This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
The selection of the trees and shrubs would depend upon a variety of circumstances, such as soil and subsoil, or subjacent rock, elevation above the sea, distance from the sea, and, in the case of tender species the latitude, and more especially whether near the eastern or western side of the island. As it is not commonly the case to build a residence on an estate quite destitute of arborescent vegetation, some idea of what would flourish might be gathered from the condition of the species already in existence. On elevated ground exposed to bleak winds, it will be found necessary to plant, thickly at first, and in larger groups, with perhaps such trees as Populus nigra or Pinna Austriaca, for shelter. These trees are both valuable for this purpose, and the Poplar will grow and flourish in the stiffest clayey soil, where scarcely anything else would live. In fact, nearly all the species of Populus will do well in a poor soil, and bear exposure to the bleakest winds with impunity. Amongst our large forest trees the Oak and Beech are perhaps the most susceptible of the influence of the direct sea-breeze. The Elm will succeed well in a gravelly soil, especially in the vicinity of water. The Lime, Horse Chestnut, Sweet Chestnut, Plane, many Conifers, etc., will succeed in almost any ordinary soil. But for further particulars we must refer our readers to the review of arborescent and frutescent vegetation, pp. 599 to 609, and to the respective genera in the descriptive part of this Work. Lists of species suitable for the sea-side and town planting will be found at the end of this volume. The plantations of trees and shrubs will vary in size according to the extent of the grounds, and may be composed of one species, or several different species, according to fancy. In forming a composite group the main object should be effective contrast of foliage, with an intermixture of flowering trees. Some deciduous species form a pleasing contrast between themselves; and the introduction of here and there a dark-leaved Conifer, or Purple Beech, will greatly heighten the effect. The form of outline for such plantations may be varied to an almost unlimited extent, but a more or less irregular one is preferable, and a circular or any formal shape should be rarely adopted. Single specimens next engage our attention. For this purpose, good, healthy, well-formed examples should be chosen, as perfect habit is the principal end and aim of isolated trees. One important matter for consideration is the suitability of the species for the position selected, and then sufficient space for its natural development without infringing on the rights of its neighbours by overgrowing or shading them. In a garden of the limited area referred to above there will be comparatively little diversity of conditions and aspect; but whatever advantages it possesses should be made available for the use of more tender subjects. The information given under each species will be a sufficient guide as to what may be considered favourable conditions for different classes of plants.
The water capabilities of an estate should not be neglected. Either still or running water is almost indispensable, in fact, a landscape scene is hardly perfect without it. The rivulet or lake, or whatever form the water scenery presents, will suggest the nature of the adjacent plantations. It should be remembered that the water ought not to be concealed by over-planting, neither should the whole appear at one view. If practicable and large enough, an island bearing a proper proportion to the other part might be formed in the centre, and planted with suitable trees and shrubs. A few weeping Willows and other moisture-loving subjects, planted close to the water's edge, and overhanging it, will give a pleasing variety to the vegetation. The water itself, too, must support some of its natural productions, a list of which, with other information, will be found at p. 615. The same remark applies here as to the dry land. The whole surface of the water should not be covered, but only certain portions planted here and there, and the intervening spaces kept clear. The introduction and preservation of fish and water-birds is also a matter for consideration. And where of sufficient extent there should be facilities for boating. In setting out the roadways and footpaths, convenience as well as aesthetics will have to be consulted, at least for those leading from the house and other buildings to the more important points of egress from the park or garden, as the case may be. Straight roads and walks, and intersections at right angles, are too rigid and abrupt to be tolerated, except in certain places, such as the kitchen-garden and the formal flower-garden. The walks should be so contrived as to lead through the most attractive parts in gentle curves, from shady glades to open eminences whence the view is uninterrupted, or only broken by some object that adds an additional charm to it. As much comfort and enjoyment depend upon the state of the walks, no pains or expense should be spared in their formation. A solid foundation in the first place will save much time and money in keeping a good surface, and attention to efficient drainage will prevent those in the lower parts from becoming water-channels. To a certain extent the width of the roadways and walks should be governed by the extent of space at command. Very narrow walks are inconvenient, and the cause of supplementary ones being trodden out on the turf on either side of them. But the approaches:to a cavern or rustic summer-house, or other secluded spots may with propriety be narrow and tortuous.