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.
WE proceed to give three or four more illustrations from this book, and regret that space does not permit of more extracts from other portions of the volume; but as it will form a part of the libraries of so many of our readers,-we need not more fully forestall their perusal of it.
"When any broad sheet of water," says our author, truly, "such as the sea, a large river, or. a lake, forms the prinipal object from the front of a house or from some point in the garden, the value of a good irregular foreground will be, apparent. A great glare of water is seldom agreeable to the sight; and in some kinds of water may be most disagreeable and melancholy. The passage across it of vessels of all sorts, likewise, becomes far more interesting and delightful where it is only to be observed at intervals, and is occasionally lost sight of. If water be looked at through a leafy scene, it is moreover in some degree sobered down thereby. It does not dazzle or pain the eye so much. It has all the charm of light and shadow. Its own lustre and loveliness are brightened by the contrast. It is a gem with a dark setting." Fig. 1.
One of the most important points of landscape gardening is, to provide continuous views through plantations, and here we have some just remarks on the subject:
"The house must always be regarded as the chief point of vision in a place, and the best views of the grounds should consequently be had from it. The windows of a house are a great deal more used for looking at a garden than any other position; and the points of interest can there be inspected more leisurely. For this reason, and because occasional visitors see a garden more from the windows of a house, it is a good plan to form, in laying out a garden, a series of lines radiating from one, two, or three principal windows of the house, at irregular distances apart, towards the outside boundary; and place the requisite specimens and groups, solely within the triangles thus made, according as they may be wanted; never suffering the specimens near the house to be so large as to cover a greater space at the broad end of the triangle than may there be required as a plantation, and disposing the whole of them so irregularly, as that nothing like lines of plants shall ever appear. The practice of such a system need in no way interfere with the beauty of the lawn as seen from other parts. This can just as easily be obtained at the same time. Indeed, cross lines from all the openings at the Bides of a place will be of equal service in the formation of subordinate views or minor glades.
A slight illustration of this is offered in the arrows between the dotted lines denoting the various openings or glades, both from the principal window and from the sides of the lawn." Fig. 2. A large portion of the work is devoted to the subject of flower gardens, which are treated of in their various examples of geometrical, architectural, and irregular. Although at the outset the author remarks that "the beds of a flower garden should be symmetrical, and fit nicely into each other," ' he has signally failed in carrying out his own suggestions in the many plans which are given. It is not too much to say that with the exceptions of Figs. 160 and 161, (which by a little thinning out, would form a pleasing arrangement of the flower beds) there is not a truly artistic design; many of them are ridiculous and beneath criticism; the positions they occupy, which is by far the most important point the landscape gardener has to decide upon, are also unhappily selected. He falls too often into the error of dotting what might otherwise be a desirable and pleasing fragment of lawn, over the whole surface with an unmeaning assemblage of beds and single plants.
Fig. 3. (155 of the book), one of the best of the plans given, (all things considered we would pronounce it the very best,) illustrates the defects to which we have alluded. Here the aim is to make a formal, narrow vista from the house, to the green-house. To effect this, two parallel rows of flower beds cross the lawn exactly through the centre, which not only destroys all breadth of effect, but fails in producing the feature evidently intended, viz. to direct attention to the ornamental green-house in the distance. A far bolder and more effective result would have been attained, if the centre of the lawn had been kept free of beds, shrubs, and water-basins, and the shrubbery near the lower end of the lawn, in front of the green-house had been brought out into the lawn so as to form a dense mass through which a vista might have been formed; then as a frame to the picture, place a compact, conical growing tree on each side of the bay-window of the house, and a pleasing vista would be produced, and retain a sufficiency of clear lawn to give a charming effect. This is not by any means a solitary instance of over planting, or dotting, as Loudon well termed it.
Most of the plans are defective from an anxiety to plant Hodg--kin's Hollies, and Andromeda floribundas.
