Mother Nature’s Perfect Design

My husband and I spent this past weekend on the north shore, camping and hiking and generally renewing our spirits. As avid birdwatchers, we spent the better part of an hour watching an osprey preening itself atop a tree trunk high above the Cascade River. Although I’m no Thoreau, the experience gave me the idea for writing about how nature gives us the perfect designs. Perfect in the way that a stand of trees achieves the principles of design with its unique elements of shape, texture, color, line and form.

Balance: demonstrated in the way the different types of trees are distributed evenly, but randomly, throughout ones sight line

Emphasis: the focal point, especially this time of year, shown in the maple trees that change their colors first, or in the few scattered trees sporting red berries

Rhythm: each element belongs to a unified whole, and the line of trees growing in their repetitive shapes is easy for the eye to follow

Proportion and Scale: from majestic pine to diminutive shrub, each element relates perfectly to it’s outdoor room and to each other

Harmony and Unity: Repeating the types of trees, balancing them throughout, and adding variety accomplishes these last two elements. Too much unity and harmony can be boring; too much variety can be jarring and overwhelming. Think of it this way: a stand of all pines is not as interesting as a forest of many different types of trees.

Design is defined as “the organized arrangement of one or more elements and principles (eg. line color or texture) for a purpose”. I’m sure any forestry person could tell me the scientific reasons why and how the trees are arranged the way they are, but I’d just like to think it was for my visual enjoyment and overall relaxation. Especially when this past weekend had the most perfect weather since the days of Eden.

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