Curves and Landscapes

We all like curves. Males are rumored to especially go for them based on some inner attraction mechanism and baseball pitchers – though not necessarily batters – are famous for their love of the swerving lines that Nature seems to deal in. Often, however, people seem to design their structures and buildings using nothing but straight lines. This may be simply because we are too caught up in practical concepts, or too worried about things like “what does buildings insurance cover?” to think about the aesthetics of the building itself. Curved features are likely to be added as something of an afterthought.  Outside of crystals and the apparent flat plane of a horizon, just exactly how many straight lines do we see in Nature?

Well – Here’s a few – note the basalt (volcanic) crystals in this arrangement outside the Portland Zoo.

(left click all images to enlarge)

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Note this other example of an orderly straight line in Nature:

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We’ll make straight lines in our landscapes to determine property limits with fencing or walls, for sure. And if we want a formal structure, we can do it as well. But, for me, by far the primary arc in any landscaping project has the sensation of curving, growing and the sense of revelation and “emerging” within those rigid exterior forms of perfect lines:

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This patio, framed inside the stucco walls containing it, evolves daintily, gradually curving to show off plant effects and softening the hard lines of its perimeter.

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A look in the other direction from the same perspectitve reveals much going on – a water feature at the end of this one, if enlarged, all mitigating those straight, boring walls which provide the privacy:

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Fed by curving walks, the theme is shown, then repeats itself over and over on this large project. All the hard, straight, formal constructions, from the house itself to these patio walls are rigid in their perfection. It needs to get a little less “Uptight”:

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Other factors can increase the “humanity” or the “naturalness” of new constructions. Rocks, mulches, boulders themselves, terrain-shaping – we use all these methods to render a more pleasing and accepting palette for the eye and dare I say The Souls of us to relax just a bit and to allow the mind to ease off the throttle:

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Even simple constructions can ring in a more relaxing take on the hard lines of sidewalks and driveways. The home below, for example, originally had itself a nice square bunch of concrete underneath the pillars and leading to the front door. We not only curved it but we also crossed the lawn for a far more pleasant journey out back:

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This curvaceous sidewalk leads to a very, very curvy circle, hard by the little waterfall and has been perfect for socializing in evenings and mornings “Out by the falls” 😉 :

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Curves also hold out interest by inviting the natural tendency of the eye to follow things to conclusion. We ask: “Where does it go?” and we find a nice, pleasant mystery that maintains a mental hunger but which exists to satisfy exactly that with surprises geared to make us better people.

Their form can make a patch of grass in a desert look like a small lake:


Or they can provide just enough mystery to make us wonder “What’s around that bend in the road?”:


A curving line is so cool, it can make you want to take a barefoot walk:

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Nature’s curve balls are excellent fun.

4 thoughts on “Curves and Landscapes

  1. Seems to me that straight lines are the exception rather than the rule in nature. According to Einstein, even light travels in curved lines due to gravitational forces, and they speak of the curvature of space-time, although the physics of that is beyond me. And then of course there are labrynths, which some people use as a spiritual practice. So I’d say that you’re onto something here.

    (Incidentally, I’m getting a message that your version of CommentLuv needs updating.)

  2. Thanks, Rich. And for the shout out about CommentLuv. Wow, you do fabulous work! Your site is gorgeous. For me, encumbered with the boots, gloves and shirtlessness that accompanied me so often while trying to determine lines, it was never a question. I’m saying I had and still have a totally instinctual relationship to many of the designs I installed. Oh – and folks liked them. maybe THEY were onto something, eh?

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