed, then it is imperative that perimeter barriers (physical walls or hedges) be created to accentuate that garden section.

At the far end of the central axis line, there should be a focal point such as a water feature, figure, or similar. This focal point must demand the full attention of the garden viewer in order to relax the viewer's senses, in contrast to the strong ridged lines of the formal garden.

From this point patterns can be created provided left and right sides of the central axis are mirrored.

Patterns are created using pathways, hedges, topiary and pots. Traditional plants used are English Box (Buxus sempervirens) however in south east Queensland, more suitable plants are:-

·         Buxus 'Faulkner' (Box)

·         Duranta cultivars (Skyflowers)

·         Murraya paniculatum 'Exotica' (Orange Jessamine)

·         Syzygium 'Lillyput'; 'Bush Christmas'; 'Tiny Trev'; 'Blaze' (Lillypillies)

·         Westringia fruticosa (Coastal rosemary)

Flowering plants are traditionally used as fillers between the hedges. This allows designers and owners to maximise seasonal appeal and personalised colour themes. Annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs and even small trees can be used as colourful fillers.

Primarily are good formal symmetrical garden will support the statement of "less is more".

In other words, only one plant is used to create all the hedges thereby creating a sense of uniformity and simplicity. Other plants used as fillers are kept in control and used in moderation.


By: Paul Plant FAIH, Horticulturists and writer

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