Suburban villa residences are, every day, becoming more numerous; and in laying out the grounds around them, and disposing the sylvan features, there is often more ingenuity, and as much taste required, as in treating a country residence of several hundred acres. In the small area of from one half an acre to ten or twelve acres, surrounding often a villa of the first class, it is desirable to assemble many of the same features, and as much as possible of the enjoyment, which are to be found in a large and elegant estate. To do this, the space allotted to various purposes, as the kitchen garden, lawn, etc., must be judiciously portioned out, and so characterized and divided by plantations, that the whole shall appear to be much larger than it really is, from the fact that the spectator is never allowed to see the whole at a single glance; but while each portion is complete in itself, the plan shall present nothing incongruous or ill assorted.
An excellent illustration of this species of residence is afforded the reader in the accompanying plan (Fig. 14) of the grounds of Riverside Villa. This pretty villa at Burlington, New Jersey (to which we shall again refer), was lately built, and the grounds, about six or eight acres in extent, laid out, from the designs of John Notman, Esq., architect, of Philadelphia; and while the latter promise a large amount of beauty and enjoyment, scarcely anything which can be supposed necessary for the convenience or wants of the family, is lost sight of.
Fig. 14. Plan of a Suburban Villa Residence.
The house, a, stands quite near the bank of the river, while one front commands fine water views, and the other looks into the lawn or pleasure grounds, b. On one side of the area is the kitchen garden, c, separated and concealed from the lawn by thick groups of evergreen and deciduous trees. At e, is a picturesque orchard, in which the fruit trees are planted in groups instead of straight lines, for the sake of effect. Directly under the windows of the drawing-room is the flower garden, f; and at g, is a seat. The walk around the lawn is also a carriage road, affording entrance and egress from the rear of the grounds, for garden purposes, as well as from the front of the house. At A, is situated the ice-house; d, hot-beds; j, bleaching green; i, gardener's house, etc. In the rear of the latter are the stables, which are not shown on the plan.
The embellished farm (ferme ornee) is a pretty mode of combining something of the beauty of the landscape garden with the utility of the farm, and we hope to see small country seats of this kind become more general. As regards profit in farming, of course, all modes of arranging or distributing land are inferior to simple square fields; on account of the greater facility of working the land in rectangular plots. But we suppose the owner of the small ornamental farm to be one with whom profit is not the first and only consideration, but who desires to unite with it something to gratify his taste, and to give a higher charm to his rural occupations. In Fig. 15, is shown part of an embellished farm, treated in the picturesque style throughout. The various fields, under grass or tillage, are divided and bounded by winding roads, a, bordered by hedges of buckthorn, cedar, and hawthorn, instead of wooden fences; the roads being wide enough to afford a pleasant drive or walk, so as to allow the owner or visitor to enjoy at the same time an agreeable circuit, and a glance at all the various crops and modes of culture.
In the plan before us, the approach from the public road is at b; the dwelling at c; the barns and farm-buildings at d; the kitchen garden at e; and the orchard at /. About the house are distributed some groups of trees, and here the fields, g, are kept in grass, and are either mown or pastured. The fields in crops are designated h, on the plan; and a few picturesque groups of trees are planted, or allowed to remain, in these, to keep up the general character of the place. A low dell, or rocky thicket, is situated at i. Exceedingly interesting and agreeable effects may be produced, at little cost, in a picturesque farm of this kind. The hedges may be of a great variety of suitable shrubs, and, in addition to those that we have named, we would introduce others of the sweet brier, the Michigan or prairie rose (admirably adapted for the purpose), the flowering crab, and the like - beautiful and fragrant in their growth and blossoms. These hedges we would cause to grow thick, rather by interlacing the branches, than by constant shearing or trimming, which would give them a less formal, and a more free and natural air.
The winding lanes traversing the farm need only be gravelled near the house, in other portions being left in grass, which will need little care, as it will generally be kept short enough by the passing of men and vehicles over it.
Fig. 15. Plan of an Embellished Farm (ferme ornee).
A picturesque or ornamental farm like this would be an agreeable residence for a gentleman retiring into the country on a small farm, desirous of experimenting for himself with all the new modes of culture. The small and irregular fields would, to him, be rather an advantage, and there would be an air of novelty and interest about the whole residence. Such an arrangement as this would also be suitable for a fruit farm near one of our large towns, the fields being occupied by orchards, vines, grass, and grain. The house and all the buildings should be of a simple, though picturesque and accordant character.