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Title: Garden-Craft Old and New
Author: Sedding, John D.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Garden-Craft Old and New" ***

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                          OLD AND NEW

                          BY THE LATE
                        JOHN D. SEDDING

                   WITH MEMORIAL NOTICE BY THE
                       REV. E. F. RUSSELL




[Illustration: A GARDEN ENCLOSED.]


"_What am I to say for my book?" asks Mr Stevenson in the Preface to "An
Inland Voyage." "Caleb and Joshua brought back from Palestine a
formidable bunch of grapes; alas! my book produces naught so nourishing;
and, for the matter of that, we live in an age when people prefer a
definition to any quantity of fruit._"

_As this apology is so uncalled for in the case of this fruitful little
volume, I would venture to purloin it, and apply it where it is wholly
suitable. Here, the critic will say, is an architect who makes gardens
for the houses he builds, writing upon his proper craft, pandering to
that popular preference for a definition of which Mr Stevenson speaks,
by offering descriptions of what he thinks a fine garden should be,
instead of useful figured plans of its beauties!_

_And yet, to tell truth, it is more my subject than myself that is to
blame if my book be unpractical. Once upon a time complete in itself, as
a brief treatise upon the technics of gardening delivered to my brethren
of the Art-worker's Guild a year ago, the essay had no sooner arrived
with me at home, than it fell to pieces, lost gravity and compactness,
and became a garden-plaything--a sort of gardener's "open letter," to
take loose pages as fancies occurred. So have these errant thoughts,
jotted down in the broken leisure of a busy life, grown solid unawares
and expanded into a would-be-serious contribution to garden-literature._

_Following upon the original lines of the Essay on the For and Against
of Modern Gardening, I became the more confirmed as to the general
rightness of the old ways of applying Art, and of interpreting Nature
the more I studied old gardens and the point of view of their makers;
until I now appear as advocate of old types of design, which, I am
persuaded, are more consonant with the traditions of English life, and
more suitable to an English homestead than some now in vogue._

_The old-fashioned garden, whatever its failings in the eyes of the
modern landscape-gardener (great is the poverty of his invention),
represents one of the pleasures of England, one of the charms of that
quiet beautiful life of bygone times that I, for one, would fain see
revived. And judged even as pieces of handicraft, apart from their
poetic interest, these gardens are worthy of careful study. They embody
ideas of ancient worth; they evidence fine aims and heroic efforts; they
exemplify traditions that are the net result of a long probation. Better
still, they render into tangible shapes old moods of mind that English
landscape has inspired; they testify to old devotion to the scenery of
our native land, and illustrate old attempts to idealise its pleasant

_Because the old gardens are what they are--beautiful yesterday,
beautiful to-day, and beautiful always--we do well to turn to them, not
to copy their exact lines, nor to limit ourselves to the range of their
ornament and effects, but to glean hints for our garden-enterprise
to-day, to drink of their spirit, to gain impulsion from them. As often
as not, the forgotten field proves the richest of pastures._

    _J. D. S._

    _Oct. 8, 1890_.


The Manuscript of this book was placed complete in the hands of his
publishers by John Sedding. He did not live to see its production.

At the wish of his family and friends, I have, with help from others,
set down some memories and impressions of my friend.

My acquaintance with John Sedding dates from the year 1875. He was then
37 years of age, and had been practising as an architect almost
exclusively in the South-West of England. The foundations of this
practice were laid by his equally talented brother, Edmund Sedding, who,
like himself, had received his training in the office of Mr Street.
Edmund died in 1868, and John took up the business, but his clients were
so few, and the prospect of an increase in their number so little
encouraging, that he left Bristol and came to London, and here I first
met him. He had just taken a house in Charlotte Street, Bedford Square,
and the house served him on starting both for home and office.

The first years in London proved no exception to the rule of first
years, they were more or less a time of struggle and anxiety. John
Sedding's happy, buoyant nature, his joy in his art, and invincible
faith in his mission, did much to carry him through all difficulties.
But both at this time, and all through his life, he owed much, very
much, to the brave hopefulness and wise love of his wife. Rose Sedding,
a daughter of Canon Tinling, of Gloucester, lives in the memory of those
who knew her as an impersonation of singular spiritual beauty and
sweetness. Gentle and refined, sensitive and sympathetic to an unusual
degree, there was no lack in her of the sterner stuff of
character--force, courage, and endurance. John Sedding leaned upon his
wife; indeed, I cannot think of him without her, or guess how much of
his success is due to what she was to him. Two days before his death he
said to me, "I have to thank God for the happiest of homes, and the
sweetest of wives."

Many will remember with gratitude the little home in Charlotte Street,
as the scene of some of the pleasantest and most refreshing hours they
have ever known. John Sedding had the gift of attracting young men,
artists and others, to himself, and of entering speedily into the
friendliest relations with them. He met them with such taking frankness,
such unaffected warmth of welcome, that they surrendered to him at once,
and were at once at ease with him and happy.

On Sundays, when the religious duties of the day were over, he was wont
to gather a certain number of these young fellows to spend the evening
at his house. No one of those who were privileged to be of the party can
forget the charming hospitality of these evenings. The apparatus was so
simple, the result so delightful; an entire absence of display, and yet
no element of perfect entertainment wanting. On these occasions, when
supper was over, Mrs Sedding usually played for us with great
discernment and feeling the difficult music of Beethoven, Grieg, Chopin,
and others, and sometimes she sang. More than one friendship among their
guests grew out of these happy evenings.

In course of time the increase of his family and the concurrent increase
of his practice obliged him to remove, first his office to Oxford
Street, and later on his home to the larger, purer air of a country
house in the little village of West Wickham, Kent. This house he
continued to occupy until his death. Work of all kinds now began to flow
in upon him, not rapidly, but by steady increase. His rich faculty of
invention, his wide knowledge, his skill in the manipulation of natural
forms, the fine quality of his taste, were becoming more and more known.
He produced in large numbers designs for wall-papers, for decoration,
and for embroidery. These designs were never repetitions of old
examples, nor were they a réchauffé of his own previous work. Something
of his soul he put into all that he undertook, hence his work was never
commonplace, and scarcely needed signature to be known as his, so
unmistakably did it bear his stamp, the "marque de fabrique," of his

I have known few men so well able as he to press flowers into all manner
of decorative service, in metal, wood, stone or panel, and in
needlework. He understood them, and could handle them with perfect ease
and freedom, each flower in his design seeming to fall naturally into
its appointed place. Without transgressing the natural limits of the
material employed, he yet never failed to give to each its own essential
characteristics, its gesture, and its style. Flowers were indeed
passionately loved, and most reverently, patiently studied by him. He
would spend many hours out of his summer holiday in making careful
studies of a single plant, or spray of foliage, painting them, as Mr
Ruskin had taught him, in siena and white, or in violet-carmine and
white. Leaves and flowers were, in fact, almost his only school of
decorative design.

This is not the place to attempt any formal exposition of John Sedding's
views on Art and the aims of Art. They can be found distinctly stated
and amply, often brilliantly, illustrated in his Lectures and Addresses,
of which some have appeared in the architectural papers and some are
still in manuscript.[1] But short of this formal statement, it may prove
not uninteresting to note some characters of his work which impressed

[Footnote 1: It is much to be wished that these Lectures and Addresses
should be collected and published.]

Following no systematic order, we note first his profound sympathy with
ancient work, and with ancient work of all periods that might be called
periods of living Art. He never lost an opportunity of visiting and
intently studying ancient buildings, sketching them, and measuring them
with extraordinary care, minuteness, and patience. "On one occasion,"
writes Mr Lethaby, "when we were hurried he said, 'We cannot go, it is
life to us.'" A long array of sketch-books, crowded with studies and
memoranda, remains to bear witness to his industry. In spite of this
extensive knowledge, and copious record of old work, he never literally
reproduced it. The unacknowledged plagiarisms of Art were in his
judgment as dishonest as plagiarisms in literature, and as hopelessly
dead. "He used old forms," writes Mr Longden, "in a plastic way, and
moulded them to his requirements, never exactly reproducing the old
work, which he loved to draw and study, but making it his starting-point
for new developments. This caused great difference of opinion as to the
merit of his work, very able and skilful judges who look at style from
the traditional point of view being displeased by his designs, while
others who may be said to partake more of the movement of the time,
admired his work."

His latest and most important work, the Church of the Holy Trinity,
Sloane Street, is a case in point. It has drawn out the most completely
opposed judgments from by no means incompetent men; denounced by some,
it has won the warmest praise from others, as, for instance, from two
men who stand in the very front rank of those who excel, William Morris
has said of it, "It is on the whole the best modern interior of a town
church"; and the eminent painter, E. Burnes-Jones, writing to John
Sedding, writes: "I cannot tell you how I admire it, and how I longed to
be at it." Speaking further of this sympathy with old work, Mr Longden,
who knew him intimately, and worked much with him, writes, "The rather
rude character of the Cornish granite work in the churches did not repel
him, indeed, he said he loved it, because he understood it. He has made
additions to churches in Cornwall, such as it may well be imagined the
old Cornishmen would have done, yet with an indescribable touch of
modernness about them. He also felt at home with the peculiar character
of the Devonshire work, and some of his last work is in village churches
where he has made a rather ordinary church quite beautiful and
interesting, by repairing and extending old wooden screens, putting in
wooden seats, with an endless variety of symbolic designs, marble font
and floor, fine metal work, simple but well-designed stained glass, good
painting in a reredos, all, as must be with an artist, adding to the
general effect, and falling into place in that general effect, while
each part is found beautiful and interesting, if examined in detail."

"The rich Somersetshire work, where the fine stone lends itself to
elaborate carving, was very sympathetic to Sedding, and he has added to
and repaired many churches in that county, always taking the fine points
in the old work and bringing them out by his own additions, whether in
the interior or the exterior, seizing upon any peculiarity of site or
position to show the building to the best advantage, and never
forgetting the use of a church, but increasing the convenience of the
arrangements for worship, and emphasizing the sacred character of the
buildings on which he worked."

In his lectures to Art students, no plea was more often on his lips than
the plea for living Art, as contrasted with "shop" Art, or mere
antiquarianism. The artist is the product of his own time and of his own
country, his nature comes to him out of the past, and is nourished in
part upon the past, but he lives in the present, and of the present,
sharing its spirit and its culture. John Sedding had great faith in the
existence of this art gift, as living and active in his own time, he
recognised it reverently and humbly in himself, and looked for it and
hailed it with joy and generous appreciation in others. Hence the value
he set upon association among Art workers. "Les gens d'esprit," says M.
Taine, speaking of Art in Italy, "n'ont jamais plus d'esprit que
lorsqu'ils sont ensemble. Pour avoir des oeuvres d'art il faut d'abord
des artistes, mais aussi des ateliers. Alors il y avait des ateliers, et
en outre les artistes faisaient des corporations. Tous se tenaient, et
dans la grande société, de petites sociétés unissaient étroitement et
librement leurs membres. La familiarité les rapprochait; la rivalité les

[Footnote 2: _Philosophie de l'art en Italie_ (p. 162).--H. TAINE.]

He gave practical effect to these views in the conduct of his own
office, which was as totally unlike the regulation architect's office,
as life is unlike clockwork.

Here is a charming "interior" from the pen of his able chief assistant
and present successor, Mr H. Wilson:--

"I shall not readily forget my first impressions of Mr Sedding. I was
introduced to him at one of those delightful meetings of the Art
Workers' Guild, and his kindly reception of me, his outstretched hand,
and the unconscious backward impulses of his head, displaying the
peculiar whiteness of the skin over the prominent temporal and frontal
bones, the playful gleam of his eyes as he welcomed me, are things that
will remain with me as long as memory lasts.

"Soon after that meeting I entered his office, only to find that he was
just as delightful at work as in the world.

"The peculiar half shy yet eager way in which he rushed into the front
room, with a smile and a nod of recognition for each of us, always
struck me. But until he got to work he always seemed preoccupied, as if
while apparently engaged in earnest discussion of some matter an
under-current of thought was running the while, and as if he were
devising something wherewith to beautify his work even when arranging
business affairs.

"This certainly must have been the case, for frequently he broke off in
the midst of his talk to turn to a board and sketch out some design, or
to alter a detail he had sketched the day before with a few vigorous
pencil-strokes. This done, he would return to business, only to glance
off again to some other drawing, and to complete what would not _come_
the day before. In fact he was exactly like a bird hopping from twig to
twig, and from flower to flower, as he hovered over the many drawings
which were his daily work, settling here a form and there a moulding as
the impulse of the moment seized him.

"And though at times we were puzzled to account for, or to anticipate
his ways, and though the work was often hindered by them, we would not
have had it otherwise.

"Those 'gentillesses d'oiseaux,' as Hugo says, those little birdy ways,
so charming from their unexpectedness, kept us constantly on the alert,
for we never quite knew what he would do next. It was not his custom to
move in beaten tracks, and his everyday life was as much out of the
common as his inner life. His ways with each of us were marked by an
almost womanly tenderness. He seemed to regard us as his children, and
to have a parent's intuition of our troubles, and of the special needs
of each with reference to artistic development.

"He would come, and taking possession of our stools would draw with his
left arm round us, chatting cheerily, and yet erasing, designing
vigorously meanwhile. Then, with his head on one side like a jackdaw
earnestly regarding something which did not quite please him, he would
look at the drawing a moment, and pounce on the paper, rub all his work
out, and begin again. His criticism of his own work was singularly frank
and outspoken even to us. I remember once when there had been a slight
disagreement between us, I wrote to him to explain. Next morning, when
he entered the office, he came straight to the desk where I was working,
quietly put his arm round me, took my free hand with his and pressed it
and myself to him without a word. It was more than enough.

"He was, however, not one of those who treat all alike. He adapted
himself with singular facility to each one with whom he came in contact;
his insight in this respect was very remarkable, and in consequence he
was loved and admired by the most diverse natures. The expression of his
face was at all times pleasant but strangely varied, like a lake it
revealed every passing breath of emotion in the most wonderful way,
easily ruffled and easily calmed.

"His eyes were very bright and expressive, with long lashes, the upper
lids large, full, and almost translucent, and his whole face at anything
which pleased him lit up and became truly radiant. At such times his
animation in voice, gesture, and look was quite remarkable, his talk was
full of felicitous phrases, happy hits, and piquant sayings.

"His was the most childlike nature I have yet seen, taking pleasure in
the simplest things, ever ready for fun, trustful, impulsive, and
joyous, yet easily cast down. His memory for details and things he had
seen and sketched was marvellous, and he could turn to any one of his
many sketches and find a tiny scribble made twenty or thirty years ago,
as easily as if he had made it yesterday.

"His favourite attitude in the office was with his back to the fireplace
and with his hands behind him, head thrown back, looking at, or rather
through one. He seldom seemed to look at anyone or anything, his glance
always had something of divination in it, and in his sketches, however
slight, the soul of the thing was always seized, and the accidental or
unnecessary details left to others less gifted to concern themselves

"His love of symbolism was only equalled by his genius for it, old ideas
had new meanings for him, old symbols were invested with deeper
significance and new ones full of grace and beauty discovered. In this
his intense, enthusiastic love of nature and natural things stood him in
good stead, and he used Nature as the old men did, to teach new truths.
For him as well as for all true artists, the universe was the living
visible garment of God, the thin glittering rainbow-coloured veil which
hides the actual from our eyes. He was the living embodiment of all that
an architect should be, he had the sacred fire of enthusiasm within, and
he had the power of communicating that fire to others, so that workmen,
masons, carvers could do, and did lovingly for him, what they would not
or could not do for others. We all felt and still feel that it was his
example and precept that has given us what little true knowledge and
right feeling for Art we may possess, and the pity is there will never
be his like again.

"He was not one of those who needed to pray 'Lord, keep my memory
green,' though that phrase was often on his lips, as well as another
delightful old epitaph:

    'Bonys emonge stonys lys ful steyl
    Quilst the soules wanderis where that God will.'"[3]

[Footnote 3: In Thornhill Church.]

This delightful and assuredly entirely faithful picture is in itself
evidence of the contagion of John Sedding's enthusiasm.

Beyond the inner circle of his own office, he sought and welcomed the
unfettered co-operation of other artists in his work; in the words of a
young sculptor, "he gave us a chance." He let them say their say instead
of binding them to repeat his own. God had His message to deliver by
them, and he made way that the world might hear it straight from their

The same idea of sympathetic association, "fraternité
généreuse--confiance mutuelle--communauté de sympathies et
d'aspirations," has found embodiment in the Art Workers' Guild, a
society in which artists and craftsmen of all the Arts meet and
associate on common ground. John Sedding was one of the original members
of this Guild, and its second Master.

Of his connection with the Guild the Secretary writes: "No member was
ever more respected, none had more influence, no truer artist existed in
the Guild." And Mr Walter Crane: "His untiring devotion to the Guild
throughout his term of office, and his tact and temper, were beyond

It must not be inferred from these facts that John Sedding's sympathies
were only for the world of Art, art-workers, and art-ideals. He shared
to the full the ardour of his Socialist friends, in their aspirations
for that new order of more just distribution of all that makes for the
happiness of men, the coming "city which hath foundations whose builder
and maker is God." He did not share their confidence in their methods,
but he honoured their noble humanity, and followed their movements with
interest and respect, giving what help he could. The condition of the
poor, especially the London poor, touched him to the quick sometimes
with indignation at their wrongs, sometimes with deep compassion and
humbled admiration at the pathetic patience with which they bore the
burden of their joyless, suffering lives. His own happy constitution and
experience never led him to adopt the cheap optimism with which so many
of us cheat our conscience, and justify to ourselves our own selfish
inertness. The more ample income of his last years made no difference in
the simple ordering of his household, it did make difference in his
charities. He gave money, and what is better, gave his personal labour
to many works for the good of others, some of which he himself had

John Sedding was an artist by a necessity of his nature. God made him
so, and he could not but exercise his gift, but apart from the
satisfaction that comes by doing what we are meant for, it filled him
with thankfulness to have been born to a craft with ends so noble as are
the ends of Art. To give pleasure and to educate are aims good indeed to
be bound by, especially when by education we understand, not
mind-stuffing, but mind-training, in this case the training of faculty
to discern and be moved by the poetry, the spiritual suggestiveness of
common everyday life. This brought his calling into touch with working

As a man, John Sedding impressed us all by the singular and beautiful
simplicity and childlikeness of his character, a childlikeness which
never varied, and nothing, not even the popularity and homage which at
last surrounded him, seemed able to spoil it. He never lost his boyish
spontaneity and frankness, the unrestrained brightness of his manners
and address, his boyish love of fun, and hearty, ringing laugh. Mr
Walter Crane speaks of his "indomitable gaiety and spirits which kept
all going, especially in our country outings." "He always led the fun,"
writes Mr Lethaby, "at one time at the head of a side at 'tug of war,'
at another, the winner in an 'egg and spoon race.'" His very faults were
the faults of childhood, the impulsiveness, the quick and unreflecting
resentment against wrong, and the vehement denunciation of it. He
trusted his instincts far more than his reason, and on the whole, his
instincts served him right well, yet at times they failed him, as in
truth they fail us all. There were occasions when a little reflection
would have led him to see that his first rapid impressions were at
fault, and so have spared himself and others some pain and
misunderstanding. Let a thing appear to him false, unfair, or cowardly,
he would lower his lance and dash full tilt at it at once, sometimes to
our admiration, sometimes to our amusement when the appearance proved
but a windmill in the mist, sometimes to our dismay when--a rare
case--he mistook friend for foe.

No picture of John Sedding could be considered at all to represent him
which failed to express the blameless purity of his character and
conduct. I do not think the man lives who ever heard a tainted word from
his lips. There was in him such depth and strength of moral
wholesomeness that he sickened at, and revolted against the unseemly
jest, and still more against the scenes, and experiences of the sensuous
(to use no stronger word) upon which in the minds of some, the artist
must perforce feed his gift. With his whole soul he repudiated the idea
that Art grew only as a flower upon the grave of virtue, and that
artists could, or desired to, lay claim to larger moral licence than
other less imaginative men.

I have kept till last the best and deepest that was in him, the hidden
root of all he was, the hallowing of all he did. I mean his piety--his
deep, unfeigned piety. In his address at the annual meeting of the
Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, a singularly outspoken and
vigorous exhortation to laymen to keep their practice abreast of their
faith, he used the following words: "In the wild scene of 19th century
work, and thought, and passion, when old snares still have their old
witchery, and new depths of wickedness yawn at our feet, when the world
is so wondrous kind to tired souls, and neuralgic bodies, and itself
pleads for concessions to acknowledged weakness; when unfaith is so like
faith, and the devil freely suffers easy acquiescence in high gospel
truth, and even holds a magnifying-glass that one may better see the
sweetness of the life of the 'Son of Man,' it is well in these days of
sloth, and sin, and doubt, to have one's energies braced by a 'girdle of
God' about one's loins! It is well, I say, for a man to have a circle of
religious exercises that can so hedge him about, so get behind his life,
and wind themselves by long familiarity into his character that they
become part of his everyday existence--bone of his bone."

Out of his own real knowledge and practice he spoke these words. The
"circle of religious exercise," the girdle of God, had become for him
part of his everyday existence. I can think of no better words to
express the unwavering consistency of his life. It is no part of my duty
to tell in detail what and how much he did, and with what
whole-heartedness he did it.

Turning to outward things, every associate of John Sedding knew his
enthusiasm for the cause of the Catholic revival in the English Church.
It supplied him with a religion for his whole nature. No trouble seemed
too great on behalf of it, though often his zeal entailed upon him some
material disadvantage. Again and again I have known him give up precious
hours and even days in unremunerated work, to help some struggling
church or mission, or some poor religious community. It was a joy to him
to contribute anything to the beauty of the sanctuary or the solemnity
of its offices. From the year 1878 to 1881 he was sidesman, from 1882 to
1889 churchwarden of St. Alban's, Holborn, doing his work thoroughly,
and with conspicuous kindliness and courtesy. It was one of the thorns
to the rose of his new life in the country that it obliged him to
discontinue this office. For eleven years he played the organ on Sunday
afternoons for a service for young men and maidens, few of whom can
forget the extraordinary life and pathos that he was wont by some magic
to put into his accompaniment to their singing.

This present year, 1891, opened full of promise for John Sedding. In a
marvellously short time he had come hand over hand into public notice
and public esteem, as a man from whom excellent things were to be
expected,--things interesting, original, and beautiful. Mr Burne Jones
writes: "My information about Sedding's work is very slight,--my
interest in him very great, and my admiration too, from the little I had
seen. I know only the church in Sloane Street, but that was enough to
fill me with the greatest hope about him ... I saw him in all some
half-dozen times--liked him instantly, and felt I knew him intimately,
and was looking forward to perhaps years of collaboration with him."

Work brought work, as each thing he did revealed, to those who had eyes
to see, the gift that was in him. At Art Congresses and all assemblies
of Art Workers his co-operation was sought and his presence looked for,
especially by the younger men, who hailed him and his words with
enthusiasm. To these gatherings he brought something more and better
than the sententious wisdom, the chill repression which many feel called
upon to administer on the ground of their experience.[4] He put of the
fire that was in him into the hearts that heard him, he made them proud
of their cause and of their place in it, and hopeful for its triumph and
their own success. It was a contribution of sunshine and fresh air, and
all that is the complete opposite of routine, red-tape, and the

[Footnote 4: Qu'est-ce l'expérience? Une pauvre petite cabane construite
avec les débris de ces palais d'or et de marbre appelés nos
illusions.--_Joseph Roux._]

We who have watched his progress have noticed of late a considerable
development in his literary power, a more marked individuality of style,
a swifter and smoother movement, a richer vocabulary, and new skill in
the presentation of his ideas. He was exceedingly happy in his
illustrations of a principle, and his figures were always interesting,
never hackneyed. A certain "bonhomie" in his way of putting things won
willing hearers for his words, which seemed to come to meet us with a
smile and open, outstretched hands, as the dear speaker himself was wont
to do. Something of course of the living qualities of speech are lost
when we can receive it only from the cold black and white of print,
instead of winged and full of human music from the man's own lips. Yet,
in spite of this, unless I am mistaken, readers of this book will not
fail to find in it a good deal to justify my judgment.

It seems to have taken some of his friends by surprise that John Sedding
should write on Gardens. They knew him the master of many crafts, but
did not count Garden-craft among them. As a matter of fact, it was a
love that appeared late in life, though all along it must have been
within the man, for the instant he had a garden of his own the passion
appeared full grown. Every evening between five and six, save when his
work called him to distant parts, you might have seen him step quickly
out of the train at the little station of West Wickham, run across the
bridge, and greeting and greeted by everybody, swing along the shady
road leading to his house. In his house, first he kissed his wife and
children, and then supposing there was light and the weather fine, his
coat was off and he fell to work at once with spade or trowel in his
garden, absorbed in his plants and flowers, and the pleasant crowding
thoughts that plants and flowers bring.

After supper he assembled his household to say evening prayers with
them. When all had gone to rest he would settle himself in his little
study and write, write, write, until past midnight, sometimes past one,
dashing now and again at a book upon his shelves to verify some one or
other of those quaint and telling bits which are so happily inwoven into
his text. One fruit of these labours is this book on Garden-craft.

But I have detained the reader long enough. All is by no means told, and
many friends will miss, I doubt not, with disappointment this or that
feature which they knew and loved in him. It cannot be helped. I have
written as I could, not as I would, within the narrow limits which
rightly bound a preface.

How the end came, how within fourteen days the hand of God took from our
midst the much love, genius, beauty which His hand had given us in the
person of John and Rose Sedding, a few words only must tell.

On Easter Monday, March 30th, John Sedding spent two hours in London,
giving the last sitting for the bust which was being modelled at the
desire of the Art Workers' Guild. The rest of the day he was busy in his
garden. Next morning he left early for Winsford, in Somersetshire, to
look after the restoration of this and some other churches in the
neighbourhood. Winsford village is ten miles from the nearest railway
station Dulverton; the road follows the beautiful valley of the Exe,
which rising in the moors, descends noisily and rapidly southwards to
the sea. The air is strangely chill in the hollow of this woody valley.
Further, it was March, and March of this memorable year of 1891. Lines
of snow still lay in the ditches, and in white patches on the northern
side of hedgerows. Within a fortnight of this time men and cattle had
perished in the snow-drifts on the higher ground.

Was this valley the valley of death for our friend, or were the seeds of
death already within him? I know not. Next morning, Wednesday, he did
not feel well enough to get up. His kind hostess, and host, the Vicar of
the parish, did all that kindness--kindness made harder and therefore
more kind by ten miles' distance from a railway station--could do. John
sent for his wife, who came at once, with her baby in her arms. On
Saturday at midnight he received his last Communion. The next day he
seemed to brighten and gave us hopes. On Monday there was a change for
the worse, and on Tuesday morning he passed away in perfect peace.

At the wish of his wife, his grave was prepared at West Wickham. The
Solemn Requiem, by her wish also, was at the church he loved and served
so well, St. Alban's, Holborn. That church has witnessed many striking
scenes, but few more impressive than the great gathering at his funeral.
The lovely children's pall that John Sedding had himself designed and
Rose Sedding had embroidered, covered the coffin, and on the right of it
in a dark mass were gathered his comrades of the Art Workers' Guild.

The tragedy does not end here. On that day week, at that very same hour
and spot, beneath the same pall, lay the body of his dear and devoted

Side by side, near the tall elms of the quiet Kentish churchyard, the
bodies of John and Rose Sedding are sleeping. The spot was in a sense
chosen by Rose Sedding, if we may use the term 'choice' for her simple
wish that it might be where the sun shines and flowers will grow. The
western slope of the little hill was fixed upon, and already the flowers
they loved so well are blooming over them.

Among the papers of Rose Sedding was found, pencilled in her own
handwriting, the following lines of a 17th century poet:

    "'Tis fit one flesh one house should have,
    One tomb, one epitaph, one grave;
    And they that lived and loved either
    Should dye, and lye, and sleep together."[5]

[Footnote 5: The words "'Tis fit one flesh one house should have," &c.,
form part of the epitaph of Richard Bartholomew and his wife in the
parish church of Burford.

How strange that the words should have found in her own case such exact

    E. F. RUSSELL.

    _June 1891._

It stands thus:--

    Lo Hudled up, Together lye
    Gray Age, Greene Youth, White Infancy.
    If Death doth Nature's law dispence,
    And reconciles all difference,
    'Tis fit One Flesh One House should have,
    One Tombe, One Epitaph, One Grave;
    And they that lived and loved either
    Should dye and Lye and sleep together.
    Goe Reader, whether goe or stay,
    Thou must not hence be long away.]


    CHAP.                                                  PAGE

        I. THE THEORY OF A GARDEN                             1

       II. ART IN A GARDEN                                   28


       IV. THE STIFF GARDEN                                  70

        V. THE "LANDSCAPE-GARDEN"                            98

       VI. THE TECHNICS OF GARDENING                        133



    VIII. A PLEA FOR SAVAGERY                               183

      IX. IN PRAISE OF BOTH                                 202


    A GARDEN ENCLOSED                            _FRONTISPIECE_

    PLAN OF ROSARY WITH SUNDIAL                  TO FACE P. 156

    GARDEN                                                      158

    ALBANI, ROME                                                160

    GARDEN, YEW WALK, AND TENNIS COURT                          164

    HEDGES                                                      166

    LARGE GARDEN                                                180

    PLAN                                                        180

    BEDS                                                        182




    "Come hither, come hither, come hither;
        Here shall he see
        No enemy
    But winter and rough weather."

Some subjects require to be delineated according to their own taste.
Whatever the author's notions about it at starting, the subject somehow
slips out of his grasp and dictates its own method of treatment and
style. The subject of gardening answers to this description: you cannot
treat it in a regulation manner. It is a discursive subject that of
itself breeds laggard humours, inclines you to reverie, and suggests a
discursive style.

