The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: London to Manchester in the Spring of 1831

Irregular lawn shapes

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A second rule is, that where the whole, that is, the lawn or area to be laid out, is of an irregular shape, regular figures as groups should be very sparingly introduced. What can be more disagreeable than a lawn sprinkled over with circles, ovals, hearts, diamonds, &c., without any connection among themselves, or with the objects that surround them ? A third rule is, that all figures should be long and narrow rather than round and lumpish, as producing most effect with least ground. A fourth rule is, that a group, or even a tree, should seldom or never be placed in the centre of any large place or scene where natural beauty is an object; for that gives immediately the idea of art, and, besides, forms a point for the eye to measure from, diminishing the apparent size of the place, and destroying what painters call breadth of effect, or what a gardener, if he could look with a painter's eye, would call breadth of lawn. The last rule we shall give is, that groups should be kept near the walks; and that, when they extend into the lawn, they should be in clusters; so that a map of the whole would show alternate clusters of groups, and broad spaces of lawn. To these rules there are, of course, exceptions; and it is not to be expected that any gardener can apply them perfectly who does not understand the principle from which they are drawn; but if they were even adhered to in a general way, they would prevent the eye from being offended to the extent it now is, in almost every lawn and flower-garden. We recommend the perusal of the article on the beauty of lines and forms given in a former Volume; and, to young gardeners, the continual sketching of scenery from nature, and from good engravings. We can safely affirm, that we have seen very few groups placed on lawn to our satisfaction, either in large or in small places, since we left London. If our article above referred to had been understood, this could not have happened. We conclude it has been read; for the Gardener's Magazine appears to be well known wherever we have called: but it is not enough to present knowledge to a mind, unless that mind has been prepared by previous culture to receive it. We have given sketches at several places where errors have recently been committed, to show the sort of grouping that ought to have been adopted; and we could wish that all young men intended for nurserymen or jobbing gardeners could be made to understand the importance of the subject.