The Garden Guide

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

Italian Style of Gardening

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The Italian Style of Gardening, when adopted round a mansion, though more costly at first than the English style, is kept at less expense afterwards, on account of the comparatively small portion of mown lawn which this style requires, and its definite and fixed edgings to the beds, borders, and walks. The lawn beyond the boundary of the Italian garden may always be fed with sheep, or the grass made into hay; and hence, in many cases, instead of the pleasure-ground being an annual expense, it may afford an annual profit, or, at all events, it will pay itself. Mowing Lawns. - In general this is but very indifferently done by professional gardeners, or by labourers who are not much accustomed to it. We would therefore recommend that in all places where there is much lawn to mow, a man, or set of men, should be exclusively devoted to mowing it. As it is the most laborious of all country labours, such men ought either to have higher wages, or, what is preferable, the work ought to be let to them by contract. We are strongly inclined to think that the mowing of the lawns, the keeping of the walks, the hoeing, and the weeding, of all large places might be so let, much to the advantage of all parties concerned. A labourer who is accustomed to do work by the job soon becomes a very superior being to one that works by the day. In one of our earlier volumes, we have recommended classing the labours of a garden as common and professional; and, as far as possible, letting the whole of the former to common labourers, while the gardener was employed only in professional operations. The practice has been long adopted at Flitwick House, and we have lately seen it in operation of various gentlemen's seats. Keeping Shrubberies. - Much labour is spent in this way to very little purpose. Shrubberies, and all other plantations, when young, ought to have the surface of the ground kept free from weeds; and, for a year or two, forked over or slightly dug: but, wherever the trees and shrubs cover the surface, or very nearly touch each other, very little digging or hoeing is necessary; provided care be taken to grow one set of trees and shrubs as undergrowths, which shall cover the soil and keep down all weeds, and another set of trees allowed to attain their full growth, which should be those that are to remain as standards. For want of adopting some system of this kind in the management of shrubberies and young plantations, they not only become an annual expense, but that expense is employed in rendering them &&&; for what can be worse than to see ground hoed and raked among &&&-looking shrubs and naked-stemmed trees, which seem to be incapable of deriving any benefit from culture. The practice of endeavouring to grow flowers and flowering shrubs on the margins of shrubberies should seldom be continued more than two or three years after the shrubbery is planted; because they cannot thrive, and their sickly etiolated appearance is any thing but ornamented. In short, as we have often before stated, flowering shrubs and flowers never thrive among ordinary shrubs and trees, and therefore ought not to be planted among them. Thickening Strips and Bells which have never been thinned. - The quickest way of doing this is to cut down a number of those trees that stole; but the most effective mode, if the plantation contains pines or firs which have not lost their lower branches, is to cut them down to within 6 or 8 feet of the ground, leaving the whole of the strength of the roots to be thrown into the remaining side branches. The Scotch pine and the spruce fir treated in this way form admirable low growths, and very soon render a narrow strip quite impenetrable by the light. We have recently seen this in various instances, both in the north, and in Surrey. Where there are no branches on pines and firs nearer the ground than 10 or 12 feet, the trees might be cut down at such a height as to leave two tiers of live branches, and the whole or a part of these might be tied down to the remaining part of the trunk, by which they would first descend to the ground and spread along the surface, and afterwards the extremities of the shoots would grow up from it so as to form a dense evergreen mass. Of all the faults in the management of plantations, with which the country abounds, there is none so common as that of leaving narrow strips of plantation unthinned, by which the very intention of these plantations is most effectually defeated. (To be completed in our next.)