The Garden Guide

Book: The Principles of Landscape Gardening
Chapter: Forward 3

Origin of the geometrical and natural styles in landscape-gardening

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1455. Hence the origin of what are called the geometrical and natural styles in landscape-gardening, both evidently arising from peculiar states of society. The geometrical style has been generally condemned as unnatural and absurd; and so it is, if we look upon it as an imitation of nature: but as it never pretended to this, and, on the contrary, was avowedly a display of the power of art over nature, it ought to be judged, like every other work of man, by the end in view; and if it be considered as designed to distinguish the garden scenery of the man of wealth from the common fortuitous scenery of the country in rude or less cultivated times and places, it will be found admirably calculated for that purpose, and just as natural to man as any other part of his acquired habits or manners. But we will even go farther, and maintain that the geometrical disposition of landscape scenery has powerful beauties, both of the inherent kind, as that of a long broad avenue; and of general or particular associations, as its suitableness to the vicinity of buildings generally, to Gothic architecture, and very ancient Elizabethan residences. The natural style, on the other hand, unquestionably requires a superior degree of talent, as it brings into exercise imagination, invention, and all the higher faculties of the mind; and it is most suitable to the Italian and other modern styles of villa architecture. A knowledge of both the ancient and modern styles will be desired by the liberal-minded practical designer; and the occasional adoption, in part, at least, of the ancient style, will be dictated by general good taste, as well as by the particular tastes of individuals, and the circumstances of peculiar situations. We shall consider, in succession, the principles of landscape composition; the treatment of the materials of verdant scenery; the union of these materials in forming landscapes; and the union of landscape scenery with arrangements for use and convenience, in forming country residences.