The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

English style landscape-gardening in France

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244.The natural or English style of landscape-gardening is neither generally under stood nor duly appreciated in France; chiefly, we believe, because the whole kingdom, as far as we have either heard or observed, does not contain a single good example. There is no want of romantic scenery in various districts; but there is almost every where a want of close green turf, of evergreen shrubs, and of good adhesive gravel. These natural defects are aggravated, rather than concealed, by the excess of art; by too many walks; by too many seats and buildings; and by too meagre a distribution of trees and evergreen shrubs. The defects of nature can never be altogether overcome; more especially the want of dark green turf; but we do not object to sanded instead of gravel walks, provided they have not deep harsh edges, and are neither too numerous nor too perpetually serpentining, without real or apparent cause. In general the walks, in continental imitations of the English manner of laying out grounds, are too close together, and so much alike in their lines of direction, that, in flat grounds more especially, the effect is monotonous. In the park of Madame de Cayla (p. 81. fig. 51.), which is on an even surface, and sparingly though scientifically sprinkled with wood, the multiplicity of walks which every where meet the eye of the spectator destroys alike grandeur, richness, and repose. On hilly surfaces, like that of the park of M. Doublat (p. 82. fig. 52.), a greater number of walks in proportion to the actual extent of surface is admissible than on levels; because both the quantity of surface and of wood appear much greater than they really are. The cause of this appearance is, that a rising surface presents a larger angle to the eye than a level one.