Study may create landscapes with year-round visual appeal

New York, Dec 29 (IANS) A new study offers recommendations that may help landscape professionals create landscapes in temperate climates that people can enjoy year-round.

Rob Kuper, from the department of landscape architecture and horticulture at Temple University, used photographs of landscapes in various seasons to determine peoples’ perceptions and preferences for the colour complexity of changing natural scenes.

“Plant and vegetative colour changes may influence human perception and affect preference ratings and complexity estimations,” Kuper said.

According to him, determining whether and how measures of categorical colours (plants and vegetation that are red, green, blue, etc.) and perceptual colours (landscapes containing variations of reds, greens, and blues) affect consumers’ landscape preferences has practical implications.

“Plant growers, scientists, designers, and installers can benefit from understanding and predicting whether people prefer landscapes containing categorical colours, perceptual colors, or neither.”

Kuper’s study involved 48 colour photographs depicting four visual states of plant growth — winter dormancy, foliation, flowering, and senescence — at four locations on each of three landscape architecture project sites in New York and Pennsylvania.

Study participants were asked to use a scale to rate how much they liked the scene in each photograph. They were also instructed to estimate the presence of ‘complexity’ (the degree of richness or intricacy in a scene) in the photos.

Computer software also computed objective measures of colour complexity for each photograph using digital image pixel formulae.

“The significant and strong effect on preference ratings implies that participants’ perceptions may have been affected by the plant and vegetative visual changes that were depicted between the photographs,” the author said.

Results also suggested that participants might have liked depictions of winter dormancy and senescent plants and vegetation considerably less than those of foliated landscapes. Preferences for flowering scenes were not significantly different from those for foliated scenes.

Objective measures of complexity were not significantly different between foliated scenes and dormant, flowering, and senescent scenes. Overall, Kuper noted, respondents may have liked scenes that were green and not brown.

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