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

Tottenham Park Garden

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We refer our readers, for the plan of this garden, to VII. 138.; in which they will find the forms of the beds, and the plan and position of the terrace and orangery just mentioned. When we saw the forms of these beds on paper, we were at a loss to conceive the reasons which induced the artist to adopt them, as they had evidently no relation to the lines of the walks. We said nothing, however; thinking that there might be some inequalities in the ground, or some existing trees, or rocks, which might justify their adoption. The grounds, however, are quite flat, and without a single tree; and, therefore, we do not hesitate to pronounce the whole to be laid out in bad taste. Our readers will understand the reasons on which this opinion is founded, if they will turn to VII. 401., and VIII. 86, &c. There is an American border adjoining the flower-garden, and marked g in the plan (fig. 16. VII.). This border is parallel to, and partly under, a double row of very large beech trees; and, as it rises from the walk to the height of between 2 ft. and 3 ft. above the level of the surface towards the trunks of the trees, it has a very bad effect. We will not say that this is a matter of taste, in which two persons may differ, and neither be in the wrong. No; it is a matter of truth and nature. It never can be true to nature to see large old trees with their trunks apparently earthed up; and it is equally as injurious to their growth as it is unpleasant to the eye. There is something, too, exceedingly circumscribed in the idea of making a shrubbery border under the shade of high trees; more especially a peat border, which ought always to be more or less moist. By management of this sort, the grandeur and dignity of the large trees are injured, and the border is prevented from attaining the end in view. There is nothing more contrary to nature, yet less consistent with the characteristics of art, than the sight of a tree, with the base of its trunk either really or apparently clogged up with earth. The grandeur and dignity of a tree depend mainly on its rising up boldly, with the base and part of the trunk exposed, from a naked surface: rising out of a mound of earth, or out of a clump of bushes, with the trunk concealed, it can only be considered as an immense bush.