The Garden Guide

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

Planting for the effect of natural beauty

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1515. In planting with a view to natural beauty, the effect of the whole is also the first and the grand consideration. All planting, as respects the formation of a country residence, must necessarily be materially influenced by the character and situation of the house, as the capital feature in the composition. To this feature, the leading masses of wood and lawn, answering the end of light and shade in painting, must invite and direct the eye in the general view of the place. Each must embrace it on one or on more sides, and diverge from it in masses suitable to its magnitude, and the extent of the grounds; and in forms and characters of woody surface suitable to the natural situation and the expression to be created. If the mansion is on a declivity, the principal light should embrace the front which looks down, rather than those which look up, or on either side. The views from the windows suggest this arrangement, and will point out in every other situation (whether a flat, a hill, or an irregular surface), on which side or sides the leading masses are to have their origin. To determine their magnitude, form, and number, would be impossible, without a particular case to refer to. To point out their style is sufficient; this must always be irregular like nature, generally stretching along such rising ground as the situation affords; and, like her, always combining a certain degree of uniformity or recognisable shape, even amidst the greatest seeming deviations from this quality of figures. As the house indicates the commencement of the masses, so the character of the country surrounding the scene of improvement must determine the limits and style of their termination. If the lands are laid out in regular enclosures, bounded by hedges, and hedgerows, fragments of these must prevail in the margin of the park; at least in as many places, and to such a degree, as will produce connection, and, if possible, as much farther as will harmonise the scene within, with the country without. If it be entirely or in part surrounded by forest scenery, the termination is easily and completely effected, by attending to the style of wood and species of trees prevailing without, for a moderate distance within the boundary. If bounded by the sea, or a large lake, an abrupt termination will be as natural as it would be formal on the margin of a cultivated surface. Abrupt terminations, however, are often unavoidable, as in examples of villas, where the owner, having no demesne, has no control beyond his boundary fence. All that can be done, therefore, in such cases, is, to create as much beauty and interest as possible within the given limits. Where one villa joins another, this sort of isolated abruptness is avoided or lessened; and, in the case of suburban villas, it is seldom felt as any deformity; though, even here, connection and general harmony with what is exterior, will add beauty to what is within.