The Garden Guide

Book: Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening, 1795
Chapter: APPENDIX.

Sixteen sources of pleasure in landscape gardening

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SOURCES OF PLEASURE IN LANDSCAPE GARDENING. Congruity; or a proper adaptation of the several parts to the whole; and that whole to the character, situation, and circumstances of the place and its possessor. II. Utility. This includes convenience, comfort, neatness, and everything that conduces to the purposes of habitation with elegance. III. Order. Including correctness and finishing; the cultivated mind is shocked by such things as would not be visible to the clown: thus, an awkward bend in a walk, or lines which ought to be parallel, and are not so, give pain; as a serpentine walk through an avenue, or along the course of a straight wall or building. IV. Symmetry; or that correspondence of parts expected in the front of buildings, particularly Grecian; which, however formal in a painting, require similarity and uniformity of parts to please the eye, even of children. So natural is the love of order and of symmetry to the human mind, that it is not surprising it should have extended itself into our gardens, where nature itself was made subservient, by cutting trees into regular shapes, planting them in rows, or at exact equal distances, and frequently of different kinds in alternate order. These first four heads may be considered as generally adverse to picturesque beauty; yet they are not, therefore, to be discarded: there are situations in which the ancient style of gardening is very properly preserved: witness the academic groves and classic walks in our universities; and I should doubt the taste of any improver, who could despise the congruity, the utility, the order, and the symmetry of the small garden at Trinity college, Oxford, because the clipped hedges and straight walks would not look well in a picture. V. Picturesque Effect. This head, which has been so fully and ably considered by Mr. Price, furnishes the gardener with breadth of light and shade, forms of groups, outline, colouring, balance of composition, and occasional advantage from roughness and decay, the effect of time and age. VI. Intricacy. A word frequently used by me in my Red Books, which Mr. Price has very correctly defined to be, that disposition of objects, which, by a partial and uncertain concealment, excites and nourishes curiosity. VII. Simplicity; or that disposition of objects which, without exposing all of them equally to view at once, may lead the eye to each by an easy gradation, without flutter, confusion, or perplexity. VIII. Variety. This may be gratified by natural landscape, in a thousand ways that painting cannot imitate; since it is observed of the best painters' works, that there is a sameness in their compositions, and even their trees are all of one general kind, while the variety of nature's productions is endless, and ought to be duly studied. IX. Novelty. Although a great source of pleasure, this is the most difficult and most dangerous for an artist to attempt; it is apt to lead him into conceits and whims, which lose their novelty after the first surprise. X. Contrast supplies the place of novelty, by a sudden and unexpected change of scenery, provided the transitions are neither too frequent nor too violent. XI. Continuity. This seems evidently to be a source of pleasure, from the delight expressed in a long avenue, and the disgust at an abrupt break between objects that look as if they ought to be united; as in the chasm betwixt two large woods, or the separation betwixt two pieces of water; and even a walk, which terminates without affording a continued line of communication, is always unsatisfactory. XII. Association. This is one of the most impressive sources of delight; whether excited by local accident, as the spot on which some public character performed his part; by the remains of antiquity, as the ruin of a cloister or a castle; but more particularly by that personal attachment to long known objects, perhaps indifferent in themselves, as the favourite seat, the tree, the walk, or the spot endeared by the remembrance of past events: objects of this kind, however trifling in themselves, are often preferred to the most beautiful scenes that painting can represent, or gardening create: such partialities should be respected and indulged, since true taste, which is generally attended by great sensibility, ought to be the guardian of it in others. XIII. Grandeur. This is rarely picturesque, whether it consists in greatness of dimension, extent of prospect, or in splendid and numerous objects of magnificence; but it is a source of pleasure mixed with the sublime: there is, however, no error so common as an attempt to substitute extent for beauty in park scenery, which proves the partiality of the human mind to admire whatever is vast or great. XIV. Appropriation. A word ridiculed by Mr. Price as lately coined by me, to describe extent of property; yet the appearance and display of such extent is a source of pleasure not to be disregarded; since every individual who possesses anything, whether it be mental endowments, or power, or property, obtains respect in proportion as his possessions are known, provided he does not too vainly boast of them; and it is the sordid miser only who enjoys for himself alone, wishing the world to be ignorant of his wealth. The pleasure of appropriation is gratified in viewing a landscape which cannot be injured by the malice or bad taste of a neighbouring intruder: thus an ugly barn, a ploughed field, or any obtrusive object which disgraces the scenery of a park, looks as if it belonged to another, and therefore robs the mind of the pleasure derived from appropriation, or the unity and continuity of unmixed property. XV. Animation; or that pleasure experienced from seeing life and motion; whether the gliding or dashing of water, the sportive play of animals, or the wavy motion of trees; and particularly the playsomeness peculiar to youth, in the two last instances, affords additional delight. XVI. And lastly, the seasons, and times of day, which are very different to the gardener and the painter. The noontide hour has its charms; though the shadows are neither long nor broad, and none but a painter or a sportsman will prefer the sear and yellow leaves of autumn to the fragrant blossoms and reviving delights of spring, "the youth of the year."