The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: From London to Sheffield in the Spring of 1839

Chatsworth Arboretum

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The arboretum at Chatsworth, which is the only one that we have seen or heard of where sufficient room is given to every species to attain its usual size, we have given a plan and description of in a former volume. (XI. p. 485.) The trees and shrubs have now been planted four years, and they may be considered as firmly established, and doing well. Each tree and larger-growing shrub is planted on a little hill, the surface of which is kept dug, or at all events free from weeds, which is perhaps better; and the smaller-growing shrubs, such as heaths, azaleas, vacciniums, &c., are planted in masses in prepared soil kept free from weeds. An ample space is allowed to each plant; the effect of which, now that they are fairly beginning to grow, is already conspicuous, and will be strikingly so in five or six years. The names are in white letters on a dark ground painted on heart of oak, as described by Mr. Nesfield, Vol. XIII. p. 58.; but the letters are beginning to fade, and will be replaced by others of a different kind, and more in the manner of our brick tally, fig. 12. p. 33. in Vol. VIII. Near the palace, as it may very properly be termed, many araucarias and deodar cedars are planted, alternating with Portugal laurels trained on stems 6 ft. high, with heads cut into round balls, so as to resemble orange trees under the kind of treatment which they receive in the gardens of the Tuileries and at Versailles. A new line of separation has been formed between the pleasure-ground and the park, on the east side, which is a very great improvement. It is a high wall rising in steps as it ascends the hill, and the space between each step is thrown into a compartment by piers. Each compartment is planted with tender climbers, or other ornamental shrubs, which are trained to a trellis, and covered with a blue striped canvass curtain during nights throughout the winter and spring. During the three or four summer months, the curtain is entirely removed. This conservative wall, as it may be called, commences at the orangery, which forms part of the palace, and terminates in a stove at some distance. In this stove we found many well grown plants; and, in particular, groups of ferns on masses of rock-work, each mass being placed behind the stone piers between the windows of the front elevation. The grand cascade has been altered, but something further is wanting; the fall of the water from the aqueduct not harmonising in breadth either with the falls above or those below it. The termination of the sloping line of cascade has, like that at Caserta near Naples, always appeared to us unsatisfactory; though it would be difficult to say, both in the case of Caserta and Chatsworth, what would be the best mode of improving it. Mr. Paxton, however, having recently had the advantage, during an eight months' tour with his noble employer, of visiting all the finest gardens of France and Italy (an advantage which we question whether any other gardener ever enjoyed), will doubtless devise some plan for giving meaning, not only to the termination of the line of cascades, but to the two ends of the oblong canal on the south front of the house.