The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, and Middlesex in the Spring of 1840

Harlaxton woodland planting

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In the natural woods at Harlaxton, Mr. Gregory has introduced masses of rhododendrons, holly, periwinkle, tutsan, laurel, and other evergreen shrubs; and a great many sorts of herbaceous plants, including bulbs and Californian annuals. One interesting circumstance we cannot avoid mentioning, which is, that when Mr. Gregory was travelling in the Caucasus, and also in the Crimea, he saw the Heracleum giganteum, and thinking it a very suitable plant for the Harlaxton woods, and not knowing that it was already introduced into England, he had a young plant taken up, planted in a box, and sent from Constantinople to England. This plant has left a numerous progeny, which are now luxuriating in a favourite spot called the Cimetiere, in the woods at Harlaxton. The terrace gardens at Harlaxton, though only commenced, already afford some valuable hints to the landscape-gardener. Among these is the good effect of having terraced platforms above the eye, as well as under it. The flights of steps which lead to those above the eye form an invitation to ascend, which the visiter is most anxious to accept, since he cannot be aware of what he is to see. In this respect, in the geometric style, equally as well as in the natural style, the artist "surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds;" and in effecting this in the ancient style, there is this advantage, that less space is required than in the modern manner. The various directions of the terraces, and the different inclinations of their slopes, produce an effect of light and shade continually varying; and this even, to a certain extent at least, when the sun does not shine, from the reflection of indirect light to the human eye. This effect will be farther heightened by covering some of the slopes with evergreen shrubs kept low, such as creeping savin (much used in terraced gardens in the time of James I.), common juniper, box, &c.; or by trailers, such as ivy, periwinkle; or creepers, such as tutsan; or suffruticose plants and undershrubs, such as evergreen iberis, thyme, hyssop, &c. It is clear from the example of Harlaxton, that, to carry out the ancient style of gardening to its fullest extent, the side or sides of a hill are essential as groundwork; and that part of the hill must be above the house, and part below it. The intended form which the gardens at Harlaxton are ultimately to assume is exhibited in a model of clay, and all the underground drains, and most of the foundations of the parapet walls, steps, pedestals for statues, summer-houses, &c., are already made.