To one who has devoted any thought or attention to Landscape Gardening, the greatest inconsistencies must be apparent between its theory and practice, while it is universally admitted to be worthy of an important rank among the arts, and to require tastes of a high order of cultivation and refinement. Its every-day practitioners, if we may judge by the advertising columns of the newspaper, unite its duties with those of the coachman and the common gardener; both stating that, in connection with their trade or calling, they are prepared to lay out grounds, and do ornamental planting.

In every other department of art, we are unwilling to accept or admire any production from those of inferior taste or skill; not only do we employ the first order of talent, but insist on that of long-established reputation. In Landscape Gardening, this is reversed; and we are ready to admire the work of inferior minds, no matter how much it may lack the principles of beauty or taste.

Now there must be a woeful ignorance existing on what is true beauty or true artistic treatment in Landscape Gardening, or else a liberal disposition to spend money in doing and undoing, experimenting, changing, etc., to find out in the most costly and unsatisfactory manner what is pleasing to our tastes.

If we take the ground that the taste and talent which shall design and superintend our landscape improvements, shall be equal or superior to the taste that is to appreciate them, we shall have made an advance, which financially will be attended with very happy results, and equally as much so artistically; but if we allow ourselves to be persuaded and guided by minds that can draw no distinction between Gardening and Landscape Gardening, can see no difference between a trade and an art, the mechanical and artistical, the practical and the beautiful, we must not expect much else but disappointment. If we desire the love of country life to increase, and the refined and elegant enjoyments of it to be pursued, we should take the same plain, common-sense view of Landscape Gardening that we do of the arts; and either educate ourselves to execute and appreciate it, or look to the education, tastes, and practical abilities of those who make it a profession. In spite of much that has been written to the contrary, we are of the opinion that the principles and practice of Landscape Gardening are plainly within the reach of all who have any desire to acquire them, and they, with the kindred arts of Rural Architecture, and Landscape and Agricultural Engineering, should bo made a portion of a finished education.

Downing says, that "Ignorance is not bliss, nor is it economy in improving a country place;" and sooner or later, experimental ruralists will find it too true. The expense of rural improvements among those who know, has almost become a proverb. A man with a "weak back" had better not undertake the high improvement of a country place, especially in the blind manner in which such improvements are generally executed. We see every day, in practical Landscape Gardening, the prosecution of work without a plan, a total want of knowledge of the result, and subject to the whims and notions of every presuming critic.

There are otherwise intelligent men, who can not comprehend the possibility of improving a country seat from a plan, who would ridicule the idea of measuring earth-work, or tracing a curve independent of its centre, form no conception of the beautiful aerial perspective effects of color in trees, and utterly incapable of studying an improvement in the abstract. With them, Landscape Gardening is, and always will be, an experiment, which, with constant alterations, never ceases to be an experiment, never fulfils their idea of what is beautiful, is never pleasing, but always suggestive of a heavy expenditure. Landscape Gardening may be properly defined as the application or results of most of the scientific professions; and to study Landscape Gardening without a knowledge of its elements, certainly would require one to have extraordinary natural abilities, and herein may lie the great difficulty in acquiring it The professional expert brings to his aid, not only the resources of a finished general and mathematical education, but a thorough knowledge of surveying, civil engineering, architecture, drawing, painting, botany, chemistry, and all gardening operations: and these are essentially necessary for a rapid, intelligent, and economical execution of the art.

When an ordinary gardener undertakes Landscape Gardening, it becomes to him a riddle of the most intricate character; and with the impression that it is a part of his trade, he works out by guess-work and experiment a result that can only be successful by the merest chance. Landscape Gardening and common Gardening bear just this resemblance to each other, that Gardening is one essential element of Landscape Gardening, but by no means qualifies one to be successful in its pursuit, until there is added to it a thorough knowledge of the arts of design and construction, and an educated taste and ability.

It can be easily demonstrated, that much of the expense of landscape improvement is owing to the ignorance of those who undertake it. Experiments are costly undertakings, and an expensive manner of studying Landscape Gardening; but there are few persons who will admit that they can not build a house, lay out a country seat, or construct a common road, until they have tried.