This much in defence of my desultory essay. The subject, in a manner,
drafts itself. Like the garden, it, too, has many aspects, many
side-paths, that open out broken vistas to detach one's interest and
lure from the straight, broad terrace-platform of orderly discourse. At
first sight, perhaps, with the balanced beauty of the thing in front of
you, carefully parcelled out and enclosed, as all proper gardens are,
the theme may appear so compact, that all meandering after side-issues
may seem sheer wantonness. As you proceed, however, it becomes apparent
that you may not treat of a garden and disregard the instincts it
prompts, the connection it has with Nature, its place in Art, its office
in the world as a sweetener of human life. True, the garden itself is
hedged in and neatly defined, but behind the garden is the man who made
it; behind the man is the house he has built, which the garden adorns;
and every man has his humours; every house has its own conditions of
plan and site; every garden has its own atmosphere, its own contents,
its own story.

So now, having in this short preamble discovered something of the rich
variety and many-sidedness of the subject, I proceed to write down three
questions just to try what the yoke of classification may do to keep
one's feet within bounds: (1) What is a garden, and why is it made? (2)
What ornamental treatment is fit and right for a garden? (3) What should
be the relation of the garden to the house?

Forgive me if, in dealing with the first point, I so soon succumb to the
allurements of my theme, and drop into flowers of speech! To me, then, a
garden is the outward and visible sign of man's innate love of
loveliness. It reveals man on his artistic side. Beauty, it would seem,
has a magnetic charm for him; and the ornamental display of flowers
betokens his bent for, and instinctive homage of beauty. And to say this
of man in one grade of life is to say it of all sorts and conditions of
men; and to say it of one garden is to say it of all--whether the garden
be the child of quality or of lowliness; whether it adorn castle,
manor-house, villa, road-side cottage or signalman's box at the railway
siding, or Japanese or British tea-garden, or Babylonian terrace or
Platonic grove at Athens--in each case it was made for eye-delight at
Beauty's bidding. Even the Puritan, for all his gloomy creed and bleak
undecorated life, is Romanticist here; the hater of outward show turns
rank courtier at a pageant of flowers: he will dare the devil at any
moment, but not life without flowers. And so we have him lovingly
bending over the plants of his home-garden, packing the seeds to carry
with him into exile, as though these could make expatriation tolerable.
"There is not a softer trait to be found in the character of these stern
men than that they should have been sensible of their flower-roots
clinging among the fibres of their rugged hearts, and have felt the
necessity of bringing them over sea and making them hereditary in the
new land." (Hawthorne, "Our Old Home," p. 77.)

But to take a higher point of view. A garden is, in many ways, the "mute
gospel" it has been declared to be. It is the memorial of Paradise lost,
the pledge of Paradise regained. It is so much of earth's surface
redeemed from the scar of the fall:

    "Who loves a garden still keeps his Eden."

Its territories stand, so to speak, betwixt heaven and earth, so that
it shares the cross-lights of each. It parades the joys of earth, yet no
less hints the joys of heaven. It tells of man's happy tillage of his
plot of ground, yet blazes abroad the infinite abundance of God's wide
husbandry of the world. It bespeaks the glory of earth's array, yet
publishes its passingness.[6]

[Footnote 6: Think of "a paradise not like this of ours with so much
pains and curiosity made with hands"--says Evelyn, in the middle of a
rhapsody on flowers--"eternal in the heavens, where all the trees are
trees of life, the flowers all amaranths; all the plants perennial, ever
verdant, ever pregnant, and where those who desire knowledge may taste
freely of the fruit of that tree which cost the first gardener and
posterity so dear." (Sylva, "Of Forest-trees," p. 148.)]

Again. The punctual waking of the flowers to new life upon the ruin of
the old is unfavourable to the fashionable theory of extinction, for it
shows death as the prelude of life. Nevertheless, be it admitted, the
garden-allegory points not all one way; it is, so to speak, a paradox
that mocks while it comforts. For a garden is ever perplexing us with
the "riddle of the painful earth," ever challenging our faith with its
counter-proof, ever thrusting before our eyes the abortive effort, the
inequality of lot (two roses on a single stem, the one full-blown, a
floral paragon, the other dwarfed and withered), the permitted spite of
destiny which favours the fittest and drives the weak to the wall--ever
preaching, with damnable iteration, the folly of resisting the ills that
warp life and blight fair promise.

And yet while this is so, the annual spectacle of spring's fresh
repair--the awakening from winter's trance--the new life that grows in
the womb of the tomb--is happy augury to the soul that passes away,
immature and but half-expressed, of lusty days and consummate powers in
the everlasting garden of God. It is this very garden's message, "the
best is yet to be," that smothers the self-pitying whine in poor David
Gray's Elegy[7] and braces his spirit with the tonic of a wholesome
pride. To the human flower that is born to blush unseen, or born,
perchance, not to bloom at all, but only to feel the quickening thrill
of April-passion--the first sweet consciousness of life--the electric
touch in the soul like the faint beatings in the calyx of the rose--and
then to die, to die "not knowing what it was to live"--to such seemingly
cancelled souls the garden's message is "trust, acquiesce, be passive in
the Master's hand: the game of life is lost, but not for aye--

    ... "There is life with God
    In other Kingdom of a sweeter air:
    In Eden every flower is blown."

[Footnote 7: "My Epitaph."

    "Below lies one whose name was traced in sand--
    He died, not knowing what it was to live;
    Died while the first sweet consciousness of manhood
    And maiden thought electrified his soul:
    Faint beatings in the calyx of the rose.
    Bewildered reader, pass without a sigh
    In a proud sorrow! There is life with God,
    In other Kingdom of a sweeter air;
    In Eden every flower is blown. Amen."

David Gray ("A Poet's Sketch-book," R. Buchanan, p. 81.)]

To come back to lower ground, a garden represents what one may call the
first simplicity of external Nature's ways and means, and the first
simplicity of man's handling of them, carried to distinction. On one
side we have Nature's "unpremeditated art" surpassed upon its own
lines--Nature's tardy efforts and common elementary traits pushed to a
masterpiece. On the other side is the callow craft of Adam's "'prentice
han'," turned into scrupulous nice-fingered Art, with forcing-pits,
glass-houses, patent manures, scientific propagation, and the accredited
rules and hoarded maxims of a host of horticultural journals at its

Or, to run still more upon fancy. A garden is a place where these two
whilom foes--Nature and man--patch up a peace for the nonce. Outside the
garden precincts--in the furrowed field, in the forest, the quarry, the
mine, out upon the broad seas--the feud still prevails that began as our
first parents found themselves on the wrong side of the gate of
Paradise. But

    "Here contest grows but interchange of love"--

here the old foes have struck a truce and are leagued together in a kind
of idyllic intimacy, as is witnessed in their exchange of grace for
grace, and the crowning touch that each puts upon the other's efforts.

The garden, I have said, is a sort of "betweenity"--part heaven, part
earth, in its suggestions; so, too, in its make-up is it part Nature,
part man: for neither can strictly say "I made the garden" to disregard
the other's share in it. True, that behind all the contents of the place
sits primal Nature, but Nature "to advantage dressed," Nature in a rich
disguise, Nature delicately humoured, stamped with new qualities,
furnished with a new momentum, led to new conclusions, by man's skill in
selection and artistic concentration. True, that the contents of the
place have their originals somewhere in the wild--in forest or coppice,
or meadow, or hedgerow, swamp, jungle, Alp, or plain hillside. We can
run each thing to earth any day, only that a change has passed over
them; what in its original state was complex or general, is here made a
chosen particular; what was monotonous out there, is here mixed and
contrasted; what was rank and ragged there, is here taught to be staid
and fine; what had a fugitive beauty there, has here its beauty
prolonged, and is combined with other items, made "of imagination all
compact." Man has taken the several things and transformed them; and in
the process, they passed, as it were, through the crucible of his mind
to reappear in daintier guise; in the process, the face of Nature
became, so to speak, humanised: man's artistry conveyed an added charm.

Judged thus, a garden is, at one and the same time, the response which
Nature makes to man's overtures, and man's answer to the standing
challenge of open-air beauty everywhere. Here they work no longer in a
spirit of rivalry, but for the attainment of a common end. We cannot
dissociate them in the garden. A garden is man's transcript of the
woodland world: it is common vegetation ennobled: outdoor scenery neatly
writ in man's small hand. It is a sort of twin-picture, conceived of
man in the studio of his brain, painted upon Nature's canvas with the
aid of her materials--a twin-essay where Nature's

                       ... "primal mind
    That flows in streams, that breathes in wind"

supplies the matter, man the style. It is Nature's rustic language made
fluent and intelligible--Nature's garrulous prose tersely
recast--changed into imaginative shapes, touched to finer issues.

"What is a garden?" For answer come hither: be Fancy's guest a moment.
Turn in from the dusty high-road and noise of practical things--for

    "Not wholly in the busy world, nor quite
    Beyond it, blooms the garden that I love";

descend the octagonal steps; cross the green court, bright with great
urns of flowers, that fronts the house; pass under the arched doorway in
the high enclosing wall, with its gates traceried with rival wreaths of
beaten iron and clambering sprays of jasmine and rose, and, from the
vantage-ground of the terrace-platform where we stand, behold an
art-enchanted world, where the alleys with their giddy cunning, their
gentle gloom, their cross-lights and dappled shadows of waving boughs,
make paths of fantasy--where the water in the lake quivers to the wind's
soft footprints, or sparkles where the swallows dip, or springs in jets
out of shapely fountain, or, oozing from bronze dolphin's mouth, slides
down among moss-flecked stones into a deep dark pool, and is seen anon
threading with still foot the careless-careful curved banks fringed
with flowering shrubs and trailing willows and brambles--where the
flowers smile out of dainty beds in the sunny ecstasy of "sweet
madness"--where the air is flooded with fragrance, and the mixed music
of trembling leaves, falling water, singing birds, and the drowsy hum of
innumerable insects' wings.

"What is a garden?" It is man's report of earth at her best. It is earth
emancipated from the commonplace. Earth is man's intimate
possession--Earth arrayed for beauty's bridal. It is man's love of
loveliness carried to excess--man's craving for the ideal grown to a
fine lunacy. It is piquant wonderment; culminated beauty, that for all
its combination of telling and select items, can still contrive to look
natural, debonair, native to its place. A garden is Nature aglow,
illuminated with new significance. It is Nature on parade before men's
eyes; Flodden Field in every parish, where on summer days she holds
court in "lanes of splendour," beset with pomp and pageantry more
glorious than all the kings'.

"Why is a garden made?" Primarily, it would seem, to gratify man's
craving for beauty. Behind fine gardening is fine desire. It is a plain
fact that men do not make beautiful things merely for the sake of
something to do, but, rather, because their souls compel them. Any
beautiful work of art is a feat, an essay, of human soul. Someone has
said that "noble dreams are great realities"--this in praise of
unrealised dreams; but here, in the fine garden, is the noble dream and
the great reality.

Here it may be objected that the ordinary garden is, after all, only a
compromise between the common and the ideal: half may be for the lust of
the eye, yet half is for domestic drudgery; half is for beauty, half for
use. The garden is contrived "a double debt to pay." Yonder mass of
foliage that bounds the garden, with its winding intervals of turf and
look of expansiveness, it serves to conceal villadom and the hulking
paper-factory beyond; that rock-garden with its developed geological
formation, dotted over with choice Alpine plants, that the stranger
comes to see. It is nothing but the quarry from whence the stone was dug
that built the house. Those banks of evergreens, full of choice
specimens, what are they but on one side the screen to your kitchen
stuff, and on the other side, the former tenant's contrivance to assist
him in forgetting his neighbour? Even so, my friend, an it please you!
You are of those who, in Sainte-Beuve's phrase, would sever a bee in
two, if you could!

The garden, you say, is a compromise between the common and the ideal.
Yet nobility comes in low disguises. We have seen that the garden is
wild Nature elevated and transformed by man's skill in selection and
artistic concentration--wild things to which man's art has given
dignity. The common flowers of the cottager's garden tell of centuries
of collaboration. The flowers and shrubs and trees with which you have
adorned your own grounds were won for you by the curiosity, the
aspiration, the patient roaming and ceaseless research of a long list
of old naturalists; the design of your garden, its picturesque divisions
and beds, a result of the social sense, the faculty for refined
enjoyment, the constructive genius of the picked minds of the civilised
world in all ages. The methods of planting approved of to-day, carrying
us back to the admirably-dressed grounds of the ancient castles and
abbeys, to the love of woodland scenery, which is said to be a special
characteristic of Teutonic people, which is evidenced in the early
English ballads; to the slowly acquired traditions of garden-masters
like Bacon, Temple, Evelyn, Gilpin, and Repton, as well as to the
idealised landscapes of Constable, Gainsborough, Linnell, and Turner; it
is, in fact, the issue of the practical insight, the wood-craft, and
idealistic skill of untold generations.

In this matter of floral beauty and garden-craft man has ever declared
himself a prey to the "malady of the ideal"; the Japanese will even
combine upon his trees the tints of spring and autumn.[8] But
everywhere, and in all ages of the civilised world, man spares no pains
to acquire the choicest specimens, the rarest plants, and to give to
each thing so acquired the ideally best expression of which it is
capable. It is as though Eden-memories still haunted the race with the
solicitude of an inward voice that refused to be silenced, and is
satisfied with nothing short of the best.

[Footnote 8: "This strange combination of autumn and spring tints is a
very usual sight in Japan.... It is worth noting that in Japan a tree is
considered chiefly for its form and tint, not for use.... I heard the
cherry-trees were now budding, so I hurried up to take advantage of
them, and found them more beautiful than I had ever imagined. There are
at least fifty varieties, from delicately tinted white and pink to the
richest rose, almost crimson blossom."--Alfred East's "Trip to Japan,"
_Universal Review_, March, 1890.]

And yet, as some may point out, this homage of beauty that you speak of
is not done for nought; there enters into gardening the spirit of
calculation. A garden is a kind of investment. The labour and
forethought man expends upon it must bring adequate return. For every
flower-bed he lays down, for every plant, or shrub, or tree put into the
ground, his word is ever the same,

    "Be its beauty
    Its sole duty."

It was not simply to gratify his curiosity, to serve as a pretext for
adventure, that the gardener of old days reconnoitred the globe, culled
specimens, and spent laborious days in studying earth's picturesque
points; it was with a view to the pleasure the things would ultimately
bring. And why not! Had man not served so long an apprenticeship to
Nature on her freehold estate, the garden would not so directly appeal
to our imaginations and command our spirits. A garden reveals man as
master of Nature's lore; he has caught her accents, rifled her motives;
he has transferred her bright moods about his own dwelling, has tricked
out an ordered mosaic of the gleanings of her woodland carpet; has, as
it were, stereotyped the spontaneous in Nature, has entrapped and
rendered beautifully objective the natural magic of the outer world to
gratify the inner world of his own spirit. The garden is, first and
last, made "for delectation's sake."

So we arrive at these conclusions. A garden is made to express man's
delight in beauty and to gratify his instincts for idealisation. But,
lest the explanation savour too much of self-interest in the gardener,
it may be well to say that the interest of man's investment of money and
toil is not all for himself. What he captures of Nature's revenues he
repays with usury, in coin that bears the mint-mark of inspired
invention. This artistic handling of natural things has for result "the
world's fresh ornament,"[9] and for plant, shrub, or tree subject to it,
it is the crowning and completion of those hidden possibilities of
perfection that have lain dormant in them since the world began.

An artist has been defined as one who reproduces the world in his own
image and likeness. The definition is perhaps a little high-flown, and
may confer an autobiographical value to an artist's performances that
would astonish none more than himself. Yet if the thought can be
truthfully applied anywhere, it is where it occurred to Andrew
Marvell--in a garden.

[Footnote 9: "If you look into our gardens annexed to our houses" (says
William Harrison in Holinshed's "Chronicles") "how wonderful is their
beauty increased, not only with flowers, which Columella calleth
_Terrena Sydera_, saying 'Pingit et in varias terrestria, sydera
flores,' and variety of curious and costly workmanship, but also with
rare and medicinable herbs.... How Art also helpeth Nature in the daily
colouring, doubling and enlarging the proportions of our flowers it is
incredible to report, for so curious and cunning are our gardeners now
in these days that they presume to do, in a manner, what they list with
Nature, and moderate her course in things as if they were her superiors.
It is a world also to see how many strange herbs, plants, and annual
fruits are daily brought unto us from the Indies, Americans, Taprobane,
Canary Isles, and all parts of the world, the which, albeit that his
respect of the constitutions of our bodies, they do not grow for us
(because God hath bestowed sufficient commodities upon every country for
her own necessity) yet for delectation's sake unto the eye, and their
odoriferous savours unto the nose, they are to be cherished, and God
also glorified in them, because they are His good gifts, and created to
do man help and service. There is not almost one nobleman, gentleman, or
merchant that hath not great store of these flowers, which now also
begin to wax so well acquainted with our evils that we may almost
account of them as parcel of our own commodities."--(From "Elizabethan
England," pp. 26-7.)]

    "The mind, that ocean where each kind
    Does straight its own resemblance find;
    Yet it creates, transcending these,
    Far other worlds and other seas,
    Annihilating all that's made
    To a green thought in a green shade."

And where can we find a more promising sphere for artistic creation than
a garden? Do we boast of fine ideas and perceptions of beauty and powers
of design! Where can our faculties find a happier medium of expression
or a pleasanter field for display than the garden affords? Nay, to have
the ideas, the faculties, and the chance of their exercise and still to
hold back were a sin! For a garden is, so to speak, the compliment a man
of ideas owes to Nature, to his friends, and to himself.

Many are the inducements to gardening. Thus, if I make a garden, I need
not print a line, nor conjure with the painter's tools, to prove myself
an artist. Again, a garden is the only form of artistic creation that is
bound by the nature of things to be more lovely in realisation than in
the designer's conception. It is no mere hint of beauty--no mere
tickling of the fancy--that we get here, such as all other arts (except
music) are apt to give you. Here, on the contrary, we are led straight
into a world of actual delights patent to all men, which our eyes can
see, and our hands handle. More than this; whilst in other spheres of
labour the greater part of our life's toil and moil will, of a surety,
end as the wise man predicted, in vanity and vexation of spirit, here is
instant physical refreshment in the work the garden entails, and, in the
end, our labour will be crowned with flowers.

Nor have I yet exhausted the scene of a garden's pleasures. A man gets
undoubted satisfaction in the very expression of his ideas--"the joy of
the deed"--in the sense of Nature's happy response, the delight of
creation,[10] the romance of possibility.

[Footnote 10: Here is Emerson writing to Carlyle of his "new
plaything"--a piece of woodland of forty acres on the border of Walden
Pond. "In these May mornings, when maples, poplars, walnut, and pine are
in their spring glory, I go thither every afternoon and cut with my
hatchet an Indian path thro' the thicket, all along the bold shore, and
open the finest pictures." (John Morley's Essays, "Emerson," p. 304.)
But, as Mr Morley points out, he finds the work too fascinating, eating
up days and weeks; "nay, a brave scholar should shun it like gambling,
and take refuge in cities and hotels from these pernicious

Some joy shall also come of the identity of the gardener with his
creation.[11] He is at home here. He is intimate with the various
growths. He carries in his head an infinity of details touching the
welfare of the garden's contents. He participates in the life of his
plants, and is familiar with all their humours; like a good host, he has
his eye on all his company. He has fine schemes for the future of the
place. The very success of the garden reflects upon its master, and
advertises the perfect understanding that exists between the artist and
his materials. The sense of ownership and responsibility brings him
satisfaction, of a cheaper sort. His the hand that holds the wand to the
garden's magic; his the initiating thought, the stamp of taste, the
style that gives it circumstance. Let but his hand be withdrawn a space,
and, at this signal, the gipsy horde of weeds and briars--that even now
peer over the fence, and cast clandestine seeds abroad with every
favouring gust of wind--would at once take leave to pitch their tents
within the garden's zone, would strip the place of art-conventions, and
hurry it back to its primal state of unkempt wildness.

[Footnote 11: "I like your Essays," said Henry the Third to Montaigne.
"Then, sire, you will like me. I am my Essays."]

Someone has observed that when wonder is excited, and the sense of
beauty gratified, there is instant recreation, and a stimulus that lifts
one out of life's ordinary routine. This marks the function of a garden
in a world where, but for its presence, the commonplace might
preponderate; 'tis man's recreation ground, children's fairyland, bird's
orchestra, butterfly's banquet. Verse and romance have done well, then,
to link it with pretty thoughts and soft musings, with summer reveries
and moonlight ecstasies, with love's occasion, and youth's yearning. No
fitter place could well be found than this for the softer transactions
of life that awaken love, poesy, and passion. Indeed, were its
winsomeness not balanced by simple human enjoyments--were its charmed
silences not broken by the healthy interests of common daily life--the
romps of children, the clink of tea-cups, the clatter of
croquet-mallets, the _mêlée_ of the tennis-courts, the fiddler's scrape,
and the tune of moving feet, it might well seem too lustreful a place
for this work-a-day world.

Apart from its other uses, there is no spot like a garden for
cultivating the kindly social virtues. Its perfectness puts people upon
their best behaviour. Its nice refinement secures the mood for
politeness. Its heightened beauty produces the disposition that delights
in what is beautiful in form and colour. Its queenly graciousness of
mien inspires the reluctant loyalty of even the stoniest mind. Here, if
anywhere, will the human hedgehog unroll himself and deign to be
companionable. Here friend Smith, caught by its nameless charm, will
drop his brassy gabble and dare to be idealistic; and Jones, forgetful
of the main chance and "bulls" and "bears," will throw the rein to his
sweeter self, and reveal that latent elevation of soul and tendency to
romance known only to his wife!

"There be delights," says an ancient writer, "that will fetch the day
about from sun to sun, and rock the tedious year as in a delightful
dream." This tells, in terse English, the pleasures of a garden and the
instincts that are gratified in its making. For a garden is Arcady
brought home. It is man's bit of gaudy make-believe--his well-disguised
fiction of an unvexed Paradise--standing witness of his quest of the
ideal--his artifice to escape the materialism of a world that is too
actual and too much with him. A well-kept garden makes credible to
modern eyes the antique fable of an unspoiled world--a world where
gaiety knows no eclipse, and winter and rough weather are held at bay.
In this secluded spot the seasons slip by unawares. The year's
passing-bell is ignored. Decay is cheated of its prize. The invading
loss of cold, or wind, or rain--the litter of battered Nature--the
"petals from blown roses on the grass"--the pathos of dead boughs and
mouldering leaves, the blighted bloom and broken promise of the spring,
autumn's rust or winter's wreckage are, if gardeners be brisk sons of
Adam, instantly huddled out of sight, so that, come when you may, the
place wears a mask of steady brightness; each month has its new dress,
its fresh counterfeit of permanence, its new display of flowers or
foliage, as pleasing, if not so lustrous as the last, that serves in
turn to prolong the illusion and to conceal the secret irony and fond
assumption of the thing.

    "I think for to touche also
    The world which neweth everie daie,
    So far as I can, so as I maie."

This snatch of Gower's rhyme expresses in old phrase the gardener's
desire, or clothed in modern prose by Mr Robinson ("English
Flower-Garden," Murray), it is "to make each place at various seasons,
and in every available situation, an epitome of the great flower-garden
of the world."

We hinted a moment ago of the interest that a garden gathers from the
mark of man's regard and tendence; and if this be true of a modern
garden, how much more true of an old one! Indeed, this is undeniable in
the latter case, for Time is ever friendly to gardens. Ordinarily his
attitude towards all that concerns the memories of man is that of a
jealous churl. Look at history. What is history but one long record of
men who, in this sphere or that, have toiled, striven, sold their souls
even, to perpetuate a name and have their deeds written upon the tablets
of eternity, not reckoning upon the "all oblivious enmity" of Time, who,
with heedless hand, cuts their past into fragments, blots out their
name, confuses their story, and frets with gnawing tooth each vestige of
their handiwork. How, then, we ask--

    "How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
    Whose action is no stronger than a flower?"

Yet so it is. He who has no respect for antique glories, who snaps his
fingers at earth's heroes, who overturns the statues of the laurelled
Cæsars, encrusts the hieroglyphics of the Pharaohs, and commits their
storied masonry to the mercies of the modern Philistine, will make
exception in a garden. "Time's pencil" helps a garden. In a garden not
only are the solemn shapes and passing conceits of grey epochs treasured
up, even to their minutest particulars, but the drift of the years,
elsewhere so disastrous, serves only to heighten their fascination and
power of appeal.

Thus it comes to pass, that it were scarcely possible to name a more
pathetic symbol of the past than an old garden,[12] nor a spot which, by
its tell-tale shapes, sooner lends itself to our historic sense if we
would recall the forms and reconstruct the life of our ancestors. For we
have here the very setting of old life--the dressed stage of old drama,
the scenery of old gallantry. Upon this terrace, in front of these
flower-beds with these trees looking on, was fought out the old battle
of right and wrong--here was enacted the heroic or the shameful deeds,
the stirring or the humdrum passages in the lives of so many generations
of masters, mistresses, children, and servants, who in far-off times
have lived, loved, and died in the grey homestead hard by. "Now they are
dead," as Victor Hugo says--"they are dead, but the flowers last

[Footnote 12: Time does much for a garden. There is a story of an
American plutocrat's visit to Oxford. On his tour of the Colleges
nothing struck him so much as the velvety turf of some of the
quadrangles. He asked for the gardener, and made minute enquiries as to
the method of laying down and maintaining the grass. "That's all, is
it?" he exclaimed, when the process had been carefully described. "Yes,
sir," replied the gardener with a twinkle in his eye, "That's all, but
we generally leave it three or four centuries to settle down!"]

Admit, then, that for their secret quality, no less than for their
obvious beauty, these old gardens should be treasured. For they are far
more than they seem to the casual observer. Like any other piece of
historic art, the old garden is only truly intelligible through a clear
apprehension of the circumstances which attended its creation. Granted
that we possess the ordinary smattering of historical knowledge, and
the garden will serve to interpret the past and make it live again
before our eyes. For the old place is (to use the journalist's phrase)
an "object lesson" of old manners; it is a proof of ancient genius, a
clue to old romance, a legacy of vague desire. The many items of the
place--the beds and walks with their special trick of "style" the
parterre, the promenoir, the maze, the quincunx, the terraces, the
extravagances in ever-green sculptures of which Pope spoke--what are
they but the mould and figure of old-world thought, down to its most
characteristic caprice! The assertive air of these things--their
prominence in the garden-scenery--bespeak their importance in the
scenery of old life. It was _thus_ that our forefathers made the world
about them picturesque, _thus_ that they coloured their life-dreams and
fitted an adjunct pleasure to every humour, _thus_ that they climbed by
flower-strewn stairs to the realm of the ideal and stimulated their
sense of beauty.

And if further proof be needed of the large hold the garden and its
contents had of the affections of past generations, we have but to turn
to the old poets, and to note how the texture of the speech, the
groundwork of the thought, of men like Milton, Herrick, Vaughan,
Herbert, Donne (not to mention prose-writers) is saturated through and
through with garden-imagery.

In the case of an old garden, mellowed by time, we have, I say, to note
something that goes beyond mere surface-beauty. Here we may expect to
find a certain superadded quality of pensive interest, which, so far as
it can be reduced to words, tells of the blent influences of past and
present, of things seen and unseen, of the joint effects of Nature and
Man. The old ground embodies bygone conceptions of ideal beauty; it has
absorbed human thought and memories; it registers the bequests of old
time. Dead men's traits are exemplified here. The dead hand still holds
sway, the pictures it conjured still endure, its cunning is not
forgotten, its strokes still make the garden's magic, in shapes and hues
that are unchanged save for the slow moulding of the centuries.
_Really_, not less than metaphorically, the garden-growths do keep green
the memories of the men and women who placed them there, as the flower
that is dead still holds its perfume. And few will say that the
chronicles of the dead do not

    "Shine more bright in these contents
    Than unwept stone besmeared with sluttish time."

There is a wealth of quiet interest in an old garden. We feel
instinctively that the place has been warmed by the sunshine of
humanity; watered from the secret spring of human joy and sorrow.
Sleeping echoes float about its glades; its leafy nooks can tell of
felicities sweeter than the bee-haunted cups of flowers; of glooms
graver than the midnight blackness of the immemorial yews. It is their
suggestion of antique experiences that endues the objective elements in
an old garden like Haddon, or Berkeley, or Levens, or Rockingham, with a
strange eloquence. The recollections of many a child have centred round
these objects: the one touch of romance in a narrow, simple life is
linked with them. Hearts danced or hearts drooped in this vicinity. Eyes
that brimmed over with laughter or that were veiled with tears looked on
these things as we look on them now--drank in the shifting lights and
shadows on the grass--watched the waving of the cedar's dark layers of
shade against an angry sky, "stern as the unlashed eye of God," and all
the birds were silent--once took in the sylvan vistas of trees, lawn,
fir-ridge, the broad-water where the coots and moor-hens now play (as
then) among the green lily-pads and floating weeds, regardless of
Regulas in lead standing in their midst; once dwelt upon the lustrous
flower-beds, on the sundial on the terrace--noonday rendezvous of
fantails--on the "Alley of Sighs," with its clipped beeches, its
grey-stone seat half-way down, its rustle of dying leaves, and
traditions of intrigue; on the lime avenue full of perfume in the
sweet-o'-the-year, on the foot-bridge across the moat, on the streak of
blue autumn mist that tracks the stream in yonder meadows where the
landrail is croaking, and that brings magically near the beat of hoofs,
the jingle of horses' bells, the rumble of homeward wagons on the road,
and whiffs of the reapers' songs; on the brief brilliance of the
garden-panorama as the wintry-moon gives the black clouds the slip and
suddenly discloses a white world of snow-muffled forms, that gleams with
the eerie pallor of a ghost, and is as suddenly dissolved into

Simple sights, you will say, and familiar! and yet, when connected with
some unique occasion, some epoch of a life, when seen on such a day, at
such a supreme, all-absorbing moment from window, open door, terrace,
arbour; in the stillness or in the wild rhetoric of the night, the
familiar scene, momentarily flashed upon the brain's retina, may have
subtly and unconsciously influenced the act, or coloured the thought of
some human being, and the brand of that moment's impress may have
accompanied that soul to the edge of doom.

