The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section III. On Wood.

Plantations in the ancient formal style of garden design

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PLANTATIONS IN THE ANCIENT STYLE. In the arrangement and culture of trees and plants in the ancient style of Landscape Gardening, we discover the evidences of the formal taste,-abounding with every possible variety of quaint conceits, and rife with whimsical expedients, so much in fashion during the days of Henry and Elizabeth, and until the eighteenth century in England, and which is still the reigning mode in Holland, and parts of France. In these gardens, nature was tamed and subdued, or as some critics will have it, tortured into every shape which the ingenuity of the gardener could suggest; and such kinds of vegetation as bore the shears most patiently, and when carefully trimmed, assumed gradually the appearance of verdant statues, pyramids, crowing cocks, and rampant lions, were the especial favorites of the gardeners of the old school.* The stately etiquette and courtly precision of the manners of our English ancestors, extended into their gardens, and were reflected back by the very trees which lined their avenues, and the shrubs which surrounded their houses. "Nonsuch, Theobalds, Greenwich, Hampton Court, Hatfield, Moor-Park, Chatsworth, Beaconfield, Cashiobury, Ham, and many another," says William Howitt, "stood in all that stately formality which Henry and Elizabeth admired; and in which our Surreys, Leicesters, Essexes, the splendid nobles of the Tudor dynasty, the gay ladies and gallants of Charles II.'s court, had walked and talked,-fluttering in glittering processions, or flirting in green alleys and bowers of topiary work, and amid figures, in lead or stone, fountains, cascades,- copper-trees dropping sudden showers on the astonished passers under, stately terraces with gilded balustrades, and curious quincunxes, obelisks, and pyramids;-fitting objects of admiration of those who walked in high heeled shoes, ruffs, and fardingales, with fan in hand, or in trunk hose and laced doublet." (* The unique ideal of the "Garden of Eden," by one of the old Dutch painters, with sheared hedges, formal alleys, and geometric plots of flowers, for the entertainment of our first parents, is doubtless familiar to our readers.)