Garden Geometries: Rhythm / by Nicole Bemboom

By Vera Gates

With the use of rhythm, we pull many variable aspects together and a design begins to vibrate and move. Through design, we compose a synchronized experience of movement through space, with greater and lesser moments of time. 

We achieve rhythm through a thoughtful combination of geometric forms which are repeated and articulated. The effect is transformative and memorable as we, the viewer, perceive these rhythms and are engaged by them.

Floating Planes by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photography by Michele Lee Willson

Floating Planes by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photography by Michele Lee Willson

Garden rhythm can be playful, quiet, spicy, meditative or operatic.  Many gardens are a combination of rhythmic themes, interwoven throughout the site.

For a small garden, a simple repetitive form, with perhaps just a beat of contrast will work well. A thoughtful precision of tempo, with an articulation and punctuation at just the right moment(s) will engage and delight.

For larger gardens, there is typically an overriding rhythmic order, which can be replicated to greater and lesser degree, throughout the garden. Momentum builds along a quiet journey and explodes in a crescendo, before finally letting go into the wild edges of the land.

Literary Inspiration by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photo by Rebecca Ford

Literary Inspiration by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photo by Rebecca Ford

Literary Inspiration by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photo by David Livingston

Literary Inspiration by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photo by David Livingston

It is helpful to establish the desired rhythm of a garden early in the design process. Such rhythm can be seen in early conceptual design studies, throughout the design process, and into the built garden.

Good garden design provides an orchestrated rhythm that is visually compelling, fully functional and memorable.

Sunset Idea House by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photo by Thomas J. Story for Sunset

Sunset Idea House by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photo by Thomas J. Story for Sunset