Because of its hoarded memories we come to look upon an old garden as a
sort of repository of old secrets; wrapped within its confines, as
within the covers of a sacred book, repose so many pages of the sad and
glad legend of humanity. We have before us the scenery of old home
idylls, of old household reverences and customs, of old life's give and
take--its light comedy or solemn farce, its dark tragedy, its summer
masque, its stately dance or midnight frolic, its happy wedlock or its
open sorrow, its endured wrong. The place is identified with the
fortunes of old families: for so many generations has the old place been
found favourable for lovers' tales, for youths' golden dreams, for
girls' chime of fancy, for the cut and thrust of friendly wrangles, for
the "leisures of the spirit" of student-recluse, for children's gambols
and babies' lullabies. Seated upon this mossy bank, children have spelt
out fairy tales, while birds, trees, brooks, and flowers listened
together. The marvel of its cloistered grace has been God-reminder to
the saint; its green recesses have served for Enoch's walk,[13] for
poet's retreat; as refuge for the hapless victim of broken endeavour; as
enisled shelter for the tobacco-loving sailor-uncle with a wrecked fame;
as invalid's Elysium; as haunt of the loafing, jesting, unambitioned man
("Alas, poor Yorick!"); as Death's sweet ante-room for slow-footed age.

[Footnote 13: "There is no garden well contrived, but that which hath an
Enoch's walk in it."--SIR W. WALLER.]

What wonder that Sir William Temple devised that his heart should rest
where its memories were so deep-intrenched--in his garden; or that
Waterton should ask to be buried between the two great oaks at the end
of the lake! (Norman Moore's Introduction to "Wanderings in South

And if human affections be, as the poets declare, immortal, we have the
reason why an old garden, in the only sense in which it ever is old, by
the almanack, has that whisper and waving of secrecy, that air of
watchful intentness, that far-reaching, mythological, unearthly look,
that effect of being a kind of twilighted space common to the two worlds
of past and present. Who will not agree with me in this? It matters not
when you go there--at dawn, at noonday, no less than when the sky is
murky and night-winds are sighing--and although you shall be the only
visible human being present, it is not alone that you feel. A thrill
comes over you, a mysterious sense warns you that this is none other
than the sanctuary of "the dead," as we call them; the place where, amid
the hush of passionless existence, the wide leisure of uncounted time,
the shades of once familiar presences keep their "tongueless vigil."
They fly not at the "dully sound" of human footsteps; they ask no
sympathy for regret which dare not tell the secret of its sorrow; but,
with the gentle gait of old-world courtesy, they move aside, and when
you depart resume occupation of ground which, for the sake of despairing
wishes and memories of an uneffaced past, they may not quit. After
life's fitful fever these waifs of a vanished world sleep not well; here
are some consumed with covetousness, who are learning not to resent the
word "mine" applied by the living owner of hall and garden, field and
store; some that prey on withered bliss--the "bitter sweet of days that
were"--this, the miser whose buried treasure lies undiscovered here, and
who has nothing in God's bank in the other world; this, the author of
the evil book; and this loveless, unlovely pair, the ruined and ruiner,
yoked for aye; a motley band, forsooth, with "Satan's sergeants" keeping

It is ever the indirect that is most eloquent. Someone says: Hence these
tokens of a dead past open out vistas for one's imagination and drop
hints of romance that would make thrilling reading in many volumes, but
which shall never reach Mudie's.

Even Nature is not proof against the spell of an old garden. The very
trees have an "ancient melody of an inward agony":

    "The place is silent and aware
    It has had its scenes, its joys, and crimes,
    But that is its own affair"--

even Nature forgets to be her cold, impassive self, and puts on a
sympathetic-waiting look in a spot so intricately strewn and meshed over
with the fibres of human experience. Long and close intimacy with
mankind under various aspects--witness of things that happened to
squires, dames, priests, courtiers, servitors, page, or country-maid, in
the roundabout of that "curious, restless, clamorous being which we call
life"--has somehow tinged the place with a sensibility (one had almost
said a _wizardry_) not properly its own. And this superadded quality
reaches to the several parts of the garden and is not confined to the
scene as a whole. Each inanimate item of the place, each spot, seems
invested with a gift of attraction--to have a hidden tongue that could
syllable forgotten names--to possess a power of fixing your attention,
of fastening itself upon your mind, as though it had become, in a sense,
humanised, and claimed kindred with you as related to that secret group
with whose fortunes it was allied, with whose passions it had held
correspondence, and were letting you know it could speak an if it would

    "All the ways of men, so vain and melancholy."



    "O world, as God has made it! All is beauty."


In dealing with our second point--the ornamental treatment that is fit
and right for a garden--we are naturally brought into contact with the
good and bad points of both the old and the new systems of gardening.
This being so, it may be well at once to notice the claims of the modern
"Landscape-gardener" to monopolise to himself all the right principles
of garden-craft: all other moods than his are low, all figures other
than his are symbols of error, all dealings with Nature other than his
are mere distortions.

If you have any acquaintance with books upon landscape-gardening written
by its professors or their admirers, you will have learnt that in the
first half of the eighteenth century, two heaven-directed geniuses--Kent
and Brown--all of a sudden stumbled upon the green world of old England,
and, perceiving its rural beauties, and the hitherto unexplored
opportunities for ornamental display that the country afforded, these
two put their heads together, and out of their combined cogitations
sprang the English garden.

This, in brief, is what the landscape-gardener and his adherents say,
and would have you believe; and, to prove their point, they lay stress
upon the style of garden in vogue at the time Kent and Brown began their
experiments, when, forsooth, traditional garden-craft was in its dotage
and had lost its way in the paths of pedantry.

Should you, however, chance to have some actual knowledge of old
gardens, and some insight into the principles which, consciously or
unconsciously governed their making, it may occur to you to ask the
precise points wherein the new methods claim to be different from the
old, what sources of inspiration were discovered by the new school of
gardeners that were not shared by English gardeners from time
immemorial. Are there, then, _two_ arts of gardening? or two sorts of
Englishmen to please? Is not modern garden-craft identical with the old,
so far, indeed, as it hath art enough to stand any comparison with the
other at all?

Let us here point to the fact, that any garden whatsoever is but Nature
idealised, pastoral scenery rendered in a fanciful manner. It matters
not what the date, size, or style of the garden, it represents an
idealisation of Nature. _Real_ nature exists outside the artist and
apart from him. The Ideal is that which the artist conceives to be an
interpretation of the outside objects, or that which he adds to the
objects. The garden gives imaginative form to emotions the natural
objects have awakened in man. The _raison d'être_ of a garden is man's
feeling the _ensemble_.

One fine day you take your architect for a jaunt along a country-lane,
until stopping shyly in front of a five-barred gate, over which is
nailed an ominous notice-board, you introduce him to your small
property, the site of your new house. It is a field very much like the
neighbouring fields--at least, so think the moles, and the rooks, and
the rabbits; not you, for here is to be your "seat" for life; and before
you have done with it, the whole country far and near will be taught to
look as though it radiated round the site and the house you will build
upon it--an honour of which, truth compels me to say, the land betrays
not the remotest presentiment just now!

The field in question may be flat or undulating, it may be the lap of a
hillside, the edge of a moor, a treeless stretch of furrowed land with
traces of "rude mechanical's" usage, or suggestions of mutton or
mangels. The particular character of the place, or its precise
agricultural past, matters not, however; suffice it to say that it is a
bit of raw, and more or less ungroomed, Nature.

Upon this plain, unadorned field, you set your man of imagination to
work. He must absorb both it and its whole surroundings into his brain,
and seize upon all its capabilities. He must produce symmetry and
balance where now are ragged outlines of hillocks and ridges. He must
trim and cherish the trees here, abolish the tree there; enlarge this
slope, level that; open out a partial peep of blue distance here, or a
gleam of silver water there. He must terrace the slope, step by step,
towards the stream at the base, select the sunniest spots for the
flower-beds, and arrange how best the gardens at their varying levels
shall be approached or viewed from the house. In this way and that he
must so manoeuvre the perspective and the lights and shades, so
compose or continue the sectional lines and general bearings of the
ground as to enforce the good points that exist, and draw out the latent
possibilities of the place, and this with as easy a hand, and as fine
tact as the man can muster.

And now to come to our point. A dressed garden, I said, is Nature
idealised--pastoral scenery put fancifully, in man's way. A gardener is
a master of what the French writer calls "the charming art of touching
up the truth."

Emerson observes that all the Arts have their origin in some enthusiasm;
and the art of gardening has for its root, man's enthusiasm for the
woodland world. It indicates a taste for flowers and trees and
landscapes. It is admiration that has, so to speak, passed from the
stage of emotion to that of form. A garden is the result of the
emulation which the vision of beauty in the world at large is ever
provoking in man--

    "Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures
    While the landskip round it measures."

What of Nature has affected man on various occasions, what has pleased
his eye in different moods, played upon his emotions, pricked his fancy,
suggested reverie, stirred vague yearnings, brought a sense of quickened
joy--pastoral scenery, the music of leaves and waters, the hues and
sweetness of country flowers, the gladness of colour, picturesque form
of tree or contour of land, spring's bright laugh, autumn's glow,
summer's bravery, winter's grey blanched face--each thing that has gone
home to him has, in its way, fostered in man the garden mania. Inspired
by their beauty and mystery, he has gathered them to himself about his
home, has made a microcosm out of the various detached details which sum
up the qualities, features, and aspects of the open country; and the art
of this little recreated world is measured by the happy union of
naturalness and of calculated effect.

What sources of inspiration were discovered by the new school of
gardeners, I asked a moment ago, which were not shared by English
gardeners from time immemorial? The art of gardening, I said, has its
root in man's enthusiasm for the woodland world. See how closely the
people of old days must have observed the sylvan sights of Nature, the
embroidery of the meadows, the livery of the woods at different seasons,
or they would not have been capable of building up that piece of hoarded
loveliness, the old-fashioned English garden!

The pleasaunce of old days has been mostly stubbed up by the modern
"landscape gardener," but if no traces of them were left we have still
here and there the well-schemed surroundings of our English
homes--park, avenue, wood, and water--the romantic scenery that hems in
Tintern, Fountains, Dunster, to testify to the inborn genius of the
English for planting. If the tree, shrub, and flower be gone from the
grounds outside the old Tudor mansion, there still remains the
blue-green world in the tapestries upon the walls, with their airy
landscapes of trees and hills, hanging-gardens, flower-beds, terraces,
and embowered nooks--a little fantastical it may be, but none the less
eloquent of appreciation of natural beauty not confined to the gardener,
but shared by the artist-maid, who

          ... "with her neeld composes
    Nature's own shape, of bird, branch, or berry,
    That even Art sisters the natural roses."

And should these relics be gone, we still have the books in the library,
rich in Nature-allusion. The simple ecstasies of the early ballad in the
opening stanzas of "Robin Hood and the Monk"--

    "In somer when the shawes be sheyne,
      And leves be large and longe,
    Hit is full mery in feyre foreste
      To here the foulys song;

    To se the dere draw to the dale,
      And leve the hilles hee,
    And shadow hem in the leves grene,
      Under the grene-wode tre";

or in a "Musical Dreame"--

    "Now wend we home, stout Robin Hood,
      Leave we the woods behind us.
    Love passions must not be withstood,
      Love everywhere will find us.
    I livde in fielde and downe, and so did he;
    I got me to the woods, love followed me."

or shall we hear tell from Chaucer how

    "When that Aprille, with his showrës swoot
    The drought of March hath pierced to the root,

           *       *       *       *       *

    Then longen folk to gone on pilgrimages."

Or hear from Stowe how the cockney of olden days "In the month of May,
namely, on May-day in the morning, every man, except impediment, would
walk in the sweet meddowes and green woods, ther to rejoyce their
spirits with the beauty and savour of sweet flowers and with the
harmonie of birds praysing God in their kinde."

Or shall we turn to Shakespeare's bright incidental touches of
nature-description as in Perdita's musical enumeration of the flowers of
the old stiff garden-borders "to make you garlands of," or the Queen's
bit in "Hamlet," beginning

    "There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
    That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream."

Or to the old Herbals of Wyer, and Turner, and Gerard, whom Richard
Jefferies[14] pictures walking about our English lanes in old days?
"What wonderful scenes he must have viewed when they were all a tangle
of wild flowers, and plants that are now scarce were common, and the old
ploughs and the curious customs, and the wild red-deer--it would make a
good picture, it really would, Gerard studying English orchids!"

[Footnote 14: "Field and Hedgerow," p. 27.]

Or shall we take down the classic volumes of Bacon, Temple, Evelyn,
Cowley, Isaak Walton, Gilbert White, each in his day testifying to the
inborn love of the English for woodland scenery, their study of nature,
and their taste in trees, shrubs, and flowers. What a vindication is
here of the old-fashioned garden and gardener! What nonsense to set up
Kent and Brown as the discoverers of the green world of old England,
when, as Mr Hamerton remarks in "The Sylvan Year" (p. 173), Chaucer
hardly knows how or when to stop whenever he begins to talk about his
enjoyment of Nature. "Chaucer," he says, "in his passion for flowers,
and birds, and spring mornings in the woods, and by streams, is hard to
quote, for he leads you down to the bottom of the page, and over the
leaf, before you have time to pause."

The question now before us--"What ornament is fit and right for a
garden?"--of itself implies a tendency to err in the direction of
ornament. We see that on the face of it the transposition of the simple
of Nature into the subtle of Art has its dangers. Something may be put,
or something may be left, which were best absent. This may be taken as
an established fact. In making a garden you start with the assumption
that something must be sacrificed of wild Nature, and something must be
superadded, and that which is superadded is not properly of this real,
visible world, but of the world of man's brain.

The very enclosure of our garden-spaces signifies that Nature is held in
duress here. Nature of herself cannot rise above Nature, and man, seeing
perfections through her imperfections, capacities through her
incapacities, shuts her in for cultivation, binds her feet, as it were,
with the silken cord of art-constraint, and puts a gloss of intention
upon her every feature.

In a garden Nature is not to be her simple self, but is to be subject to
man's conditions, his choice, his rejection. Let us briefly see, now,
what conditions man may fairly impose upon Nature--what lengths he may
legitimately go in the way of mimicry of natural effects or of
conventionalism. Both books and our own observation tell us that where
the past generations of gardeners have erred it has been through a
misconception of the due proportions of realism and of idealism to be
admitted into a garden. At this time, in this phase, it was _Art_, in
that phase it was _Nature_, that was carried too far; here design was
given too much rein, there not rein enough, and people in their silly
revolt against Art have gone straight for the "veracities of Nature,"
copying her features, dead or alive, outright, without discrimination as
to their fitness for imitation, or their suitableness to the position
assigned to them. To what extent, we ask, may the forms of Nature be
copied or recast? What are the limits to which man may carry ideal
portraiture of Nature for the purposes of Art? Questions like these
would, of course, only occur to a curious, debating age like ours; but
put this way or that they keep alive the eternal problems of man's
standing to the world of Nature, the laws of idealism and realism, the
nice distinctions of "more and less."

Now, it is not everything in Nature that can, or that may be,
artificially expressed in a garden; nor are the things that it is
permissible to use, of equal application everywhere. It were a palpable
mistake, an artistic crime, so to speak, to follow the wild flights of
Salvator Rosa and Gaspar Poussin, and with them to attempt a little
amateur creation in the way of rent rocks, tumbled hillsides, and ruins
that suggest a recent geological catastrophe, or antique monsters, or
that imply by the scenery that we are living in the days of wattled
abodes and savages with flint hatchets. Much, of course, may be done in
this line in these days as in the past, if only one have sufficient
audacity and a volcanic mind; yet, when it is done, both the value and
the rightness of the art of the thing is questionable. "Canst thou catch
Leviathan with a hook?" The primæval throes, the grand stupendous
imagery of Nature should be held in more reverence. It were almost as
fit to harness a polar bear to the gardener's mowing-machine as seek to
appropriate the eerie phenomena of Nature in her untamed moods for the
ornamental purposes of a garden. And as to the result of such work, the
ass draped in the lion's skin, roaring horribly, with peaked snout and
awkward shanks visible all the while, is not more ridiculous than the
thinly-veiled savagery of an Italian garden of the seventeenth century.

Here, then, I think we have some guidance as to the principles which
should regulate the choice of the "properties" that are fit for the
scenic show of a garden. We should follow the dictates of good taste
and of common sense. Of things applied direct from Nature the line
should be drawn at the gigantesque, the elemental, the sad, the
gruesome, the crude. True, that in art of another kind--in Architecture
or in Music--the artistic equivalents of these qualities may find place,
but as garden effects they are eminently unsuitable, except, indeed,
where it is desired to perpetrate a grim joke.

Beyond these limitations, however, all is open ground for the
imaginative handling of the true gardener; and what a noble residue
remains! Nature in her health and wealth--green, opulent, lusty Nature
is at his feet. Of things gay, debonair, subtle, and refined--things
that stir poetic feelings or that give joy--he may take to himself and
conjure with to the top of his bent. It is for him as for the poet in
Sir Philip's Sidney's words--"So as he goeth hand in hand with Nature,
not enclosed within the narrow warrant of her gifts, but freely ranging
within the zodiac of his own wit. Nature never set forth the earth in so
rich tapestry as divers poets have done; neither with so pleasant
rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-smelling flowers, nor whatsoever else may
make the too-much loved earth more lovely: her world is brazen, _the
poets only deliver a golden_."

Animated with corresponding desire, the gardener resorts to lovely
places in this "too-much loved earth," there to find his stock-in-trade
and learn his craft. We watch him as he hies to the bravery of the
spring-flowers in sunny forest-glades; to meadow-flats where lie the
golden host of daffodils, the lady-smocks, and snake-spotted
fritillaries; we see him bend his way to the field of bluebells, the
hill of primroses that with

            "their infinitie
    Make a terrestrial gallaxie
    As the smal starres do the skie;"

we follow him to the tangled thicket with its meandering walks carpeted
with anemones and hung over with sweet-scented climbers; to the sombre
boskage of the wood, where the shadows leap from their ambush in
unexpected places and the brown bird's song floats upon the wings of
silence: to the green dell with its sequestered pool edged round with
alders, and willow-herb, and king-fern, and mountain-ash afire with
golden fruit: to the corn-field "a-flutter with poppies": to the
broad-terraced downs--its short, springy turf dotted over with white
sheets of thorn-blossom: to the leaping, shining mountain-tarn that
comes foaming out of the wood: to the pine-grove with its columned
blackness and dense thatch of boughs that lisp the message of the wind,
and "teach light to counterfeit a gloom"; to the widespread landscape
with its undulating forest, its clumps of foliage, its gleams of
white-beam, silver-birch, or golden yew, amid the dark blue of firs and
hollies; its emerald meadows, yellow gorse-covers and purple heather;
the many tones of leafage in the spring and fall of the year.

And here I give but a few random sketches of Nature, taken almost at
random from the portfolio of her painted delights--a dozen or more
vignettes, shall we say?--ready-made for garden-distribution in bed,
bank, wilderness, and park; things which the old gardener freely
employed; features and images which he transferred to his dressed
grounds, not copying them minutely but in an ideal manner; mixing his
fancy with their fact, his compulsion with their consent; flavouring the
simple with a dash of the strange and marvellous, combining dreams and
actualities, things seen, with things born "within the zodiac of his own
wit"; frankly throwing into the compacted glamour of the place all that
will give _éclat_ to Nature and teach men to apprehend new joy.

So, then, after separating the brazen from the golden in Nature--after
excluding "properties" of the woodland world which are demonstrably
unfit for the scenic show of a garden, how ample the scope for artistic
creation in the things that remain! And, given an acre or two of land
that has some natural capabilities, some charm of environment--given a
generous client, a bevy of workmen, horses and carts, and, prime
necessity of all, a pleasant homestead in the foreground to prompt its
own adornment and be the centre of your efforts, and, upon the basis of
these old tracks of Nature and old themes of Art, what may not one hope
to achieve of pretty garden-effects that shall please the eye, flatter
the taste, and captivate the imagination of such as love Beauty!



     "The Earth is the garden of Nature, and each fruitful country a
     Paradise."--Sir Thomas Browne.

In the last chapter I observed that in dealing with our second
point--the ornamental treatment that is fit for a garden--we should be
brought into contact with the good and bad points of both the old and
new systems of gardening. Hence the following discursus upon the
historic English garden, which will, however, be as short as it can well
be made, not only because the writer has no desire to wander on a far
errand when his interest lies near home, but also because an essay, such
as this, is ever bound to be an inconclusive affair; and 'twere a pity
to lay a heavy burden upon a light horse!

At the outset of this section of our enquiry it is well to realise that
there is little known about the garden of earlier date than the middle
of the sixteenth century. Our knowledge of the mediæval garden is only
to be acquired piecemeal, out of casual references in old chronicles,
and stray pictures in illuminated manuscripts, and in each case
allowance must be made for the fluent fancy of the artist. Moreover,
early notices of gardens deal mostly with the orchard, or the vegetable
or herb garden, where flowers grown for ornament occur in the borders of
the ground.

It is natural to ascribe the first rudiments of horticultural science in
this country to the Romans; and with the classic pastorals, or Pliny the
Younger's Letter to Apollinaris before us, in which an elaborate garden
is minutely and enthusiastically described, we need no further assurance
of the fitness of the Roman to impart skilled knowledge in all branches
of the science.

Loudon, in his noble "Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum," enters at
large into the question of what trees and shrubs are indigenous to
Britain, and gives the probable dates of the introduction of such as are
not native to this country. According to Whitaker, whose authority
Loudon adopts, it would appear that the Romans brought us the plane, the
box, the elm, the poplar, and the chestnut. (The lime, he adds, was not
generally planted here till after the time of Le Nôtre: it was used
extensively in avenues planted here in the reign of Charles the Second.)
Of fruit trees, the Roman gave us the pear, the fig, the damson, cherry,
peach, apricot, and quince. The aboriginal trees known to our first
ancestors are the birch, alder, oak, wild or Scotch pine, mountain-ash
or rowan-tree, the juniper, elder, sweet-gale, dog-rose, heath, St
John's wort, and the mistletoe.

Authorities agree in ascribing the introduction of many other plants,
fruit trees, and trees of ornament or curiosity now common throughout
England, to the monks. And the extent of our indebtedness to the monks
in this matter may be gathered from the fact that monasteries abounded
here in early times; and the religious orders have in all times been
enthusiastic gardeners. Further be it remembered, many of the inmates of
our monasteries were either foreigners or persons who had been educated
in Italy or France, who would be well able to keep this country supplied
with specimens and with reminiscences of the styles of foreign gardens
up to date.

The most valuable authority on the subject of early English gardens is
Alexander Necham, Abbot of Cirencester (1157-1217). His references are
in the shape of notes from a commonplace-book entitled "Of the Nature of
Things," and he writes thus: "Here the gardens should be adorned with
roses and lilies, the turnsole (heliotrope), violets and mandrake; there
you should have parsley, cost, fennel, southern-wood, coriander, sage,
savery, hyssop, mint, rue, dittany, smallage, pellitory, lettuces,
garden-cress, and peonies.... A noble garden will give thee also
medlars, quinces, warden-trees, peaches, pears of St Riole,
pomegranates, lemons, oranges, almonds, dates, which are the fruits of
palms, figs, &c."[15] Here, in truth, is a delightful medley of the
useful and the beautiful, just like life! Yet the very use of the term
"noble," as applied to a garden, implies that even the
thirteenth-century Englishman had a standard of excellence to stir
ambition. Other garden flowers mentioned in Alexander's observations are
the sunflower, the iris and narcissus.

[Footnote 15: See "The Praise of Gardens."]

The garden described by Necham bespeaks an amount of taste in the
arrangement of the herbs, plants, and fruit-trees, but in the main it
corresponds with our kitchen-garden. The next English writer upon
gardens in point of date is Johannes de Garlandia, an English resident
in France; but here is a description of the writer's garden at Paris.
The ground here described consists of shrubbery, wood, grove, and
garden, and from the account given it is inferred that both in matters
of taste and in the horticultural and floral products of the garden,
France had advanced farther than England in garden-craft in the
fourteenth century, which is the date of the book.

In Mr Hudson Turner's "Observations on the State of Horticulture in
England"[16] in olden times he gives notices of the early dates in which
the rose was under cultivation. In the thirteenth century King John
sends a wreath of roses to his lady-love. Chronicles inform us that
roses and lilies were among the plants bought for the Royal Garden at
Westminster in 1276; and the annual rendering of a rose is one of the
commonest species of quit-rent in ancient conveyances, like the
"pepper-corn" of later times. The extent to which the culture of the
rose was carried is inferred from the number of sorts mentioned in old
books, which include the red, the sweet-musk, double and single, the
damask, the velvet, the double-double Provence rose, and the double and
single white rose. And the demand for roses seems to have been so great
in old days that bushels of them frequently served as the payment of
vassals to their lords, both in France and England. England has good
reason to remember the distinction between the red and the white rose.

[Footnote 16: "Archæological Journal," vol. v. p. 295.]

Of all the flowers known to our ancestors, the gilly-flower was perhaps
the most common.

    "The fairest flowers o' the season
    Are our carnations and streak'd gilly flower."

    _Winter's Tale._

"Their use," says a quaint writer, "is much in ornament, and comforting
the spirites by the sence of smelling." The variety of this flower, that
was best known in early times, was the wall gilly-flower, or bee-flower.
Another flower of common growth in mediæval gardens and orchards is the

    "There sprang the violet all newe,
    And fresh periwinkle, rich of hewe,
    And flowers yellow, white and rede,
    Such plenty grew there nor in the mede."

It is not considered probable that much art was expended in the laying
out of gardens before the fifteenth century; but I give a list of
illuminated MSS. in the Library of the British Museum, where may be
found illustrations of gardens, and which I take from Messrs Birch and
Jenner's valuable Dictionary of Principal Subjects in the British
Museum[17] under the head of Garden.

[Footnote 17: "Early Drawings and Illuminations." Birch and Jenner.
(Bagster, 1879, p. 134.)


    19 D. i. ff. I. etc.
    20 A. xvii. f. 7b.
    20 B. ii. f. 57.
    14 803 f. 63.
    18 851 f. 182.
    18 852 f. 3. b.
    26667 f. i.
    Harl. 4425. f. 12. b.
    Kings 7. f. 57.
    6 E. ix. f. 15. b.
    14 E. vi. f. 146.
    15 E. iii. f. 122.
    15 E. vi. f. 146.
    16 G. v. f. 5.
    17 F. i. f. 149 _b_.
    19 A. vi. f. 2. 109.
    19 C. vii. f. i.
    20 C. v. ff. 7. _etc._
    Eg. 2022. f. 36. _b_.
    Harl. 4425. f. 160 _b_.
    19 A. vi. f. 109."]

There is also a typical example of a fourteenth-century garden in the
Romaunt d'Alexandre (Bodleian Library). Here the flower garden or lawn
is separated by a wooden paling from the orchard, where a man is busy
pruning. An old painting at Hampton Court, of the early part of the
sixteenth century, gives pretty much the same class of treatment, but
here the paling is decorated with a chevron of white and red colour.

To judge from old drawings, our forefathers seem to have been always
partial to the greensward and trees, which is the landscape garden in
the "egg"! A good extent of grass is always provided. Formal flower-beds
do not often occur, and, where shown, they are sometimes surrounded by a
low wattled fence--a protection against rabbits, probably. Seats and
banks of chamomile are not unusual. A bank of earth seems to have been
thrown up against the enclosing wall; the front of the bank is then
faced with a low partition of brick or stone, and the mould, brought to
an even surface, is planted in various ways. Numerous illustrations of
the fifteenth century give a bowling-green and butts for archery. About
this date it is assumed the style of English gardening was affected by
French and Flemish methods, which our connection with Burgundy at that
time would bring about. To this period is also ascribed the introduction
of the "mount" in England, although one would almost say that it is but
a survival of the Celtic "barrow." It is a feature that came, however,
into very common use, and is thus recommended by Bacon: "I wish also, in
the very middle, a fair Mount, with three Ascents and Alleys, enough for
four to walk abreast, which I would have to be perfect circles, without
any Bulwarks or Imbossments, and the whole Mount to be thirty foot high,
and some fine Banqueting House with some chimneys neatly cast, and
without too much Glass."

The "mount" is said to have been originally contrived to allow persons
in the orchard to look over the enclosing wall, and would serve not only
as a place from which to enjoy a pretty view, but as a point of outlook
in case of attack. Moreover, when situated in a park where the deer
grazed, the unscrupulous sportsman might from thence shoot a buck. In
early days the mounts were constructed of wood or of stone, and were
curiously adorned within and without. Later on they resumed the old
barrow shape, and were made of earth, and utilized for the culture of
fruit trees. Lawson, an old writer of the sixteenth century, describes
them as placed in divers corners of the orchard, their ascent being made
by "stares of precious workmanship." When of wood, the mount was often
elaborately painted.

An account of works done at Hampton Court in the time of Henry VIII.,
mentions certain expenses incurred for "anticke" works; and referring to
Bailey's Dictionary, published early in the last century, the word
"antick," as applied to curiously-shaped trees, still survives, and is
explained as "odd figures or shapes of men, birds, beasts, &c., cut
out." From the above references, and others of like nature, we know that
the topiary art ("opus topiarum"), which dealt in quaintly-shaped trees
and shrubs, was in full practice here throughout the latter half of the
middle ages. Samuel Hartlib, in a book published in 1659, writes thus:
"About fifty years ago Ingenuities first began to flourish in England."
Lawson, writing in a jocose vein, tells how the lesser wood might be
framed by the gardener "to the shape of men armed in the field ready to
give battell; or swift-running greyhounds, or of well-scented and
true-running hounds to chase the deere or hunt the hare"; adding as a
recommendation that "this kinde of hunting shall not waste your corne,
nor much your coyne!"

