Re-Re-Repetition in the Landscape

To make a point, repeat yourself...that is what the business coaches tell us... repeat it and maybe it'll stick.

So it is with landscapes...and art.

Walter de Maria, an Amercian sculptor (b.1935) uses repetition in his work. His '13, 14, 15 Meter Rows' (1985) highlights his interest in mathematical systems and features 117 solid stainless steel rods, each one measuring one meter long and having equal volume and weight. They are ordered according to precise calculations.  As Gagosian gallery describes, natural light floods the gallery space through the south and west clerestory windows allowing the viewer to experience the artwork differently according to the weather and the time of day.

(another sculpture by Walter De Maria)

All this lovely art derives from gardens, I am sure. After all, before art galleries, there were gardens!

So if you see your garden as an art gallery, of sorts, and your walkway as an art installation, you, too, can create a repetitive art piece based on precise mathematical calculations - or maybe just how you are feeling at the moment.

(The Japanese gardeners knew it all)

Repetition can be formulaic or it can be a pattern or it can be simply plants in a row. 

Deliberate repetition in a garden setting makes a visual point, creates order and, in the process, calms us immensely.

Ordered vs. chaos - most of us would choose ordered ...

(Elijah Blue Fescue in a row - Johnsen Landscapes & Pools)

The 'bosque' or gridded arrangement of trees so favored by the landscape architect, Dan Kiley, was used in the Pepsico headqquarters in Purchase, New York. There, a large grid of plane trees stands outside the modern building amidst concrete squares. It is 'ordered' to the hilt:

( trees at Pepsico World Headquarters)

I don't know whether esoteric formulas were the basis of the tree spacing (as in De Maria's work) but its ordered arranegement is someting to see - and anyway you must visit  Pepsico World Headquarters in Purchase, NY and see its amazing landscape. A must see for garden lovers. It was the winner of the 2009 Landmark Award by the American Society of Landscape Architects and the National trust for Historic Preservation.

And who says repetition has to be in the ground or can be how you arrange your outdoor seating for maximum effect! This is how a dear client of mine did it around her new pool:

(Johnsen Landscapes & Pools - all rights reserved)

So next time you are considering a change - try Repetition - (sounds like an ad)....So soothing and fun to do !

(Jefferson's wall just keeps repeating and repeating...)


  1. I agree, keep it going until it works! It eventually will. Nice post!

  2. I love how your posts often include something relevant to my little garden. I have just planted a repeating garden of blue fescue.

  3. ah,there are no coincidences..

  4. Repetition in landscape can be so effective and sometimes hypnotic, you have selected nice photos to show this.

    Repetition in landscape can be so effective and sometimes hypnotic, you have selected nice photos to show this.

    Repetition in landscape can be so effective and sometimes hypnotic, you have selected nice photos to show this.

  5. I just took Jans' Serenity class and can't rave enough how much of a spiritual experience it was. The gardens in her portfolio she showed us was inspirationalI couldn't wait to get home and made immediate change. Thanks Jan!
    Michael Resnick

  6. Michael - thank you so much for that great compliment (which I only saw now)...I hope to see you again!


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