The Garden Guide

Book: Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1816
Chapter: Fragment Xv. On Planting Single Trees.

Letter to Lord Erskine

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TO THE RIGHT HON. LORD ERSKINE, &c. &c. MY LORD, IN answer to your Lordship's query, I will begin by stating it in your own words, because it is probable you have kept no copy of them, and I have no recollection of having made the remark you record, although I fully confirm it. Your letter says, "I have followed your advice in the shelter given to my cottage, without sacrificing my prospect; and you said very truly, that when a man is annoyed with sun, wind, or dust, he puts his hand near his face, and does not depend on distant shelter." I then recommended you to plant only beech, and now you ask if there may be added a few cedars of Lebanon, pineaster, and silver firs. This I must answer by the help of a sketch, to explain what is so obvious, when explained, that I consider it only as a proof that the most enlightened minds will sometimes hesitate on subjects which they have not studied with the eyes of a painter and landscape gardener: the former sees things as they are, the latter as they will be. Indeed, I have frequently observed, that, in planting a tree, few persons consider the future growth or shape of different kinds. Thus, the beech and the ash will admit of a view under their branches, or will admit of lower branches being cut; while the fir tribe and conic-shaped trees will not. [Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine (10 January 1750 - 17 November 1823), Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom, was the third and youngest son of Henry David Erskine, 10th Earl of Buchan]