I find that John Leland in his Itinerary, 1540, further confirms the use
of highly-decorated mounts: as at Wressel Castle, Yorkshire, he tells of
the gardens with the mote, and the orchards as exceeding fair; "and yn
the orchardes were mounts writhen about with degrees, like the turnings
in cokil shelles, to come to the top without payne." There is still to
be seen, or according to Murray's Guide, 1876, was then to be seen, at
Wotton, in Surrey, an artificial mount cut into terraces, which is a
relic of Evelyn's work.

The general shape of an old-fashioned garden is a perfect square, which
we take to be reminiscent of the square patch of ground which, in early
days, was partitioned off for the use of the family, and walled to
exclude cattle, or to define the property. It also repeats the
quadrangular court of big Tudor houses. We may also assume that the
shape would commend itself to the taste of the Renascence School of the
Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, as being that of classic times; for the
antique garden was fashioned in a square with enclosures of
trellis-work, espaliers, and clipt box hedges, regularly ornamented with
vases, fountains, and statuary.

The square shape was common to the French and Italian gardens also. Old
views of Du Cerceau, an architect of the time of Charles IX. and Henry
III., show a square in one part of the grounds and a circular labyrinth
in another: scarcely a plot but has this arrangement. The point to note,
however, is, that while the English garden might take the same general
outline as the foreign, it had its own peculiarities; and although each
country develops the fantastic ornament common to the stiff garden of
the period in its own way, things are not carried to the same pitch of
extravagant fancy in England as in France, Holland, or Italy.

Upon a general review of the subject of ornamental gardens, English and
foreign, we arrive at the conclusion that the type of garden produced by
any country is a question of soil and physical features, and a question
of race. The character of the scenery of a country, the section of the
land generally, no less than the taste of the people who dwell in it,
prescribes the style of the type of garden. The hand of Nature directs
the hand of Art.

Thus, in a hilly country like Italy, Nature herself prompts the division
of the garden-spaces into wide terraces, while Art, on her side,
provides that the terraces shall be well-proportioned as to width and
height, and suitably defined by masonry walls having balustraded fronts,
flights of steps, arcades, temples, vases, statues, &c.

Lady Mary Montagu's description of the _Giardino Jiusti_ is a case in
point: she depicts, as far as words can, how admirably it complies with
the conditions of the scenery. The palace lies at the foot of a mountain
"near three miles high, covered with a wood of orange, lemon, citron,
and pomegranate trees, which is all cut up into walks, and divided into
terraces that you may go into a separate garden from every floor of the
house, diversified with fountains, cascades, and statues, and joined by
easy marble staircases, which lead from one to another." It is a hundred
years since this description was written, but the place is little
altered to this day: "Who will now take the pains to climb its steep
paths, will find the same charm in the aged cypresses, the oddly clipped
ilexes and boxes, the stiff terraces and narrow, and now overgrown,

[Footnote 18: "The Garden."--WALTHER HOWE.]

In France, where estates are larger, and the surface of the country more
even and regular, the ornamental grounds, while following the Italian in
certain particulars, are of wider range on the flat, and they attain
picturesqueness upon lines of their own. The taste of the people,
conveniently answering to the conditions of the country, runs upon long
avenues and spacious grounds, divided by massive trellises into a series
of ornamental sections--_Bocages_, _Cabinets de Verdure_, &c., which by
their form and name, flatter the Arcadian sentiment of a race much given
to idealisation. "I am making winding alleys all round my park, which
will be of great beauty," writes Madame de Sévigné, in 1671. "As to my
labyrinth, it is neat, it has green plots, and the palisades are
breast-high; it is a lovable spot."

The French have parks, says the travelled Heutzner, but nothing is more
different, both in compass and direction, than those common to England.
In France they invented the parks as fit surroundings to the fine
palaces built by Mansard and Le Nôtre, and the owners of these stately
chateaux gratified their taste for Nature in an afternoon promenade on a
broad stone terrace, gazing over a carved balustrade at a world made
truly artificial to suit the period. The style of Le Nôtre is, in fact,
based upon the theory that Nature shall contribute a bare space upon
which man shall lay out a garden of symmetrical character, and trees,
shrubs, and flowers are regarded as so much raw material, out of which
Art shall carve her effects.

Indeed, the desire for symmetry is carried to such extravagant lengths
that the largest parks become only a series of square or oblong
enclosures, regularly planted walks, bounded by chestnuts or limes;
while the gardens are equally cut up into lines of trellises and
palisades. In describing the Paris gardens Horace Walpole says, "they
form light corridors and transpicuous arbours, through which the
sunbeams play and checker the shade, set off the statues, vases, and
flowers, that marry with their gaudy hotels, and suit the gallant and
idle society who paint the walks between their parterres, and realise
the fantastic scenes of Watteau and Durfé!" In another place he says
that "many French groves seem green chests set upon poles. In the garden
of Marshall de Biron, at Paris, consisting of fourteen acres, every walk
is button-holed on each side by lines of flower-pots, which succeed in
their seasons. When I saw it there were nine thousand pots of asters or
la Reine Marguerite."

In Holland, which Butler sarcastically describes as

    "A land that rides at anchor, and is moor'd,
    In which they do not live, but go aboard"--

the conditions are not favourable to gardening. Man is here indebted to
Nature, in the first place, for next to nothing: Air, Earth, and Water
are, as it were, under his control. The trees grow, the rivers run, as
they are directed; and the very air is made to pay toll by means of the

To begin with, Holland has a meagre list of indigenous trees and shrubs,
and scarcely an indigenous ligneous flora. There is little wood in the
country, for the heavy winds are calculated to destroy high-growing
trees, and the roots cannot penetrate into the ground to any depth,
without coming to water. The land is flat, and although artificial
mountains of granite brought from Norway and Sweden have been erected as
barriers against the sea, there is scarcely a stone to be found except
in the Island of Urk.

The conditions of the country being so unfavourable to artistic
handling, it needs a determined effort on man's part to lift things
above the dead-level of the mean and commonplace. Yet see how Nature's
defects may only prove Art's opportunity! Indeed, it is singular to note
how, as it were, in a spirit of noble contrariness, the Dutch garden
exhibits the opposite grace of each natural defect of the land. The
great plains intersected with sullen watercourses yield up only slight
strips of land, _therefore_ these niggardly strips, snatched from "an
amphibious world" (as Goldsmith terms it), shall be crammed with beauty.
The landscape outside gapes with uniform dulness, _therefore_ the garden
within shall be spick and span. The flat treeless expanse outside offers
no objects for measuring distance, _therefore_ the perspective of the
garden shall be a marvel of adroit planning and conjured proportions.
The room is small, _therefore_ its every inch shall seem an ell. The
garden is a mere patch, _therefore_ the patch shall be elaborately
darned and pattern-stitched all over. The eye may not travel far, or can
get no joy in a distant view, _therefore_ it shall rest in pure content,
focussed upon a scene where rich and orderly garniture can no farther

Thus have the ill-conditions of the land proved blessings in disguise.
Necessity, the mother of invention, has produced the Dutch garden out of
the most untoward geography, and if we find in its qualities and
features traces of the conditions which surrounded its birth and
development it is no wonder. Who shall blame the prim shapes and
economical culture where even gross deception shall pass for a virtue if
it be successful! Or the regular strips of ground, the long straight
canals, the adroit vistas of grassy terraces long-drawn out, the trees
ranged in pots, or planted in the ground at set intervals and carefully
shorn to preserve the limit of their shade! Nay, one can be merciful to
the garden's usual crowning touch, which you get at its far end--a
painted landscape of hills and dales and clumps of trees to beguile the
enamoured visitor into the fond belief that Holland is not Holland: and,
in the foreground the usual smiling wooden boy, shooting arrows at
nothing, happy in the deed, and tin hares squatting in likely nooks,
whose shy hare eyes have worn the same startled gaze these sixty years
or more, renewed with fresh paint from time to time as rust requires.
Yet the Earth is richer and mankind happier for the Dutch garden!

And, as though out of compassion for the Dutchman's difficulties, kind
Nature has put into his hands the bulb, as a means whereby he may attain
the maximum of gaudy colour within the minimum of space. Given a few
square yards of rescued earth and sufficient manure, and what cannot the
neat-handed, frugal-minded, microscopic-eyed Dutchman do in the way of
concentrated design with his bulbs, his clipt shrubs, his trim beds, his
trickles of water, and strips of grass and gravel! And should all other
resources fail he has still his pounded brick-dust, his yellow sand, his
chips of ores and spars and green glass, which, though they may serve
only remotely to suggest Nature, will at all events carry your mind off
to the gay gardens of precious stones of fairyland literature!

Indeed, once embarked upon his style of piquancy-at-any-price, and it is
hard to see where the Dutch gardener need stop! In this sophisticated
trifling--this lapidary's mosaic--this pastry-cook's decoration--this
child's puzzle of coloured earth, substituted for coloured living
flowers--he pushes Art farther than the plain Englishman approves. It
is, however, only one step farther than ordinary with him. All his
dealings with Nature are of this abstract sort: his details are clever,
and he is ingenious, if not imaginative, in his wholes. Still, I repeat,
the Earth is richer, and mankind happier for the Dutch garden. There is
an obvious excuse for its over-fancifulness in George Meredith's remark
that "dulness is always an irresistible temptation for brilliance." That
the Dutchman should be thus able to compete with unfriendly Nature, and
to reverse the brazen of the unkind land of his birth, is an achievement
that reflects most creditably upon the artistic capacities of his

But England--

    "This other Eden, demi-paradise"--

suggests a garden of a less-constrained order than either of these. Not
that the English garden is uniformly of the same type, at the same
periods. The variety of the type is to be accounted for in two ways:
firstly, by the ingrained eclecticism of the British mind; secondly, by
the changeful character of the country--this district is flat and open,
this is hilly--so that mere conformity to the lie of the land would
produce gardens which belong now to the French type, now to the Italian.
It is the same with British Art of all kinds, of all times: in days long
before the Norman visitation and ever since, the English Designer has
leant more or less upon foreign initiative, which goes to prove either
how inert is his own gift of origination, or how devious may be the
tastes of a mixed race.

But if the English garden cannot boast of singular points of interest,
if its art reflects foreign countries, it bears the mark of the English
taste for landscape, which gives it distinction and is suggestive of
very charming effects. The transcendent characteristic of the English
garden is derived from and gets its impulse from the prevailing
influence of Nature at home. It has the characteristics of the country.

It is, I know, commonly held now-a-days that the taste for landscape is
wholly of modern growth. So far as England is concerned it came in, they
say, with Thomson in poetry, and with Brown in gardens. So far as
relates to the _conscious_ relish for Nature, so far as relates to the
love of Nature as a mirror of the moods of the mind, or as a refuge from
man, this assertion may be true enough. Yet, surely the _conscious_
delight in landscape must have been preceded by an _unconscious_
sympathy this way: it could not have sprung without generation. Artistic
sight is based upon instinct, feeling, perceptions that reach one knows
not how far back in time, it does not come by magic.

See also what a rude, slatternly affair this much-lauded
landscape-garden of the "immortal Brown" was! Here are two sorts of
gardens--the traditional garden according to Bacon, the garden according
to Brown. Both are Nature, but the first is Nature in an ideal dress,
the second is Nature with no dress at all. The first is a garden for a
civilised man, the second is a garden for a gipsy. The first is a
picture painted from a cherished model, the second is a photograph of
the same model undressed. Brown's work, in fact, represents the garden's
return to its original barbaric self--the reinauguration of the
elemental. Let it not be said, then, that Brown discovered the model,
for her fairness was an established fact or she would not have been so
richly apparelled when he lighted upon her. In other words, the love of
the Earth--"that green-tressed goddess," Coleridge calls her--was no new
thing in Brown's day: the sympathy for the woodland world, the love of
tree, flower, and grass is behind the manipulated stiff garden of the
fifteenth and two succeeding centuries, and it is the abiding source of
all enthusiasm in garden-craft.

How long this taste for landscape had existed in pre-Thomsonian days it
does not fall to us to determine. Suffice it to say that so long as
there has been an English school of gardening this sympathy for
landscape has found expression in the English garden.[19] The high thick
garden-walls of the old fighting-days shall have ample outlooks in the
shape of "mounts," from whence views may be had of the open country. The
ornamental value of forest trees is well-known and appreciated. Even in
the thirteenth century the English gardener is on the alert for new
specimens and "trees of curiosity," and he is a master of horticulture.
In Chaucer's day he revels in the greensward,

    "Ful thikke of gras, ful softe and swete."

And the early ballads as I have already shown are full of allusion to
scenery and woodland. In the days of fine gardens the Englishman must
still have his four acres "to the green," his adjuncts of shrubbery,
wilderness, and park. Nay, Henry VIII.'s garden at Nonsuch, had its
wilderness of ten acres. "Chaucer opens his Clerke's Tale with a bit of
landscape admirable for its large style," says Mr Lowell, "and as well
composed as any Claude" ("My Study Windows," p. 22). "What an airy
precision of touch is here, and what a sure eye for the points of
character in landscape." So, too, can Milton rejoice in

                                  "Nature boon
    Poured forth profuse on hill and dale and plain,"

and Herrick:

    "Sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers,
    Of April, May, of June, and July flowers."

[Footnote 19: "English scenery of that special type which we call
homely, and of which we are proud as only to be found in England, is,
indeed, the production of many centuries of that conservatism which has
spared the picturesque timber, and of that affectionate regard for the
future which has made men delight to spend their money in imprinting on
the face of Nature their own taste in trees and shrubs." ("Vert and
Venery," by VISCOUNT LYMINGTON; _Nineteenth Century_, January, 1891.)]

Nor is this taste for landscape surprising in a country where the
natural scenery is so fair and full of meaning. There are the solemn
woods, the noble trees of forest and park: the "fresh green lap" of the
land, so vividly green that the American Hawthorne declares he found "a
kind of lustre in it." There is the rich vegetation, and "in France, and
still less in Italy," Walpole reminds us, "they could with difficulty
attain that verdure which the humidity of our climate bestows." There
are the leafy forest ways gemmed with flowers; the vast hunting-grounds
of old kings, the woodland net of hazel coppice, the hills and dales,
sunned or shaded, the plains mapped out with hedgerows and enlivened
with the glitter of running water: the heather-clad moors, the golden
gorse covers, the rolling downs dotted over with thorns and yews and
chalk cliffs, the upland hamlets with their rosy orchards, the farm
homesteads nestling in green combes, the grace of standing corn, the
girdle of sea with its yellow shore or white, red, or grey rocks, its
wolds and tracts of rough uncultivated ground, with bluffs and bushes
and wind-harassed trees--Nature's own "antickes"--driven like green
flames, and carved into grotesque shapes by the biting gales. There are

    "Russet lawns, and fallows grey
    Where the nibbling flocks do stray,
    Mountains on whose barren breast
    The labouring clouds do often rest,
    Meadows prim with daisies pied,
    Shallow brooks and rivers wide"--

the land that Richard Jefferies says "wants no gardening, it _cannot_ be
gardened; the least interference kills it"--English woodland whose
beauty is in its detail. There is nothing empty and unclothed here. Says
Jefferies, "If the clods are left a little while undisturbed in the
fields, weeds spring up and wild flowers bloom upon them. Is the hedge
cut and trimmed, lo! the bluebells flower the more, and a yet fresher
green buds forth upon the twigs." "Never was there a garden like the
meadow," cries this laureate of the open fields; "there is not an inch
of the meadow in early summer without a flower."

And if the various parts and details of an English landscape are so
beautiful in themselves, what shall we say of the scenery when Nature,
turned artist, sweeps across it the translucent tints of dawn or sunset,
or wind and cloud-fantasy; or veil of purple mist, or grey or red haze,
or drift of rain-shower thrown athwart the hills, for the sunbeams to
try their edge upon; or any of the numberless atmospheric changes, pure
and tender, stern and imperious, that our humid climate has ever ready
to hand!

Shut in, as we in England are, with our short breadths of view ("on a
scale to embrace," remarks George Meredith), folded, as it were, in a
field-sanctuary of Nature-life--girt about with scenery that is at once
fair, compact, sweetly familiar and companionable, yet so changefully
coloured, so full of surprises as the day jogs along to its evensong as
to hold observation on the stretch, to force attention to Nature's last
word, to fill the fallow-mind of lonely country folk with gentle wonder,
and swell the "harvest of a quiet eye," is it strange that a land like
ours should have bred an unrivalled school of Nature-readers among
gardeners, painters, and poets? "As regards grandeur," says Hawthorne,
"there are loftier scenes in many countries than the best that England
can show; but, for the picturesqueness of the smallest object that lies
under its gentle gloom and sunshine, there is no scenery like it
anywhere." ("Our Old Home," p. 78.)

The _real_ world of England, then, is, in the Englishman's opinion,
itself so fair "it wants no gardening." Our school of gardeners seem to
have found this out; for the task of the gardener has been rather that
of translator than of creator; he has not had to labour at an artificial
world he himself had made, but only to adorn, to interpret the world as
it is, in all its blithe freedom. "The earth is the garden of Nature,
and each fruitful country a Paradise;" and in England, "the world's best
garden," man has only had to focus the view and frame it. Flowers,
odours, dews, glistening waters, soft airs and sounds, noble trees,
woodland solitudes, moonlight bowers, have been always with us.

It might seem ungenerous to institute a comparison between the French
and English styles of gardening, and to put things in a light
unfavourable to the foreigner, had not the task been already done for us
by a Frenchman in a most outspoken manner. Speaking of the French
gardens, Diderot, in his Encyclopædia (_Jardin_) says: "We bring to bear
upon the most beautiful situations a ridiculous and paltry taste. The
long straight alleys appear to us insipid; the palisades cold and
formless. We delight in devising twisted alleys, scroll-work parterres,
and shrubs formed into tufts; the largest lots are divided into little
lots. It is not so with a neighbouring nation, amongst whom gardens in
good taste are as common as magnificent palaces are rare. In England,
these kinds of walks, practicable in all weathers, seem made to be the
sanctuary of a sweet and placid pleasure; the body is there relaxed, the
mind diverted, the eyes are enchanted by the verdure of the turf and the
bowling-greens; the variety of flowers offers pleasant flattery to the
smell and sight, Nature alone, modestly arrayed, and never made up,
there spreads out her ornaments and benefits. How the fountains beget
the shrubs and beautify them! How the shadows of the woods put the
streams to sleep in beds of herbage." This is poetry! but it is well
that one French writer (and he so distinguished) should be found to
depict an English garden, when architects like Jussieu and Antoine
Richard signally failed to reproduce the thing, to order, upon French
soil! And the _Petit Trianon_ was in itself an improvement upon, or
rather a protest against, the sumptuous splendour of the _Orangerie_,
the basins of Latona and of Neptune, and the superb _tapis vert_, with
its bordering groves of clipt trees and shrubs. Yet here is Arthur
Young's unflattering description of the Queen's _Jardin Anglois_ at
Trianon: "It contains about 100 acres, disposed in the taste of what we
read of in books of Chinese gardening, whence it is supposed the English
style was taken. There is more of Sir William Chambers here than of Mr
Brown,[20] more effort than Nature, and more expense than taste. It is
not easy to conceive anything that Art can introduce in a garden that is
not here; woods, rocks, lawns, lakes, rivers, islands, cascades,
grottoes, walks, temples, and even villages." Truly a _Jardin Anglois_!

[Footnote 20: Miss Edwards (and I quote from her edition of Young's
"Travels in France," p. 101) has a note to the effect that the Mr Brown
here referred to is "Robert Brown, of Markle, contributor to the
_Edinburgh Magazine_, 1757-1831." Yet, surely this is none other than Mr
"Capability" Brown, discoverer of English scenery, reputed father of the
English garden!]

We may well prefer Diderot's simile for the English garden as "the
sanctuary of a sweet and placid pleasure" to the bustling crowd of
miscellaneous elements that took its name in vain in the _Petit

For an English garden is at once stately and homely--homely before all
things. Like all works of Art it is conventionally treated, and its
design conscious and deliberate. But the convention is broad, dignified,
quiet, homogeneous, suiting alike the characteristics of the country and
of the people for whom it is made. Compared with this, the foreign
garden must be allowed to be richer in provocation; there is distinctly
more fancy in its conceits, and its style is more absolute and
circumspect than the English. And yet, just as Browning says of
imperfection, that it may sometimes mean "perfection hid," so, here our
deficiencies may not mean defects.

In order that we may compare the English and foreign garden we must
place them on common ground; and I will liken each to a pastoral
romance. Nature is idealised, treated fancifully in each, yet how
different the quality of the contents, the method of presentment, the
style, the technique of this and that, even when the design is

A garden is, I say, a sort of pastoral romance, woven upon a background
of natural scenery. In the exercise of his pictorial genius, both the
foreign and English artist shall run upon natural things, and
transcribe Nature imaginatively yet realisably; each composition shall
have a pastoral air, and be rustic after its fashion. But how different
the platform, how different the mental complexion, the technique of the
artists! How different the detail and the atmosphere of the garden. The
rusticity of the foreign garden is dished up in a more delectable form
than is the case in the English, but there is not the same open-air
feeling about this as about that; it does not convey the same sense of
unexhausted possibilities--not the same tokens of living enjoyment of
Nature, of heart-to-heart fellowship with her. The foreign garden is
over-wrought, too full: it is a passionless thing--like the gaudy birds
of India, finely plumed but songless; like the prize rose, without

Of the garden of Italy, who shall dare to speak critically. Child of
tradition: heir by unbroken descent, inheritor of the garden-craft of
the whole civilised world. It stands on a pinnacle high above the
others, peerless and alone: fit for the loveliest of lands--

      ... "Woman-country, wooed not wed,
    Loved all the more by Earth's male-lands,
    Laid to their hearts instead"--

and it may yet be seen upon its splendid scale, splendidly adorned, with
straight terraces, marble statues, clipped ilex and box, walks bordered
with azalea and camellia, surrounded with groves of pines and
cypresses--so frankly artistic, yet so subtly blending itself into the
natural surroundings--into the distant plain, the fringe of purple
hills, the gorgeous panorama of the Alps with its background of glowing
sky. With such a radiant country to conjure with, we may truly say "The
richly provided, richly require."

If we may speak our mind of the French and Dutch gardens, they in no
wise satisfy English taste as regards their relation to Nature. Diderot
has said that it is the peculiarity of the French to judge everything
with the mind. It is from this standpoint that the Frenchman treats
Nature in a garden. He is ever seeking to unite the accessory portions
with the _ensemble_. He overdoes design. He gives you the impression
that he is far more in love with his own ideas about Nature than with
Nature herself; that he uses her resources not to interpret them or
perfect them along their own lines, but express his own interesting
ideas. He must provide stimulus for his imagination; his nature demands
food for reverie, point for ecstasy, for delicious self-abandonment, for
bedazzlement with ideal beauty, and the garden shall supply him with
these whatever the cost to the materials employed. Hence a certain
unscrupulousness towards Nature in the French garden; hence the daring
picturesqueness, its legerdemain. Nature edited thus, is to the
Englishman but Nature in effigy, Nature used as a peg for fantastical
attire, Nature with a false lustre that tells of lead alloy--Nature that
has forgotten what she is like.

In an English garden, as Diderot notes, Nature is handled with more
reverence, her rights are more respected. I am willing to allow that
something of the reserve traceable in English art is begotten of the
phlegmatic temper of the race that rarely gets beyond a quiescent
fervour; and this temper, exhibited in a garden would incline us always
to let well alone and not press things too hard. If the qualities of an
English garden that I speak of are to be attributed to this temper,
then, to judge by results, _laissez faire_ is not a bad motto for the
gardener! Certain it is that the dominance of man is more hinted at here
than proclaimed. Compared with foreign examples we sooner read through
its quaintnesses and braveries their sweet originals in Nature: nay,
even when we have idealised things to our hearts' full bent, they shall
yet retain the very note and rhythm of the woodland world from whence
they sprang--"English in all, of genius blithely free."[21]

[Footnote 21: Lowell's "Ode to Fielding."]

And this is true even in that extreme case, the Jacobean garden, where
we have much the same quips and cranks, the same quaint power of
metrical changes and playful fancy of the poetry of Herbert, Vaughan,
Herrick, and Donne; even the little clean-cut pedantries of this
artfullest of all phases of English garden-craft make for a kind of
bland stateliness and high-flown serenity, that bases its appeal upon
placid beauty rather than upon mere ingenuity or specious extravagance.
The conventionalities of its borders, its terraces and steps and images
in lead or marble, its ornamental water, its trim geometrical patterns,
its quincunx, clipped hedges, high hedges, and architectural adornments
shall be balanced by great sweeps of lawn and noble trees that are not
constrained to take hands, as in France, across the road and to look
proper, but are left to grow large and thick and wide and free. True
that there is about the Jacobean garden an air of scholarliness and
courtliness; a flavour of dreamland, Arcadia, and Italy--a touch of the
archaic and classical--yet the thing is saved from utter affectation by
our English out-of-door life which has bred in us an innate love of the
unconstrained, a sympathy that keeps its hold on reality, and these give
an undefinable quality of freshness to the composition as a whole.[22]

[Footnote 22: "Mr _Evelyn_ has a pleasant villa at _Deptford_," writes
Gibson, "a fine garden for walks and hedges (especially his holly one
which he writes of in his 'Sylva') ... In his garden he has four large
round philareas, smooth-clipped, raised on a single stalk from the
ground, a fashion now much used. _Part of his garden is very woody and
shady for walking_; but his garden not being walled, has little of the
best fruits."]

To sum up. The main difference in the character of the English and the
foreign schools of gardening lies in this, that the design of the
foreign leans ever in the direction of artificiality, that of England
towards natural freedom. And a true garden should have an equal regard
for Nature and Art; it should represent a marriage of contraries, should
combine finesse and audacity, subtilty and simplicity, the regular and
the unexpected, the ideal and the real "bound fast in one with golden
ease." In a French or Dutch garden the "yes" and "no" of Art and Nature
are always unequally yoked. Nature is treated with sparse courtesy by
Art, its individuality is ignored, it sweats like a drudge under its
load of false sentiment. "Sike fancies weren foolerie."

But in England, though we hold Nature in duress, we leave her unbound;
if we mew her up for cultivation, we leave her inviolate, with a chance
of vagrant liberty and a way of escape. Thus, you will note how the
English garden stops, as it were, without ending. Around or near the
house will be the ordered garden with terraces and architectural
accessories, all trim and fit and nice. Then comes the smooth-shaven
lawn, studded and belted round with fine trees, arranged as it seems
with a divine carelessness; and beyond the lawn, the ferny heather-turf
of the park, where the dappled deer browse and the rabbits run wild, and
the sun-chequered glades go out to meet, and lose themselves "by green
degrees" in the approaching woodland,--past the river glen, the steep
fields of grass and corn, the cottages and stackyards and grey church
tower of the village; past the ridge of fir-land and the dark sweep of
heath-country into the dim waving lines of blue distance.

So that however self-contained, however self-centred the stiff old
garden may seem to be, it never loses touch with the picturesque
commonplaces of our land; never loses sympathy with the green world at
large, but, in a sense, embraces and locks in its arms the whole
country-side as far as eye can see.




    "All is fine that is fit."

The English garden, as I have just tried to sketch it, was not born
yesterday, the bombastic child of a landscape-gardener's recipe. It
epitomises a nation's instincts in garden-craft; it is the slow result
of old affection for, old wonder at, beauty in forms, colours, tones;
old enthusiasm for green turf, wild flower, and forest tree. Take it at
its best, it records the matured taste of a people of Nature-readers,
Nature-lovers: it is that which experience has proved to be in most
accord with the character and climate of the country, and the genius of
the race.

Landscape has been from the first the central tradition of English art.
Life spent amidst pictorial scenery like ours that is striking in itself
and rendered more impressive and animated by the rapid atmospheric
changes, the shifting lights and shadows, the life and movement in the
sky, and the vivid intense colouring of our moist climate, has given our
tastes a decided bent this way, and fashioned our Arts of Poetry,
Painting, and Gardening. Out-of-door life among such scenery puts our
senses on the alert, and the impressions of natural phenomena supply our
device with all its images.

The English people had not to wait till the eighteenth century to know
to what they were inclined, or what would suit their country's
adornment. From first to last, we have said, the English garden deals
much with trees and shrubs and grass. The thought of them, and the
artistic opportunities they offer, is present in the minds of
accomplished garden-masters, travelled men, initiated spirits, like Sir
Thomas More, Bacon, Shaftesbury, Temple, and Evelyn, whose aim is to
give garden-craft all the method and distinctness of which it is
capable. However saturated with aristocratic ideas the courtier-gardener
may be, however learned in the circumspect style of the Italian, he
retains his native relish for the woodland world, and babbles of green
fields. A sixteenth-century English gardener (Gerarde) adjured his
countrymen to "Go forwarde in the name of God, graffe, set, plant, and
nourishe up trees in every corner of your grounde." A
seventeenth-century gardener (Evelyn) had ornamental landscape and shady
woods in his garden as well as pretty beds of choice flowers.

"There are, besides the temper of our climate," writes another
seventeenth-century garden-worthy (Temple), "two things particular to
us, that contribute to the beauty and elegance of our gardens, which are
the gravel of our walks and the fineness and almost perpetual greenness
of our turf; the first is not known anywhere else, which leaves all
their dry walks in other countries very unpleasant and uneasy; the other
cannot be found in France or in Holland as we have it, the soil not
admitting that fineness of blade in Holland, nor the sun that greenness
in France during most of the summer." And following upon this is a long
essay upon the ornamental disposition of the grounds in an English
garden and the culture of fruit trees. "I will not enter upon any
account of flowers," he says, "having only pleased myself with the care,
which is more the ladies' part than the men's,[23] but the success is
wholly in the gardener."

