This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
In the course of our professional journeyings immediately round about the metropolis, it has been a matter of surprise to us that the gardens of villas, large and small, exhibit in their arrangement less good taste than those of similar dimensions in provincial districts. Not that this has been the result of accident; for they almost invariably boast of a large amount of laying out, and not uncommonly is it their misfortune to have too much of it, in that an attempt is made to accommodate within a small space a certain quantity of all the different ingredients which go to the making up of a large garden; and these are obtruded upon each other in such admired discord that a visitor is inclined to compare the tout ensemble to a marine store-shop of odds end ends of gardens. We have frequently seen, within the space of half an acre or so, geometrical arrangements, sweeps of shrubbery, herbaceous borders, serpentine walks, arbors of different kinds and patterns, with stone vases and statues scattered about upon the ground or mounted upon picturesque old stumps; finally, no garden of the kind is considered complete without its fountain, rock-work and lake.
b. Mass of Water Lily.
c. Large Chinese Arbor-vitae.
f. Irish Yews.
g. Parterre on turf.
1. Blue with white margin.
3. Light pink.
4. Brownish orange.
5. Deep violet or purple. h Statues on pedestals.
j. Seat on centre line.
k. Vases on pedestals.
n. Coach ring.
q. Background for reserve, etc.
r. Border for creepers against house.
s. Greenhouse. t Laundry.
These various items are crowded together in so small a space, that from the windows of the house they are all under the eye at the same time; and care has generally been taken, for the sake of contrast, that the parts least in harmony with each other should be placed most closely in juxtaposition.
It is only confusion and disorder we would be understood as objecting to, not variety. The exhibition of skill in arranging a garden consists not only in the careful adaptation of the parts to their proper effects and purposes, but also in arranging their order with reference to each other, so that they shall combinedly form a harmonious whole; and these points duly kept in view, as much variety should be introduced as the space admits of without crowding.
As examples are more illustrative than a long dry discourse, we have selected a case in point from amongst those which have come under our consideration, and give engravings by which we can render more intelligibly an idea of what the garden was and of what it is now.
The house is pleasantly situated in one of our suburban villages, having its entrance towards the public road, and looking from the garden side over a fiat agricultural scene, with which the house stands too much on a level. In front of the house a respectable piece of garden extends itself, flanked by a shrubbery on both sides, and bounded by a pond between and the extended meadows beyond. On the right is the greenhouse, at the end of one of the offices, inconsiderately placed so close to the garden as to make it an impossibility to conceal it by planting without materially encroaching upon the ground. Farther to the rigbt stand coach-house, stables, and other offices, and beyond these a large kitchen garden.
The house itself is of plain red brick, unpretending in its architecture, and of a description which would require considerable outlay to give it a degree of ornamentation. The drawing-room, ending with a large bow on the left hand side of the group, being the only important room on that side of the house, it rendered the arrangement of the garden difficult; this, however, had been managed without the slightest reference to any windows of the house or in any-other way with regard to it. The ground was simply cut longitudinally by a walk somewhere about the middle, and across again about half way in the other direction, and, strangely enough, without any regard to right angles; and where these two lines intersected a fountain was introduced - other walks were made on each side of the garden, on one side a straight one, and on the other an example of the serpentine, and were joined at each end by other irregular ones; two arbors were added with as little regard to symmetry as possible, and an arrangement of clumps containing large shrubs crossed the end of the garden, completely shotting out the view of the meadow, and diminishing the prospect of the distant country.
Near the centre of each compartment of turf was a peculiarly unplant-able bed, with four long points, having a shrub in the centre, and intended to contain half-hardy plants, etc. The outer borders were all bounded with box-edgings, and contained mixtures of common flowers and shrubs. Bits of rock-work, shellwork, and old blocks and stumps were scattered about, and generally these specimens of the grotesque were surmounted with a vase or statuette.
The great faults in this case were the shutting out of the extended prospect, the cutting up of the garden into small patches, and the complete exposure of all the walks, as though they were the most important features of the garden. The first of these was rectified by clearing away the clumps near the pond, the second by destroying the centre walk, and the third by fringing the broad turf plot so obtained with clumps for flowering and other shrubs of moderate growth, which would rectify the obtrusiveness of the sidewalks, and be subservient to the larger shrubs beyond them.
In the new arrangement a centre was obtained upon a line from the fountain, at right angles with the building; and to give a balance to the basis of operations, a large projecting mass of close-clipped evergreen was introduced, to correspond with the shape of the drawing-room bow, which also served to aid in concealing the offices and yard on the right hand side of the house, and the yard itself was considerably contracted, that it might be effectually planted out on both sides from the garden.
Parallel with this centre line, and equidistant from it, the two sidewalks were laid down, and the use of box edging confined to the right hand side, where double lines are shown, and where it was most in keeping from its contiguity to the greenhouse; on the left hand side turf was used up to the shrubs, which were pegged down to meet it and conceal the margin. The two sidewalks were curved round so as to meet each other near the pond, which was made less artificial in outline, and rendered a more endurable object from wherever it could be seen. From these walks a branch was made to lead to the summer-house and meadow wicket on one side, and on the other side towards the kitchen garden. The branch walk leading to the back of the greenhouse was so curved as to render it less obvious, and in a circle of gravel, as shown, was placed, upon a suitable pedestal, one of the best of the statues - one we found stuck up in the fork of an old Mulberry tree; and on the opposite side of the garden a corresponding niche was made for its companion.
The other architectural embellishments, in the shape of vases, were furnished with proper pedestals, and appointed to suitable positions as near the mansion as possible.
We deemed that the house itself and the laundry could be most economically improved in appearance by covering them entirely with creepers, and especially with evergreen Roses, Pyracanthas, variegated and other ornamental Ivies, and the like, with a due admixture of Clematis, Honeysuckle, Wistaria, etc.
As the greenhouse and frame accommodation was limited, we were not justified in proposing a very extensive parterre, even if the extent of the ground warranted it; its natural flatness, however, suggested the propriety of a certain quantity of such arrangement, and it was obviously important that such feature should be as near the house as possible.
The apparent breadth of the garden, and indeed its general extent, being so much increased by these arrangements, the four beds e e e e were introduced on one side, in line with centre of drawing-room window, and in a corresponding position upon the other. It is admissible that these should be filled either with dwarf flowering shrubs or with half-hardy plants, annuals, according to convenience, Ac. A Swedish Juniper has a satisfactory effect in the centre of each.
So much more having been made of the ground in front, it became a reasonable matter to have nothing but shrubs and turf on that side of the house, and arrange that carriages might come quite up to the front door, instead of unloading at the wicket gate against the road in all weathers. Other matters are, we consider, so fully explained by a comparison of the two plans, and the references thereto, that it will be needless to lengthen the article with further description.