Would be interesting to know how fellow passionate gardeners feel if we have an intrinsic bias to symmetry or asymmetry with balance when it comes to what gardens we prefer?

Conversations with an architect about a mudbrick home restoration coupled with just too much time being locked down has left me thinking a lot about whether the amount of symmetry I’ve applied in my garden doesn’t necessarily contribute to the feeling of contemplative calm as I’d hoped. I’m sure most would agree we all have a heightened awareness of the value of creating more serene spaces lately.

Another rabbit hole of thought... Studies have found young children have strong aesthetic preference for symmetrical visual patterns but suggest however we then develop to have ‘highly plastic’ aesthetic preferences.
Another study states ‘visual symmetry is closely related to subjective beauty’; of course, this is by comparison with pure asymmetry, not asymmetry with balance . ‘Reflexive’ symmetry (mirror image) design created the greatest ‘happy’ response.

Exploring design principles attributed to Gestalt psychology, there’s a lot to support how a balanced composition from arranging both positive elements and negative space so that no one area overpowers another makes for a strong sense of pleasing calm. Recalling now also Gordon Ford’s notes on ‘Mass and Void’ and the ancient Japanese Zen Fukinsei.

Interestingly, a key word that appears more down the path of balanced asymmetry is ‘engaged’. Studies reveal that the depth and visual interest generates mind-soothing effects.

We all would agree that it’s all about how we feel in a garden space. Am I satisfied with feeling ‘happy’ from the strong symmetry or soothed from introducing more balanced asymmetry?

I’m easily confused.