In New Jersey, the grounds of the Count de Survilliers, at Bordentown, were very extensive; and although the surface is mostly flat, it has been well varied by extensive plantations. At Mount Holly, about twenty miles from Camden, is Mr. Dunn's unique, semi-oriental cottage, with a considerable extent of pleasure ground, newly planted, after the designs of Mr. Notman.
About Philadelphia there are several very interesting seats on the banks of the Delaware and Schuylkill, and the district between these two rivers.
The country seat of George Sheaff, Esq., one of the most remarkable in Pennsylvania, in many respects, is twelve miles north of Philadelphia. The house is a large and respectable mansion of stone, surrounded by pleasure-grounds and plantations of fine evergreen and deciduous trees. The conspicuous ornament of the grounds, however, is a magnificent white oak, of enormous size, whose wide stretching branches, and grand head, give an air of dignity to the whole place. Among the sylvan features here, most interesting, are also the handsome evergreens, chiefly Balsam firs, some of which are now much higher than the mansion. These trees were planted by Mr. SheafT twenty-two years ago, and were then so small, that they were brought by him from Philadelphia, at various times, in his carriage - a circumstance highly encouraging to despairing planters, when we reflect how comparatively slow growing is this tree. This whole estate is a striking example of science, skill, and taste, applied to a country seat, and there are few in the Union, taken as a whole, superior to it.*
Cottage residence of Mrs. Camac. This is one of the most agreeable places within a few miles of Philadelphia. The house is a picturesque cottage, in the rural gothic style, with very charming and appropriate pleasure-grounds, comprising many groups and masses of large and finely grown trees, interspersed with a handsome collection of shrubs and plants; the whole very tastefully arranged. The lawn is prettily varied in surface, and there is a conservatory attached to the house, in which the plants in pots are hidden in beds of soft green moss, and which, in its whole effect and management, is more tasteful and elegant than any plant house, connected with a dwelling, that we remember to have seen.
Stenton, near Germantown, four miles from Philadelphia, is a fine old place, with many picturesque features*. The farm consists of 700 acres, almost without division fences - admirably managed - and remarkable for its grand old avenue of the hemlock spruce, 110 years old, leading to a family cemetery of much sylvan beauty. There is a large and excellent old mansion, with paved halls, built in 1731, which is preserved in its original condition. This place was the seat of the celebrated Logan, the friend of William Penn, and is now owned by his descendant, Albanus Logan.
The villa residence of Alexander Brown, Esq., is situated on the Delaware, a few miles from Philadelphia. There is here a good deal of beauty, in the natural style, made up chiefly by lawn and forest trees. A pleasing drive through plantations of 25 years' growth, is one of the most interesting features - and there is much elegance and high keeping in the grounds.
* The farm is 300 acres in extent, and, in the time of De Witt Clinton, was pronounced by him the model farm of the United States. At the present time we know nothing superior to it; and Capt. Barclay, in his agricultural tour, says it was the only instance of regular, scientific system of husbandry in the English manner, he saw in America. Indeed, the large and regular fields, filled with luxuriant crops, everywhere of an exact evenness of growth, and everywhere free from weeds of any sort; the perfect system of manuring and culture; the simple and complete fences; the fine stock; the very spacious barns, every season newly whitewashed internally and externally, paved with wood, and as clean as a gentleman's stable (with stalls to fatten 90 head of cattle); these, and the masterly way in which the whole is managed, both as regards culture and profit, render this estate one of no common interest in an agricultural, as well as ornamental point of view. - A. J. D.
Below Philadelphia, the lover of beautiful places will find a good deal to admire in the country seat of John R. Latimer, Esq., near Wilmington, which enjoys the reputation of being the finest in Delaware. The place has all the advantages of high keeping, richly stocked gardens and conservatories, and much natural beauty, heightened by judicious planting, arrangement, and culture.
At the south are many extensive country residences remarkable for trees of unusual grandeur and beauty, among which the live oak is very conspicuous; but they are, in general, wanting in that high keeping and care, which is so essential to the charm of a landscape garden.
Of smaller villa residences, surburban chiefly, there are great numbers, springing up almost by magic, in the borders of our towns and cities. Though the possessors of these can scarcely hope to introduce anything approaching to a landscape garden style, in laying out their limited grounds, still they may be greatly benefited by an acquaintance with the beauties and the pleasures of this species of rural embellishment. When we are once master of the principles, and aware of the capabilities of an art, we are able to infuse an expression of tasteful design, or an air of more correct elegance, even into the most humble works, and with very limited means.*
While we shall endeavor, in the following pages, to give such a view of modern Landscape Gardening, as will enable the improver to proceed with his fascinating operations, in embellishing the country residence, in a practical mode, based upon what are now generally received as the correct principles of the art, we would desire the novice, after making himself acquainted with all that can be acquired from written works within his reach, to strengthen his taste and add to his knowledge, by a practical inspection of the best country seats among us. In an infant state of society, in regard to the fine arts, much will be done in violation of good taste; but here, where nature has done so much for us, there is scarcely a large country residence in the Union, from which useful hints in Landscape Gardening may not be taken. And in nature, a group of trees, an accidental pond of water, or some equally simple object, may form a study more convincing to the mind of a true admirer of natural beauty, than the most carefully drawn plan, or the most elaborately written description.
* This foregoing section has been preserved in the present edition mainly for historic reasons (which seems proper enough in a chapter entitled "Historical Sketches"), in order to show the background of Mr. Downing's work. To bring these sketches up to date on the same lines would be both impossible and impracticable in 1921. - F. A. W.
Fig. 4. Main Lawn New Jersey State Hospital, Trenton. Designed by A. J. Downing.