[Footnote 23: This remark of Temple's as to the small importance the
flower-beds had in the mind of the gardener of his day, is significant:
as indicating the different methods employed by the ancient and modern
gardener. It was not that he was not "pleased with the care" of flowers,
but that these were not his chiefest care; his prime idea was to get
broad, massive, well-defined effects in his garden generally. Hence the
monumental style of the old-fashioned garden, the carefully-disposed
ground, the formality, the well-considered poise and counter-poise, the
varying levels and well-defined parts. And only inwoven, as it were,
into the argument of the piece, are its pretty parts, used much as the
jewellery of a fair woman. I should be sorry to be so unjust to the
modern landscape gardener as to accuse him of caring over-much for
flowers, but of his garden-device generally one may fairly say it has no
monumental style, no ordered shape other than its carefully-schemed
_disorder_. It is not a masculine affair, but effeminate and niggling; a
little park-scenery, curved shrubberies, wriggling paths, emphasised
specimen plants, and flower-beds of more or less inane shape tumbled
down on the skirts of the lawn or drive, that do more harm than good to
the effect of the place, seen near or at a distance. How true it is that
to believe in Art one must be an artist!]

And Bacon is not so wholly enamoured of Arcadia and with the embodiment
of far-brought fancies in his "prince-like" garden as to be callous of
Nature's share therein. "The contents ought not well to be under thirty
acres of ground, and to be divided into three parts; a green in the
entrance, a heath or desert in the going forth, and the main garden in
the midst, besides alleys on both sides; and I like well that four acres
be assigned to the Green, six to the Heath, four and four to either
side, and twelve to the main Garden. The Green hath two pleasures: the
one, because nothing is more pleasant to the eye than green grass kept
finely shorn; the other, because it will give you a fair alley in the
midst, by which you may go in front upon a stately hedge, which is to
enclose the garden." "For the heath, which was the third part of our
plot, I wished it be framed as much as may be to a natural wildness,"
&c. Of which more anon.[24]

[Footnote 24: Nonsuch had its wilderness of ten acres.]

Whether the garden of Bacon's essay is the portrait of an actual thing,
whether the writer--to use a phrase of Wordsworth--"had his eye upon the
subject," or whether it was built in the man's brain like Tennyson's
"Palace of Art," we cannot tell. From the singular air of experience
that animates the description, the sure touch of the writer, we may
infer that Gorhambury had some such garden, the fruit of its master's
"Leisure with honour," or "Leisure without honour," as the case may be.
But what seems certain is, that the essay is only a sign of the ordinary
English gentleman's mind on the subject at that time; and in giving us
this masterpiece, Bacon had no more notion of posing as the founder of
the English garden (_pace_ Brown) than of getting himself labelled as
the founder of Modern Science for his distinguished labours in that
line. "I only sound the clarion," he says, "but I enter not into the

Moderns are pleased to smile at what they deem the over-subtilty of
Bacon's ideal garden. For my own part, I find nothing recommended there
that a "princely garden" should not fitly contain (especially as these
things are all of a-piece with the device of the period), even to those
imagination-stirring features which one thinks he may have described,
not from the life, but from the figures in "The Dream of Poliphilus" (a
book of woodcuts published in Venice, 1499), features of the Enchanted
Island, to wit the two fountains--the first to spout water, to be
adorned with ornaments of images, gilt or of marble; the "other, which
we may call a bathing-pool that admits of much curiosity and beauty
wherewith we will not trouble ourselves; as that the bottom be finely
paved with images, the sides likewise; and withal embellished with
coloured glass, and such things of lustre; encompassed also with fine
rails of low statues."[25]

[Footnote 25: _Nineteenth Century Magazine_, July, 1890.]

No artist is disposed to apologise for the presence of subtilty in Art,
nor I for the subtle device of Bacon's garden. All Art is cunning. Yet
we must not simply note the deep intent of the old master, but must
equally recognise the air of gravity that pervades his
recommendations--the sweet reasonableness of suggestions for design
that have as much regard for the veracities of Nature, and the dictates
of common-sense, as for the nice elegancies and well-calculated
audacities of consummate Art.

"I only sound the clarion, but I enter not into the battle." Even so,
Master! we will hold thy hand as far as thou wilt go; and the clarion
thou soundest right well, and most serviceably for all future gardeners!

I like the ring of stout challenge in the opening words, which command
respect for the subject, and, if rightly construed, should make the
heretic "landscape gardener,"--who dotes on meagre country-grass and
gipsy scenery--pause in his denunciation of Art in a garden. "God
almighty first planted a Garden; and indeed it is the purest of humane
pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the Spirits of man, without
which Buildings and Palaces are but gross Handyworks. And a man shall
ever see, that when ages grow to Civility and Elegancy, men come to
build stately sooner than to garden finely: as if Gardening were the
Greater Perfection."

This first paragraph has, for me, something of the stately tramp and
pregnant meaning of the opening phrase of "At a Solemn Music." The
praise of gardening can no further go. To say more were impossible. To
say less were to belittle your subject. I think of Ben Jonson's simile,
"They jump farthest who fetch their race largest." For Bacon "fetches"
his subject back to "In the beginning," and prophesies of all time.
Thus does he lift his theme to its full height at starting, and the
remainder holds to the same heroic measure.

If the ideal garden be fanciful, it is also grand and impressive. Nor
could it well be otherwise. For when the essay was written fine
gardening was in the air, and the master had special opportunities for
studying and enjoying great gardens. More than this, Bacon was an apt
craftsman in many fields, a born artist, gifted with an imagination at
once rich and curious, whose performances of every sort declare the
student's love of form, and the artist's nice discrimination of
expression. Then, too, his mind was set upon the conquest of Nature, of
which gardening is a province, for the service of man, for physical
enjoyment, and for the increase of social comfort. Yet was he an
Englishman first, and a fine gardener afterwards. Admit the author's
sense of the delights of art-magic in a garden, none esteemed them more,
yet own the discreet economy of his imaginative strokes, the homely
bluntness of his criticisms upon foreign vagaries, the English
sane-mindedness of his points, his feeling for broad effects and dislike
of niggling, the mingled shrewdness and benignity of his way of putting
things. It is just because Bacon thus treats of idealisms as though they
were realisms, because he so skilfully wraps up his fanciful figures in
matter-of-fact language that even the ordinary English reader
appreciates the art of Bacon's stiff garden, and entertains
art-aspirations unawares.

Every reader of Bacon will recognise what I wish to point out. Here,
however, are a few examples:--

"For the ordering of the Ground within the Great Hedge, I leave it to a
Variety of Device. Advising, nevertheless, that whatsoever form you cast
it into; first it be not too busie, or full of work; wherein I, for my
part, do not like Images cut out in Juniper, or other garden stuffs;
_they are for Children_. Little low Hedges, round like Welts, with some
pretty Pyramids, I like well; and in some places Fair Columns upon
Frames of Carpenters' work. I would also have the Alleys spacious and

"As for the making of Knots or Figures, with Divers Coloured earths,
that they may lie under the windows of the House, on that side which the
Garden stands, _they be but Toys, you may see as good sights many
times in Tarts_."

"For Fountains, they are a Great Beauty and Refreshment, _but Pools mar
all, and make the Garden unwholesome and full of flies and frogs_."

"For fine Devices, of arching water without spilling, and making it rise
in several forms (of Feathers, Drinking Glasses, Canopies, and the like)
(see "The Dream of Poliphilus") _they be pretty things to look on, but
nothing to Health and Sweetness_."

Thus throughout the Essay, with alternate rise and fall, do fancy and
judgment deliver themselves of charge and retort, making a kind of
logical see-saw. At the onset Fancy kicks the beam; at the middle,
Judgment is in the ascendant, and before the sentence is done the
balance rides easy. And this scrupulousness is not to be wholly
ascribed to the fastidious bent of a mind that lived in a labyrinth; it
speaks equally of the fineness of the man's ideal, which lifts his
standard sky-high and keeps him watchful to a fault in attaining desired
effects without running upon "trifles and jingles." The master-text of
the whole Essay seems to be the writer's own apothegm: "Nature is
commanded by obeying her."

That a true gardener should love Nature goes without saying. And Bacon
loved Nature passionately, and gardens only too well. He tells us these
were his favourite sins in the strange document--half prayer, half
Apologia--written after he had made his will, at the time of his fall,
when he presumably concluded that _anything_ might happen. "Thy
creatures have been my books, but Thy Scriptures much more. I have
sought Thee in the courts, fields, and gardens, but I have found Thee in
Thy temples."

Three more points about the essay I would like to comment upon. First,
That in spite of its lofty dreaming, it treats of the hard and dry side
of gardening as a science in so methodical a manner that but for what it
contains besides, and for its mint-mark of a great spirit, the thing
might pass as an extract from a more-than-ordinary practical gardener's
manual. Bacon does not write upon the subject like a man in another
planet, but like a man in a land of living men.

Secondly, As to the attitude of Bacon and his school towards external
Nature. In them is no trace of the mawkish sentimentality of the modern
"landscape-gardener," proud of his discoveries, bustling to show how
condescending he can be towards Nature, how susceptible to a pastoral
melancholy. There is nothing here of the maundering of Shenstone over
his ideal landscape-garden that reads as though it would be a superior
sort of pedants' Cremorne, where "the lover's walk may have assignation
seats, with proper mottoes, urns to faithful lovers, trophies, garlands,
etc., by means of Art"; and where due consideration is to be given to
"certain complexions of soul that will prefer an orange tree or a myrtle
to an oak or cedar." The older men thought first of the effects that
they wished to attain, and proceeded to realise them without more ado.
They had no "codes of taste" to appeal to, and no literary law-givers to
stand in dread of. They applied Nature's raw materials as their art
required. And yet, compared with the methods of the heavy-handed realist
of later times such unscrupulousness had a merit of its own. To suit
their purposes the old gardeners may have defied Nature's ways and wont;
but, even so, they act as fine gentlemen should: they never pet and
patronise her: they have no blunt and blundering methods such as mark
the Nature-maulers of the Brown or Batty-Langley school: if they cut,
they do not mince, nor hack, nor tear, they cut clean. In one's better
moments one can almost sympathise with the "landscape-gardener's"
feelings as he reads, if he ever does read, Evelyn's classic book
"Sylva; or, a Discourse of Forest-trees," how they trimmed the hedges
of hornbeam, "than which there is nothing more graceful," and the cradle
or close-walk with that perplext canopy which lately covered the seat in
his Majesty's garden at Hampton Court, and how the tonsile hedges,
fifteen or twenty feet high, are to be cut and kept in order "with a
scythe of four feet long, and very little falcated; this is fixed on a
long sneed or straight handle, and _does wonderfully expedite the
trimming of these and the like hedges_."

Thirdly, Bacon's essay tells us all that an English garden _can_ be, or
_may_ be. Bacon writes not for his age alone but for all time; nay, his
essay covers so much ground that the legion of after-writers have only
to pick up the crumbs that fall from this rich man's table, and to
amplify the two hundred and sixty lines of condensed wisdom that it
contains. Its category of effects reaches even the free-and-easy
planting of the skirts of our dressed grounds, with flowers and shrubs
set in the turf "framed as much as may be to a natural wildness"--a
pretty trick of compromise which the modern book-writers would have us
believe they invented themselves.

On one point the modern garden has the advantage and is bound to excel
the old, namely in its employment of foreign trees and shrubs. The
decorative use of "trees of curiosity," as the foreign trees were then
called, and the employment of variegated foliage, was not unknown to the
gardener of early days, but it was long before foreign plants were
introduced to any great extent. Loudon has taken the trouble to reckon
up the number of specimens that came to England century by century, and
we gather from this that the imports of modern times exceed those of
earlier times to an enormous extent. Thus, he computes that only 131 new
specimens of foreign trees were introduced into England in the
seventeenth century as against 445 in the following century.

Yet, to follow up this interesting point, we may observe that Heutzner,
writing of English gardens in 1598, specially notes "the great variety
of trees and plants at Theobalds."

Furthermore, to judge by Worlidge's "Systema Horticulturæ" (1677) it
would seem that the practice of variegating, and of combining the
variegated foliage of plants and shrubs, was in existence at that time.

"Dr Uvedale, of Enfield, is a great lover of plants," says Gibson,
writing in 1691, "and is become master of the greatest and choicest
collection of exotic greens that is perhaps anywhere in this land....
His flowers are choice, his stock numerous, and his culture of them very
methodical and curious; but to speak of the garden in the whole, it does
not lie fine to please the eye, his delight and care lying more in the
ordering particular plants, than in the pleasing view and form of his

"_Darby_, at _Hoxton_, has but a little garden, but is master of several
curious greens.... His Fritalaria Crassa (a green) had a flower on it of
the breadth of half-a-crown, like an embroidered star of many
colours.... He raises many striped hollies by inoculation," &c.
("Gleanings in Old Garden Literature," Hazlitt, p. 240.)

And yet one last observation I would like to make, remembering Bacon's
subtilty, and how his every utterance is the sum of matured analytical
thought. This yearning for wild nature that makes itself felt all
through the Essay, this scheme for a "natural wildness" touching the hem
of artificiality; this provision for mounts of some pretty height "to
look abroad in the fields"; this care for the "Heath or Desart in the
going forth, planted not in any order;" the "little Heaps in the Nature
of Molehills (such as are in wild Heaths) to be set with pleasant herbs,
wild thyme, pinks, periwinkle, and the like Low Flowers being withall
sweet and sightly"--what does it imply? Primarily, it declares the
artist who knows the value of contrast, the interest of blended
contrariness; it is the cultured man's hankering after a many-faced
Nature readily accessible to him in his many moods; it tells, too, of
the drift of the Englishman towards familiar landscape effects, the
garden-mimicry which sets towards pastoral Nature; but above and beyond
all else, it is a true Baconian stroke. Is not the man's innermost self
here revealed, who in his eagerest moments struggled for detachment of
mind, held his will in leash according to his own astute maxim "not to
engage oneself too peremptorily in anything, but ever to have either a
window open to fly out of, or a secret way to retire by"? In a sense,
the garden's technique illustrates its author's personality. To change
Montaigne's reply to the king who admired his essays, Bacon might say,
"I am my garden."

Many references to old garden-craft might be given culled from the
writings of Sir Thomas More, John Lyly, Gawen Douglas, John Gerarde, Sir
Philip Sidney, and others; all of whom are quoted in Mr Sieveking's
charming volume, "The praise of Gardens." But none will serve our
purpose so well as the notes of Heutzner, the German traveller, who
visited England in the 16th century, and Sir William Temple's
description of the garden of Moor Park. According to Heutzner, the
gardens at Theobalds, Nonsuch, Whitehall, Hampton Court, and Oxford were
laid out with considerable taste and extensively ornamented with
architectural and other devices. The Palace at Nonsuch is encompassed
with parks full of deer, with delicious gardens, groves ornamented with
trellis-work, cabinets of verdure, and walks enclosed with trees. "In
the pleasure and artificial gardens are many columns and pyramids of
marble, two fountains that spout water one round the other like a
pyramid, upon which are perched small birds that stream water out of
their bills. In the grove of Diana is a very agreeable fountain, with
Actaeon turned into a stag, as he was sprinkled by the goddess and her
nymphs, with inscriptions." Theobalds, according to Heutzner's account,
has a "great variety of trees and plants," labyrinths, fountains of
white marble, a summerhouse, and statuary. The gardens had their
terraces, trellis-walks, and bowling-greens, the beds being laid out in
geometrical lines, and the hedges formed of yews, hollies, and limes,
clipped and shaped into cones, pyramids, and other devices. Among the
delights of Nonsuch was a wilderness of ten acres of extent. Of Hampton
Court, he says: "We saw rosemary so planted and nailed to the walls as
to cover them entirely, which is a method exceeding common in England."

No book on English gardens can afford to dispense with Temple's
description of the garden of Moor Park, which is given with considerable
relish, as though it satisfied the ideal of the writer.

     "The perfectest figure of a Garden I ever saw, either at Home or
     Abroad."--"It lies on the side of a Hill (upon which the House
     stands), but not very steep. The length of the House, where the
     best Rooms and of most Use or Pleasure are, lies upon the Breadth
     of the Garden, the Great Parlour opens into the Middle of a Terras
     Gravel-Walk that lies even with it, and which may be, as I
     remember, about 300 Paces long, and broad in Proportion, the Border
     set with Standard Laurels, and at large Distances, which have the
     beauty of Orange-Trees, out of Flower and Fruit: From this Walk are
     Three Descents by many Stone Steps, in the Middle and at each End,
     into a very large Parterre. This is divided into Quarters by
     Gravel-Walks, and adorned with Two Fountains and Eight Statues in
     the several Quarters; at the End of the Terras-Walk are Two
     Summer-Houses, and the Sides of the Parterre are ranged with two
     large Cloisters, open to the Garden, upon Arches of Stone, and
     ending with two other Summer-Houses even with the Cloisters, which
     are paved with Stone, and designed for Walks of Shade, there are
     none other in the whole Parterre. Over these two Cloisters are two
     Terrasses covered with Lead and fenced with Balusters; and the
     Passage into these Airy Walks, is out of the two Summer-Houses, at
     the End of the first Terras-Walk. The Cloister facing the _South_
     is covered with Vines, and would have been proper for an
     Orange-House, and the other for Myrtles, or other more common
     Greens; and had, I doubt not, been cast for that Purpose, if this
     Piece of Gardening had been then in as much Vogue as it is now.

     "From the middle of this Parterre is a Descent by many Steps flying
     on each Side of a Grotto, that lies between them (covered with
     Lead, and flat) into the lower Garden, which is all Fruit-Trees
     ranged about the several Quarters of a Wilderness, which is very
     Shady; the Walks here are all Green, the Grotto embellished with
     Figures of Shell-Rock work, Fountains, and Water-works. If the Hill
     had not ended with the lower Garden, and the Wall were not bounded
     by a Common Way that goes through the Park, they might have added a
     Third Quarter of all Greens; but this Want is supplied by a Garden
     on the other Side of the House, which is all of that Sort, very
     Wild, Shady, and adorned with rough Rock-work and Fountains."
     ("Upon the Garden of Epicurus, or of Gardening.")

The "Systema Horticulturæ" of John Worlidge (1677) was, says Mr Hazlitt
("Gleanings in old Garden Literature," p. 40), apparently the earliest
manual for the guidance of gardeners. It deals with technical matters,
such as the treatment and virtue of different soils, the form of the
ground, the structure of walls and fences, the erection of arbours,
summer-houses, fountains, grottoes, obelisks, dials, &c.

"The Scots Gardener," by John Reid (1683) follows this, and is, says Mr
Hazlitt, the parent-production in this class of literature. It is
divided into two portions, of which the first is occupied by technical
instructions for the choice of a site for a garden, the arrangement of
beds and walks, &c.

Crispin de Passe's "Book of Beasts, Birds, Flowers, Fruits, &c.,"
published in London (1630), heralds the changes which set in with the
introduction of the Dutch school of design.

To speak generally of the subject, it is with the art of Gardening as
with Architecture, Literature, and Music--there is the Mediæval, the
Elizabethan, the Jacobean, the Georgian types. Each and all are
English, but English with a difference--with a declared tendency this
way or that, which justifies classification, and illustrates the march
of things in this changeful modern world.

The various types include the mediæval garden, the square garden, the
knots and figures of Elizabethan times, with their occasional use of
coloured earths and gravels; the pleach-work and intricate borders of
James I.; the painted Dutch statues as at Ham House; the quaint canals,
the winding gravel-walks, the formal geometrical figures; the quincunx
and _étoile_ of William and Mary; later on, the smooth, bare, and bald
grounds of Kent, the photographic copyism of Nature by Brown, the
garden-farm of Shenstone, and other phases of the "Landscape style"
which served for the green grave of the old-fashioned English garden.

In the early years of George III. a reaction against tradition set in
with so strong a current, that there remains scarcely any private garden
in the United Kingdom which presents in all its parts a sample of the
original design.

Levens, near Kendal, of which I give two illustrations, is probably the
least spoiled of any remaining examples; and this was, it would seem,
planned by a Frenchman, but worked out under the restraining influences
of English taste. A picture on the staircase of the house, apparently
Dutch, bears the inscription, "M. Beaumont, gardener to King James II.
and Colonel James Grahme. He laid out the gardens at Hampton Court and
at Levens." The gardener's house at the place is still called "Beaumont
Hall." (See an admirable monograph upon "Col. James Grahme, of Levens,"
by Mr Joscelin Bagot, Kendal.)

One who is perhaps hardly in sympathy with the quaintness of the
gardens, thus writes: "There along a wide extent of terraced walks and
walls, eagles of holly and peacocks of yew still find with each
returning summer their wings clipt and their talons; there a stately
remnant of the old promenoirs such as the Frenchman taught our
fathers,[26] rather I would say to _build_ than plant--along which in
days of old stalked the gentlemen with periwigs and swords, the ladies
in hoops and furbelows--may still to this day be seen."

[Footnote 26: With regard to this remark, we have to note a certain
amount of French influence throughout the reigns of the Jameses and
Charleses. Here is Beaumont, "gardener to James II.;" and we hear also
of André Mollet, gardener to James I.; also that Charles II. borrowed Le
Nôtre to lay out the gardens of Greenwich and St James' Park.]

With the pictures of the gardens at Levens before us, with memories of
Arley, of Brympton, of Wilton,[27] of Montacute, Rockingham, Penshurst,
Severn End, Berkeley,[28] and Haddon, we may here pause a moment to
count up and bewail our losses. Wolsey's garden at Hampton Court is now
effaced, for the design of the existing grounds dates from William III.
Nonsuch in Surrey, near Epsom race-course, is a mere memory. In old days
this was a favourite resort of Queen Elizabeth; the garden was designed
by her father, but the greater part carried out by the last of the
Fitzalans. Evelyn, writing of Nonsuch, says: "There stand in the garden
two handsome stone pyramids and the avenue planted with rows of fair
elms, but the rest of these goodly trees, both of this and of Worcester
adjoining, were felled by those destructive and avaricious rebels in the
late war."

[Footnote 27: The gardens at Wilton are exceedingly beautiful, and
contain noble trees, among which are a group of fine cedars and an ilex
beneath which Sir Philip Sidney is supposed to have reclined when he
wrote his "Arcadia" here. The Italian garden is one of the most
beautiful in England.]

[Footnote 28: Of Berkeley, Evelyn writes: "For the rest the forecourt is
noble, so are the stables; and, above all, the gardens, which are
incomparable by reason of the inequality of the ground, and a pretty
_piscina_. The holly-hedges on the terrace I advised the planting of."]

Theobalds, in Hertfordshire, had a noble garden; it was bought in 1564
by Cecil, and became the favourite haunt of the Stuarts, but the house
was finally destroyed during the Commonwealth.

My Lord _Fauconbergh's_ garden at _Sutton Court_ is gone too. As
described by Gibson in 1691, it had many charms. "The maze, or
wilderness, there is very pretty, being set all with greens, with a
cypress arbour in the middle," &c.

Sir _Henry Capell's_ garden at Kew, described by the same writer, "has
as curious greens, and is as well kept as any about London.... His
orange trees and other choice greens stand out in summer in two walks
about fourteen feet wide, enclosed with a timber frame about seven feet
high, and set with silver firs hedge-wise.... His terrace walk, bare in
the middle and grass on either side, with a hedge of rue on one side
next a low wall, and a row of dwarf trees on the other, shews very
fine; and so do from thence his yew hedges with trees of the same at
equal distance, kept in pretty shapes with tonsure. His flowers and
fruits are of the best, for the advantage of which two parallel walls,
about fourteen feet high, were now raised and almost finished," &c.

Sir _Stephen Fox's_ garden at _Chiswick_, "excels for a fair gravel walk
betwixt two yew hedges, with rounds and spires of the same, all under
smooth tonsure. At the far end of this garden are two myrtle hedges that
cross the garden. The other gardens are full of flowers and salleting,
and the walls well clad."

Wimbledon House, which was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Cecil in 1588, and
surveyed by order of Parliament in 1649, was celebrated for its trees,
gardens, and shrubs. In the several gardens, which consisted of mazes,
wildernesses, knots, alleys, &c., are mentioned a great variety of fruit
trees and shrubs, particularly a "faire bay tree," valued at £1; and
"one very faire tree called the Irish arbutis, very lovely to look upon
and worth £1, 10s." (Lysons, I., 397.)

The gardens at Sherborne Castle were laid out by Sir Walter Raleigh.
Coker, in his "Survey of Dorsetshire," written in the time of James I.,
says that Sir Walter built in the park adjoining the old Castle, "a most
fine house which hee beautified with orchardes, gardens, and groves of
much varietie and great delight; soe that whether that you consider the
pleasantness of the seate, the goodnesse of the soyle, or the other
delicacies belonging unto it, it rests unparalleled by anie in those
partes" (p. 124). This same park, magnificently embellished with woods
and gardens, was "improved" away by the "landscape-gardener" Brown, who
altered the grounds.

Cobham, near Gravesend, still famous in horticultural annals as Nonsuch
is for its apples, was the seat of the Brookes. The extent to which
fruit was cultivated in old time is seen by the magnitude of the
orangery at Beddington House, Surrey, which was two hundred feet long;
the trees mostly measured thirteen feet high, and in 1690 some ten
thousand oranges were gathered.

Ham is described with much gusto by Evelyn: "After dinner I walked to
Ham to see the house and garden of the Duke of Lauderdale, which is
indeed inferior to few of the best villas in Italy itself; the house
furnished like a great Prince's, the parterres, flower-gardens,
orangeries, groves, avenues, courts, statues, perspectives, fountains,
aviaries, and all this at the banks of the sweetest river in the world,
must needs be admirable."

Bowyer House, Surrey, is described also by Evelyn as having a very
pretty grove of oaks and hedges of yew in the garden, and a handsome row
of tall elms before the court. This garden has, however, made way for
rows of mean houses.

At Oxford, where you would have expected more respect for antiquity, the
walks and alleys, along which Laud had conducted Charles and Henrietta,
the bowling-green at Christ Church of Cranmer's time--all are gone.

The ruthless clearance of these gardens of renown is sad to relate: "For
what sin has the plough passed over your pleasant places?" may be
demanded of numberless cases besides Blakesmoor. Southey, writing upon
this very point, adds that "feeling is a better thing than taste,"--for
"taste" did it at the bidding of critics who had no "feeling," and who
veered round with the first sign of change in the public mind about
gardening. Not content with watching the heroic gardens swept away, he
must goad the Vandals on to their sorry work by flattering them for
their good taste. For what Horace Walpole did to expose the
poverty-stricken design and all the poor bankrupt whimsies of the garden
of his day, we owe him thanks; but not for including in his condemnation
the noble work of older days. In touching upon Lord Burleigh's garden,
and that at Nonsuch, he says: "We find the _magnificent though false
taste_ was known here as early as the reigns of Henry VIII. and his
daughter." This is not bad, coming from the man who built a cockney
Gothic house adorned with piecrust battlements and lath-and-plaster
pinnacles; who spent much of his life in concocting a maze of walks in
five acres of ground, and was so far carried away by mock-rustic
sentiment as to have rakes and hay-forks painted as leaning against the
walls of his paddocks! But then Walpole, in his polished way, sneered
at everybody and everything; he "spelt every man backward," as Macaulay
observes; with himself he lived in eminent self-content.

So too, after quoting Temple's description of the garden at Moor Park
with the master's little rhapsody--"the sweetest place I think that I
have seen in my life, either before or since, at home or
abroad"--Walpole has this icy sneer: "Any man might design and _build_
as sweet a garden who had been born in and never stirred out of Holborn.
It was not peculiar in Sir William Temple to think in that manner."

It is not wise, however, to lay too much stress upon criticisms of this
sort. After all, any phase of Art does but express the mind of its day,
and it cannot do duty for the mind of another time. "The old order
changeth, yielding place to new," and to take a critical attitude
towards the forms of an older day is almost a necessity of the case;
they soon become curiosities. Yet we may fairly regret the want of
tenderness in dealing with these gardens of the Elizabethan and Jacobean
eras, for, by all the laws of human expression, they should be
masterpieces. The ground-chord of the garden-enterprise of those days
was struck by Bacon, who rates buildings and palaces, be they never so
princely, as "but gross handiworks" where no garden is: "Men come to
build stately sooner than to garden finely, as if gardening were the
Greater Perfection"--the truth of which saying is only too glaringly
apparent in the relative conditions of the arts of architecture and of
gardening in the present day!

By all the laws of human expression, I say, these old gardens should be
masterpieces. The sixteenth century, which saw the English garden
formulated, was a time for grand enterprises; indeed, to this period is
ascribed the making of England. These gardens, then, are the handiwork
of the makers of England, and should bear the marks of heroes. They are
relics of the men and women who made our land both fine and famous in
the days of the Tudors; they represent the mellow fruit of the leisure,
the poetic reverie, the patient craft of men versed in great
affairs--big men, who thought and did big things--men of splendid genius
and stately notions--past-masters of the art of life who would drink
life to the lees.

