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

White Knights woodland

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Proceeding to "the wood," we cannot help noticing the very handsome narrow avenue of elms which forms part of the approach from Reading, and which has more the proportions of the centre aile of a cathedral than many which we have seen. Avenues are of two kinds: those which are open, as at Hampton Court and Windsor; and those which are covered, as at White Knights, Strathfieldsaye, Christ Church College in Oxford, and Littlecot Park. Comparing the four latter, we should say that the avenues at White Knights and Littlecot Park are decidedly the most elegant; that at Strathfieldsaye is grand; and that at Oxford, though now in a state of decay, would, from its commanding height, be sublime, if it were of greater length. "The wood" at White Knights is entered through a gate flanked by large rough blocks of stone, brought from Marlborough Downs; but set up, as a child might be supposed to have done, before the wicket of its baby garden, instead of being arranged so as to produce some kind of artificial or architectural character. Two walks proceed one to the right, and the other to the left; the stranger being introduced by the one, and returning by the other. We shall not now enumerate the objects as they are seen in succession, as we intend to do that in a review (which we have had prepared for some years) of Hofland's White Knights. Tulip trees and magnolias of large size first meet the eye, mixed with the oaks, hazels, and beeches of the aboriginal wood. The acacias in this wood have been attacked two years in succession by a black aphis which destroyed almost the whole of the leaves; and the consequence is, that several are totally dead; the remainder being nearly bare, and so sickly that there can be little doubt of their dying next year. Periodical visitations of this kind by insects, like periodical visitations of diseases among animals, are not yet satisfactorily accounted for; and hence it is out of the question to attempt to prevent them. The catalpa evidently does not thrive on a wet subsoil; for here most of those along the catalpa walk are dead, and the rest are dying. We have observed the same thing with the catalpa in several other places. The specimens of Pinus Pallasiana are very fine, and vary from 40 ft. to 50 ft. in height. It is said that only about sixty or seventy plants were imported, and that the marquess purchased the whole of them, and planted them in these woods. There are a great many fine specimens of Cratï¾µgus tanacetifolia both in this wood and in the open park; they come into flower when the blossom of the common hawthorn begins to fade; and in autumn the trees are covered with large and beautiful yellow haws. The C. odoratissima greatly resembles the C. tanacetifolia in leaf and mode of growth, and it flowers at exactly the same time; but its berries, which are as large as those of C. tanacetifolia, are of a fine coral colour. C. Aronia bears large yellow haws, and is one of the handsomest trees of the genus. All these species of Cratï¾µgus, as well as many others, ought to be introduced in every park and shrubbery. There are some good specimens of Magnolia pyramidata, a tree seldom found in the nurseries, and rare, as we are informed by Mr. Gordon, even in America. Cornus florida was large and very handsome, as were both species of the stuartias, which were finely covered with flowers. A handsome tree of Pyrus Pollveria, 30 ft. high, was in fruit. There were numerous large virgilias, and magnolias of almost every species and variety. There was also a fine specimen of Quercus fastigiata, a tree said to be much more common in Germany than in England. The fountain (see fig. 68. p. 215.) is in good repair; but, though handsome in itself, it certainly appears misplaced in a natural valley. The long arcades are in a state of decay, but the covered seats and rustic summer-houses are in tolerable preservation, notwithstanding the tearing down of the shelves and other movable parts of the latter, which were sold by auction. Even the houses themselves were lotted, and put in the catalogue for sale; but they were claimed on the part of Mr. Cholmeley, as belonging to the ground. The river in the park is now so completely covered with Iris Pseud-Acorus, Sparganium, and Alisma Plantago, that the water is invisible; and, if left to itself, there can be little doubt that in a very few years it will become marshy ground.