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.
An. Address, fry P. T. Quinn, before the Rural Club of N. Y.
THE first view of the British Islands, as seen from the deck of a steamship, in the English channel, is strikingly beautiful and picturesque. The distant and green-clad hills of the county Wicklow, Ireland, and the bold, abrupt, and in places precipitous landscape of Wales, divisioned off into fields by the neatly trimmed hedges, is a pleasant and enjoyable picture, coming suddenly upon one, after a ten days' voyage, during which time little or nothing is seen, but sea and sky, with an occasional spout of the ever-welcome whale, to break into the monotony and lazy habits one falls into in crossing the Atlantic. But on approaching Liverpool through the Mersey, there follows a sad feeling of disappointment, with this muddy, sluggish, stream, flowing lazily along; as if without purpose, and confined on either side with tame and uninviting banks. One wonders that in a country with a world-wide fame for its cultivated tastes in embellishing its landscape, where gardening was taught and fostered, as one of the fine arts, as early as the sixteenth century, that so little has been done to adorn and beautify the banks of the river leading to the great ship-ping port of the world.
But this disappointment soon vanishes when leaving the outskirts of this, the center of the shipping interest, for travel in whichever direction you may, the general appearance of the country is that of a well kept and highly cultivated garden, when compared with our own country, where fertile land is too plenty and too cheap to call for the same kind of close cropping. The total absence of the unsightly post and rail fences, and in their stead the thorn hedges, gives tone to the landscape, and adds much to the general appearance of the face of the country, that grows on one the more they see of it.
Another feature, common in England, Ireland and Scotland, and one well worthy of imitation in our own country, is the tasteful manner in which many of the railroad companies keep the enclosed spaces on either side of the tracks. The spare ground is laid down to grass, which is mowed twice a year, leaving a fine turf for hundreds of miles on a stretch. This, in connection with depots built of stone, from handsome designs, and the walls of such buildings not unfrequently hidden from sight, by the luxuriant growth of ivy, and other climbing vines, with a tastefully laid out flower garden near by - and often 1 have seen the name of the station, from the car window, in growing flowers of brilliant colors.
The natural advantages of the mild and moist English climate, make it comparatively easy work for the English gardener to produce and keep up a succession of fine effects. Among the most noticeable in all well kept gardens, parks, and pleasure grounds, is the exquisite fine character of the turf, looking in midsummer, fresh, green, closely shaved, soft, velvety and elastic to the foot. One who has not seen-, a well tended English lawn, cannot conceive how much it adds to the finish of a: country home. In all country places having any pretensions, the "ribbon " style of arranging flowers is quite common; and where the plants have been set with a view to the harmony of colors, this style proves a great success. Then follows the plan of massing colors. Beds cut out in graceful and artistic shapes, planted with a single variety of flowers, or a bed of ornamental leaved plants, The geranium, golden feather (Pyrethrum), dwarf nasturtium, mignonette, lobelia and coleus are often used for this purpose.
While in some of the best kept places, long beds of dark blood-leaved beets were grown for ornamental purposes, and contiguous to other plants, one could hardly imagine they would harmonize and give such richness to the whole.