The Garden Guide

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

Stowe landscape garden 1831

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Palace Residences. Among these we include Stowe, Warwick Castle, Trentham, Alton Towers, and Chatsworth. Stowe, taking it altogether, and considering it as a work of art, appears to us the most perfect of these residences: nature has done little or nothing; man a great deal, and time has improved his labours. Stowe is disfigured, however, by one of the worst kitchen-gardens in the country, which occupies what is by nature the finest part of the grounds, and forms a conspicuous deformity from the entrance front. It is difficult to conceive why this garden was so placed, and not less so, to account for its being permitted to remain. The extensive pleasure-grounds have been greatly improved since we first saw them in 1806, by the present gardener, Mr. Brown, who may justly be said to have received the mantle of his great namesake and predecessor in the same garden, our common father in landscape-gardening. We were sorry to learn that these gardens are not kept up as they used to be; the number of hands being yearly lessened. In new and rare plants, trees, and shrubs, the grounds are not keeping pace with the nurseries, as the furniture of the house, especially the grates of the fireplaces, is falling behind the best fashions of the day. Methley's grates (Vol. VI. p. 108.) are much wanted. Warwick Castle has little to recommend it but the house, and the view from its windows. The approach road cut through solid rock, with sides as formal and perpendicular as a drift-way to a mine, or the sides of a canal, still remains in all its deformity, and confirmed the bad impression which it had made on us twenty-five years ago. The rocks ought to be broken and varied, so as to give the idea of a road through a partially filled up natural chasm. The pleasure-grounds are worse kept up than at Stowe; and the opaque-roofed green-house, containing the celebrated Warwick vase, is disfigured by sickly pelargoniums, and other commonplace plants. Such green-houses, if they are to have plants in them at all, ought first to have glass roofs; and, secondly, only very large plants in large pots or boxes. In such houses no small plant can ever thrive. In the whole world of gardening there is not a sight more disagreeable to us, than that of great numbers of sickly little plants in pots. The gardener is continually labouring at them, and his labour never tells; a little of it bestowed on a flower-border or a shrubbery would produce more satisfaction to a well regulated taste, than thousands of pots in the state we have described. In the open country the love of plants in pots, merely as such, is a disease contracted by the poor from their contact with the rich; in towns it is justifiable, because there a sick plant is better than none.