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.
When within the gates of our own premises, we wish to feel that we are lords of the soil, that we may lay aside formal restraint, may wear our oldest coat and most shocking hat, may romp and roll on the grass with children, and do anything we please, and yet not be exposed to the stare and criticism of street-goers. Moreover, there are few houses so perfect in proportion and finish as not to appear better if partially screened by a drapery of trees and vines. Is not even the sky most beautiful when seen through openings in the clouds, and the finest views of the ocean, are they not those caught through vistas of mountains and forests? Indeed, nearly all objects interest us most when a part of them only is seen, since the imagination conceives greater things of what remains unseen. So, many a country residence, though faulty in some respects, if it were seen standing bare and naked at all points, pleases the taste and engages the heart when partly concealed, and allowing only glimpses of it to be caught here and there from favorable positions. And if it might not seem too harsh a judgment of others, I would say that the practice of leaving one's premises open to the street, for the sake of being gazed at, implies a love of display on the part of the owner which is far from being commendable.
To see a lawn filled with statuary, and vases, and miniature temples, and rock-work, and arbors, and gaudy flowers, paraded like the wares of a tradesman to catch the eye of the public, - how can one help feeling disgust at such vanity and corrupt taste 1 A love of retirement and modest seclusion is not exclusiveness, and should not be confounded with it For reasons like these, I would say, encircle your grounds (except at those points where views are to be preserved,) with belts of trees. Let these belts run in irregular, waving lines, and be composed of deciduous and evergreen trees mingled together, and of the latter the more the better. Before the openings left for prospects, plant low trees or shrubs to preserve the privacy of your grounds, and yet allow one to see the surrounding landscape. And these openings should not be stiff, square places, cut out like windows in the side of a house, but should have flowing outlines, the whole looking as though the trees were gracefully holding back their branches to allow you a sight of the scenery beyond them.
Wherever you can plant hedges as substitutes for fences, do so; and where you cannot, set masses of shrubs with clambering vines to conceal your boundries.
When riding in the country in summer, and passing, it may be, through valleys, have you not sometimes noticed shady nooks, cool recesses amid thick, overhanging boughs ? And did they not always excite pleasing emotions ? Then endeavor to create some such scene in a quiet corner of your own premises. Have you not sometimes sat upon a hill-side beneath a spreading tree or grove, and looked off upon the surrounding landscape; and can you fail to remember the enjoyment of such occasions ? Then, if your grounds furnish any such point of observation, seise upon it, and either build an arbor there and cover it with vines, or plant trees upon it and place beneath them a rustic seat.
Trees are beautiful objects when clustered in groups and mingling their spray together, or when standing singly and developing themselves fully on every side. If you have room in your premises, plant several groups of different form and size. In one, set the different varieties of the same tree together; in another, different kinds of trees, but those which harmonize in their general outline and branches and leaves; and in another, those which have a general resemblance, but the color of whose foliage, especially in autumn, is strongly contrasted. And in your groups of round-headed trees, set occasionally larch or fir-trees, whose pointed head shall rise in bold relief to the rest and give an expression of variety and spirit. Or, without following any prescribed rules, search out in field or forest some of natures finest combinations and endeavor to reproduce them. And whilst arranging your groups, have an eye to the useful, and plant one or more so as to conceal the premises in the rear of your house from the more ornamental grounds in front. At suitable intervals be-tween your groups, plant single trees. And do not in all cases out away their lower branches.
Here and there, let at least one tree grow, from its root to its crown, as the God of nature designed it to grow, and see what a model of symmetry and grace a tree will become where it is let alone. Let it " stretch its boughs upward freely to the sky, and outward to the breeze, and even downwards towards the earth, - almost touching it with their graceful sweep, till only a glimpse of the fine trunk is had at its spreading base, and the whole top is one great globe of floating, waving, drooping or sturdy luxuriance, giving one as perfect an idea of symmetry and proportion as can be found short of the Grecian Apollo itself And there is a great variety of trees for you to select from. Some are desirable for their earliness in spring, as the larch, mountain ash and the maples; others for their gracefulness of form and the motion of their branches, as the elm and willow; others for their deep verdure in summer, as the horse chesnut, sugar maple and linden ; others for their brilliant colors in autumn, as the ash, dogwood, maple and oak; others for the tenacity with which their foliage retains its greenness, in spite of frosts, late into autumn; and others still for their beauty of proportion, the neatness and fine color of their branches and twigs even in winter.
You will doubtless wish to plant evergreens as well as deciduous trees. They are desirable for the protection they afford and for their cheerful expression during the stormy months of the year. Set a few of them among your groups of deciduous trees; plant them here and there in seperate masses, mingling the different forms and shades of color. Reserve your finest specimens for planting singly upon the lawn. By no means cut off their lowest branches, for this class of trees are beautiful just in proportion to their geometrical regularity from the branches which sweep the ground to the apex. '
Set the rarest and most delicate trees immediately around your dwelling, and the larger and more common as you recede from it. Near your house, let there be occasional patches of unbroken lawn, and as yon go from it let the trees approach nearer and nearer together until they mingle with the belts at the boundaries.* As an exception to this general rule, however, it is well to leave openings, here and there, for views from the house into the remotest parts of your grounds; and let these vistas terminate on some pleasing object, as an arbor, a shady dell, or favorite tree with a rustic seat beneath it. But of tree-planting, I will say nothing further, except to quote the advice of the old Laird of Dumbiedike to his son : " Jock, when ye hae naething else to do, ye may be aye sticking in a tree; it will be growing, Jock, when ye're sleeping. My father tauld me sae forty years sin', but I naer faud time to mind him.'
Of shrubs and flowering plants, the larger kinds may be used as fringes to your belts and groups of trees, some may be arranged in masses by themselves, and others separately by the side of your roads and walks. If you plant in beds by the side of your walks - and this is a very good arrangement - set the largest in the rear, and the smallest next to the walk. And if you set them alternately, running in a zig-zag line, they will all be in immediate view from the walks. To twine about the pillars of your piazza, or to clamber over your porch and windows, plant such vines as the Chinese Wistaria, Virginia creeper, Trumpet honeysuckle, and perhaps some of the climbing roses.
Let me say in conclusion, undertake nothing but what you can do thoroughly. Do not plant with a view to please every body; but let your work be an expression of yourself. Make your place in keeping with your purse and condition. If you have wealth to use in the gratification of your taste, do not make a display of it. Remember, too, that a great establishment is a great care, and that the proprietor is very apt to become a slave to it. Be content with a tasteful simplicity. Let your dwelling place be marked with what painters call " repose." Make it the abode of comfort and refined enjoyment, a place which will always afford you cheerful occupation, but not oppress you with care. Of this mode of moral life, it may be said, as of Cleopatra's beauty.
" Age cannot wither, custom cannot stale Its infinite variety".
Proceeding upon such a plan as this, you will certainly find in your work from year to year, some of the purest enjoyment under the sun. And if, as it is said,' there are thirty thousand species of plants known, and at least thirty millions of varied combinations of landscape scenery possible,' you will not soon lack for employment.
[The foregoing article is perhaps the most complete and satisfactory treatise for its length, on Landscape Gardening that we have ever read. Those who study it will possess the true outlines of the science. We trust our able correspondent will frequently use his pen for the Horticulturist. - Ed].
• Of a certain country-seat in England, London says: • Nothing can be more judiciously disposed than the trees in this ground. * * * * Immediately in front of the house the surface contains very fine twee, but at a short distance these commence, at first thinly scattered and sparingly grouped, and then increased in number till the groups unite in masses, and the masses are tost in one grand valley of wood".