Carriage roads to the house are so evidently necessary and being the first position from which the house and its surroundings are viewed, that their proper location and direction is of the first importance. On this subject the author has very valuable remarks, and he illustrates his ideas by several engravings which are instructive. Pig. 4. we have had engraved for the purpose of remarking that we consider it one of the worst arrangements for an entrance. It is of course, an arrangement for a house near the outside road, and the group of shrubbery in front is intended to screen the front door. So far it is desirable, but the road in this position tends much to destroy isolation in front, and breaks up the front lawn so as to defeat, in a great measure the object intended to be gained. A better arrangement in such instances is to bring the entrance in on one side, and provide a carriage turn on the other; or, have two gateways, one on each side, -so as to preserve the front entire; this is the most desirable in limited fronts, and is only more extensive in so far as the cost of the first construction of an additional gate; the amount of road in both cases being nearly alike.
Mr. Kemp's principles are better than his details; whilst he seems to comprehend and display a familiarity with the rules that govern taste, the details of his plans are open to much criticism. There are a few features which seem always present; straight walks terminating in, and their continuity shortened by small* unmeaning circles, are too frequently introduced, even in positions where their continuation would evidently lead to increased perspective beauty.
Again, his groups and trees are in the main very judiciously located, but the details in their planting are as injudiciously wrought out. There is no harmony or system in the selection of plants for the developments of the groups, and in positions where a full sized tree would be in the very best position we find a Rhododendron or Mahonia located. This is, after all, the one thing desirable in a popular treatise on landscape gardening, and as it is one which can only bo properly treated after a long and extensive experience, and a thorough knowledge of the growth and peculiar characteristics of trees and shrubs, it is the least of all entered upon by writers on the subject. It is the want felt by most men of educated taste and no practical experience. They know where a certain formed group would be well placed, but they do not know the best material of which to form such group.
With these remarks, and referring again to the lists of plants as not adapted to our wants, we leave the "book to the consideration of the public.
Professor Owen's address before the late meeting of the British Association at Leeds, is an impressive document. Alluding to the topics of this journal, he goes on to say: -
"In the operations of nature there is generally a succession of processes co-ordinnted for a given result: a peach is not directly developed as such from its elements; the seed would, a priori, give no idea of the tree, nor the tree of the flower, nor the fertilized germ of that flower of the pulpy fruit in which the seed is buried. It is eminently characteristic of the Creative Wisdom, this far-seeing and prevision of an ultimate result, through the successive operations of a co-ordinate series of seemingly very different conditions. The further a man discerns in a series of conditions, their co-ordination to produce a given result, the nearer does bis wisdom approach - though the distance be still immeasurable - to the Divine wisdom.' One philanthropist builds a fever hospital, another drains a town. One crime-preventer trains the boy, another hangs the man. One statesman would raise money by augmenting a duty, or by a direct tax, and finds the revenue not increased in the expected ratio. Another diminishes a tax, or abolishes a duty, and through foreseen consequences the revenue is improved.
Water is the cheapest and most efficient transporter of excreta: but it should be remembered that the application of the water-supply as a transporting power is to be limited to all that comes from the interior of the abodes; this alone can be practically applied to agriculture. Whatever flows from the outside of houses, together with the general rain-fall of the town area, should go to the nearest river by channels wholly distinct from the hydraulic excretory system. Agriculture, let me repeat, has made, and is making, great encouraging progress, but much yet remains to be done. Were agriculture adequately advanced, the great problem of the London sewage would be speedily solved. Can it be supposed, if the rural districts were in a condition to avail themselves of a daily supply of pipe-water, not more than equivalent to that which a heavy shower of rain throws down on 2000 acres of land, but a supply charged with thirty tons of nitrogenous ammoniacal principles, that such supply would not be forthcoming, and made capable of being distributed when called for within a radius of one hundred miles? To send ships for foreign ammoniacal or phosphatic excreta to the coast of Peru, and to pollute by the waste of similar home products the noble river bisecting the metropolis, and washing the very-walks of the Houses of Parliament, are flagrant signs of the desert and uncultivated state of a field where science and practice have still to cooperate for the public benefit".