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.
How to Lay Out a Garden: Intended as a General Guide in choosing, forming, or improving an estate, from a quarter of an acre to a hundred acres in extent. By EdwarD Kemp, La ndscape Gardener* Second edition. London, 1858.
Americans have only within a few years turned their attention to landscape gardening; our country was too well supplied with trees, lakes, mountains, and valleys; the pursuit of the real was too rife, after the Revolution, to allow space for the imaginative. The forest was to be cut down, and is still, in many places, to be extirpated with fire and steel; but growing wealth, travel, study, pictures, and the natural love of beauty, have fairly induced a desire for adorning home; we begin to know how much comfortable and elegant domestic arrangements are calculated to enhance our pleasures. The spirit once abroad, the realization soon followed; we have arrived at a stage which is so far satisfactory that we have examples of what may be done artistically, in laying out and improving. We can see what it is to give us Nature around us; what she is capable of being when reduced to a smaller compass than in her native glen and waterfall. Those who do this, and do it with simplicity, with truth, with grandeur or taste, are lords of Nature, and their art is a master-art. Even inanimate and dumb things speak a language to man.
His trees expand their leaves in the air, glad of the rain, proud of the sun, awake to the winds of heaven; the clear breeze playing with the branches of the shadowing trees, "the valleys low, where the mild zephyrs use," the distant, uninterrupted prospects, speak in sweet accordance to the heart with nature for its guide. We may say that he " Who of these delights can judge and knows To interpose them oft, is not unwise".
A good guide is an essential ingredient in making preparations for perfect imitations of Nature. "Our" native Downing, with an eye and a mind that were at once recognized for their beauty and correctness, led us on with consummate art, giving an impetus that cannot be stopped; with every successful turn in Fortune's wheel, the lovers of the country, that natural love imparted to us at the Creation, spring up over our land; home becomes a cheerful, a happy place. It may be that misfortune dispossesses some, but the idea has taken a permanent shape; the desire is no longer with all classes to be more wealthy; many desire to be better, to know more, and with enlarge* views to enjoy more of intellectual life, and to eschew the too busy haunts of men and their turmoils. The country now contains many who take a philosophical view of life and its duties; who enjoy truthfully, and whose almost sole remaining anxiety is, that their successors may be so trained as to be likewise contented with moderation in the enjoyment of enough.
Those who have watched the progress of events, the individual cases of citizens with a sufficiency, and compared their careers with those who have sought happiness abroad, can have come but to one conclusion - that home is the place for Americans. We could name a wealthy community where it has been so much the custom, the fashion, to go abroad that their neighbors are distasteful; excitement has taken the place of rational life, and the insidious enemy of peace has attacked the heads of families, so that this country is " not good enough for them." What may we not anticipate for their children? There is a growing spirit of absenteeism, which if not checked, will do much injury and retard the onward career of our country. The educations received abroad do not make the best patriots.
We can point to no occupation or pursuit so likely to retain our wealthy families at home, so alluring as life in the country when it is properly understood and carried out.
How to lay out, adorn, and occupy a house and grounds in the country, so that it shall continue to attract its occupants to remain, becomes then a question of great importance; it is, therefore, natural that we should welcome every valuable contribution to this end, and give our space to the examination of such books as promise to aid the aspirant after the country, with its health-giving occupations, and its ever new mental pursuits. We therefore notice Mr. Kemp's volume, and in advance of its republication in America shall point out some of its contents as worthy of study: taking the liberty, at the same time, to repeat a caution, that it is not everybody that is qualified by previous training to enter upon country life. There are many who like the occupation of building, and forming a home in rural scenes, who are entirely unfitted to occupy their formations when complete. They must have some love for solitude, some fondness for reading and study, or they must enjoy work; without a pursuit, the country is uninhabitable. Mr. Kemp is the well-known landscape gardener who laid out Birkenhead park, near Liverpool, and his book has already received so much notice as to make any further introduction unnecessary.
While we write, we are in the receipt of an American reprint of this work, from the press of Messrs. Halsted, of 351 Broadway, to whom we owe much obligation for the illustrations politely furnished us for use in this article. Their edition is a fac-simile of the English, and is sold by them, and also sold or mailed, postage paid, at the office of the Horticulturist, 25 Park Row, for Two Dollars.
At the same time that we strongly commend this book, we must add that without caution the young planter may be led astray if he adopts the lists of trees and shrubs in the work without reference to climate. At the North, many that are commended would not be hardy. The publishers, in a second American edition, which we have no doubt will be called for, should have this matter and some others well looked after by an American editor.