For Ink - re assignment for the holidays :-)

woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)December 26, 2011

Ink - this could turn out to be expensive! :-) I just ordered four books: one on Dumbarton Oaks; two on Beatrix Farrand (one about the gardens she made and one of her collected writings...) and one on Frederick Law Olmstead just because he's someone else on my list of people I want to know more about and his name came up when I was looking for the other books! I love reading garden history books/books about the making of specific gardens/historical garden writings. I haven't started looking into the serpentine issue yet - I hope that one isn't too expensive :-)

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Dumbarton Oaks. Spent many a lovely afternoon there over my 30 some years in the area. I only wish my interest in the place then leant itself to include more of the scholarly rather than simply being taken by the beauty.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2011 at 9:04PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I just finished two books on Beatrix Farrand. The Dumbarton Oaks book hasn't arrived yet but there was lots of coverage on it in the other two books. The 'collected writings' book was a bit dry - no pictures :-) She didn't do much writing for a general audience in the way her contemporaries like Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson did. Most of her writings were reports for specific people or groups. The second book 'Beatrix Farrand -Private Gardens, Public Landscapes' covered much the same territory as the collected writings book and provided lots of pictures, which made it easier to get a feel for her work. She combined formal flower gardens, informally and densely planted with informal surroundings of trees, vines and shrubs, which really appeals to me. Most of her work was, of course, for very large estates and public institutions such as universities and botanical gardens. But there was an interesting article for a magazine on a hypothetical 75'x125' suburban lot. She used the same approach there. And the plan and photos of the 40'x46' terrace garden for the house she retired to in her 80s were very interesting and attractive. It's too bad that the word 'formal' scares people off these days. I think a lot of gardens would be improved by adding some formality to the plantings.

There were a few things in her writings that made me think of some of the things that come up from time to time here. For example:

' ...landscape gardening is the profession of a painter built on the substructure of that of an engineer.'

Update the numbers for inflation and this warning from 1910 for young women considering a career in landscape design sounds like something laag would say :-)

'...three or four years or more are often needed before the young landscape gardener can count on clearing more than a few hundred a year, usually less than $1000; she will be very fortunate if after ten years her fees amount to more than $3000. The profession is not for those who must count on a steady and increasing income, since it is pecularily dependant on the prosperity of the country, and is almost entirely a profession of luxury.'

I got a chuckle out of this comparison between the art of painting and garden design:
'The two arts [...] are closely related, except that the landscape gardener paints with actual color, line, and perspective to make a composition, as the maker of stained glass does, while the painter has but a flat surface on which to create his illusion; he has, however, the incalculable advantage that no sane person would think of going behind a picture to see if it were equally interesting from that point of view.'

An interesting little note - Farrand is one of those names - like Jekyll as in Gertrude Jekyll - that is not pronounced as I expected. According to the first book, it is pronounced like errand with an F in front.

Next up on the reading list is The Analysis of Beauty by William Hogarth. Gotta figure out this 'line of beauty'/serpentine thing... :-)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 5:10PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I've finished reading The Analysis of Beauty - very interesting! I will post a separate thread on it shortly....

BTW - this thread is not meant for Ink only. Anyone who has an interest in garden history should feel free to chime in... I'm particularly interested in suggestions for things I should read.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 5:23PM
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I just found these links that might be useful woody, one here and one in the box

Here is a link that might be useful: Chinese Chambers

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 11:16AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Thanks Ink. I've ordered both Knight's Analytical Inquiry Into the Principles of Taste (that should be a good companion to Hogath's on Beauty...) and Porter's The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth Century England. There's a lot of winter left so those should keep me occupied for a while.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 11:53AM
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In my next post I will show instructions for building heavy duty book shelves.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 12:56PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

LOL! I have a bit of a problem with books.... :-)

We de-cluttered a bit in the fall and got rid of about 60 linear feet or so of paperbacks from the basement rec. room. So there is empty shelving down there, but it's not very accessible to me so I keep the garden stuff in the office bookcases.

