The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section I. Historical Sketches.

Dutch garden design

Previous - Next

And how shall we characterize the Dutch school, which even to this day, in the Low Countries, has scarcely given way to the continental admiration for the "jardin Anglais;" this double distilled compound of labored symmetry, regularity, and stiffness, which seems to convey to the quiet owners so much pleasure, and to the tasteful traveller and critic so much despair! A stagnant and muddy canal, with a bridge thrown over it, and often connected with a circular fishpond; a grass slope and a mound of green turf, on which is a pleasure or banqueting house with gilt ornaments; numberless clipped trees, and every variety of trellis-work lively with green paint; in the foreground beds of gay bulbs and florists' flowers, interspersed with huge orange trees in tubs, and in the distance smooth green meadows-such are the unvarying features of the Hollander's garden or grounds.* The true Dutchman looks upon his garden as a quiet place to smoke and be "content" in; if he lazily saunters through, it is rather to enjoy the gay pencillings of some new bed of tulips than to enjoy the elegance and harmony of its design, the variety of scenery, or the freshness and beauty of the foliage. At the same time, he is neither exclusive nor secret with the stores of enjoyment which he has within its bounds; and very many of the private villas near Rotterdam, and in other parts of Holland, have mottoes like those inscribed over the gateways-"Tranquil and Content," "My desire is satisfied "-(genegentheiel is volden)-"Friendship and sociability," and numerous others of a similar import. (*In the neighborhood of Antwerp, not a long time since, was the villa of M. Smetz, where, among many things that were pretty, was the odd conceit of a lawn on which were a shepherd, his flock of sheep, and his dog cut in stone, and always looking "pastoral and country-like.")