The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wilshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent in the Summer of 1832

Highclere American plants

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There is, however, one point, in respect to Highclere, which, we have no doubt, will come home to the bosoms both of gardeners and their employers; and an important point it is: that is, that all the American trees and shrubs, which now make such a conspicuous figure there, were raised on the spot, either from seeds procured from America, or from plants which had ripened them in this country. We are assured that not more than 20l. have been paid at Highclere for nursery plants during the last twenty years. Perhaps we shall be blamed by nurserymen for mentioning such a thing. We should deserve blame, however, much more, if we were to preserve silence. The reason why gentlemen have had recourse to raising American plants from seed, is because more has been charged for the plants by the nurserymen, than many gentlemen could afford to give. So far from blaming gentlemen for raising trees from American seeds, we commend them for it; and we are persuaded that nurserymen would do so likewise, if they saw the result in its true light; viz. the spreading of a taste for foreign trees and shrubs. Persons in business may rely upon this, that there is not one gentleman in a hundred, who can afford to purchase plants from a nurseryman, who will take the trouble of rearing them from seed for himself. Gentlemen who are not rich, or those whose expenditure in matters of improvement or taste treads closely on the heels of their incomes, may become their own nurserymen; but the effect of wealth is, in almost all cases, to induce a desire for ease, and to purchase the results of labour, rather than to labour to produce results. Besides, were the practice alluded to to become general, the seed business would be greatly increased; and, in this case, what difference could it make to a nurseryman whether he derives a profit from importing and selling seeds, or raising plants from these seeds ? The truth is, all businesses and all pursuits are continually changing with the progress of society. This complaint, of gentlemen becoming their own propagators, has been repeated for the last thirty years: but have not nurserymen multiplied tenfold during that period; and, if so, what is the reason? As well might we say that no gentleman ought to lay out his own grounds: but, if this were the case, where would have been Woburn Farm, White Knights, Pain's Hill, and Highclere ? The truth is, that, without such deviations from commonplace routine, there would neither have been landscape-gardening, in the modern sense of that expression, nor would the business of a nurseryman have extended beyond that of a mere grower of fruit and forest trees. Highclere is an example of what the late Sir Uvedale Price always held forth to the world; viz., that any gentleman who wished to make his place what it ought to be, ought to study the subject of planting and laying out grounds himself. This is precisely what the last two proprietors of this place have done; and Highclere, in its present state, is the result. For the passages in inverted commas in the foregoing article, we are indebted to a gentleman better acquainted with the localities of Highclere, than we could be by our transient visit.