The music and camera stuff in this picture belongs to DH. The books are mainly mine and about half are garden books. The two binders behind the music stand contain plant tags for some of the things in the garden.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 5:53PM
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Kindred spirit try the link below...

Here is a link that might be useful: joy of books

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 6:42PM
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...and here I was going to ask if you would consider Kobo.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 7:20PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Cute link... I agree, there's nothing like a real book! Kobo - and others of that ilk - are never going to cut it with me!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 8:09PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

The latest batch of books arrived yesterday and I've started reading 'The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England'. I'm not sure whether it will cover the serpentine issue or not but there is a chapter on Hogarth and there is one that refers to gardens, so we'll see...

The writing is rather heavily academic but it's quite interesting so far. One thing particularly stuck me in the opening chapter - he talks about traditional Chinese art as being 'pre-perspectival' and says (partly quoting an 18th cantury writer) 'This pre-perspectival lawlessness leads to absurdity: figures floating up in the air; a courtly mandarin handing tea to a lady who appears to be two miles away, another lady stepping into a boat "moored on the hither side of this calm garden river, with a dainty mincing foot, which in a right angle of incidence (as angles go in our world) must infallibly land her in the midst of a flowery mead - a furlong off on the other side of the same strange stream".'

Does that passage not bring to mind the mock-ups from D6/ideasshare? Is she just operating from a different cultural aesthetic and is perhaps not even aware of why her designs look so odd to us - i.e. the almost total lack of consideration of perspective. Perspective is so much a part of western aesthetic that we don't think of it- but recognize as strange any drawing that ignores/violates it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:04AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Some more 'froufrou' for those who have an interest in it - or who don't mind it....

I've finished reading The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England and An Analytical Inquiry Into the Principles of Taste.

Neither had much direct relevance to gardening but did connect to the Hogarth book I read. The Chinese Taste book was largely about the process/stages/impact of how exposure to a different culture affects the first culture. What I 'took away' from the book was as follows:

The initial reaction to Chinese porcelain imports into 18th century England was very positive - a widespead fascination with the beautiful porcelain and the culture that produced it. Later, there was a negative reaction against it, mainly led by those with an aesthetic philosophy bent. Later still, certain aspects of it became adopted as part of English culture and identification (think - afternoon tea....)

Aesthetic philosophies of the time were heavily based on the 'authority' of the 'ancients' (mainly Roman, Greek, and - to a lesser extent - Egyptian civilizations). So the initial exposure to an even more ancient, and obviously highly civilized and enduring, civilization was one of fascinated admiration.

However, as they learned more about Chinese culture, it became evident that the Chinese aesthetic was entirely different than the western one. Given that 'ancients' were considered authoritative, that posed a dilemma/threat to western aesthetics because here was an even more ancient civilization who had an entirely different aesthetic approach! So the backlash against the Chinese imported articles/cultural ideas seemed to be in large part motivated by a desire to 'protect' the western aesthetic framework. This description of some of the differences in appoaches to landscape painting seems to be a good summary of the different aesthetics:

" One of the central organizing principles in early modern Chinese landscape painting and gardening is the balance of tension between eternally opposed forces, yin and yang, water and rock, earth and sky. Human figures, like pine trees, typically represent a merely transient, intermediate state between these poles, rather than the fully consummate pinacle of devine creation."

Women became the major purchasers/collectors of Chinese porcelain. The author - and others he refers to - speculate that a large part of the attraction was that the portrayal of women on Chinese porcelain seemed to depict them as having more autonomy and dignity than in Western classical art (where women often nude and/or the object of - often violent or coarse - male desire). Nudes were absent in the Chinese depictions of women. So, the presentation of women in Chinese art seemed compatible with emerging trends of women actively seeking greater autonomy and control in 18th century England. (Of course, women's place in Chinese society was not as rosy as it appeared on the Chinawares....)

Chinese porcelain became a symbol in the art of Hogarth and his contemporaries of rebellious women challenging/undermining male authority. Hogarth did not like Chinese porcelain - it had none of his lines of beauty or grace. The author of this book clearly did not like Hogarth! The impression you get is that he thought Hogarth was a sexist lech! (He probably was - but so were most 18th century men...)