As gardeners, these old statesmen were no dabblers. They had the good
fortune to live in a current of ideas of formal device that touched art
at all points and was well calculated to assist the creative faculty in
design of all kinds. They lived before the art of bad gardening had been
invented; before pretty thoughts had palled the taste, before gardening
had learnt routine; while Nature smiled a virgin smile and had a sense
of unsolved mystery. More than this, garden-craft was then no mere craze
or passing freak of fashion, but a serious item in the round of
home-life; --gardening was a thing to be done as well as it could be
done. Design was fresh and open to individual treatment--men needed an
outlet for their love of, their elation at, the sight of beautiful
things, and behind them lay the background of far-reaching traditions to
encourage, inspire, protect experiment with the friendly shadow of

An accomplished French writer has remarked that even the modest work of
Art may contain occasion for long processes of analysis. "Very great
laws," he says, "may be illustrated in a very small compass." And so one
thinks it is with the ancient garden. Looked at as a piece of design, it
is the blossom of English genius at one of its sunniest moments. It is a
bit of the history of our land. It embodies the characteristics of the
mediæval, the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages just as faithfully as do
other phases of contemporary art. It contains the same principle of
beauty, the same sense of form, that animated these; it has the same
curious turns of expression, the same mixture of pedantry and subtle
sweetness; the same wistful daring and humorous sadness; the same
embroidery of nice fancy--half jocund, half grave, as--shall we
say--Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, Spenser's "Faërie Queene,"
Milton's "Comus," More's "Utopia," Bacon's Essays, Purcell's Madrigals,
John Thorpe's architecture at Longleat. The same spirit, the same wit
and fancy resides in each; they differ only in the medium of expression.

To condemn old English gardening, root and branch, for its "false taste"
(and it was not peculiar to Walpole to think in that manner), was, in
truth, to indict our nation on a line of device wherein we excelled,
and to condemn device that represents the inspired dreams of some of
England's elect sons.

To our sorry groundling minds the old pleasaunce may seem too rich and
fantastic, too spectacular, too much idealised. And if to be English one
must needs be _bourgeois_, the objection must stand. Here is developed
garden-craft, and development almost invariably means multiplicity of
forms and a marked departure from primæval simplicity. Grant, if you
will, that Art is carried too far, and Nature not carried far enough in
the old garden, yet did it deserve better treatment. Judged both from
its human and its artistic side, the place is as loveable as it is
pathetic. It has the pathos of all art that survives its creators, the
pathos of all abandoned human idols, of all high human endeavour that is
blown upon. What is more, it holds, as it were, the spent passion of men
of Utopian dreams, the ideal (in one kind) of the spoiled children of
culture, the knight-errantry of the Renascence--whose imagination soared
after illimitable satisfaction, who were avowedly bent upon transforming
the brazen of this world into the golden, to whom desire was but the
first step to attainment, and failure an unknown experience.

But even yet some may demur that the interest of the antique garden, as
we see it, is due to Nature direct, and not to art-agencies. It is
Nature who gives it its artistic qualities of gradation, contrast, play
of form and colour, the flicker of sunshine through the foliage, the
shadows on the grass--not the master who begot the thing, for has he
not been dead, and his vacant orbits choked with clay these two hundred
years and more! To him, of course, may be ascribed the primal thought of
the place, and, say, some fifty years of active participation in its
ordering and culture, but for the rest--for its poetic excitement, for
its yearly accesses of beauty--are they not to be credited in full to
the lenience of Time and the generous operations of Nature?

Grant all that should rightly be granted to the disaffected grumbler,
and yet, in Mr Lowell's words for another, yet a parallel case, I plead
that "Poets are always entitled to a royalty on whatever we find in
their works; for these fine creations as truly build themselves up in
the brain as they are built up with deliberate thought." If a garden
owed none of its characteristics to its maker, if it had not expressed
the mind of its designer, why the essential differences of the garden of
this style and of that! Properly speaking, the music of all gardens is
framed out of the same simple gamut of Nature's notes--it is but one
music poured from myriad lips--yet out of the use of the same raw
elements what a variety of tunes can be made, each tune complete in
itself! And it is because we may identify the maker in his work;
because, like the unfinished air, abruptly brought to a close at the
master's death, the place is much as it was first schemed, one is
jealous for the honour of the man whose eye prophesied its ultimate
magic even as he initiated its plan, and drafted its lines.

Many an English house has been hopelessly vulgarised and beggared by
the banishment of the old pleasaunces of the days of Elizabeth, or of
the Jameses and Charleses, and their wholesale demolition there and then
struck a blow at English gardening from which it has not yet recovered.
It may be admitted that, in the case of an individual garden here and
there, the violation of these relics may be condoned on the heathen
principle of tit for tat, because Art had, in the first instance, so to
speak, turned her back on some fair landscape that Providence had
provided upon the site, preferring to focus man's eye _within_ rather
than _without_ the garden's bounds, therefore the vengeance is merited.
Yet, where change was desirable, it had been better to modify than to

    "Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
    And burned is Apollo's laurel bough."

Certain it is that along with the girdle of high hedge or wall has gone
that air of inviting mystery and homely reserve that our forefathers
loved, and which is to me one of the pleasantest traits of an old
English garden, best described as

    "A haunt of ancient peace."



    "'Pealing from Jove to Nature's bar
        Bold Alteration pleades
      Large evidence; but Nature soon
        Her righteous doom areads."--SPENSER.

Why were the old-fashioned gardens destroyed? Firstly, because the
traditional garden of the early part of the eighteenth century, when the
reaction set in, represented a style which had run to seed, and men were
tired of it; secondly, because the taste for foreign trees and shrubs,
that had existed for a long time previously, then came to a head, and it
was found that the old type of garden was not fitted for the display of
the augmented stock of foreign material. Here was a new element in
garden-craft, a new chance of decoration in the way of local colours in
planting, which required a new adjustment of garden-effects; and as
there was some difficulty in accommodating the new and the old, the
problem was met by the abolition of the old altogether.

As to this matter of the sudden increase of specimen plants, Loudon
remarks that in the earlier century the taste for foreign plants was
confined to a few, and they not wealthy persons; but in the eighteenth
century the taste for planting foreign trees extended itself among rich
landed proprietors. A host of amateurs, botanists, and commercial
gardeners were busily engaged in enriching the British Arboretum, and
the garden-grounds had to be arranged for new effects and a new mode of
culture. In Loudon's "Arboretum" (p. 126) is a list of the species of
foreign trees and shrubs introduced into England up to the year 1830. He
calculates that the total number of specimens up to the time that he
wrote was about 1400, but the numbers taken by centuries are: in the
sixteenth century, 89; in the seventeenth century, 131; in the
eighteenth century, 445; and in the first three decades of the
nineteenth century, 699!

Men stubbed up the old gardens because they had grown tired of their
familiar types, as they tire of other familiar things. The eighteenth
century was essentially a critical age, an age of enquiry, and
gardening, along with art, morals, and religion, came in for its share
of coffee-house discussion, and elaborate essay-writing, and nothing was
considered satisfactory. As to gardening, it was not natural enough for
the critics. The works of Salvator and Poussin had pictured the grand
and terrible in scenery, Thomson was writing naturalistic poetry,
Rousseau naturalistic prose. Garden-ornament was too classical and
formal for the varnished _littérateur_ of the _Spectator_ and the
_Guardian_--too symmetrical for the jingling rhymester of a sing-song
generation--too artificial for the essayist "'Pealing from Jove to
Nature's bar," albeit he is privately content to go on touching up his
groves and grottoes at Twickenham, securing the services of a peer

    "To form his quincunx, and to rank his vines."

Gardens are looked upon as so much "copy" to the essayist. What affected
tastes have these critics! What a confession of counterfeit love, of
selfish literary interest in gardens is this of Addison's: "I think
there are as many kinds of gardening as of poetry. Your makers of
parterres and flower-gardens are epigrammatists and sonneteers in this
art; contrivers of bowers and grottoes, treillages and cascades, are
romance writers." How beside nature, beside garden-craft, are such
pen-man's whimsies! "Nothing to the true pleasure of a garden," Bacon
would say.

Walpole's essay on gardening is entertaining reading, and his book gives
us glimpses of the country-seats of all the great ladies and gentlemen
who had the good fortune to be his acquaintances. His condemnation of
the geometrical style of gardening common in his day, though quieter in
tone than Pope's, was none the less effective in promoting a change of
style. He tells how in Kip's views of the seats of our nobility we have
the same "tiring and returning uniformity." Every house is approached by
two or three gardens, consisting perhaps of a gravel-walk and two grass
plats or borders of flowers. "Each rises above the other by two or
three steps, and as many walks and terrasses; and so many iron gates,
that we recollect those ancient romances in which every entrance was
guarded by nymphs or dragons. At Lady Orford's, at Piddletown, in
Dorsetshire, there was, when my brother married, a double enclosure of
thirteen gardens, each, I suppose, not a hundred yards square, with an
enfilade of correspondent gates; and before you arrived at these, you
passed a narrow gut between two terrasses that rose above your head, and
which were crowned by a line of pyramidal yews. A bowling-green was all
the lawn admitted in those times, a circular lake the extent of

Such an air of truth and soberness pervades Walpole's narrative, and to
so absurd an extent has formality been manifestly carried under the
auspices of Loudon and Wise, who had stocked our gardens with "giants,
animals, monsters, coats of arms, mottoes in yew, box, and holly," that
we are almost persuaded to be Vandals. "The compass and square, were of
more use in plantations than the nursery-man. The measured walk, the
quincunx, and the étoile imposed their unsatisfying sameness.... Trees
were headed, and their sides pared away; many French groves seem green
chests set upon poles. Seats of marble, arbours, and summer-houses,
terminated every vista." It is all very well for Temple to recommend the
regular form of garden. "I should hardly advise any of these attempts"
cited by Walpole, "in the form of gardens among us; _they are adventures
of too hard achievement for any common hands_." The truth will out! The
"dainter sense" of garden-craft has vanished! According to Walpole,
garden-adventure is to be henceforth journeyman's work, and Brown, the
immortal kitchen-gardener, leads the way.

It were unfair to suspect that the exigencies of sprightly writing had
carried Walpole beyond the bounds of accuracy in his description of the
stiff-garden as he knew it, for things were in some respects very bad
indeed. At the same time he is so engrossed with his abuse of old ways
of gardening, and advocacy of the landscape-gardener's new-fangled
notions, that his account of garden-craft generally falls short of
completeness. He omits, for instance, to notice the progress in
floriculture and horticulture of this time, the acquisitions being made
in the ornamental foreign plants to be cultivated in the open ground,
the green-house, and the stove. He omits to note that Loudon and Wise
stocked our gardens with more than giants, animals, monsters, &c., in
yew and box and holly. Because the names of these two worthies occur in
this gardening text-book of Walpole's, all later essayists signal them
out for blame. But Evelyn, who ranks as one of the three of England's
great gardeners of old days, has a kindlier word for them. He is
dilating upon the advantage to the gardener of the high clipped hedge as
a protection for his shrubs and flowers, and goes on to particularise an
oblong square, palisadoed with a hornbeam hedge "in that inexhaustible
magazine at Brompton Park, cultivated by those two industrious
fellow-gardeners, Mr Loudon and Mr Wise." This hedge protects the orange
trees, myrtles, and other rare perennials and exotics from the scorching
rays of the sun; and it equally well shelters the flowers. "Here the
Indian Narcissus, Tuberoses, Japan Lillies, Jasmines, Jonquills,
Periclimena, Roses, Carnations, with all the pride of the parterre,
intermixt between the tree-cases, flowery vases, busts, and statues,
entertain the eye, and breathe their redolent odours and perfumes to the
smell." Clearly there is an advantage in being a gardener if we write
about gardens (provided you are not a mere "landscape-gardener!").

One cannot deny that Horace Walpole did well to expose the absurd
vagaries which were being perpetrated about his time under Dutch
influences. Close alliance with Holland through the House of Orange had
affected every department of horticulture. True, it had enriched our
gardens and conservatories with many rare and beautiful species of
flowers and bulbs, and had imbued the English collector with the
tulip-mania. So far good. But to the same source we trace the reign of
the shears in the English garden, which made Art in a Garden ridiculous,
and gave occasion to the enemy to blaspheme.

"The gardeners about London," says Mr Lambert, writing to the Linnæan
Transactions in 1712, "were remarkable for fine cut greens, and clipt
yews in the shapes of birds, dogs, men, ships, &c. Mr. Parkinson in
Lambeth was much noticed for these things, and he had besides a few
myrtles, oleanders, and evergreens."

    "The old order changeth ...
    Lest one good custom should corrupt the world."

And now is Art in a Garden become ridiculous. Since the beginning of
things English gardeners had clipped and trimmed their shrubs; but had
never carried the practice beyond a reasonable extent, and had combined
it with woody and shady effects. With the onset of Dutch influence
country-aspects vanish. Nature is reduced to a prosaic level. The
traditional garden, whose past had been one long series of noble chances
in fine company, now found content as the pedant's darling where it
could have no opening for living romance, but must be tricked out in
stage conventions, and dwindle more and more into a thing of shreds and

Having arrived at such a pass, it was time that change should come, and
change did come, with a vengeance! But let us not suppose that the
change was from wrong to right. For, indeed, the revolution meant only
that formality gone mad should be supplanted by informality gone equally
mad. And we may note as a significant fact, that the point of departure
is the destruction of the garden's boundaries, and the substitution of
the ha-ha. It was not for the wild improvers to realise how Art that
destroys its own boundaries is certainly doomed to soon have no country
to boast of at all! It proved so in this case. From this moment, the
very thought of garden-ornament was clean put out of mind, and the
grass is carried up to the windows of the great house, as though the
place were nothing better than a farm-shanty in the wilds of

But to return to the inauguration of the "landscape-garden." The hour
produced its men in Kent, and "the immortal Brown," as Repton calls him.
Like many another "discovery," theirs was really due to an accident.
Just as it was the closely-corked bottle that popped that gave birth to
champagne, so it was only when our heroes casually leaped the ha-ha that
they had made that they realised that all England outside was one vast
rustic garden, from whence it were a shame to exclude anything!

So began the rage for making all the surroundings of a house assume a
supposed appearance of rude Nature. Levelling, ploughing, stubbing-up,
was the order of the day. The British navvy was in great request--in
fact the day that Kent and Brown discovered England was this worthy's
natal day. Artificial gardens must be demolished as impostures, and
wriggling walks and turf put where they had stood. Avenues must be cut
down or disregarded; the groves, the alleys, the formal beds, the
terraces, the balustrades, the clipt hedges must be swept away as things
intolerable. For the "landscape style" does not countenance a straight
line, or terrace or architectural form, or symmetrical beds about the
house; for to allow these would not be to photograph Nature. As carried
into practice, the style demands that the house shall rise abruptly
from the grass, and the general surface of the ground shall be
characterised by smoothness and bareness (like Nature)! Hence in the
grounds of this period, house and country

    "Wrapt all o'er in everlasting green
    Make one dull, vapid, smooth and tranquil scene."

There is to my mind no more significant testimony to the attractiveness
and loveableness of the _regular_ garden as opposed to the opened-out
barbarism of the landscape-gardener's invention, than Horace Walpole's
lament over the old gardens at Houghton,[29] which has the force of
testimony wrung from unwilling lips:--

     "When I had drank tea I strolled into the garden. They told me it
     was now called the '_pleasure-ground_.' What a dissonant idea of
     pleasure! Those groves, those _alleys_, where I have passed so many
     charming moments, are now stripped up, or overgrown; many fond
     paths I could not unravel, though with a very exact clue in my
     memory. I met two gamekeepers and a thousand hares! In the days
     when all my soul was tuned to pleasure and vivacity, I hated
     Houghton and its solitude; _yet I loved this garden_; as now, with
     many regrets, I love Houghton;--Houghton, I know not what to call
     it: a monument of grandeur or ruin!"--(Walpole's Letters.)

[Footnote 29: Houghton was built by Sir R. Walpole, between 1722 and
1738. The garden was laid out in the stiff, formal manner by Eyre, "an
imitator of Bridgman," and contained 23 acres. The park contains some
fine old beeches. More than 1000 cedars were blown down here in February

"What a dissonant idea of pleasure," this so-called "pleasure-ground of
the landscape-gardener!" "Those groves, those alleys where I have passed
so many charming moments, stripped up! How I loved this garden!" Here is
the biter bit, and it were to be more than human not to smile!

With all the proper appliances at hand it did not take long to
transform the stiff garden into the barbaric. It did not take long to
find out how _not_ to do what civilization had so long been learning how
to do! The ancient "Geometric or Regular style" of garden--the garden of
the aristocrat, with all its polished classicism--was to make way for
the so-called "Naturalesque or Landscape style," and the garden of the
_bourgeois_. Hope rose high in the breasts of the new professoriate. "A
boon! a boon!" quoth the critic. And there is deep joy in navvydom.
"Under the great leader, Brown," writes Repton ("Landscape Gardening,"
p. 327), "or rather those who patronised his discovery, we were taught
that Nature was to be our only model." It was a grand moment. A Daniel
had come to judgment! Nay, did not Brown "live to establish a fashion in
gardening which might have been expected to endure as long as Nature
should exist!"

The Landscape School of Gardeners, so-called, has been the theme of a
great deal of literature, but with the exception of Walpole's and
Addison's essays, and Pope's admirable chaff, very little has survived
the interest it had at the moment of publication.

The other chief writers of this School, in its early phase, are George
Mason, Whately,[30] Mason the poet, and Shenstone, our moon-struck
friend quoted above, with his "assignation seats with proper mottoes,
urns to faithful lovers," &c. Dr Johnson did not think much of
Shenstone's contributions to gardening:

     "He began from this time to point his prospects, to diversify his
     surface, to entangle his walks, and to wind his waters, which he
     did with such judgement and such fancy as made his little domain
     the envy of the great and the admiration of the skilful--a place to
     be visited by travellers and _copied by designers_. Whether to
     plant a walk in undulating curves, and to place a bench at every
     turn where there is an object to catch the view, to make water run
     where it will be heard, and to stagnate where it will be seen; to
     leave intervals where the eye will be pleased, and to thicken the
     plantation where there is something to be hidden--demand any great
     powers of the mind, I will not enquire; perhaps a surly and sullen
     spectator may think such performances rather the sport than the
     business of human reason."--(Dr Johnson, "Lives of the Poets,"

[Footnote 30: Thomas Whately's "Observations on Modern Gardening," was
published in 1770, fifteen years before Walpole's "Essay on Modern
Gardening." Gilpin's book "On Picturesque Beauty," though published in
part in 1782, belongs really to the second phase of the Landscape
School. Shenstone's "Unconnected Thoughts on the Garden" was published
in 1764, and is written pretty much from the standpoint of Kent. "An
Essay on Design in Gardening," by G. Mason, was published in 1795.]

Whately's "Observations on Modern Gardening," published in 1770, are
well written and distinctly valuable as bearing upon the historical side
of the subject. It says little for his idea of the value of Art in a
garden, or of the function of a garden as a refining influence in life,
to find Whately recommending "a plain field or a sheep-walk" as part of
a garden's embellishments--"as an agreeable relief, and even wilder

But what astounds one more is, that a writer of Whately's calibre can
describe Kent's gardens at Stowe, considered to be his masterpiece, as a
sample of the non-formality of the landscape-gardener's Art, while he
takes elaborate pains to show that it is full of would-be artistic
subterfuges in Nature, full of architectural shams throughout. These
gardens were begun by Bridgman, "Begun," Whately says, "when regularity
was in fashion; and the original boundary is still preserved on account
of its magnificence, for round the whole circuit, of between three and
four miles, is carried a very broad gravel-walk, planted with rows of
trees, and open either to the park or the country; a deep sunk-fence
attends it all the way, and comprehends a space of near 400 acres. But
in the interior spaces of the garden few traces of regularity appear;
where it yet remains in the plantations it is generally disguised; every
symptom almost of formality is obliterated from the ground; and an
octagon basin at the bottom is now converted into an irregular piece of
water, which receives on one hand two beautiful streams, and falls on
the other down a cascade into a lake."

And then follows a list of sham architectural features that are combined
with sham views and prospects to match. "The whole space is divided into
a number of scenes, each distinguished with taste and fancy; and the
changes are so frequent, so sudden and complete, the transitions so
artfully conducted, that the ideas are never continued or repeated to
satiety." In the front of the house two elegant Doric pavilions. On the
brow of some rising grounds a Corinthian arch. On a little knoll an open
Ionic rotunda--an Egyptian pyramid stands on its brow; the Queen's
Pillar in a recess on the descent, the King's Pillar elsewhere; all the
three buildings mentioned are "peculiarly adapted to a garden scene."
In front of a wood three pavilions joined by arcades, all of the Ionic
order, "characteristically proper for a garden, and so purely
ornamental." Then a Temple of Bacchus, the Elysian fields, British
remains; misshaped elms and ragged firs are frequent in a scene of
solitude and gloom, which the trunks of dead trees assist. Then a large
Gothic building, with slated roofs, "in a noble confusion"; then the
Elysian fields, seen from the other side, a Palladian bridge, Doric
porticoes, &c, the whole thing finished off with the Temple of Concord
and Victory, probably meant as a not-undeserved compliment to the
successfully chaotic skill of the landscape-gardener, who is nothing if
not irregular, natural, non-formal, non-fantastical, non-artificial, and

Two other points about Whately puzzle me. How comes he to strain at the
gnat of formality in the old-fashioned garden, yet readily swallow the
camel at Stowe? How can he harmonise his appreciation of the elaborately
contrived and painfully assorted shams at Stowe, with his
recommendation, of a sheep-walk in your garden "as an agreeable relief,
and even wilder scenes"?

Whether the beauty of the general disposition of the ground at Stowe is
to be attributed to Kent or to Bridgman, who began the work, as Whately
says, "when regularity was in fashion," I cannot say. It is right to
observe, however, that the prevailing characteristic of Kent's and
Brown's landscapes was their smooth and bald surface. "Why this art has
been called 'landscape-gardening,'" says the plain-spoken Repton,
"perhaps he who gave it the title may explain. I can see no reason,
unless it be the efficacy which it has shown in destroying landscapes,
in which, indeed, it seems infallible." (Repton, p. 355.) "Our
virtuosi," said Sir William Chambers, "have scarcely left an acre of
shade, or three trees growing in a line from the Land's End to the

It did not take the wiser spirits long to realise that Nature left alone
was more natural. And this same Repton, who began by praising "the great
leader Brown," has to confess again and again that, so far as results
go, he is mistaken. The ground, he laments, must be everlastingly moved
and altered. "One of the greatest difficulties I have experienced in
practice proceeds from that fondness for levelling so prevalent in all
Brown's workmen; every hillock is by them lowered, and every hollow
filled, to produce a level surface." (Repton, p. 342.) Or again (p.
347): "There is something so fascinating in the appearance of water,
that Mr Brown thought it carried its own excuse, however unnatural the
situation; and therefore, in many places, under his direction, I have
found water, on the tops of the hills, which I have been obliged to
remove into lower ground _because the deception was not sufficiently
complete to satisfy the mind as well as the eye_." Indeed, in this
matter of levelling, Brown's system does not, on the face of it, differ
from Le Nôtre's, where the natural contour of the landscape was not of
much account; or rather, it was thought the better if it had no natural
contour at all, but presented a flat plain or plateau with no
excrescences to interfere with the designer's schemes.

So much, then, for the pastoral simplicity of Nature edited by the
"landscape-gardener." And let us note that under the auspices of the new
_régime_, not only is Nature to be changed, but changed more than was
ever dreamt of before; the transformation shall at once be more
determined in its character and more deceptive than had previously been
attempted. We were to have an artistically natural world, not a
naturally artistic one; the face of the landscape was to be purged of
its modern look and made to look primæval. And in this doing, or
undoing, of things, the only art that was to be admitted was the art of
consummate deceit, which shall "satisfy the mind as well as the eye."
Yet call the man pope or presbyter, and beneath his clothes he is the
same man! There is not a pin to choose as regards artificiality in the
_aims_ of the two schools, only in the _results_. The naked or
_undressed_ garden has studied irregularity, while the _dressed_ garden
has studied regularity and style. The first has, perhaps, an excessive
regard for expression, the other has an emphatic scorn for expression.
One garden has its plotted levels, its avenues, its vistas, its sweeping
lawns, its terraces, its balustrades, colonnades, geometrical beds,
gilded temples, and sometimes its fountains that won't play, and its
fine vases full of nothing! The other begins with fetching back the
chaos of a former world, and has for its category of effects, sham
primævalisms, exaggerated wildness, tortured levellings, cascades,
rocks, dead trunks of trees, ruined castles, lakes on the top of hills,
and sheep-runs hard by your windows. One school cannot keep the snip of
the scissors off tree and shrub, the other mimics Nature's fortuitous
wildness in proof of his disdain for the white lies of Art.

And all goes to show, does it not? that inasmuch as the art of gardening
implies craft, and as man's imitation of Nature is bound to be unlike
Nature, it were wise to be frankly inventive in gardening on Art lines.
Success may attend one's efforts in the direction of Art, but in the
direction of Nature, never.

The smooth, bare, and almost bald appearance which characterises Brown
and Kent's school fails to satisfy for long, and there springs up
another school which deals largely in picturesque elements, and rough
intricate effects. The principles of the "Picturesque School," as it was
called, are to be found in the writings of the Rev. William Gilpin and
Sir Uvedale Price. Their books are full of careful observations upon the
general composition of landscape-scenery, and what was then called
"Landscape Architecture," as though every English building of older days
that was worth a glance had not been "Landscape Architecture" fit for
its site! Gilpin's writings contain an admirable discourse upon "Forest
Scenery," well illustrated. This work is in eight volumes, in part
published in 1782, and it consists mainly in an account of the author's
tours in every part of Great Britain, with a running commentary on the
beauties of the scenery, and a description of the important country
seats he passed on the way. Price helped by his writings to stay the
rage for destroying avenues and terraces, and we note that he is fully
alive to the necessity of uniting a country-house with the surrounding
scenery by architectural adjuncts.

The taste for picturesque gardening was doubtless helped by the growing
taste for landscape painting, exhibited in the works of the school of
Wilson and Gainsborough, and in the pastoral writings of Thomson,
Crabbe, Cowper, and Gray. It would farther be accelerated, as we
suggested at the outset of this chapter, by the large importation of
foreign plants and shrubs now going on.

What is known as the Picturesque School soon had for its main exponent
Repton. He was a genius in his way--a born gardener,[31] able and
thoughtful in his treatments, and distinguished among his fellows by a
broad and comprehensive grasp of the whole character and surroundings of
a site, in reference to the general section of the land, the style of
the house to which his garden was allied, and the objects for which it
was to be used. The sterling quality of his writings did much to clear
the air of the vapourings of the critics who had gone before him, and
his practice, founded as it was upon sound principles, redeemed the
absurdities of the earlier phase of his school and preserved others from
further development of the silly rusticities upon which their mind
seemed bent. Although some of his ideas may now be thought pedantic and
antiquated, the books which contain them will not die. Passages like the
following mark the man and his aims: "I do not profess to follow Le
Nôtre or Brown, but, selecting beauties from the style of each, to adopt
so much of the grandeur of the former as may accord with a palace, and
so much of the grace of the latter as may call forth the charms of
natural landscape. Each has its proper situation; and good taste will
make fashion subservient to good sense" (p. 234). "In the rage for
picturesque beauty, let us remember that the landscape holds an inferior
rank to the historical picture; one represents nature, the other relates
to man in a state of society" (p. 236).

[Footnote 31: Loudon calls this School "Repton's," the "_Gardenesque_"
School, its characteristic feature being "the display of the beauty of
trees and other plants _individually_."]

Repton sums up the whole of his teaching in the preface to his "Theory
and Practice of Landscape Gardening" under the form of objections to
prevailing errors, and they are so admirable that I cannot serve the
purposes of my book better than to insert them here.

Objection No. 1. "There is no error more prevalent in modern gardening,
or more frequently carried to excess, than taking away hedges to unite
many small fields into one extensive and naked lawn before plantations
are made to give it the appearance of a park; and where ground is
subdivided by sunk fences, imaginary freedom is dearly purchased at the
expense of actual confinement."

No. 2. "The baldness and nakedness round the house is part of the same
mistaken system, of concealing fences to gain extent. A palace, or even
an elegant villa, in a grass field, appears to me incongruous; _yet I
have seldom had sufficient influence to correct this common error_."

No. 3. "An approach which does not evidently lead to the house, or which
does not take the shortest course, cannot be right. (This rule must be
taken with certain limitations.) The shortest road across a lawn to a
house will seldom be found graceful, and often vulgar. A road bordered
by trees in the form of an avenue may be straight without being vulgar;
and grandeur, not grace or elegance, is the expression expected to be

No. 4. "A poor man's cottage, divided into what is called a _pair of
lodges_, is a mistaken expedient to mark importance in the entrance to a

No. 5. "The entrance-gate should not be visible from the mansion, unless
it opens into a courtyard."

No. 6. "The plantation surrounding a place called a _Belt_ I have never
advised; nor have I ever willingly marked a drive, or walk, completely
round the verge of a park, except in small villas, where a dry path
round a person's own field is always more interesting than any other

No 7. "Small plantations of trees, surrounded by a fence, are the best
expedients to form groups, because trees planted singly seldom grow
well; neglect of thinning and removing the fence has produced that ugly
deformity called a _Clump_."

No. 8. "Water on a eminence, or on the side of a hill, is among the most
common errors of Mr Brown's followers; in numerous instances I have been
allowed to remove such pieces of water from the hills to the valleys,
but in many my advice has not prevailed."

No. 9. "Deception may be allowable in imitating the works of Nature.
Thus artificial rivers, lakes, and rock scenery can only be great by
deception, and the mind acquiesces in the fraud after it is detected,
but in works of Art every trick ought to be avoided. Sham churches, sham
ruins, sham bridges, and everything which appears what it is not,
disgusts when the trick is discovered."

No. 10. "In buildings of every kind the _character_ should be strictly
observed. No incongruous mixture can be justified. To add Grecian to
Gothic, or Gothic to Grecian, is equally absurd; and a sharp pointed
arch to a garden gate or a dairy window, however frequently it occurs,
is not less offensive than Grecian architecture, in which the standard
rules of relative proportion are neglected or violated."

