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

Perfection in landscape gardening

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The perfection of landscape Gardening consists in the four following requisites: First, it must display the natural beauties, and hide the natural defects of every situation. Secondly, it should give the appearance of extent and freedom, by carefully disguising or hiding the boundary. Thirdly, it must studiously conceal every interference of art, however expensive, by which the scenery is improved; making the whole appear the production of nature only; and, fourthly, all objects of mere convenience or comfort, if incapable of being made ornamental, or of becoming proper parts of the general scenery, must be removed or concealed. Convenience and comfort, I confess, have occasionally misled modern improvers into the absurdity of not only banishing the appearance, but the reality, of all comfort and convenience to a distance; as I have frequently found in the bad choice of a spot for the kitchen-garden. Each of the four objects here enumerated, are directly opposite to the principles of ancient gardening, which may thus be stated. First, the natural beauties or defects of a situation had no influence, when it was the fashion to exclude, by lofty walls, every surrounding object. Secondly, these walls were never considered as defects; but, on the contrary, were ornamented with vases, expensive iron gates, and palisades, to render them more conspicuous. Thirdly, so far from making gardens appear natural, every expedient was used to display the expensive efforts of art, by which nature had been subdued:-the ground was levelled by a line; the water was squared, or scollopped into regular basins; the trees, if not clipped into artificial shape, were at least so planted by line and measurement, that the formal hand of art could no where be mistaken. And, lastly, with respect to objects of convenience, they were placed as near the house as possible:-the stables, the barns, and the kitchen-garden, were among the ornaments of a place; while the village, the almshouse, the parish school and churchyard, were not attempted to be concealed by the walls or palisades that divided them from the embellished pleasure-ground.