A very pretty and fanciful substitute for the sculptured vase, and which may take its place in the picturesque landscape, may be found in vases or baskets of rustic work, constructed of the branches and sections of trees with the bark attached.* Figure 20 is a representation of a pleasing rustic vase which we have constructed without difficulty. A tripod of branches of trees forms the pedestal. An octagonal box serves as the body or frame of the vase; on this, pieces of birch and hazel (small split limbs covered with the bark) are nailed closely, so as to form a sort of mosaic covering to the whole exterior. Ornaments of this kind, which may be made by the amateur with the assistance of a common carpenter, are very suitable for the decoration of the grounds and flower-gardens of cottages or picturesque villas. An endless variety of forms will occur to an ingenious artist in rustic work, which he may call in to the embellishment of rural scenes, without taxing his purse heavily.
Fig. 20. Rustic Vase.
*¢ Reference has already been made to the vogue of this "rustic" work in Mr. Downing's time and to its happy disappearance from the gardens of our own days. - F. A. W.
Fig. 21. Grecian Vase.
Fig. 22. Grecian Vase.
Sundials are among the oldest decorations for the garden and grounds, and there are scarcely any which we think more suitable. They are not merely decorative, but have also an useful character, and may therefore be occasionally placed in distant parts of the grounds, should a favorite walk terminate there. When we meet daily in our walks for a number of years, with one of these silent monitors of the flight of time, we become in a degree attached to it, and really look upon it as gifted with a species of intelligence, beaming out when the sunbeams smile upon its dial-plate.
Fig 23. Modern Vase in Terra Cotta.
The architectural flower-garden, as we have just remarked, has generally a direct connection with the house, at least on one side by the terrace. It may be of greater or less size, from twenty feet square to half an acre in extent. The leading characteristics of this species of flower-garden, are the regular lines and forms employed in its beds and walks. The flowers are generally planted in beds in the form of circles, octagons, squares, etc., the center of the garden being occupied by an elegant vase, a sundial, or that still finer ornament, a fountain. In various parts of the garden, along the principal walks, or in the center of parterres, pedestals supporting vases, urns, or handsome flower-pots with plants, are placed. When a highly marked character of art is intended, a balustrade or parapet, resembling that of the terrace to which it is connected, is continued round the whole of this garden. Or in other cases the garden is surrounded by a thicket of shrubs and low trees, partly concealing it from the eye on all sides but one.
It is evident that the architectural flower-garden is superior to the general flower-garden, as an appendage to the house, on two accounts. First, because as we have already shown, it serves an admirable purpose in effecting a harmonious union between the house and the grounds. And secondly, because we have both the rich verdure and gay blossoms of the flowering plants, and the more permanent beauty of sculptured forms; the latter heightening the effect of the former by contrast, as well as by the relief they afford the eye in masses of light, amid surrounding verdure.
There are several varieties of general flower-gardens, which may be formed near the house. Among these we will only notice the irregular flower-garden, the old French flower-garden, and the modern or English flower-garden.
In almost all the different kinds of flower-gardens, two methods of forming the beds are observed. One is, to cut the beds out of the green turf, which is ever afterwards kept well-mown or cut for the walks, and the edges pared; the other, to surround the beds with edgings of verdure, as box, etc., or some more durable material, as tiles, or cut stone, the walks between being covered with gravel. The turf is certainly the most agreeable for walking upon in the heat of summer, and the dry part of the day; while the gravelled flower-garden affords a dry footing at nearly all hours and seasons.
Fig. 24. The Garden Sun Dial.
The irregular flower-garden * is surrounded by ah irregular belt of trees and ornamental shrubs of the choicest species, and the beds are varied in outline, as well as irregularly disposed, sometimes grouping together, sometimes standing singly, but exhibiting no uniformity of arrangement.
This kind of flower-garden would be a suitable accompaniment to the house and grounds of an enthusiastic lover of the picturesque, whose residence is in the Rural Gothic style, and whose grounds are also eminently varied and picturesque. Or it might form a pretty termination to a distant walk in the pleasure-grounds, where it would be more necessary that the flower-garden should be in keeping with the surrounding plantations and scenery than with the house.
* This style of flower garden has gone completely out of fashion in America. - F. A. W.
Where the flower-garden is a spot set apart, of any regular outline, not of large size, and especially where it is attached directly to the house, we think the effect is most satisfactory when the beds or walks are laid out in symmetrical forms. Our reasons for this are these: the flower-garden, unlike distant portions of the pleasure-ground scenery, is an appendage to the house, seen in the same view or moment with it, and therefore should exhibit something of the regularity which characterizes, in a greater or less degree, all architectural compositions; and when a given scene is so small as to be embraced in a single glance of the eye, regular forms are found to be more satisfactory than irregular ones, which, on so small a scale, are apt to appear unmeaning.