Thursday, March 02, 2006

History of Garden Design 101

I had my first garden design class last night: The History and Theory of Garden Design. Sound dull? I'm telling you - it was fascinating! I was nervous, I admit, because I have a history of nodding off as soon as the lights go out and the slide projector whirrs on, but I was alert as Bush in Afghanistan (oh, wait, maybe that's a bad analogy. Bush, alert?)

Anyway, I promised to report back, so here's a terminology tidbit from my class last night: ha-ha. Brits, bear with me.

Ha-has, or sunken fences, became popular in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. The top of the sunken stone wall was level with the garden, so that the view to the pasture beyond was uninteruppted, while still keeping out the livestock. Here is a sketch of a ha-ha, so named, apparently for the surprise expressed when someone came upon one! My instructor, Ron Rule, calls the ha-ha "the most important evolution in garden design." Hmm.

The view from the other side of the ditch wasn't so pretty. This article discusses the class implications of the ha-ha.


Blogger zoki said...

ouh!!! i want a garden in front of my house...

4:56 AM  
Blogger Takoma Gardener said...

The most important evolution in garden design? Who is this guy? Susan

4:55 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

I know, I thought it was odd, but I can see how it may have changed the approach to gardening way back then. Here's Ron's bio, cribbed from the Northwest Flower Show's speaker list:
Ron Rule is a registered Landscape Architect and graduate of the University of Oregon. Since 1975 he has operated his own design practice which specializes in estate gardens. He is the founder and director of the Certificate in Garden Design program at the University of British Columbia. One of Canada’s best-known garden historians, Ron has lead nine successful garden design tours to Europe, and he lectures regularly to garden groups throughout British Columbia and the western United States. Ron has written a monthly design column for Gardenwise magazine since its inception in 2001. His own garden designs have been featured in prominent publications in Canada, the United States and England.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anthony said...

Thanks for the link to the sketch. I've been looking to build a ha-ha in my yard. Do you know where I can get one of those sheep in NJ? :)

Good luck with the rest of the course. Please let us know about any more of the "most important" things that you learn.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Nelumbo said...


Looks like a good way to break an ankle, though.

7:28 PM  

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