The Garden Guide

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

The doctrine of fitness in laying out grounds

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1470. The doctrine of fitness should never be forgotten in laying out grounds, as it is of the utmost importance to adapt the style employed to the situation; as what would look admirably well in one situation would appear ridiculously incongruous in another. 'There seem in nature,' says Whately, 'to be four different dispositions of grounds distinct and separate from each other; and which create distinct and separate sentiments. The first situation is that of a high-land country; consisting of great and steep mountains, rocks, lakes, impetuous rivers, &c. The sentiment which a situation like this creates in the breast of a beholder is obviously, and every one feels it, that of grandeur. The next is what one may call a romantic disposition of grounds, consisting of sunk valleys, woods hanging over them, smooth rivers, the banks steep but accessible, and the rocks appearing high, not so much from their own height, as from the trees which crown, and the wild birds which are continually hovering over, them. Such a situation is generally destitute of prospect; but then, in return, both the whole and the parts of it being precisely marked, give the same room to the imagination of the landscape-gardener, that they give to the landscape-painter. The sentiment which such a situation seems to flatter, is that of composure of mind, and perhaps even of melancholy. A third disposition is that of grounds running, by gentle falls and risings, easily into each other. Such a situation, as it is generally attended with great verdure, cultivation, and populousness, naturally creates in the mind that sentiment of cheerfulness which society and action are apt to create. The last situation is that of a dead flat. A situation of this last kind may, from its verdure, or from its extent, or from its contrast with other grounds that surround it, create sonic particular sentiment, but merely considered in itself, it appears to create little or none.' (Essay on Gardens, p. 143.)