The Garden Guide

Book: Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1816
Chapter: Fragment Xvi. Concerning Villas.

Streatham Common and a Brownian Ha Ha

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The art of landscape gardening is, in no instance, more obliged to Mr. Brown, than for his occasionally judicious introduction of the ha! ha! or sunk fence, by which he united in appearance two surfaces necessary to be kept separate. But this has been, in many places, absurdly copied to an extent that gives more actual confinement than any visible fence whatever. At Streatham, the view towards the south, consists of a small field, bounded by the narrow belt, and beyond it is the common of Streatham, which is, in parts, adorned by groups of trees, and in others disfigured by a redundance of obtrusive houses. The common, in itself, is a cheerful object, and, from its distance, not offensive, even when covered with people who enjoy its verdure. Yet if the whole of the view in front were open to the common, it might render the house and ground near to it too public; and, for this reason, I suppose, some shrubs have been placed near the windows; but I consider that the defect might be more effectually remedied, by such a mass of planting as would direct the eye to the richest part of the common only; then, by raising a bank to hide the paling in such opening, the grass of the common and of the lawn would appear united, and form one unconfined range of turf, seen point blank from the prinpal windows; while the oblique view might be extended to the greatest depth of lawn, and to some fine trees, which are now all hid by an intervening kitchen-garden, not half large enough for the use of such a house.