The perfection of landscape-gardening consists in the fullest attention
to these principles, _Utility_, _Proportion_, and _Unity_, or harmony of
parts to the whole. (Repton, "Landscape Gardening," pp. 128-9.)

The best advice one can give to a young gardener is--_know your Repton_.

The writings of the new school of gardening, of which Repton is a
notable personage in its later phase, are not, however, on a par with
the writings of the old traditional school, either as pleasant garden
literature, or in regard to broad human interest or artistic quality.
They are hard and critical, and never lose the savour of the heated air
of controversy in which they were penned. Indeed, I can think of no more
sure and certain cure for a bad attack of garden-mania--nothing that
will sooner wipe the bloom off your enjoyment of natural beauty--than a
course of reading from the Classics of Landscape-garden literature! "I
only sound the clarion," said the urbane master-gardener of an earlier
day, "but I enter not into the battle." But these are at one another's
throats! Who enters here must leave his dreams of fine gardening behind,
for he will find himself in a chilly, disenchanted world, with nothing
more romantic to feed his imagination upon than "Remarks on the genius
of the late Mr. Brown," Critical enquiries, Observations on taste,
Difference between landscape gardening and painting, Price upon Repton,
Repton upon Price, Repton upon Knight, further answers to Messrs Price
and Knight, &c. But all this is desperately dull reading, hurtful to
one's imagination, fatal to garden-fervour.[32] And naturally so, for
analysis of the processes of garden-craft carried too far begets loss of
faith in all. Analysis is a kill-joy, destructive of dreams of beauty.
"We murder to dissect." That was a true word of the cynic of that day,
who summed up current controversy upon gardening in the opinion that
"the works of Nature were well executed, but in a bad taste." The
quidnuncs' books about gardening are about as much calculated to give
one delight, as the music the child gets out of the strings of an
instrument that it broke for the pride of dissection. Even Addison, with
the daintiest sense and prettiest pen of them all, shows how thoroughly
gardening had lost

      ... "its happy, country tone,
    Lost it too soon, and learnt a stormy note
    Of men contention-tost,"--

as he thrums out his laboured coffee-house conceit. "I think there are
as many kinds of gardening as poetry; your makers of parterres and
flower-gardens are epigrammatists and sonneteers in this art; contrivers
of bowers and grottoes, treillages, and cascades, are Romance writers.
Wise and Loudon are our heroic poets." Nor is his elaborate argument
meant to prove the gross inferiority of Art in a garden to unadorned
Nature more inspiring. Nay, what is one to make of even the logic of
such argument as this? "If the products of Nature rise in value
according as they more or less resemble those of Art, we may be sure
that artificial works receive a greater advantage from their resemblance
of such as are natural." (_Spectator._) But who _does_ apply the
Art-standard to Nature, or value her products as they resemble those of
Art? And has not Sir Walter well said: "Nothing is more the child of Art
than a garden"? And Loudon: "All art, to be acknowledged, as art must be

[Footnote 32: A candid friend thus writes to Repton: "You may have
perceived that I am rather _too much_ inclined to the Price and Knight
_party_, and yet I own to you that I have been often so much disgusted
by the affected and technical language of connoisseurship, that I have
been sick of pictures for a month, and almost of Nature, when the same
jargon was applied to her." (Repton, p. 232.)]

One prefers to this cold Pindaric garden-homage the unaffected, direct
delight in the sweets of a garden of an earlier day; to realise with old
Mountaine how your garden shall produce "a jucunditie of minde;" to
think with Bishop Hall, as he gazes at his tulips, "These Flowers are
the true Clients of the Sunne;" to be brought to old Lawson's state of
simple ravishment, "What more delightsome than an infinite varietie of
sweet-smelling flowers? decking with sundry colours the green mantle of
the Earth, colouring not onely the earth, but decking the ayre, and
sweetning every breath and spirit;" to taste the joys of living as,
taking Robert Burton's hand, you "walk amongst orchards, gardens,
bowers, mounts and arbours, artificial wildernesses, green thickets,
groves, lawns, rivulets, fountains, and such like pleasant places,
between wood and water, in a fair meadow, by a river side, to disport in
some pleasant plain or park, must needs be a delectable recreation;" to
be inoculated with old Gerarde of the garden-mania as he bursts forth,
"Go forward in the name of God: graffe, set, plant, nourishe up trees in
every corner of your grounde;" to trace with Temple the lines and
features that go to make the witchery of the garden at Moor Park, "in
all kinds the most beautiful and perfect, at least in the Figure and
Disposition, that I have ever seen," and which you may follow if you are
not "above the Regards of Common Expence;" to hearken to Bacon expatiate
upon the Art which is indeed "the purest of all humane pleasure, the
greatest refreshment to the Spirits of man;" to feel in what he says the
value of an ideal, the magic of a style backed by passion--to have
garden precepts wrapped in pretty metaphors (such as that "because the
Breath of Flowers is far Sweeter in the Air--_where it comes and goes
like the warbling of Musick_--than in the Hand, therefore nothing is
more fit for that Delight than to know what be the Flowers and Plants
that do best perfume the Air;")--to be taught how to order a garden to
suit all the months of the year, and have things of beauty enumerated
according to their seasons--to feel rapture at the sweet-breathing
presence of Art in a garden--to learn from one who knows how to garden
in a grand manner, and yet be finally assured that beauty does not
require a great stage, that the things thrown in "for state and
magnificence" are but nothing to the true pleasure of a garden--this is
garden-literature worth reading!

Compared with the frank raptures of such writings as these, the
laboured treatises of the landscape-school are but petty hagglings over
the mint and cummin of things. You go to the writings of the masters of
the old formality, to come away invigorated as by a whiff of mountain
air straight off Helicon; they shall give one fresh enthusiasm for
Nature, fresh devotion to Art, fresh love for beautiful things. But from
the other--

    "The bloom is gone, and with the bloom go I"--

they deal with technicalities in the affected language of
connoisseurship; they reveal a disenchanted world, a world of exploded
hopes given over to the navvies and the critics; and it is no wonder
that writings so prompted should have no charm for posterity; charm they
never had. They are dry as summer dust.

For the honour of English gardening, and before closing this chapter, I
would like to recall that betweenity--the garden of the transition--done
at the very beginning of the century of revolution, which unites
something of the spirit of the old and of the new schools. Here is Sir
Walter Scott's report of the Kelso garden as he _first_ knew it, and
_after_ it had been mauled by the landscape-gardener. It was a garden of
seven or eight acres adjacent to the house of an ancient maiden lady:

     "It was full of long straight walks between hedges of yew and
     hornbeam, which rose tall and close on every side. There were
     thickets of flowering shrubs, a bower, and an arbour, to which
     access was obtained through a little maze of contorted walks,
     calling itself a labyrinth. In the centre of the bower was a
     splendid Platanus or Oriental plane, a huge hill of leaves, one of
     the noblest specimens of that regularly beautiful tree which we
     remember to have seen. In different parts of the garden were fine
     ornamental trees which had attained great size, and the orchard was
     filled with fruit-trees of the best description. There were seats
     and trellis-walks, and a banqueting-house. Even in our time this
     little scene, intended to present a formal exhibition of vegetable
     beauty, was going fast to decay. The parterres of flowers were no
     longer watched by the quiet and simple _friends_ under whose
     auspices they had been planted, and much of the ornament of the
     domain had been neglected or destroyed to increase its productive
     value. We visited it lately, after an absence of many years. Its
     air of retreat, the seclusion which its alleys afforded was gone;
     the huge Platanus had died, like most of its kind, in the beginning
     of this century; the hedges were cut down, the trees stubbed up,
     and the whole character of the place so much destroyed that I was
     glad when I could leave it."--("Essay on Landscape Gardening,"
     _Quarterly Review_, 1828.[33])

[Footnote 33: "The Praise of Gardens," pp. 185-6.]

Another garden, of later date than this at Kelso, and somewhat less
artistic, is that described by Mr Henry A. Bright in "The English Flower

     "One of the most beautiful gardens I ever knew depended almost
     entirely on the arrangement of its lawns and shrubberies. It had
     certainly been most carefully and adroitly planned, and it had
     every advantage in the soft climate of the West of England. The
     various lawns were divided by thick shrubberies, so that you
     wandered on from one to the other, and always came on something
     new. In front of these shrubberies was a large margin of
     flower-border, gay with the most effective plants and annuals. At
     the corner of the lawn a standard _Magnolia grandiflora_ of great
     size held up its chaliced blossoms; at another a tulip-tree was
     laden with hundreds of yellow flowers. Here a magnificent
     _Salisburia_ mocked the foliage of the maiden-hair; and here an old
     cedar swept the grass with its large pendent branches. But the main
     breadth of each lawn was never destroyed, and past them you might
     see the reaches of a river, now in one aspect, now in another. Each
     view was different, and each was a fresh enjoyment and surprise.

     "A few years ago and I revisited the place; the 'improver' had been
     at work, and had been good enough to _open up_ the view.
     Shrubberies had disappeared, and lawns had been thrown together.
     The pretty peeps among the trees were gone, the long vistas had
     become open spaces, and you saw at a glance all that there was to
     be seen. Of course the herbaceous borders, which once contained
     numberless rare and interesting plants, had disappeared, and the
     lawn in front of the house was cut up into little beds of red
     pelargoniums, yellow calceolarias, and the rest."

[Footnote 34: _Ibid._, p. 296.]

In this example we miss the condensed beauty and sweet austerities of
the older garden at Kelso: nevertheless, it represents a phase of
workmanship which, for its real insight into the secrets of
garden-beauty, we may well be proud of, and deplore its destruction at
the hands of the landscape-gardener.

All arts are necessarily subject to progression of type. "Man cannot
escape from his time," says Mr Morley, and with changed times come
changed influences. But, then, to _progress_ is not to _change_: "to
progress is to live," and one phase of healthy progression will tread
the heels of that which precedes it. The restless changeful methods of
modern gardening are, however, not to be ascribed to the healthy
development of one consistent movement, but to chaos--to the revolution
that ensued upon the overthrow of tradition--to the indeterminateness of
men who have no guiding principles, who take so many wild leaps in the
dark, in the course of which, rival champions jostle one another and
only the fittest survives.

In treating of Modern English Gardening, it is difficult to make our way
along the tortuous path of change, development it is not, that set in
with the banishment of Art in a garden. Critical writers have done their
best to unravel things, to find the relation of each fractured phase,
and to give each phase a descriptive name, but there are still many
unexplained points, many contradictions that are unsolved, to which I
have already alluded.

Loudon's Introduction to Repton's "Landscape Gardening" gives perhaps
the most intelligible account of the whole matter. The art of laying out
grounds has been displayed in two very distinct styles: the first of
which is called the "Ancient Roman, Geometric, Regular, or Architectural
Style; and the second the Modern, _English_,[35] Irregular, Natural, or
Landscape Style."

[Footnote 35: This is a little unpatriotic of Loudon to imply that the
_English_ had no garden-style till the 18th century, but one can stand a
great deal from Loudon.]

We have, he says, the Italian, the French, and the Dutch Schools of the
Geometric Style. The Modern, or Landscape Style, when it first displayed
itself in English country residences, was distinctly marked by the
absence of everything that had the appearance of a terrace, or of
architectural forms, or lines, immediately about the house. The house,
in short, rose abruptly from the lawn, and the general surface of the
ground was characterised by smoothness and bareness. This constituted
the first School of the Landscape Style, introduced by Kent and Brown.

This manner was followed by the romantic or Picturesque Style, which
inaugurates a School which aimed at producing architectural tricks and
devices, allied with scenery of picturesque character and sham
rusticity. The conglomeration at Stowe, albeit that it is attributed to
Kent, shows what man can do in the way of heroically wrong

To know truly how to lay out a garden "_After a more Grand and Rural
Manner than has been done before_," you cannot do better than get Batty
Langley's "New Principles of Gardening," and among other things you have
rules whereby you may concoct natural extravagances, how you shall prime
prospects, make landscapes that are pictures of nothing and very like;
how to copy hills, valleys, dales, purling streams, rocks, ruins,
grottoes, precipices, amphitheatres, &c.

The writings of Gilpin and Price were effective in undermining Kent's
School; they helped to check the rage for destroying avenues and
terraces, and insisted upon the propriety of uniting a country-house
with the surrounding scenery by architectural appendages. The leakage
from the ranks of Kent's School was not all towards the Picturesque
School, but to what Loudon terms Repton's School, which may be
considered as combining all that was excellent in what had gone before.

Following upon these phases is one that is oddly called the
"_Gardenesque_" Style, the leading feature of which is that it
illustrates the beauty of trees, and other plants _individually_; in
short, it is the _specimen_ style. According to the practice of all
previous phases of modern gardening, trees, shrubs, and flowers were
indiscriminately mixed and crowded together, in shrubberies or other
plantations. According to the Gardenesque School, all the trees and
shrubs are arranged to suit their kinds and dimensions, and to display
them to advantage. The ablest exponents of the school are Loudon in the
recent past, and Messrs Marnock and Robinson in the present, and their
method is based upon Loudon.

To know how to lay out a garden after the most approved modern fashion
we have but to turn to the deservedly popular pages of "The English
Flower Garden." This book contains not only model designs and commended
examples from various existing gardens, but text contributed by some
seventy professional and amateur gardeners. Even the gardener who has
other ideals and larger ambitions than are here expected, heartily
welcomes a book so well stored with modern garden-lore up to date, with
suggestions for new aspects of vegetation, new renderings of plant life,
and must earnestly desire to see any system of gardening made perfect
after its kind--

    ... "I wish the sun should shine
    On all men's fruits and flowers, as well as mine."

Gardening is, above all things, a progressive Art which has never had so
fine a time to display its possibilities as now, if we were only wise
enough to freely employ old experiences and modern opportunities. People
are, however, so readily content with their stereotyped models, with
barren imitations, with their petty list of specimens, when instead of
half-a-dozen kinds of plants, their garden has room for hundreds of
different plants of fine form--hardy or half-hardy, annual and
bulbous--which would equally well suit the British garden and add to its
wealth of beauty by varied colourings in spring, summer, and autumn. At
present "the choke-muddle shrubbery, in which the poor flowering shrubs
dwindle and kill each other, generally supports a few ill-grown and
ill-chosen plants, but it is mainly distinguished for wide patches of
bare earth in summer, over which, in better hands, pretty green things
might crowd." The specimen plant has no chance of displaying itself
under such conditions.

       *       *       *       *       *

Into so nice a subject as the practice of Landscape-gardening of the
present day it is not my intention to enter in detail, and for two good
reasons. In the first place, the doctrines of a sect are best known by
the writings of its representatives; and in this case, happily, both
writings and representatives are plentiful. Secondly, I do not see that
there is much to chronicle. Landscape-gardening is, in a sense, still in
its fumbling stage; it has not increased its resources, or done anything
heroic, even on wrong lines; it has not advanced towards any permanent,
definable system of ornamentation since it began its gyrations in the
last century. Its rival champions still beat the air. Even Repton was
better off than the men of to-day, for he had, at least, his Protestant
formulary of Ten Objections to swear by, which "mark those errors or
absurdities in modern gardening and architecture to which I have never
willingly subscribed" (p. 127, "Theory and Practice of Landscape
Gardening," 1803, quoted in full above).

But the present race of landscape-gardeners are, it strikes me, as much
at sea as ever. True they threw up traditional methods as unworthy, but
they had not learnt their own Art according to Nature before they began
to practise it; and they are still in the throes of education. Their
intentions are admirable beyond telling, but their work exhibits in the
grossest forms the very vices they condemn in the contrary school; for
the expression of their ideas is self-conscious, strained, and
pointless. To know at a glance their position towards Art in a garden,
how crippled their resources, how powerless to design, let me give an
extract from Mr Robinson. He is speaking of an old-fashioned garden,
"One of those classical gardens, the planners of which prided themselves
upon being able to give Nature lessons of good behaviour, to teach her
geometry and the fine Art of irreproachable lines; but Nature abhors
lines;[36] she is for geometers a reluctant pupil, and if she submits to
their tyranny she does it with bad grace, and with the firm resolve to
take eventually her revenge. Man cannot conquer the wildness of her
disposition, and so soon as he is no longer at hand to impose his will,
so soon as he relaxes his care, she destroys his work" (p. viii.,
"English Flower Garden"). This is indeed to concede everything to
Nature, to deny altogether the mission of Art in a garden.

[Footnote 36: For which reason, I suppose, Mr Robinson, in his model
"Non-geometrical Gardens" (p. 5), humbly skirts his ground with a path
which as nearly represents a tortured horse-shoe as Nature would permit;
and his trees he puts in a happy-go-lucky way, and allows them to nearly
obliterate his path at their own sweet will! No wonder he does not fear
Nature's revenge, where is so little Art to destroy!]

And even the School that is rather kinder to Art, more lenient to
tradition, represented by Mr Milner--even he, in his admirable book upon
the "Art and Practice of Landscape Gardening" (1890), is the champion of
Nature, not of Art, in a garden. "Nature still seems to work in
fetters," he says, and he would "form bases for a better practice of the
Art" (p. 4). Again, Nature is the great exemplar that I follow" (p. 8).

They have not got beyond Brown, so far as theory is concerned. "Under
the great leader Brown," writes Repton, with unconscious irony, "or
rather those who patronised his discovery, we were taught that Nature
was to be our only model"--and Brown had his full chance of manipulating
the universe, for "he lived to establish a fashion in gardening, which
might have been expected to endure as long as Nature should exist"; and
yet Repton's work mostly consisted in repairing Brown's errors and in
covering the nakedness of his hungry prospects. So it would seem that
Art has her revenges as well as Nature! "The way of transgressors is

The Landscape-gardener, I said, gets no nearer to maturity of purpose as
time runs on. He creeps and shuffles after Nature as at the first--much
as the benighted traveller after the will-o'-the-wisp. He may not lay
hands on her, because you cannot conquer her wildness, nor impose your
will upon her, or teach her good behaviour. He may not apply the "dead
formalism of Art" to her, for "Nature abhors lines." Hence his mimicry
can never rise above Nature. Indeed, if it remains faithful to the
negative opinions of its practitioners, landscape-gardening will never
construct any system of device. It has no creed, if you except that sole
article of its faith, "I believe in the non-geometrical garden." A
monumental style is an impossibility while it eschews all features that
make for state and magnificence and symmetry; a little park scenery,
much grass, curved shrubberies, the "laboured littleness" of emphasised
specimen plants--the hardy ones dotted about in various parts--wriggling
paths, flower-borders, or beds of shapes that imply that they are the
offspring of bad dreams, and its tale of effects is told. But as for
"fine gardening," that was given up long ago as a bad job! The spirit of
Walpole's objections to the heroic enterprise of the old-fashioned
garden still holds the "landscape-gardener" in check. "I should hardly
advise any of those attempts," says Walpole; "_they are adventures of
too hard achievement for any common hands_."

It is not so much at what he finds in the landscape gardener's creations
that the architect demurs, but at what he misses. It is not so much at
what the landscape-gardener recommends that the architect objects, as at
what moving in his own little orbit he wilfully shuts out, basing his
opposition to tradition upon such an _ex parte_ view of the matter as
this--"There are really two styles, one strait-laced, mechanical, with
much wall and stone, or it may be gravel, with much also of such
geometry as the designer of wall-papers excels in--often poorer than
that, with an immoderate supply of spouting water, and with trees in
tubs as an accompaniment, and, perhaps, griffins and endless
plaster-work, and sculpture of the poorer sort." Why "poorer"? "The
other, with _right desire_, though _often awkwardly_ (!) accepting
Nature as a guide, and endeavouring to illustrate in our gardens, _so
far as convenience and knowledge will permit_, her many treasures of the
world of flowers" ("English Flower Garden"). How sweetly doth bunkum
commend itself!

It is not that the architect is small-minded enough to cavil at the
landscape-gardener's right to display his taste by his own methods, but
that he strikes for the same right for himself. It is not that he would
rob the landscape-gardener of the pleasure of expressing his own views
as persuasively as he can, but that he resents that air of superiority
which the other puts on as he bans the comely types and garnered
sweetness of old England's garden, that he accents the proscription of
the ways of interpreting Nature that have won the sanction of lovers of
Art and Nature of all generations of our forefathers, and this from a
School whose prerogative dates no farther back than the discovery of the
well-meaning, clumsy, now dethroned kitchen-gardener, known a short
century since as "the immortal Brown." There is no reviewer so keen as



    "Nothing is more the Child of Art than a Garden."


[Footnote 37: These notes make no pretence either at originality or
completeness. They represent gleanings from various sources, combined
with personal observations on garden-craft from the architect's point of
view.--J. D. S.]

"For every Garden," says Sir William Temple, "four things are to be
provided--Flowers, Fruit, Shade, and Water, and whoever lays out a
garden without these, must not pretend it in any perfection. Nature
should not be forced; great sums may be thrown away without Effect or
Honour, if there want sense in proportion to this." Briefly, the old
master's charge is this: "Have common-sense; follow Nature."

Following upon these lines, the gardener's first duty in laying out the
grounds to a house is, to study the site, and not only that part of it
upon which the house immediately stands, but the whole site, its aspect,
character, soil, contour, sectional lines, trees, &c. Common-sense,
Economy, Nature, Art, alike dictate this. There is an individual
character to every plot of land, as to every human face in a crowd; and
that man is not wise who, to suit preferences for any given style of
garden, or with a view to copying a design from another place, will
ignore the characteristics of the site at his disposal.

Equally unwise will he be to follow that school of gardening that makes
chaos before it sets about to make order. Features that are based upon,
or that grow out of the natural formation of the ground, will not only
look better than the created features, but be more to the credit of the
gardener, if successful, and will save expense.

The ground throughout should be so handled that every natural good
point, every tree, mound, declivity, stream, or quarry, or other chance
feature, shall be turned to good account, and its consequence
heightened, avoiding the error of giving the thing mock importance, by
planting, digging, lowering declivities, raising prominences, planting
dark-foliaged trees to intensify the receding parts, forming terraces on
the slope, or adding other architectural features as may be advisable to
connect the garden with the house which is its _raison d'être_, and the
building with the landscape.

What folly to throw down undulations in order to produce a commonplace
level, or to throw up hills, or make rocks, lakes, and waterfalls should
the site happen to be level! What folly to make a standing piece of
water imitate the curves of a winding river that has no existence, to
throw a bridge over it near its termination, so as to close the vista
and suggest the continuation of the water beyond! Nay, what need of
artificial lakes at all if there be a running stream hard by?[38]

[Footnote 38: "All rational improvement of grounds is necessarily
founded on a due attention to the CHARACTER and SITUATION of the place
to be improved; the _former_ teaches what is advisable, the _latter_
what is possible to be done. The _situation_ of a place always depends
on Nature, which can only be assisted, but cannot be entirely changed,
or greatly controlled by ART; but the _character_ of a place is wholly
dependent on ART; thus the house, the buildings, the gardens, the roads,
the bridges, and every circumstance which marks the habitation of man
must be artificial; and although in the works of art we may imitate the
forms and graces of Nature, yet, to make them truly natural, always
leads to absurdity" (Repton, p. 341).]

It is of the utmost importance that Art and Nature should be linked
together, alike in the near neighbourhood of the house, and in its far
prospect, so that the scene as it meets the eye, whether at a distance
or near, should present a picture of a simple whole, in which each item
should take its part without disturbing the individual expression of the

To attain this result, it is essential that the ground immediately about
the house should be devoted to symmetrical planning, and to distinctly
ornamental treatment; and the symmetry should break away by easy stages
from the dressed to the undressed parts, and so on to the open country,
beginning with wilder effects upon the country-boundaries of the place,
and more careful and intricate effects as the house is approached. Upon
the attainment of this appearance of graduated formality much depends.
One knows houses that are well enough in their way, that yet figure as
absolute blots upon God's landscape, and that make a man writhe as at
false notes in music, and all because due regard has not been paid to
this particular. By exercise of forethought in this matter, the house
and garden would have been linked to the site, and the site to the
landscape; as it is, you wish the house at Jericho![39]

[Footnote 39: Not so thinks the author of "The English Flower
Garden":--"Imagine the effect of a well-built and fine old house, seen
from the extremity of a wide lawn, with plenty of trees and shrubs on
its outer parts, and nothing to impede the view of the house or its
windows but a refreshing carpet of grass. If owners of parks were to
consider this point fully, and, as they travel about, watch the effect
of such lawns as remain to us, and compare them with what has been done
by certain landscape-gardeners, there would shortly be, at many a
country-seat, a rapid carting away of the terrace and all its adjuncts."
Marry, this is sweeping! But Repton has some equally strong words
condemning the very plan our Author recommends: "In the execution of my
profession I have often experienced great difficulty and opposition in
attempting to correct the false and mistaken taste for placing a large
house in a naked grass field, without any apparent line of separation
between the ground exposed to cattle and the ground annexed to the
house, which I consider as peculiarly under the management of art.

"This line of separation being admitted, advantage may be easily taken
to ornament the lawn with flowers and shrubs, and to attach to the
mansion that scene of 'embellished neatness' usually called a
pleasure-ground" (Repton, p. 213. See also No. 2 of Repton's
"Objections," given on p. 116).]

As the point of access to a house from the public road and the route to
be taken afterwards not infrequently determines the position of the
house upon the site, it may be well to speak of the Approach first. In
planning the ground, care will be taken that the approach shall both
look well of itself and afford convenient access to the house and its
appurtenances, not forgetting the importance of giving to the visitor a
pleasing impression of the house as he drives up.

In Elizabethan and Jacobean times, the usual form of approach was the
straight avenue, instances of which are still to be seen at Montacute,
Brympton, and Burleigh.[40] The road points direct to the house, as
evidence that in the minds of the old architects the house was, as it
were, the pivot round which the attached territory and the garden in all
its parts radiated; and the road ends, next the house, in a quadrangle
or forecourt, which has either an open balustrade or high hedge, and in
the centre of the court is a grass plot enlivened by statue or fountain
or sundial. And it is worthy of note that they who prefer a road that
winds to the very door of a house on the plea of its naturalness make a
great mistake; they forget that the winding road is no whit less
artificial than the straight one.

[Footnote 40: As an instance of how much dignity a noble house may lose
by a meanly-planned drive, I would mention Hatfield.]

The choice of avenue or other type of approach will mainly depend upon
the character and situation of the house, its style and quality. Repton
truly observes that when generally adopted the avenue reduces all houses
to the same landscape--"if looking up a straight line, between two green
walls, deserves the name of a landscape." He states his objections to
avenues thus--"If at the end of a long avenue be placed an obelisk or
temple, or any other eye-trap, ignorance or childhood alone will be
caught and pleased by it; the eye of taste or experience hates
compulsion, and turns away with disgust from every artificial means of
attracting its notice; for this reason an avenue is most pleasing
which, like that at Langley Park, climbs up a hill, and passing over the
summit, leaves the fancy to conceive its termination."

The very dignity of an avenue seems to demand that there shall be
something worthy of this procession of trees at its end, and if the
house to which this feature is applied be unworthy, a sense of
disappointment ensues. Provided, however, that the house be worthy of
this dignity, and that its introduction does not mar the view, or
dismember the ground, an avenue is both an artistic and convenient

Should circumstances not admit of the use of an avenue, the drive should
be as direct as may well be, and if curved, there should be some clear
and obvious justification for the curve or divergence; it should be
clear that the road is diverted to obtain a glimpse of open country that
would otherwise be missed, or that a steep hill or awkward dip is thus
avoided. The irregularity in the line of the road should not, however,
be the occasion of any break in the gradient of the road, which should
be continuously even throughout. In this matter of planning roads,
common sense, as well as artistic sense, should be satisfied; there
should be no straining after pompous effects. Except in cases where the
house is near to the public road, the drive should not run parallel to
the road for the mere sake of gaining a pretentious effect. Nor should
the road overlook the garden, a point that touches the comfort both of
residents and visitors; and for the same reason the entrance to the
garden should not be from the drive, but from the house.

The gradient recommended by Mr Milner,[41] to whose skilled experience I
am indebted for many practical suggestions, is 1 in 14. The width of a
drive is determined by the relative importance of the route. Thus, a
drive to the principal entrance of the house should be from 14 to 18
ft., while that to the stables or offices 10 ft. Walks should not be
less than 6 ft. wide. The width of a grand avenue should be 50 ft, and
"the trees may be preferably Elm, Beech, Oak, Chestnut, and they should
not be planted nearer in procession than 40 ft., unless they be planted
at intervals of half that distance for the purpose of destroying
alternate trees, as their growth makes the removal necessary."

[Footnote 41: Milner's "Art and Practice of Landscape-Gardening," pp.
13, 14.]

The entrance-gates should not be visible from the mansion, Repton says,
unless it opens into a courtyard. As to their position, the gates may be
formed at the junction of two roads, or where a cross-road comes on to
the main road, or where the gates are sufficiently back from the public
road to allow a carriage to stand clear. The gates, as well as the
lodge, should be at right angles to the drive, and belong to it, not to
the public road. Where the house and estate are of moderate size,
architectural, rather than "rustic," simplicity best suits the character
of the lodge. It is desirable, remarks Mr Milner, to place the entrance,
if it can be managed, at the foot of a hill or rise in the public road,
and not part of the way up an ascent, or at the top of it.

If possible, the house should stand on a platform or terraced eminence,
so as to give the appearance of being well above ground; or it should be
on a knoll where a view may be had. The ground-level of the house should
be of the right height to command the prospect. Should the architect be
so fortunate as to obtain a site for his house where the ground rises
steep and abrupt on one side of the house, he will get here a series of
terraces, rock-gardens, a fernery, a rose-garden, &c. The ideal site for
a house would have fine prospects to the south-east and to the
south-west "The principal approach should be on the north-western face,
the offices on the north-eastern side, the stables and kitchen-garden
beyond. The pleasure-gardens should be on the south-eastern aspect, with
a continuation towards the east; the south-western face might be open to
the park" (Milner).

