The mingled flower-garden, as it is termed, is by far the most common mode of arrangement in this country, though it is seldom well effected. The object in this is to dispose the plants in the beds in such a manner, that while there is no predominance of bloom in any one portion of the beds there shall be a general admixture of colors and blossoms throughout the entire garden during the whole season of growth.
To promote this, the more showy plants should be often repeated in different parts of the garden, or even the same parterre when large, the less beautiful sorts being suffered to occupy but moderate space. The smallest plants should be nearest the walk, those a little taller behind them, and the largest should be furthest from the eye, at the back of the border, when the latter is seen from one side only, or in the centre, if the bed be viewed from both sides. A neglect of this simple rule will not only give the beds, when the plants are full grown, a confused look, but the beauty of the humbler and more delicate plants will be lost amid the tall thick branches of sturdier plants, or removed so far from the spectator in the walks, as to be overlooked.
Considerable experience is necessary to arrange even a moderate number of plants in accordance with these rules. To perform it successfully, some knowledge of the habits of the plants is an important requisite; their height, time of flowering, and the colors of their blossoms. When a gardener, or an amateur, is perfectly informed on these points, he can take a given number of plants of different species, make a plan of the bed or all the beds of a flower garden upon paper, and designate the particular situation of each species.
The shrubbery is so generally situated in the neighborhood of the flower-garden and the house, that we shall here offer a few remarks on its arrangement and distribution.
A collection of flowering shrubs is so ornamental, that to a greater or less extent it is to be found in almost every residence of the most moderate size: the manner in which the shrubs are disposed, must necessarily depend in a great degree upon the size of the grounds, the use or enjoyment to be derived from them, and the prevailing character of the scenery.
It is evident, on a moment's reflection, that shrubs being intrinsically more ornamental than trees, on account of the beauty and abundance of their flowers, they will generally be placed near and about the house, in order that their gay blossoms and fine fragrance may be more constantly enjoyed, than if they were scattered indiscriminately over the grounds.
Fig. 27. Garden Gate and ROSE Trellis.
Where a place is limited in size, and the whole lawn and plantations partake of the pleasure-ground character, shrubs of all descriptions may be grouped with good effect, in the same manner as trees, throughout the grounds; the finer and rarer species being disposed about the dwelling, and the more hardy and common sorts along the walks, and in groups, in different situations near the eye.
When, however, the residence is of larger size, and the grounds have a park-like extent and character, the introduction of shrubs might interfere with the noble and dignified expression of lofty full grown trees, except perhaps they were planted here and there, among large groups, as underwood; or if cattle or sheep were allowed to graze in the park, it would of course be impossible to preserve plantations of shrubs there. When this is the case, however, a portion near the house is divided from the park (by a wire fence or some inconspicuous barrier) for the pleasure-ground, where the shrubs are disposed in belts, groups, etc., as in the first case alluded to.
There are two methods of grouping shrubs upon lawns which may separately be considered, in combination with beautiful and picturesque scenery.
In the first case, where the character of the scene, of the plantations of trees, etc., is that of polished beauty, the belts of shrubs may be arranged similar to herbaceous flowering plants, in arabesque beds, along the walks. In this case, the shrubs alone, arranged with relation to their height, may occupy the beds; or if preferred, shrubs and flowers may be intermingled.
Where picturesque effect is the object aimed at in the pleasure-grounds, it may be attained in another way; that is, by planting irregular groups of the most vigorous and thrifty growing shrubs in lawn, without placing them in regular dug beds or belts; but instead of this, keeping the grass from growing and the soil somewhat loose, for a few inches round their stems (which will not be apparent at a short distance). In the case of many of the hardier shrubs, after they become well established, even this care will not be requisite, and the grass only will require to be kept short by clipping it when the lawn is mown.
As in picturesque scenes everything depends upon grouping well, it will be found that shrubs may be employed with excellent effect in connecting single trees, or finishing a group composed of large trees, or giving fulness to groups of tall trees newly planted on a lawn, or effecting a union between buildings and ground. It is true that it requires something of an artist's feeling and perception of the picturesque to do these successfully, but the result is so much the more pleasing and satisfactory when it is well executed.
When walks are continued from the house through distant parts of the pleasure-grounds, groups of shrubs may be planted along their margins, here and there, with excellent effect. They do not shut out or obstruct the view like large trees, while they impart an interest to an otherwise tame and spiritless walk. Placed in the projecting bay, round which the walk curves so as to appear to be a reason for its taking that direction, they conceal also the portion of the walk in advance, and thus enhance the interest doubly. The neighborhood of rustic seats, or resting points, are also fit places for the assemblage of a group or groups of shrubs.