The Garden Guide

Book: The Principles of Landscape Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 1: Principles of Landscape Gardening

Appropriation as a source of beauty

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1473. Appropriation, or such an arrangement as shall, either in reality or appearance, render all, or the greater part, of what we see from a country seat our own, is a consequence of personal associations. The simplest way of effecting this, is by shutting out all objects which do not correspond with the idea, by means of walls or plantations. A more refined mode is, by harmonising the scenery; by adopting some of the forms, colours, and arrangements, in our own territory, which appear in those of our neighbours, as seen from the house, or from some particular points of view. According to Whately, 'one property of a riding is to extend the idea of a seat, and appropriate a whole country to the mansion.' For this purpose, he requires the road of what he calls a riding to be different from common roads in form and preservation, and distinguished by accompaniments borrowed from the park or garden, &c. Knight strongly objects to appropriation, and ridicules certain attempts of this sort, made by placing the family arms on the inns and public-houses of the neighbourhood, and on 'stones with distances,' as, he says, was recommended by one improver. Girardin also objects to the principle; but Repton, and, we believe, almost every other professional man, finds it a very principal object of attention. Repton defines appropriation to be, 'that command over the landscape visible from the windows, which denotes it to be private property belonging to the place.' 'A view from a London house into a square or into the parks may be cheerful and beautiful, but it, wants appropriation; it wants that charm which only belongs to ownership - the exclusive right of enjoyment, with the power of refusing that others should share our pleasure. The most romantic spot, the most picturesque situations, and the most delightful assemblage of nature's choicest materials, will not long engage our interest without some appropriation, something we can call our own; and, if not our own property, at least that may be endeared to us by calling it our own home.' (Fragments of Landscape-Gardening, p. 206.) This envie de s'arrondir seems to have existed, and the proximity and intermixture of property to have been felt as an evil among landed proprietors, from the earliest ages. Ahab desired the field of Naboth, that he might convert it to a garden of herbs (or flower-garden), because it was near to his house; and Marvel, the attorney, says to his patron,- ' What course take you (With your good patience) to hedge in the manor Of your neighbour, Master Frugal ? As 'tis said, He will not sell, nor borrow, nor exchange, And his land lying in the midst of yours, Is a foul blemish.' MASSINGER. New Way to Pay Old Debts, act ii. scene 1. 'I stick still in the inn of a hired house,' writes the amiable Cowley to Evelyn, 'without that pleasantest work of human industry, the improvement of something which we can call our own,'