The Garden Guide

Book: The Principles of Landscape Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 2: Compositional Elements of Landscape Gardening

Distant scenes of park, hills or mountains

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1502. Distant scenes of a park, as hills or mountains, are only to be improved by wood; and these remarks, in so far as they extend, will suggest not what is to be removed, but what must be concealed. Many excellent hints on this part of the subject are to be found in the picturesque tours of Gilpin, referring to ranges of hilly scenery in different parts of the country, of much of which he has given views. With respect to ground as respects garden-scenery, almost the only writer who has treated of it at length is Whately, whose excellent book, so frequently referred to by all succeeding writers on gardening, ought to be in the hands of every man of taste. In the chapter on ground in that work, the author concludes with a salutary caution, which ought ever to be taken in connection with the wisest rules; 'a caution which has more than once been alluded to, must always be had in remembrance; never to suffer general considerations to interfere in extraordinarily great effects, which rise superior to all regulations, and perhaps owe part of their force to their deviation from them. Singularity causes at least surprise, and surprise is allied to astonishment. These effects are not, however, attached merely to objects of enormous size; they frequently are produced by a greatness of style and character, within such an extent as ordinary labour may modify, and the compass of a garden include. The caution, therefore, may not be useless within these narrow bounds; but nature proceeds still farther, beyond the utmost verge to which art can follow, and, in scenes licentiously wild, not content with contrast, forces even contradictions to unite. The grotesque, discordant shapes which are often there confusedly tumbled together, might sufficiently justify the remark. But the caprice does not stop here; to mix with such shapes a form perfectly regular, is still more extravagant; and yet the effect is sometimes so wonderful, that we cannot wish the extravagance corrected.' (Obs. on Mod. Gard., p. 23.)