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.
Dear Sir: I have Just been reading over Horace Walpole's History of Taste in Modern Gardening, an essay written about one hundred years ago; I think it might be worthy of reprinting; it would make about four articles, of about three pages each.
It is rather quaint and amusing. Speaking of the Garden of Eden, he says, "it contained two trees of which not a sucker or slip remains".
"A cottage and a slip of ground for a cabbage and gooseberry bush, were, in all probability, the earliest seats and gardens; a well and bucket succeeded to the Pison and Euphrates. " "As late as Homer's age, an inclosure of four acres, comprehending orchard, vineyard, and kitchen-garden, was a stretch of luxury the world at that time had never beheld." Of a later period, he says: "Trees were headed, and their sides pared away; many groves seem green chests set upon poles." " 'Leisure,' as Milton expressed it,' in trim gardens took his pleasure.' In the garden of Marshal de Biron, at Paris, consisting of fourteen acres, every walk is buttoned on each side by lines of flower-pots, which succeed in their seasons. When I saw it, there were nine thousand pots of Asters".
Speaking of terraced gardens, with long flights of steps, he remarks: "Fortunately, Kent and others were not quite so timid, or we might still be going up and down stairs in the open air".
"But the ornament whose merit soonest fades, is the hermitage or scene adapted to contemplation. It is almost comic to set aside a quarter of one's garden to be melancholy in".
"Borromini twisted and curled architecture as if it was subject to the change of fashions like a head of hair".
Such are some of his remarks. He traces the rise and progress of gardening very judiciously and concisely.
Yours, W. S.