In summary, the book was interesting but I didn't learn much about Chinese gardens or where serpentines might fit into the picture. It did leave me wanting to know more about Chinese gardening traditions so I will look for a good book on that once I finish some other (non-gardening) books.

Moving on to the Analytical Inquiry Into The Principles of Taste....

I confess - I didn't finish this one! At about the 75% complete point he was talking about architectural styles and referring to his house. I went on-line (good old Wikipedia...) to see what his house looked like - and found the bio summary on him. His first book was The Worship of Priapus - which apparently sought to recover the importance of ancient phallic cults! Sheesh...! That destroyed his credibility as an arbiter of taste IMO!!

I was finding the book a struggle to read anyway. It's one of those where you read something and say 'that makes sense', but each piece doesn't make a strong narrative that hangs together in a memorable way, so you keep losing the point.... I would be hard put to try to clearly state what his principles af taste actually were! He didn't approve of Hogarth's lines of beauty and grace because he didn't like rule-based approaches to art and consideration of beauty.

One of the interesting things about the book was that it really hits you over the head that a classical education at the time involved 'reading the classics' (i.e. Latin and Greek writers - in Latin and Greek). Many of his footnotes are in Latin or Greek (with the Greek ones in the Greek alphabet). I now thoroughly understand why when something completely baffles you, you say 'It's all Greek to me..."!

The INKognito effect can lead you down some interesting - and a bit strange - roads... :-)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 9:26PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

Woody, whatcha got in the guitar cases? Besides a guitar!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:50PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Sorry to be boring whaas... there are only guitars in the guitar cases :-)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 10:23AM
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woody I think you have hit the head on the nail regarding reading academic books, you need to read a lot to pick out the one sentence that resonates. I started to write a blog entry that is turning into a book so maybe I should break it into episodes hopefully not regarded as epistles. There are a few more books I could suggest but perhaps it would be best if I wrote a synopsis highlighting what I think is important for landscape design.

I will leave you with something to think about regarding what was learned from looking at Chinese gardens and Japanese gardens too and that is the use or purpose and it has a lot to do with walking, sorry I can't make it any more enigmatic than that but this where I think the serpentine line comes in.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 11:07AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I'm such a tool...I just wanted to know what kind!lol!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 11:52AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Ink - so you're still blogging...? I used to have a link to your blog but have lost it - can you post it again please?

I have just ordered The Craft of Gardens by Ji Cheng. It dates back to 1631! A new edition is coming out around the end of April so I'm on the waiting list for that at Amazon. The author of The Chinese Taste book was warning that it's hard to know whether western writers' interpretation of things Chinese accidentally misunderstand things because of looking at them through western-cultured eyes. So I went looking for a book on Chinese gardens by a Chinese author. I gather this one is considered a classic, so we'll see....

I'd be happy to have more suggestions for books to read (I'm sort of a book addict :-) and you don't need to do a synopsis re gardens for them. If I don't 'get it' initially, I'm sure it'll come to me when I mull things over after I finish them :-)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:00PM
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I hope I didn't come across as patronizing woody I hadn't meant to insult you only to save you money! Why not try 'Fruitful Sites' by Craig Clunas and 'Greater Perfections' by John Dixon Hunt to be going on with and ask for more if you need them. The first book is about Chinese gardens and the second is a theoretical book of garden history.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:14PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Thanks Ink - I've ordered them used so they're pretty cheap... I checked the local library first. When I searched for Greater Perfections, Frank Cabot's book on his Les Quatre Vents garden came up. I haven't read that one and it's a garden I've heard a lot about and would like to see some day, so I'm going to pick that one up from the library. Have you been there?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:52PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

whaas - sorry, I missed your second comment... The guitars are acoustic ones; a Seagull and a Taylor. They're DH's - I am totally non-musical so know nothing more about them! :-)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 10:22PM
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Search all the names in search engines find the books on web

And yes, you are right now a days inks are too expensive. But but the needham ink provide high quality inks at customer satisfaction.

Here is a link that might be useful: High quality inks

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 10:58PM
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