II. Influence of Climate and Manners on Gardening as an Art of Design and Taste
963. Taste in gardening depends jointly on the state of society and on climate. Since the introduction of the modern or natural style of gardening into Britain, it has been a common practice to condemn, indiscriminately, every other taste as unnatural and absurd. If by unnatural, an allusion is made to the verdant scenery of uncultivated nature, we allow that this is the case ; but we would ask, if, for that reason, it follows that ancient gardens were not as natural and reasonable in their day, as any of the manners and customs of those times ? Gardening, as a liberal art, is destined to create scenes in which both beauty and use are combined : admitting, therefore, that both styles are alike convenient, to say that the modern only is beautiful, is to say that there is only one sort of beauty adapted to gardening ; or that there is no beauty but that of the picturesque ; or that all fonncr ages were, and that every country, except Britain, now is, in a state of barbarism with respect to this art. If we take the term natural in a more extensive sense, and apply it to the climate, situation, condition, and manners of a people ; and if we allow these to be natural, why may not their gardening be natural as well as their particular customs and dress ? The gardening we now condemn so unreservedly, has subsisted, as we have seen, from the earliest ages in warm climates ; and still prevails there, as well as in more temperate countries, whose inhabitants are not altogether ignorant of the modern style. It may, therefore, be said to have grown up with mankind ; and, at all events, must be perfectly suited to the wants and wishes of the inhabitants of such countries.