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

St Leonards Hill

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St. Leonard's Hill, Mrs. Harcourt. - This place is chiefly remarkable for the extensive views which it commands of the surrounding country, and especially of Windsor Castle. The woods are dense, and composed chiefly of oak and beech; but along the roadside, between this place and Virginia Water, extensive plantations have lately been formed of a mixture of oak, birch, Scotch pine, and larch fir, which we can by no means approve of. In point of ornament, such a mixture is out of the question, since it produces the most disagreeable kind of artificial monotony, that of a perpetual recurrence of discordant forms. In point of utility it is bad, because the oaks are overtopped by pines and larches, which are planted as nurses; but which are totally unnecessary as such, in a soil and climate like the present. Supposing oaks alone had been planted, and thinned out as they advanced in their growth, the general appearance of the plantation would at all times have been agreeable, because it would have presented the same kind of forms variously disposed; and all the trees would have grown vigorously, because no one tree would have robbed another, whether of nourishment, air, or light, these properties being shared equally among them. The hedges to these plantations were generally clipped: a superfluous expense, since they would have been just as effective as fences if left without cutting or clipping; and, every six or seven years, they would have produced a quantity of faggot-wood. The nice point to hit, in rural management, is, to incur no expense whatever that will not produce an adequate return. Between corn fields of small size, clipped hedges will pay, by their greater admission of light and air to the fields, both while they are in preparation for the crop, and while the crop is growing; and they are also, from their diminished and close compact surface, less liable to harbour birds and insects: but mere plantation fences require none of these considerations to be taken into view as guides for their management. All that is wanting in the case of plantations is protection; and if the plants are kept clear of weeds, and left to take their natural forms, a sufficiently formidable fence will be produced; and, at the same time, one of that description of natural or picturesque beauty, which will be more in accordance with a plantation of trees than a clipped formal boundary of green.