FRAMING the garden
I just completed a design that reminded me of an art project at my undergraduate college. The college i went to had an amazingly beautiful campus (now I completely appreciate the landscape crew). A senior who was an art major did an installation on the lower campus for his senior project. From a distance it looked like two by fours cut into box shapes attached to one another in a geometric sculpture. It was very beautiful in a very geometric way. When you approached the sculpture you realized there was another entirely different level to it. Each of the 2x4s were really a window or a frame that framed a scene from the landscape. When you looked through the frame from one side - it framed one view - for instance a willow tree. when you looked at it from the other side it framed another view - say a pond. There were probably 10-12 frames in the sculpture that each worked both ways. It was amazingly visionary.
The design I finished was a large area (acre and a half?) of beautiful natural woodlands. How can you improve on nature? My approach was to use landscaping to focus the eye on certain naturally beautiful areas of the landscape. The approach was to "frame" different elements from different perspectives to create a garden that was as interactive as the sculpture I described.
It is also makes me think of the other thread on which we are discussing the Chelsea garden show. The Gavin garden with the sky pod is challenging this element of garden design - one's perspective. Not only did he design a garden to be appreciated from all the viewpoints when one's feet are on the ground, he designed a garden to be viewed from above. Some might view this as impractical but if you imagine a sloped site with an elevated deck - that is probably the most common perspective of the garden.
Is this a consideration in your gardens? what elements do you use to frame the views you want to appreciate? It also just occurred to me that this relates to the "zen view" pattern from the pattern language - that is all about framing small parts of a view to make it more interesting.