The Garden Guide

Book: Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1803
Chapter: Chapter IV. Of Planting for immediate and for future Effect

Cattle produce a browsing line on trees at Milton Abbey

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Mr. Gilpin, in his Forest Scenery, has given some specimens of the outlines of a wood, one of which is not unlike that beautiful screen which bounds the park to the north of MILTON ABBEY, and which the first of the annexed sketches [figs. 62, 63, and 64,] more accurately represents. We have here a very pleasing and varied line formed by the tops of trees, but, from the distance at which they are viewed, they seem to stand on one straight base line, although many of the trees are separated from the others by a considerable distance: the upper outline of this screen is so happily varied, that the eye is not offended by the straight line at its base; but there is another line which is apt to create disgust in flat situations, and for this reason-all trees unprotected from cattle will be stripped of their foliage to a certain height, and where the surface of the ground is perfectly flat, and forms one straight line, the stems of trees thus brought to view by the browsing of cattle, will present another straight line parallel to the ground, at about six feet high, which I shall call. THE BROWSING LINE.* Whether trees be planted near the eye or at a distance from it, and whether they be very young plants or of the greatest stature, this browsing line will always be parallel to the surface of the ground, and being just above the eye, if the heads of single trees do not rise above the outline of more distant woods, the stems will appear only like stakes of different sizes scattered about the plain; this is evidently the effect of those single thorns or trees in the sketch [fig. 62] marked a, b, c. *[All trees exposed to cattle are liable to this browsing line, although thorns, crabs, and other prickly plants, will sometimes defend themselves: the alder, from the bitterness of its leaves, is also an exception; but where sheep only are admitted, the line will be so much below the eye, that it produces a different effect, of which great advantage may sometimes be taken, especially in flat situations.] [Milton Abbey, in Northamptonshire, belonged to Earl Wentworth Fitzwilliam]