This section is from the book "Beautiful Gardens - How To Make Them And Maintain Them", by Walter P. Wright. Also available from Amazon: Beautiful Gardens: How To Make And Maintain Them.
The landscape gardener stands somewhat in the same relationship to the working gardener as the architect does to the builder. The one plans and supervises, the other executes. But it is common in gardening to find another factor in the form of a nurseryman, who, in consideration of the profit which he derives from supplying the trees, shrubs, and plants required, will draw up plans without extra fees - providing, of course, that the designs are not to be of a very elaborate character.
What shall the prospective garden maker do when he has procured the land for his garden? Shall he forthwith seek the best landscape gardener who is to be found, and commission him to provide designs? Yes, if he can afford it. The landscape gardener will provide plans only, or he will undertake the whole execution of the work, in each case at an agreed price. If he is a man of character and ability the garden maker will be absolutely safe in his hands. There will be neither incompetence nor jobbery.
If, however, economy is a great consideration, the consulting nurseryman may be called upon. It does not follow that the first little wayside florist who puts in an appearance should be chosen. This class of man has often been a "gardener" in an obscure place, and, although perfectly competent to grow Cucumbers and bedding "Geraniums," knows no more about artistic gardening than a Yarmouth fisherman does. Without saying anything unkind about a type which doubtless possesses certain good qualities, it may be suggested that Messrs. Fresh-cut-Cucumbers and Wreaths-supplied had better be relegated to their proper sphere of usefulness whenever they appear on an eager quest for permission to muddle up a new garden.
There are reputable nurserymen in nearly every county who have a trade in shrubs and hardy flowers; and connected with them is a principal or confidential man who superintends what is called the "landscape department." These men often display a surprising aptitude for artistic work. They may ignore their aspirates as resolutely as Mr. Fresh-cut-Cucumbers himself; they will certainly always allude to the work in hand as "the job"; but it is quite likely that they will provide a very satisfactory design. This was not always the case. When the bedding system reigned supreme it paid a nurseryman better to propagate new Zonals than to run about the country laying out gardens. But in these days of hardy flower gardening the field has widened.
Fig. The Garden, St. Anne's, Dublin. From a Water Colour Drawing by E. A Route.
The nursery landscape man will give an inclusive estimate, if asked, for designs, material in the form of trees and plants, and labour. He will send down a foreman-in-charge, who will carry out the whole of the work with labour hired in the district. If the firm is an experienced one it will do the work well, down to the last drainpipe, the last yard of path, and the last square of turf.
One of the two foregoing courses will certainly commend itself to the business man, who, while desirous of having a garden, is not prepared to take a close personal interest in it. But what about the man to whom his garden is the first consideration - the flower lover pure and simple? Not for him the dictum of the finest landscape gardener who ever lived! Not for him the ideas, however good they may be, of the landscape nurseryman! He is going to plan and make his own garden. He is going to stamp his individuality upon it. As a man of common-sense, he is not going to rush into so great a task without preliminary study. By observation in other gardens, by reading, he will first acquire a thorough grasp of the main principles of the art of landscape gardening, and perhaps some hints on practical matters will help him.