At the present time in America people are much more sensitive to their home surroundings, as far as appearances are concerned, than they were thirty years ago. Then their intelligent interest stopped with bricks and shingles; now it is often carried as far as the street, and the grounds receive a fair share of attention. Perhaps one reason for this change is the American's ever-increasing amount of foreign travel, with the chance to behold not only the masterly gardens of antiquity, but those of modern times as well. By contrast, his own home surroundings have revealed to his educated sense their uncompromising ugliness.
General landscape-work is apt to appear long after the pioneer stage in any country. In the last twenty years, however, a strong school of landscape-men has risen in this country, and their work has been a very potent factor in the education of public taste and the creation of a demand for intelligent landscape-designing.
It is necessary to recognize at the outset that love for nature, admiration of a beautiful view, and delight in the brilliant colors of flowers, are only a slight part of the equipment of a landscape-designer. These are essential indeed, but without further equipment the landscape-man will make pointless suggestions and create ludicrous designs.
In order to make a worthy design, discrimination must be employed, and that is always based upon sound knowledge and no slight experience. Consequently, the landscape-man must familiarize himself with all phases of his art, from the contagious diseases of plants to the proper methods of road construction. This is not the work of a tyro, nor of one who gushes about the sovereignty of Art, with a capital A, and proclaims his superiority to all rules. It is for the careful student, the well-balanced man of taste and cultivation, to find his work and pleasure in landscape-design.
The second division is termed the practical arts, which comprise engineering, agriculture, horticulture, and forestry. In the final results in design it will be seen that the esthetic arts have been used in a practical way, and the practical arts have been used in an esthetic way. A brief recapitulation of the members of these groups will perhaps place the subject of landscape-design in a clearer light.