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

Taplow House Walks

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Raising the eye, we catch the Thames and Windsor Castle between the tops of the trees. The walk proceeds in a winding direction till it reaches a straight walk shaded by elms, the simplicity of which contrasts finely with the variety and intricacy of the other walks. Among the trees not planted by Mr. Springall, may be noticed a magnificent plane, 100 ft. high, with branches extending far on every side, and sweeping the ground; a tulip tree, 70 ft. high, and some noble elms. We were particularly struck with the vigorous growth of every description of plant introduced in the flower-beds; and we were informed by Mr. Springall of the cause; viz., that he takes out the soil every year to the depth of 2 ft. or 3 ft., and renews it entirely. He does not introduce a single bed, or even a single plant, however common may be the kind, without this precaution. On observing the flower-stems and remaining flowers of Gladiolus byzantinus very strong, Mr. Springall stated that he never puts dung in his compost for these plants, but only uses yellow loam with a little sand. The different dwarf blue-flowered lobelias, such as L. unidentata, bellidifolia, erinoides, &c., grow here so much larger than we have seen them any where else, that they appeared like distinct varieties. The same may be said of the different verbenas and of most of the other usual lawn plants. The masses of blossom shown by single pelargoniums were remarkably fine; some of them were 3 ft. in diameter at the base, and 6 ft. high, forming a complete cone of scarlet flowers. These plants continue in bloom all the summer, a particular variety being used for that purpose, which is obtained in the following ingenious manner: -It is well known to gardeners that variegated-leaved pelargoniums flower more freely, and for a greater length of time, than any of the varieties which are not variegated; but then these variegated plants never grow large, or produce strong wood and vigorous leaves. To obtain strong wood and luxuriant foliage, as well as a continuance of bloom all the season, Mr. Springall chose a cutting from a variegated plant which had run, or returned to its original green; and from this cutting he propagated the plants which he trains as cones. We may observe, that here, as at Dropmore, the walks were brimful of gravel, and the grass edgings clipped, and not pared, which, as we have often before said, is one of the greatest beauties in the details of walks, though we cannot get it attended to half so much as we could wish. Mr. Springall is enthusiastically devoted to his profession, and is in his garden, as he informed us, from four o'clock in the morning till it is dark at night. His master never interferes with his management, and this will always be found to be the case, when the garden is so well conducted as it is here. Mr. Springall lives in a pretty thatched cottage by the road side, with an octagon front, and a veranda ornamented by creepers; he has also a very neat flower-garden in front. Opposite the entrance to Taplow House is another handsome cottage, with a beautiful flower-garden in front, evidently under the superintending care of Mr. Springall; so that the general impression, both on entering and leaving the place, is that of comfort, neatness, and fine flowers.