The Garden Guide

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

Planting in relation to local character

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It will be remembered that, in the foregoing section, we stated it as one of the leading principles of the art of Landscape Gardening, that in every instance where the grounds of a country residence have a marked natural character, whether of beautiful or picturesque expression, the efforts of the improver will be most successful if he contributes by his art to aid and strengthen that expression. This should ever be borne in mind when we are commencing any improvements in planting that will affect the general expression of the scene, as there are but few country residences in the United States of any importance which have not naturally some distinct landscape character; and the labors of the improver will be productive of much greater satisfaction and more lasting pleasure, when they aim at effects in keeping with the whole scene, than if no regard be paid to this important point. This will be felt almost intuitively by persons who, perhaps, would themselves be incapable of describing the cause of their gratification, but would perceive the contrary at once; as many are unable to analyse the pleasure derived from harmony in music, while they at once perceive the introduction of discordant notes. We do not intend that this principle should apply so closely, that extensive grounds naturally picturesque shall have nothing of the softening touches of more perfect beauty; or that a demesne characterized by the latter expression should not be occasionally enlivened with a few "smart touches" of the former. This is often necessary, indeed, to prevent tarne scenery from degenerating into insipidity, or picturesque into wildness, too great to be appropriate in a country residence. Picturesque trees give new spirit to groups of highly beautiful ones, and the latter sometimes heighten by contrast the value of the former. All of which, however, does not prevent the predominance of the leading features of either style, sufficiently strong to mark it as such; while, occasionally, something of zest or elegance may be borrowed from the opposite character, to suit the wishes or gratify the taste of the proprietor.