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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mathematics in the Garden

In honor of National Mathematics Awareness Month, the Archives of American Gardens highlights design of Three Gates, a private garden in Des Moines, Iowa, inspired by the principles of geometry including the golden ratio, phi, geometric progression and Fibonacci numbers.

The placement of Three Gates' main structural plantings was determined using the golden ratio, the golden spiral and Fibonacci numbers using a five-pointed star within a vesica piscis. The garden designer's hope was to create a connection to the "natural world that [was] deeper than superficial beauty." The connection between mathematics and nature is not unusual and nature itself reveals this in a number of ways. For example, Fibonacci numbers appear in nature as spiral growth patterns found in many flowers, seeds and pine cones.

Three Gates is a conscious example of how mathematical principles are applied in a garden setting. On a more general level, mathematics intersect garden design and gardening in many different ways. For example, geometry is used in the layout of many gardens, probability in calculating how many seeds to plant in a pot or plot, ratios in determining the amount of fertilizer to use on plants and slope in determining how water drains in the yard.

--Kelly Crawford
Archives of American Gardens
Smithsonian Gardens

1 comment:

  1. Math and Garden? This is really a surprising “odd couple”! I have always associated Gardening with biology and art, but have forgotten the important math component! I now love gardening even more!