The Garden Guide

Book: An inquiry into the changes of taste in landscape gardening, 1806
Chapter: Part III. Literary And Miscellaneous Remarks.

Planting a down - hill

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Planting a Down.-There is no part of landscape gardening more difficult to reconcile to any principles of landscape painting than the form of plantations to clothe a naked down. If the ground could be spared, perhaps the best mode would be to plant the whole, and afterwards cut it into shape: it might then be considered as a wood interspersed with lawns; and this must be far more pleasing to the eye than a lawn patched with wood, or, rather, dotted with clumps, for it is impossible to consider them as woods, or groups of trees, while so young as to require fences. The effect of light and shade is not from the trees, but from the lines of posts and rails, or the situation of boxes and cradles with which they are surrounded; and these being works of art, they must appear artificial, whether the lines be straight or curved. Although much has been said and written about the sweeping lines of wood following the natural shapes of the ground, the affectation of such lines is often more offensive than a straight line, which is always the shortest, generally the easiest to disguise, and very often appears curved, and even crooked, from crossing uneven ground.* The sweeping lines of art, when applied to nature, become ridiculous, because they are liable to be compared with works of art, and not of nature. *[The strongest example of this fact may be taken from a view of large tracts of open country recently inclosed, where the lines of hedges are often drawn on the map, by the commissioners, at right angles, and the fields exactly square: but from the occasional inequality of surface, they generally appear diversified, and each square field takes a different shape in appearance, although, on the map, they may be exactly similar.]