I have a considerable interest in curves, and as promised here is Take Two of the Curve Photo Challenge.
I am not, alas, skilled in plotting probability curves relating to atomic matter based on a hideously complex equation. Also, the curves in my cursive writing are an irregular scrawl. I can, however, navigate curves with reasonable proficiency when driving, and I have a deep appreciation of seductive ones!
There is another set of curves which fascinate and frustrate me, though, and those relate to gardening and landscape design. As a garden judge, I have developed a sensitivity to the way beds are set out, and find this is one area where even the most dedicated gardeners tend to go wrong – or the garden labour muck things up. A flower bed at the side of a lawn, for example. If one goes for the ‘easy’ option of a rectangle, the straight lines have an absolute compulsion to start wiggling. Anyway, those only work in very formal gardens, and generally one finds flowing curves are better.
This is where problems can start. Many gardeners will go for incredibly ‘fussy’ little semicircles, which only work in a tiny bed. Larger beds call for gentle, sweeping curves, which lead the eye along the length of them to – hopefully – some focal point. The trouble is that by accident or design the flow of these is usually interrupted by a kink or defect. This spoils the whole effect.
Of course, the safe way of ensuring that curves remain unblemished is, after getting the shape perfect, to line them with pavers or stakes. The purist, though, will shy away from adding such artificiality to the planting, and it must be admitted that gardens where the plants in a well-shaped bed meet the lawn along perfectly defined curves without ‘edging’ are stunning.
A final hazard – particularly in a sloped garden – what seems a perfectly-defined curve from one angle can easily appear to have a fault from another. It is usually possible to find a compromise that will work from any aspect, but this can take months of frustration to achieve.
A tip for initial shaping – lay out a de-kinked garden hose along the proposed edge, study the result from all angles, adjust as many times as are necessary, and forbid it to move a millimetre until digging has been done using it as a template.