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When discussing character of a garden, most writers and experts skirt around a definition, referring to it more like a quality. It is, however, one of the most elusive of gardening qualities. Thomas Heatley, who wrote a clear analytical outline, on gardening, wrote a chapter on character. However his writing was much different from what is discussed here. This article will deal with the distinction of the actual word as it distinguishes one composition from another, even if they may have the same basic style.

It is clear to understand what character is meant by when we refer to human character. Try to use the same notion when applying to garden settings. A person may seem very friendly, but they may lack personality and character. The same applies to a garden setting; the garden may be perfect in unity and harmony, but it may still lack character. The character comes from the personal signature of the designer. A poem that is pure and has soft and gentle lyrics would not come from the heart of a wicked person. Similarly a stunning painting does not come from a dull and boring mind. A garden full of vigor and diversity is not designed by an artist that has weak style. There is a connection between the designer and the heart of the garden setting.

Character and style are easy to confuse. In literature the words describe basically the same thing. For example, take two authors, with distinctly different styles of writing, they also have different character. In gardening, however, the word style is used for something completely different from character. Style, in gardening refers to an influence, like a Japanese style garden. So what is style in literature is actually character in gardening. There are a lot of ways to add character to your garden setting, depending on the style you like. For example, adding an old world wall fountain to a European style garden will add immense character.

There are terms that are used in association with character. Words like simplicity, dignity, and boldness are often used in garden criticisms. These terms are usually applied to gardens that are created for art. These ideas all represent certain types of character.
These terms, being used to represent character, are just a few of the many words that can be applied. The list will never be complete. There is no way to describe something in three words only. Character is an indefinite thing. There are words that mean the exact opposite, such as complexity, lowliness, and timidity. Instead of using the word complexity you can use elaborateness. This is a more specific classification. Using words like propriety and appropriateness can be more difficult to choose between. The first word is very explicit, while the second word has more of a connotation of brevity and positive associations.

Propriety is regarding the gardeners work just as a it would be applied to a social gathering. This type of criticisms much needed. Even the most professional gardeners, do not always recognize that propriety needs to be applied to landscaping. Take a look at the American cemetery to see a good example of this. This is truly a solemn setting, but inside there are objects of childish conception, that is so incongruous to the overall theme and effect of the place. The ornamentation of a cemetery is something that is being written about more often, so hopefully the new decoration of the cemeteries is heading in the right direction.