This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Mr. Editor: - In the June number of the Monthly I found an article headed "Who shall lay out our Ornamental Grounds," wherein queries are put and suppositions made, many of which I submit has very little to do with the subject in hand.
Any one who appropriates to himself the name of Landscape Gardener, must be aware that he assumes a profession of no mean pretensions; and as your correspondent justly observes, many that are known to be good gardeners in the general acceptation of the term, would not pretend to class themselves with "landscape gardeners." Nevertheless, if a gardener has taken a pride in his profession, and has had an opportunity to study it in all its. branches, I can see no reason why the services of an engineer should be required in locating and constructing a drive, forming a terrace, building a wall, or arranging a system of drainage.
Through a lengthened experience in conducting such work, I have uniformly done my own engineering, and in some instances on places of great extent. In my opinion no one should undertake the duties, and incur the responsibilities of the "landscape gardener," without first having a good, general knowledge of civil engineering.
Again, if we are not to apply to the gardener to make a lawn, arrange a parterre of flowers, and to prune trees and shrubs, to whom can we go for assistance? This is surely supererogation, it being part of the duty of the gardener, and with which the engineer is not expected to be conversant.
Your correspondent also says: "I have known a gardener than whom there was none superior in his line, to try persistently to make water run up hill,'" etc. What secret is there in making water run up hill if you have a good supply at the foot of the hill? With a good hydraulic ram properly placed you can send water up hill any reasonable distance, and in any direction you choose.
Again, he says: "I have known a gardener, thoroughly competent in all the work devolving on him as a gardener, from the management of an orchid house to a potato patch, that ruined the natural beauty of a place through his inexperience of the principles of taste." In such a case the employer was more to blame than the employee. This reminds me of the assertion of a "landscape gardener," now deceased, who seemed to take pleasure in undervaluing all gardeners, whatever their abilities or qualifications, that the most of them might be good enough for sodding a bank, planting cabbage, or hoeing a potato patch; but I presume there are as good fish in the sea as has yet been caught, and that men qualified for their duties as landscape gardeners will make their appearance when required.
Your correspondent states: " By the wording of signs, cards and circulars, many seemed ashamed of the term gardener, and hence called themselves Landscape Architects, Landscape Engineers," &c; but he justly remarks that a name that was good enough for Repton, Loudon, Downing, Kemp, etc., is good enough for their followers.
I have exceeded what I intended to say, but I may be excused for stating that, as I give designs for laying out grounds, and also for horticultural buildings, I do not hesitate to style myself Landscape Gardener and Horticultural Architect.
Chelsea, 22d July, 1876.