The Garden Guide

Book: Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1816
Chapter: Fragment XxvII. Gardens Of Ashridge.

Water at Ashridge

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WATER. The water at Ashridge is, by art, brought from a deep well, dug by the monks, immediately under the chapel; and this must be pumped up into reservoirs. Now, it would be possible to lead pipes from these reservoirs in such a manner that every drop of water used for the gardens should be made visible in different ways, beginning with a conduit in front of the conservatory, and from thence led to supply a jet d'eau in the rosary. Another branch might form a falling shower, or dropping well, near the grotto; from which the waste-pipes might be led to keep up the water in the park pool, inducing cattle to assemble on its margin; the glitter of this pool might be seen through the stems of trees. But the greatest effect would be obtained from the conduit, or Gothic fountain, near the green-house: this could be thrown up from the well, and the surplus would find its way into the tank beneath. Thus, with actual scarcity, there would be an appearance of great command of water. Perhaps a contrivance might be introduced to filter this water by ascent, and make an artificial bubbling fount of the purest and brightest colour. It is not necessary for me to describe the various expedients by which this could be effected, in a place where so much taste and contrivance have already been evinced: all I wish to hint, is, the possibility of making much display of a little water, at the same time losing none. In garden scenery, a fountain is more lively than a pool; and as the nature of the chalk soil will not admit of those imitations of rivers and lakes, which modern gardening deems essential to landscape; and as, in proportion to the scarcity of anything, it becomes more valuable, it is the duty of the improver to render visible every drop of water that can be obtained: for, besides the pleasure the eye takes in seeing water, we cannot but consider it of the utmost consequence to a garden, where, if the labour of pumping cannot be avoided, it ought to be carried on unseen, lest our choice of the site should be condemned in these words of Isaiah, "And ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen, for ye shall be as an oak, whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water."