This study examines whether plant foliation and vegetative winter dormancy affect landscape preference ratings, estimations of mystery, and objective measures of attributes related to mystery. Color photographs from seven camera locations on three landscape architecture project sites in New York and Pennsylvania depicted dormant and foliated plants and vegetation. Analysis included 35 participants’ evaluations of the photographs for preference and 60 participants’ estimations of mystery. The study used computer software to sum image pixels related to the examined landscape attributes in each photograph. The elements included were sky, visible human-made elements, and mowed or leaf-litter-covered ground surfaces. For each scene depicted, computer software also aided in the measurement of the view polygon perimeter and area in each photograph, as well as calculating the mean, minimum, maximum, and variance of view distances for each scene. Principal components analysis extracted one factor—horizontal view size—as an explanation for about one-third of variance in preference ratings for foliated and dormant scenes in a regression model. Horizontal view size did not significantly explain variance in mystery estimations for dormant or foliated scenes. Preference and mystery correlated positively overall, mainly in dormant scenes. Preference ratings for dormant scenes were significantly lower than those for foliated scenes. Vegetative change did not have significant effects on mystery estimations and horizontal view size factor scores. The study concludes with suggestions for future research and practice.


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pp. 139-159
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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