[And Mr. W. might have added, "not even then." The above is the beginning of a series of articles on this subject, in regard to which a great many false notions are still prevalent. - Ed].

Landscape Engineering And Gardening #1

There can not be anything more commendable than that spirit which in-duces us to ornament and embellish our country homes, and draw around us those tasteful elegances which so properly belong to country life; nor is there anything which so fully illustrates the position, tastes, and wealth of its owners, as a well-designed and well-kept country seat.

The high standard now reached in the progress of Landscape Art, and the increasing interest that is being shown in the construction of public parks, rural cemeteries, etc, is an evidence of our appreciation of the beautiful, and that rural enjoyments are not limited to but few of the residents of our large cities. The public taste is being educated every day, by opening to all the finest models known of landscape improvement - a greater perfection in rural art than has heretofore been attempted in any of our private country seats.

High art in landscape gardening is a matter of economy as well as taste. It is less expensive, in the execution of any improvement, to attain excellence at once, than to find out after completion, that a better and more satisfactory plan might just as easily have been adopted. It costs no more to set out a tree in the most appropriate place for it, than to set it out in a position anywise inferior to that which it would adorn the most. It is cheaper and far more satisfactory to have first-class roadways and walks; not only cheaper in first cost but cheaper in every after expense.

Nature deals in the most beautiful forms of curvature, and from them it is but a step to the broken forms of the picturesque. There is no intermediate link, no straight lines, either wild and broken, or graceful, flowing, and beautiful: one may lead to the other, they may be united, but the characters of each will always be distinct; and we think that taste somewhat questionable that would introduce what are termed rustic walks and drives into the wholly natural portion of an estate. There is nothing so pleasing as to give access to the picturesque by the use of the beautiful: that is, art in construction would convey a greater perfection, and nature appear more wild and picturesque by the striking contrast between them. We would not, as a matter of taste, make inferior roads and walks through natural grounds, because we do not wish to diminish any pleasure we may enjoy in them; and as roadways become ornamental in the same proportion that they are useful, we plainly see that any detraction from the highest known perfection in their design, location, and construction, is just so much detraction from their beauty.

If the picturesque portions of the grounds are to be made inviting, there must be the same unconscious ease of ascent and descent, the same forgetfnlness of toil that belongs to the artificial or highly dressed grounds. Clambering a hill-side soon loses its novelty; and we confess we like that reason that enables us to so contrive a walk or road that, by an almost imperceptible grade, and the most beautiful forms of alignment, we view alike the valley and the hill-top.

When we undertake to embellish and beautify a country home, is it not worth while to give the subject a long and careful consideration? It is going to cost a good deal of money, and as long as our name is connected with it, it will be an exponent of our tastes, our education, and associations.

It is by no means agreeable to have a second-rate place ; yet we will venture to say that ninety-nine one-hundredths of our amateur landscape gardeners would willingly undo all they have done ; their matured judgment and experience can see nothing desirable in their early attempts. Experience costs money, and the results of experience have done much to injure the art of landscape adornment. If men will try experiments, why give their results as the results of the positive efforts of the professional expert? There are none so perfect, none so gifted, that they can at once produce the highest standard of excellence in any art. We know that those who approach perfection the nearest, can only do so after a lifetime of study and devotion.

The ideal in landscape treatment is a dangerous experiment in the hands of any but a rural artist, and, like the ideal in landscape painting, suffers sadly by comparison with the close teachings of nature. A finely executed view of natural scenery yet takes the lead of the finest ideal landscapes : effects, all of the same grade of beauty, are not so striking as a single fine effect brought in contrast with others of lesser note. It is by comparison the eye judges of excellence, and the beautiful depreciates when brought in contrast with that which is more beautiful. The hand of Art can aid Nature, arrange the materials so freely supplied ; and that artist who closely studies nature, and takes advantage of the many hints thrown in his way, will be more successful than he who undertakes to idealize, and particularly so if he be a knight of the weeding-hoe and spade.