Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the might; world Of eve and ear, both what the; half create And what perceive.
FROM unrelated detail upon a place, we are gradually led towards broader effects, and a desire for more simple relations of parts to the whole, while a wish to bring subordination to some central idea that shall give purpose to the picture is gradually born in our minds. Thus our work becomes an education in the higher principles which must underlie all beauty.
When we first purchased this old farm no dream of landscape gardening crossed our minds. It was not to found a country-seat that we bought it, but simply to get a place to live in, a quiet village home, as indeed it is, where a lovely view would gladden our eyes, where we should have elbow-room, with enough land to cultivate to provide us with an interest, and where we could raise hay for our horses, and, perhaps, a few vegetables for ourselves. A tree or two to shade us, and some Pines on the hillside to relieve its dreariness, were in our programme, as well as the Willows along the street; but we felt that we had twice as much land as we needed, and should probably part with a lot on each side of us before very long, instead of wishing, as we now do, for a few acres more.
As in everything else that one begins in an amateurish way, we looked no further along the road we are to travel than the end of its first enticing curve, and little we recked where it was to lead us. To get rid of barrenness was our obvious business, but there was no method in our endeavor beyond the mere putting in of all the trees and shrubs we could muster from the resources of the place, or through the kindness of our friends.
For the first two years it required our best energies to make these live, and there was not much thought beyond digging around them, watering them when dry, and pruning them into shape. But the third summer, when the bare poles began to have perceptible tops on them, and the little shrubs to occupy a substantial space of the earth's surface, we began to be conscious of defects of arrangement, of a lack of meaning and purpose in the picture, and to feel the necessity of a more artistic disposition of our forces. The needs of the place, too, became apparent. The trees that had been planted for shade either showed that they would throw no shadows at all within the next ten years, at the proper hours, or else would throw them where they were not particularly needed. The shrubs in groups looked crowded, the single ones gave a spotty appearance to the lawn that was not to be borne, the driveways were too wide and their curves unsatisfactory, while the expanses of turf were too brief for beauty.
Each effort at improvement seemed but to make us the more conscious of our lacks, and while our neighbors were complimenting us upon the improved appearance of the farm, which no longer looked like an abandoned sand-hill, we ourselves were taking counsel together, and coming to the conclusion that the place was a schoolmaster to bring us unto knowledge, by the painful road of ignorance and failure.