In the castles of feudal times considerable space was left between the building and the fortified walls, and in some cases a court was used to give light and air, and to accommodate the peasantry and their flocks and herds in times of siege. The space was left primarily for that purpose, but was later utilized for fruit or pleasure gardens, and was the beginning of the English pleasance. The esthetic aspect was of entirely secondary importance and was of later development, having been added merely to give interest to what might otherwise have been unsightly. Whenever vegetables were grown the space was doubly useful. As these gardens, then, were the forerunners of the English pleasance, or pleasure garden, the development has been away from the utilitarian and toward the esthetic. Inclosed gardens are known as the "court" type, and are now found in our modern apartment houses and hotels.
Entrance courts are primarily utilitarian, and, different from the court garden, were primarily for convenience rather than for necessity. They present an excellent chance for combining utility and beauty, inasmuch as they offer a convenient approach and should likewise give a favorable first impression.
Figure 55. COMBINATION OF ARCHITECTURAL AND HORTICULTURAL ACCENT MATERIAL TO EMPHAS1ZE A VISTA, VILLA d'eSTE.
The terrace garden is not particularly utilitarian unless the house be set on sloping ground and requires a level space about it. In such a case the terrace garden is the most useful and beautiful solution of the requirement. The illustration (Fig. 56) shows a terrace used as a gradual transition from the formal design immediately surrounding the house to the more naturalistic planting at a greater distance.
The patio is a similar esthetic utilization of space left for utilitarian purposes. It is found in buildings of the Spanish type, and was closely related to the English "fore court" although this last may be termed an entrance garden. Many of these courts were designed as part of the scheme of circulation. These may be seen in the early English manor-houses as well as in the Italian Renaissance palaces, such as the Strozzi and Riccardi or the Palazzo del Te.
Horticultural gardens are the most important division of the utilitarian garden. They are used for three purposes, food-stuffs, medicinal plants, and cut flowers. Under the food heading will be included orchards, shrubs, small fruits, and vegetables.
Figure 56. TERRACE GARDEN.
The kitchen garden is a good type of utilitarian garden which is often attractive in appearance, for in it vegetables and flowers for cutting are often grown together to advantage, thus producing almost the effect of a pleasure garden. Indeed, for a small suburban residence this is perhaps the most generally successful type. Where medicinal herbs and cut flowers are grown exclusively it is merely a question of getting the greatest value out of the soil, though nowadays medicinal gardens are virtually obsolete.
The museum garden is divisible by use into two branches, the educational and the botanic: Of these the first has far greater esthetic possibilities, as the plants may be displayed with greater freedom in regard to appearances where their position is not necessarily determined by their botanical classes.
In a botanical garden, where it is desired to display all possible varieties of a species, many examples are often present which are difficult to harmonize with their surroundings, and the result is more or less a "filing system" of living botanical specimens, often incongruous in appearance.
The Arnold Arboretum in Boston is an excellent example of a well-planned botanical garden. Much attention has been paid to appearances, and the display elements have been judiciously featured. The large conifers grow under natural conditions on a rocky hill, about the outskirts of which the rhododendrons and mountain laurel cluster, while the gentler and more fertile slopes show plants of the plain-loving varieties. The natural topography varies from fairly level meadows to a rugged hill with a tumbling brook, and advantage has been taken of all the natural features suitable for the display of plants in conditions which as nearly as possible duplicate their native surroundings. The grades have been changed only where the building of drives demanded it. This is one of the most successful solutions of a botanical garden under ideal conditions, but it would seldom be possible to reproduce these conditions. Of course the amount of exotic material employed is rigorously prescribed by the climate, as it is entirely an out-of-door garden.
In public gardens in large cities the purpose is somewhat educational, and in a display of this sort plants are grouped not according to their botanical characteristics, but rather on account of their soil requirements, time of bloom, and hardiness. The first of these requirements will group plants of different appearances in the same location. The exposure of the position will likewise determine the hardiness of the plants to be employed. The time of bloom is more of an esthetic question, as are the color values of the leaf, flowers, fruit, and twig. The habit of growth will determine largely the position of the plant. Then, too, in a garden scheme of this kind special features are often introduced, such as a flower display or the exhibition of exotic plants. Specimens are frequently grown in more favored localities, and transplanted into the garden for a short time only for display purposes. There is no attempt made to group plants of the same habitat together, but the planting material is used solely on account of its shape, color, and quality, and upon the satisfactory combination of these depends the success of the result obtained.