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

Swallowfield Place

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Swallowfield Place, - Russell, Esq. -The situation is nearly flat, with a stream passing through it. The house is a large plain building, lately put in thorough repair; and the gardens and grounds are undergoing essential ameliorations, by the gardener, Mr. Brown. The soil of the garden is excellent; and the walls are of a good height. A number of hot-houses are already built, and more are in progress. One of the most complete pine-pits in the country is just finished, and of this Mr. Brown has promised us a section and description. In the melon ground is a strawberry stage, composed of a bank of earth, at an angle under 45ᆭ; the earth supported by 1 ft. of brickwork in front, and 3 ft. behind. The space between is divided into steps or beds, each 4 in. above the other, supported by one brick on edge; and along each step a row of plants are placed, which are renewed every year. So circumstanced, the fruit ripens twelve or fourteen days before that on the common surface of the garden. Mr. Brown grows all his strawberries, in whatever situation they may be planted, on one year old plants; finding, like Mr. Knight, that, thus treated, they produce much larger and finer fruit. The Louise bonne pear produces here excellent crops of large and very beautiful fruit. The kitchen-garden is entered through an avenue of catalpas and rhododendrons; at the end of which is a handsome architectural gate; and from this proceeds, to the centre of the range of hot-houses, a straight broad walk, with two remarkably fine borders of herbaceous plants. The pleasure-ground contains a few fine old specimens of cedars, magnolias, tulip trees, American thorns, and other exotics (including large trees of those beautiful plants, Prunus virginiana and P. caroliniana); which, if they were generally introduced into plantations, would soon be as completely naturalised by the birds as the bird-cherry, being equally hardy with that tree. A summer-house of hazel rods is in the course of erection here, which is quite unique in its way. A skeleton of quartering is covered with heath outside, and the roof is thatched: the interior is then inlaid with hazel rods; not merely disposed in contrasted compartments, as at White Knights, Dropmore, Bagshot Park, and other places, but arranged as landscapes and buildings in perspective, which is done by browning the wood something in the same way as figures are produced by cabinet-makers and joiners on tea-caddies. The ingenious inventor is Mr. Mathews of Frimley, near Blackwater, Berkshire (see p. 615.); and we are informed that a fac-simile of this structure, by him, is intended to be placed in Knight's exotic nursery, King's Road, Chelsea, for the inspection of those who may wish to avail themselves of Mr. Mathews's talents. In the farm-yard at Swallowfield there is an octagon granary, surmounted by a pigeon-house, and surrounded by a rack for fodder, covered with a shed, in the manner of a veranda: a handsome object, and, at the same time, an economical mode of sheltering and feeding cattle or young horses.