The Garden Guide

Book: Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening, 1795
Chapter: Chapter 6: On on the ancient style of gardening; Of symmetry and uniformity

Lathom, Lancashire

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LATHOM. Congruity of style, uniformity of character, and harmony of parts with the whole, are different modes of expressing that unity, without which no composition can be perfect: yet there are few principles in gardening which seem to be so little understood. This essential unity has often been mistaken for symmetry, or the correspondence of similar parts; as where "Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother, And half the platform just reflects the other." POPE. Indeed, this symmetry in the works of art was perfectly justifiable under that style of gardening, which confined, within lofty walls, the narrow enclosure appropriated to ancient grandeur. When the whole design is meant to be surveyed at a single glance, the eye is assisted in its office by making its divisions counterparts of each other; and as it was confessedly the object of the artist to display his labour, and the greatness of the effort by which he had subdued nature, it could not possibly be more conspicuous than in such shapes of land and water as were most unnatural and violent. Hence arose the flat terrace, the square and octagon pool, and all those geometric figures which were intended to contrast, and not to assimilate with any scenes in nature. Yet within this small enclosure, an unity of design was strictly preserved, and few attempts made to extend it farther than the garden wall. [Lathom House was built for Sir Thomas Bootle around 1740 and its surrounding landscape garden with deer park was designed by Repton in 1792. The Red Book was bought for £53,571 in 2004 and returned to Lancashire - TT]