Sunday, June 8, 2008

GT: Focal Points

This will be, necessarily, rudimentary.

I was working with Macunovich's book last night: it seems a focal point is to be surrounded with frames. She uses the analogy of a picture set off by its frame, if that's helpful to you.

Here's a basic frame: Priority plant in the middle, surrounded on all side by a secondary plant:

This would be used if you want to see the grouping from all sides.

Then, there's flanking the priority plant. Two things on either side of something calls attention to the thing in the middle, like a pot of flowers on either side of the front door.

Then, there's underlining. This is an excellent way to bring attention to something against a wall or fence, or hedge.

More complicated frames are constructed from a combination of the first three.

B approximates "surround" and "flanking." C is obviously underlining and D is another surround and flank. (I wouldn't have thought military tactics and gardening would share the same vocabulary, but there you go.)

The same scheme can create formal lines (straightish) or informal (ellipsish). (There are also other considerations other than line, such as the use of repetition and so on, which determine whether something is formal or informal but that's as far as my knowledge goes today!)

Then, one can use the frames to lead the eye. This would direct the viewers attention to the right:

In the next example, apparently, if you kept the plant B fairly low, you could direct the viewers attention around back:

Focal plants are apparently those things called "specimens" in the plant books and catalogues. They can either stand alone or be highlighted with other plants in the frames. A focal point plant should also be interesting, (at least to you) and worth emphasizing. But it needn't be a plant.
It could be a gnome or birdbath or sundial. You would put it in position "A" and arrange the plants accordingly.

There can obviously be more than one focal point in one's garden, too. How that all comes together is on my reading list for this week.


zooza said...

Will there be an exam?

Only joking - this is all fascinating and you have explained it very well. Thank you! My initial thoughts are that I've got a cluster, but no focal point. Off to think some more...

Alana in Canada said...

Oh good. I was hoping you'd find it helpful!

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