If it can be avoided, the house should not be placed where the ground
slopes towards it--a treatment which suggests water draining into
it--but if this position be for some sufficient reason inevitable, or
should it be an old house with this defect that we are called to treat,
then a good space should be excavated, at least of the level of the
house, with a terrace-wall at the far end, on the original level of the
site at that particular point. And as to the rest of the ground,
Repton's sound advice is to plant up the heights so as to increase the
effect of shelter and seclusion that the house naturally has, and
introduce water, if available, at the low-level of the site. The air of
seclusion that the low-lying situation gives to the house is thus
intensified by crowning the heights with wood and setting water at the
base of the slope.

The hanging-gardens at Clevedon Court afford a good example of what can
be done by a judicious formation of ground where the house is situated
near the base of a slope, and this example is none the less interesting
for its general agreement with Lamb's "Blakesmoor"--its ample
pleasure-garden "rising backwards from the house in triple terraces; ...
the verdant quarters backwarder still, and stretching still beyond in
old formality, the firry wilderness, the haunt of the squirrel and the
day-long murmuring wood-pigeon, with that antique image in the centre."

Before dealing with the garden and its relation to the house it may be
well to say a few words upon Planting. Trees are among the grandest and
most ornamental effects of natural scenery; they help the charm of hill,
plain, valley, and dale, and the changes in the colour of their foliage
at the different seasons of the year give us perpetual delight. One of
the most important elements in ornamental gardens is the dividing up and
diversifying a given area by plantations, by grouping of trees to form
retired glades, open lawns, shaded alleys, and well-selected margins of
woods; and, if this be skilfully done, an impression of variety and
extent will be produced beyond the belief of the uninitiated who has
seen the bare site before it was planted.

To speak generally, there should be no need of apology for applying the
most subtle art in the disposal of trees and shrubs, and in the
formation of the ground to receive them. "_All Art_," as Loudon truly
says (speaking upon this very point), "_to be acknowledged as Art, must
be avowed._" This is the case in the fine arts--there is no attempt to
conceal art in music, poetry, painting, or sculpture, none in
architecture, and none in geometrical-gardening.

In modern landscape-gardening, practised as a fine art, many of the more
important beauties and effects produced by the artist depend on the use
he makes of foreign trees and shrubs; and, personally, one is ready to
forgive Brown much of his vile vandalism in old-fashioned gardens for
the use he makes of cedars, pines, planes, gleditschias, robinias,
deciduous cypress, and all the foreign hardy trees and shrubs that were
then to his hand.

Loudon--every inch a fine gardener, true lineal descendant of Bacon in
the art of gardening--recommends in his "Arboretum" (pp. 11, 12) the
heading down of large trees of common species, and the grafting upon
them foreign species of the same genus, as is done in orchard
fruit-trees. Hawthorn hedges, for instance, are common everywhere; why
not graft some of the rare and beautiful sorts of tree thorns, and
intersperse common thorns between them? There are between twenty and
thirty beautiful species and varieties of thorn in our nurseries. Every
gardener can graft and bud. Or why should not scarlet oak and scarlet
acer be grafted on common species of these genera along the margins of
woods and plantations?

       *       *       *       *       *

In planting, the gardener has regard for character of foliage and tints,
the nature of the soil, the undulations of ground and grouping, the
amount of exposure. Small plantations of trees surrounded by a fence are
the best expedients to form groups, says Repton, because trees planted
singly seldom grow well. Good trees should not be encumbered by peddling
bushes, but be treated as specimens, each having its separate mound. The
mounds can be formed out of the hollowed pathways in the curves made
between the groups. The dotting of trees over the ground or of specimen
shrubs on a lawn is destructive of all breadth of effect. This is not to
follow Nature, nor Art, for Art demands that each feature shall have
relation to other features, and all to the general effect.

In planting trees the variety of height in their outline must be
considered as much as the variety of their outline on plan; the
prominent parts made high, the intervening bays kept low,[42] and this
both in connection with the lie of the ground and the plant selected.
Uniform curves, such as parts of circles or ovals, are not approved;
better effects are obtained by forming long bays or recesses with
forked tongues breaking forward irregularly, the turf running into the
bays. Trees may serve to frame a particular view and frame a picture;
and when well led up to the horizon will enhance the imaginative effect
of a place: a _beyond_ in any view implies somewhere to explore.

[Footnote 42: "One deep recess, one bold prominence, has more effect
than twenty little irregularities." "Every variety in the outline of a
wood must be a _prominence_ or a _recess_" (Repton, p. 182).]

All trees grow more luxuriantly in valleys than on the hills, and on
this account the tendency of tree-growth is to neutralise the difference
in the rise and fall of the ground and to bring the tops of the trees
level. But the perfection of planting is to get an effect approximating
as near as may be to the charming undulations of the Forest of Dean and
the New Forest. Care will be taken, then, not to plant the fast-growing,
or tall-growing trees in the low-ground, but on the higher points, and
even to add to the irregularity by clothing the natural peaks with
silver fir, whose tall heads will increase the sense of height. The
limes, planes, and elms will be mostly kept to the higher ground,
bunches of Scotch fir will be placed here and there, and oaks and
beeches grouped together, while the lower ground will be occupied by
maples, crabs, thorns, alders, &c. "Fringe the edges of your wood with
lines of horse-chestnut," says Viscount Lymington in his delightful and
valuable article on "Vert and Venery"--"a mass in spring of blossom, and
in autumn of colour; and under these chestnuts, and in nooks and
corners, thrust in some laburnum, that it may push its showers of gold
out to the light and over the fence."

As to the nature of the soil, and degree of exposure suitable to
different forest-trees, the writer just quoted holds that, for exposure
to the wind inland, the best trees for all soils are the beech, the
Austrian pine, and the Scotch fir.

For exposure in hedgerows, the best tree to plant ordinarily is the elm.
For exposure to frost, the Insignis pine, which will not, however, stand
the frosts of the valley, but prefers high ground. For exposure to
smoke, undoubtedly the best tree is the Western plane. The sycamore will
stand better than most trees the smoke and chemical works of
manufacturing towns. For sea-exposure, the best trees to plant are the
goat willow and pineaster. Among the low-growing shrubs which stand
sea-exposure well are mentioned the sea-buckthorn, the snow-berry, the
evergreen barberry, and the German tamarisk; to which should be added
the euonymus and the escallonia.

With regard to the nature of the soil, Lord Lymington says: "Strong clay
produces the best oaks and the best silver fir. A deep loam is the most
favourable soil for the growth of the Spanish chestnut and ash. The
beech is the glorious weed of the chalk and down countries; the elm of
the rich red sandstone valleys. Coniferous trees prefer land of a light
sandy texture; ... but as many desire to plant conifers on other soils,
I would mention that the following among others will grow on most soils,
chalk included: the _Abies excelsa_, _canadensis_, _magnifica_,
_nobilis_, and _Pinsapo_; the _Pinus excelsa_, _insignis_, and
_Laricio_; the _Cupressus Lawsoniana_, _erecta_, _viridis_, and
_macrocarpa_; the _Salisburia adiantifolia_, and the _Wellingtonia_. The
most fast-growing in England of conifers is the Douglas fir.... It grows
luxuriantly on the slopes of the hills, but will not stand exposure to
the wind, and for that reason should always be planted in sheltered
combes with other trees behind it.

"In moist and boggy land the spruce or the willow tribes succeed best."

"In high, poor, and very dry land, no tree thrives so well as the Scotch
fir, the beech, and the sycamore."

Avoid the selfishness and false economy of planting an inferior class of
fast-growing trees such as firs and larches and Lombardy poplars, on the
ground that one would not live to get any pleasure out of woods of oaks
and beech and chestnut. How frequently one sees tall, scraggy planes, or
belts of naked, attenuated firs, where groups of oaks and elms and
groves of chestnut might have stood with greater advantage.

Avoid the thoughtlessness and false economy of not thoroughly preparing
the ground before planting. "Those that plant," says an old writer,
"should make their ground fit for the trees before they set them, and
not bury them in a hole like a dead dog; let them have good and fresh
lodgings suitable to their quality, and good attendance also, to
preserve them from their enemies till they are able to encounter them."

Avoid trees near a house; they tend to make it damp, and the garden
which is near the house untidy. Writers upon planting have their own
ideas as to the fitness of certain growths for a certain style of house.
As regards the relation of trees to the house, if the building be of
Gothic design with the piquant outline usual to the style, then trees of
round shape form the best foil; if of Classic or Renascence design, then
trees of vertical conic growth suit best. So, if the house be of stone,
trees of dark foliage best meet the case; if of brick, trees of lighter
foliage should prevail. As a backing to the horizontal line of a roof to
an ordinary two-storey building, nothing looks better than the long
stems of stone pines or Scotch firs; and pines are health-giving trees.

Never mark the outline of ground, nor the shape of groups of trees and
shrubs with formal rows of bedding plants or other stiff edging, which
is the almost universal practice of gardeners in the present day. This
is a poor travesty of Bacon's garden, who only allows low things to grow
naturally up to the edges.

From the artist's point of view, perhaps the most desirable quality to
aim at in the distribution of garden space is that of breadth of
effect--in other words, simplicity; and the larger the garden the more
need does there seem for getting this quality. One may, in a manner,
_toy_ with a small garden. In the case of a large garden, where the
owner in his greed for prettiness has carried things further than
regulation-taste would allow, much may be done to subdue the
assertiveness of a multiplicity of interesting objects by architectural
adjuncts--broad terraces, well-defined lines, even a range of sentinel
yews or clipt shrubs--things that are precise, grave, calm, and
monotonous. Where such things are brought upon the scene, a certain
spaciousness and amplitude of effect ensues as a matter of course.

One sees that the modern gardener, with his augmented list of
specimen-plants of varied foliage, is far more apt to err in the
direction of sensationalism than the gardener of old days who was exempt
from many of our temptations. Add to this power of attaining sweetness
and intricacy the artist's prone aspirations to work up to his lights
and opportunities, and we have temptation which is seductiveness itself!

The garden at Highnam Court, dear to me for its signs and memories of my
late accomplished friend, Mr T. Gambier Parry, is the perfectest modern
garden I have ever seen. But here, if there be a fault, it is that Art
has been allowed to blossom too profusely. The attention of the visitor
is never allowed to drop, but is ever kept on the stretch. You are
throughout too much led by the master's cunning hand. Every known bit of
garden-artifice, every white lie of Art, every known variety of choice
tree or shrub, or trick of garden-arrangement is set forth there. But
somehow each thing strikes you as a little vainglorious--too sensible of
its own importance. We go about in a sort of pre-Raphaelite frame of
mind, where each seemly and beauteous feature has so much to say for
itself that, in the delightfulness of the details, we are apt to forget
that it is the first business of any work of Art to be a unit. There is
nothing of single specimen, or group of intermingled variety, or adroit
vista that we may miss and not be a loser; the only drawback is that we
see what we are expected to see, what everyone else sees. Here is
greenery of every hue; every metallic tint of silver, gold, copper,
bronze is there; and old and new favourites take hands, and we feel that
it is perfect; but the things blush in their conscious beauty--every
prospect is best seen "_there_!" England has few such beautiful gardens
as Highnam, and it has all the pathos of the touch of "a vanished hand,"
and ideals that have wider range now.

As to this matter of scenic effects, it is of course only fair to
remember that a garden is a place meant not only for broad vision, but
for minute scrutiny; and, specially near the house, intricacy is
permissible. Yet the counsels of perfection would tell the artist to
eschew such prettiness and multiplied beauties as trench upon broad
dignity. Sweetness is not good everywhere. Variations in plant-life that
are over-enforced, like variations in music, may be inferior to the
simple theme. A commonplace house, with well-disposed grounds,
flower-beds in the right place, a well-planted lawn, may please longer
than a fine pile where is ostentation and unrelieved artifice.

Of lawns. Everything in a garden, we have said, has its first original
in primal Nature: a garden is made up of wild things that are tamed. The
old masters fully realised this. They sucked out the honey of wild
things without carrying refinement too far before they sipped it; and in
garnering for their _House Beautiful_ the rustic flavour is left so far
as was compatible with the requirements of Art--"as much as may be to a
natural wildness." And it were well for us to do the same in the
treatment of a lawn, which is only the grassy, sun-chequered, woodland
glade in, or between woods, in a wild country idealised.

A lawn is one of the delights of man. The "Teutonic races"--says Mr
Charles Dudley Warner, in his large American way--"The Teutonic races
all love turf; they emigrate in the line of its growth." Flower-beds
breed cheerfulness, but they may at times be too gay for tired eyes and
jaded minds; they may provoke admiration till they are provoking. But a
garden-lawn is a vision of peace, and its tranquil grace is a boon of
unspeakable value to people doomed to pass their working-hours in the
hustle of city-life.

The question of planting and of lawn-making runs together, and Nature
admonishes us how to set about this work. Every resource she offers
should be met by the resources of Art: avoid what she avoids, accept and
heighten what she gives. Nature in the wild avoids half-circles and
ovals and uniform curves, and they are bad in the planted park, both for
trees and greensward. Nature does not of herself dot the landscape over
with spies sent out single-handed to show the nakedness of the land, but
puts forth detachments that befriend each the other, the boldest and
fittest first, in jagged outlines, leading the way, but not out of touch
with the rest. And, since the modern landscape-gardener is nothing if
not a naturalist, this is why one cannot see the consistency of so fine
a master as Mr Marnock, when he dots his lawns over with straggling
specimens. (See the model garden, by Mr Marnock in "The English
Flower-Garden," p. xxi, described thus--"Here the foreground is a
sloping lawn; the flowers are mostly arranged near the kitchen garden,
partly shown to right; the hardy ones grouped and scattered in various
positions near, or within good view of, the one bold walk which sweeps
round the ground.")

A garden is ground knit up artistically; ground which has been the field
of artistic enterprise; ground which expresses the feeling of beauty and
which absorbs qualities which man has discovered in the woodland world.
And the qualities in Nature which may well find room in a garden are
peace, variety, animation. A good sweep of lawn is a peaceful object,
but see that the view is not impeded with the modern's sprawling
pell-mell beds. And in the anxiety to make the most of your ground, do
not spoil a distant prospect. Remember, too, that a lawn requires a good
depth of soil, or it will look parched in the hot weather.

And since a lawn is so delightful a thing, beware lest your admiration
of it lead you to swamp your whole ground with grass even to carrying it
up to the house itself. "Nothing is more a child of Art than a garden,"
says Sir Walter, and he was competent to judge. If only out of
compliment to your architect and to the formal angularities of his
building, let the ground immediately about the house be of an ornamental
dressed character.

Avoid the misplaced rusticity of the fashionable landscape-gardener, who
with his Nebuchadnezzar tastes would turn everything into grass, would
cart away the terrace and all its adjuncts, do away with all flowers,
and "lawn your hundred good acres of wheat," as Repton says, if you will
only let him, and if you have them.

In his devotion to grass, his eagerness to display the measure of his
art in the curves of shrubberies and the arrangement of specimen plants
that strut across your lawn or dot it over as the Sunday scholars do the
croft when they come for their annual treat, he quite forgets the
flowers--forgets the old intent of a garden as the House Beautiful of
the civilised world--the place for nature-rapture, colour-pageantry, and
sweet odours. "Here the foreground is a sloping lawn; the _flowers are
mostly arranged near the kitchen garden_." Anywhere, anywhere out of the
way! Or if admitted at all into view of the house, it shall be with
little limited privileges, and the stern injunction--

    "If you speak you must not show your face,
    Or if you show your face you must not speak."

So much for the garden-craft of the best modern landscape-gardener and
its relation to flowers. If this be the garden of the "Gardenesque"
style, as it is proudly called, I personally prefer the garden without
the style.



     "I cannot think Nature is so spent and decayed that she can bring
     forth nothing worth her former years. She is always the same, like
     herself; and when she collects her strength is abler still. Men are
     decayed, and studies; she is not."--BEN JONSON.

The old-fashioned country house has, almost invariably, a garden that
curtseys to the house, with its formal lines, its terraces, and beds of
geometrical patterns.

But to the ordinary Landscape-gardener the terrace is as much anathema
as the "Kist o' Whistles" to the Scotch Puritan! So able and
distinguished a gardener as Mr Robinson, while not absolutely forbidding
any architectural accessories or geometrical arrangement, is for ever
girding at them. The worst thing that can be done with a true garden, he
says ("The English Flower Garden," p. ii), "is to introduce any feature
which, unlike the materials of our world-designer, never changes. There
are positions, it is true, where the _intrusion of architecture_ and
embankment into the garden is justifiable; nay, now and then, even

If one is to promulgate opinions that shall run counter to the wisdom of
the whole civilised world, it is, of course, well that they should be
pronounced with the air of a Moses freshly come down from the Mount,
with the tables of the law in his hands. And there is more of it. "There
is no code of taste resting on any solid foundation which proves that
garden or park should have any extensive stonework or geometrical
arrangement.... Let us, then, use as few oil-cloth or carpet patterns
and as little stonework as possible in our gardens. The style is in
doubtful taste in climates and positions more suited to it than that of
England, but he who would adopt it in the present day is an enemy to
every true interest of the garden" (p. vi).

So much for the "deadly formalism" of an old-fashioned garden in our
author's eyes! But, as Horace Walpole might say, "it is not peculiar to
Mr Robinson to think in that manner." It is the way of the
landscape-gardener to monopolise to himself all the right principles of
gardening; he is the angel of the garden who protects its true
interests; all other moods than his are low, all figures other than his
are symbols of errors, all dealings with Nature or with "the materials
of our world-designer" other than his are spurious. For the colonies I
can imagine no fitter doctrines than our author's, but not for an old
land like ours, and for methods that have the approval of men like
Bacon, Temple, More, Evelyn, Sir Joshua, Sir Walter, Elia, Wordsworth,
Tennyson, Morris, and Jefferies. And, even in the colonies, they might
demand to see "the code of taste resting on any solid foundation which
proves" that you shall have any garden or park at all!

"If I am to have a system at all," says the author of "The Flower
Garden" (Murray, 1852), whose broad-minded views declare him to be an
amateur, "give me the good old system of terraces and angled walks, the
clipt yew hedges, against whose dark and rich verdure the bright
old-fashioned flowers glittered in the sun." Or again: "Of all the vain
assumptions of these coxcombical times, that which arrogates the
pre-eminence in the true science of gardening is the vainest.... The
real beauty and poetry of a garden are lost in our efforts after rarity.
If we review the various styles that have prevailed in England from the
knotted gardens of Elizabeth ... to the landscape fashion of the present
day, we shall have little reason to pride ourselves on the advance which
national taste has made upon the earliest efforts in this department"
("The Praise of Gardens," p. 270).

"Large or small," says Mr W. Morris, "the garden should look both
orderly and rich. It should be well fenced from the outer world. It
should by no means imitate either the wilfulness or the wildness of
Nature, but should look like a thing never seen except near a house"
("Hopes and Fears").

The whole point of the matter is, however, perhaps best summed up in
Hazlitt's remark, that there is a pleasure in Art which none but artists
feel. And why this sudden respect for "the materials of our
world-designer," when we may ask in Repton's words "why this art has
been called Landscape-gardening, perhaps he who gave the title may
explain. I see no reason, unless it be the efficacy which it has shown
in destroying landscapes, in which indeed it is infallible!" But,
setting aside the transparent shallowness of such a plea against the use
of Art in a garden, it argues little for the scheme of effects to leave
"nothing to impede the view of the house or its windows but a refreshing
carpet of grass." To pitch your house down upon the grass with no
architectural accessories about it, to link it to the soil, is to
vulgarise it, to rob it of importance, to give it the look of a pastoral
farm, green to the door-step. To bring Nature up to the windows of your
house, with a scorn of art-sweetness, is not only to betray your own
deadness to form, but to cause a sense of unexpected blankness in the
visitor's mind on leaving the well-appointed interior of an English
home. As the house is an Art-production, so is the garden that surrounds
it, and there is no code of taste that I know of which would prove that
Art is more reprehensible in the garden than in the house.

But to return. The old-fashioned country house had its terraces. These
terraces are not mere narrow slopes of turf, such as now-a-days too
often answer to the term, but they are of solid masonry with balustrades
or open-work that give an agreeable variety of light and shade, and
impart an air of importance and of altitude to the house that would be
lacking if the terrace were not there.


The whole of the ground upon which the house stands, or which forms
its base, constitutes the terrace. In such cases the terrace-walls are
usually in two or more levels, the upper terrace being mostly parallel
with the line of the house, or bowed out at intervals with balconies,
while the lower terrace, or terraces, serve as the varying levels of
formal gardens, pleasure-grounds, labyrinths, &c. The terraces are
approached by wide steps that are treated in a stately and impressive
manner. The walls and balustrades, moreover, conform, as they should, to
the materials employed in the house; if the house be of stone, as at
Haddon, or Brympton, or Claverton, the balustrade is of stone; if the
house be of brick, as at Hatfield or Bramshill, the walls and
balustrades will be of brick and terra-cotta. The advantage of this
agreement of material is obvious, for house and terrace, embraced at one
glance, make a consistent whole. There is not, of course, the same
necessity for consistency of material in the case of the mere retaining

As one must needs have a system in planning grounds, there is none that
will more certainly bring honour and effect to them than the regular
geometrical treatment. This is what the architect naturally prefers. The
house is his child, and he knows what is good for it. Unlike the
imported gardener, who comes upon the scene as a foreign agent, the
architect works from the house outwards, taking the house as his centre;
the other works from the outside inwards, if he thinks of the "inwards"
at all. The first thinks of house and grounds as a whole which shall
embrace the main buildings, the outbuildings, the flower and
kitchen-gardens, terraces, walls, forecourt, winter-garden,
conservatory, fountain, steps, &c. The other makes the house common to
the commonplace; owing no allegiance to Art, a specialist of one idea,
he holds that the worst thing that can be done is to intrude
architectural or geometrical arrangement about a garden, and speaks of a
refreshing carpet of grass as preferable.

As to the extent, number, and situation of terraces, this point is
determined by the conditions of the house and site. Terraces come
naturally if the house be on an eminence, but even in cases where the
ground recedes only to a slight extent, the surface of a second terrace
may be lowered by increasing the fall of the slope till sufficient earth
is provided for the requisite filling. The surplus earth dug out in
forming the foundations and cellars of the house, or rubbish from an old
building, will help to make up the terrace levels and save the cost of
wheeling and carting the rubbish away.

Like all embankments, terrace walls are built with "battered" fronts or
outward slope; the back of the wall will be left rough, and well
drained. A backing of sods, Mr Milner says, will prevent thrust, and
admit of a lessened thickness in the wall. The walls should not be less
than three feet in height from the ground-level beneath, exclusive of
the balustrade, which is another three feet high.


The length of the terrace adds importance to the house, and in small
gardens, where the kitchen-garden occupies one side of the
flower-garden, the terrace may with advantage be carried to the full
extent of the ground, and the kitchen-garden separated by a hedge and
shrubs; and at the upper end of the kitchen-garden may be a narrow
garden, geometrical, rock, or other garden, set next the terrace wall.

The treatment of the upper terrace should be strictly architectural. If
the terrace be wide, raised beds with stone edging, set on the inner
side of the terrace, say alternately long beds with dwarf flowering
shrubs or hydrangeas, and circles with standard hollies, or marble
statues on pedestals, that shall alternate with pyramidal golden yews,
have a good effect, the terrace terminating with an arbour or stone
Pavilion. Modern taste, however, even if it condescend so far as to
allow of a terrace, is content with its grass plot and gravel walks,
which is not carrying Art very far.

Laneham tells of the old pleasaunce at Kenilworth, that it had a terrace
10 ft. high and 12 ft. wide on the garden side, in which were set at
intervals obelisks and spheres and white bears, "all of stone, upon
their curious bases," and at each end an arbour; the garden-plot was
below this, and had its fair alleys, or grass, or gravel.

The lower terrace may well be twice the width of the upper one, and may
be a geometrical garden laid out on turf, if preferred, but far better
upon gravel. Here will be collected the choicest flowers in the garden,
giving a mass of rich colouring.

Although in old gardens the lower terrace is some 10 ft. below the upper
one, this is too deep to suit modern taste; indeed, 5 ft. or 6 ft. will
give a better view of the garden if it is to be viewed from the house.
At the same time it is undeniable that the more you are able to look
_down_ upon the garden--the higher you stand above its plane--the better
the effect; the lower you stand, the poorer the perspective.

Modern taste, also, will not always tolerate a balustraded wall as a
boundary to the terrace, but likes a grass slope. If this poor
substitute be preferred, there should be a level space at the bottom of
the slope and at the top; the slope should have a continuous line, and
not follow any irregularity in the natural lie of the ground, and there
should be a simple plinth 12 to 18 in. high at the bottom of the slope.

But the mere grass slope does not much help the effect of the house, far
or near; a house standing on a grass slope always has the effect of
sliding down a hill. To leave the house exposed upon the landscape,
unscreened and unterraced, is not to treat site or house fairly. There
exists a certain necessity for features in a flat place, and if no
raised terrace be possible, it is desirable to get architectural
treatment by means of balustrades alone, without much, or any, fall in
the ground. The eye always asks for definite boundaries to a piece of
ornamental ground as it does for a frame to a picture, and where
definite boundaries do not exist, the distant effect is that of a
house that has tumbled casually down from the skies, near which the
cattle may graze as they list, and the flower-beds are the mere sport of


Good examples of terrace walls are to be found at Haddon, Claverton,
Brympton, Montacute, Bramshill, Wilton, and Blickling Hall. If truth be
told, however, all our English examples dwindle into nothingness by the
side of fine Italian examples like those at Villa Albani,[43] Villa
Medici, or Villa Borghese, with their grand scope and array of
sculpture. (See illustration from Percier and Fontaine's "_Choix des
plus célèbres maisons de plaisance de Rome et de ses environs_." Paris,

[Footnote 43: See accompanying plans.]

The arrangement of steps is a matter that may call forth a man's utmost
ingenuity. The scope and variety of step arrangement is, indeed, a
matter that can only be realised by designers who have given it their
study. As to practical points. In planning steps make the treads wide,
the risers low. Long flights without landings are always objectionable.
Some of the best examples, both in England and abroad, have winders; as
to the library quadrangle, Trinity Coll., Cambridge; Donibristle Castle,
Scotland; Villa d'Este, Tivoli; the gardens at Nîmes. The grandest
specimen of all is the Trinità di Monte steps in Rome (see Notes on
Gardens in _The British Architect_, by John Belcher and Mervyn

It is impossible to lay down rules of equal application everywhere as to
the distribution of garden area into compartments, borders, terraces,
walks, &c. These matters are partly regulated by the character of the
house, its situation, the section and outline of the ground. But gardens
should, if possible, lie towards the best parts of the house, or towards
the rooms most commonly in use by the family, and endeavour should be
made to plant them so that to step from the house on to the terrace, or
from the terrace to the various parts of the garden, should only seem
like going from one room to another.

Of the arrangement of the ground into divisions, each section should
have its own special attractiveness and should be led up to by some
inviting artifice of archway, or screened alley of shrubs, or "rosery"
with its trellis-work, or stone colonnade; and if the alley be long it
should be high enough to afford shade from the glare of the sun in hot
weather; you ought not, as Bacon pertinently says, to "buy the shade by
going into the sun."

Again, the useful and the beautiful should be happily united, the
kitchen and the flower garden, the way to the stables and outbuildings,
the orchard, the winter garden, &c., all having a share of consideration
and a sense of connectedness; and if there be a chance for a filbert
walk, seize it; that at Hatfield is charming. "I cannot understand,"
says Richard Jefferies ("Wild Life in a Southern Country," p. 70), "why
filbert walks are not planted by our modern capitalists, who make
nothing of spending a thousand pounds in forcing-houses."

A garden should be well fenced, and there should always be facility for
getting real seclusion, so much needed now-a-days; indeed, the provision
of places of retreat has always been a note of an English garden. The
love of retirement, almost as much as a taste for trees and flowers, has
dictated its shapes. Hence the cedar-walks,[44] the bower, the avenue,
the maze, the alley, the wilderness, that were familiar, and almost the
invariable features of an old English pleasaunce, "hidden happily and
shielded safe."

[Footnote 44: One of the finest and weirdest cedar-walks that I have
ever met with is that at Marwell, near Owslebury in Hampshire. Here you
realise the wizardry of green gloom and sense of perfect seclusion. It
was here that Henry VIII. courted one of his too willing wives.]

This seclusion can be got by judicious screening of parts, by
shrubberies, or avenues of hazel, or yew, or sweet-scented bay, with
perhaps clusters of lilies and hollyhocks, or dwarf Alpine plants and
trailers between. And in all this the true gardener will have a thought
for the birds. "No modern exotic evergreens," says Jefferies, "ever
attract our English birds like the true old English trees and shrubs. In
the box and yew they love to build; spindly laurels and rhododendrons,
with vacant draughty spaces underneath, they detest, avoiding them as
much as possible. The common hawthorn hedge round a country garden shall
contain three times as many nests, and be visited by five times as many
birds as the foreign evergreens, so costly to rear and so sure to be
killed by the first old-fashioned frost."

Another chance for getting seclusion is the high walls or lofty yew
hedge of the quadrangular courtyard, which may be near the entrance.
Such a forecourt is the place for a walk on bleak days; in its borders
you are sure of the earliest spring flowers, for the tender flowers can
here bloom securely, the myrtle, the pomegranate will flourish, and the
most fragrant plants and climbers hang over the door and windows. What
is more charming than the effect of hollyhocks, peonies, poppies,
tritomas, and tulips seen against a yew hedge?

The paths should be wide and excellently made. The English have always
had good paths; as Mr Evelyn said to Mr Pepys, "We have the best walks
of gravell in the world, France having none, nor Italy." The comfort and
the elegance of a garden depend in no slight degree upon good gravel
walks, but having secured gravel walks to all parts of the grounds,
green alleys should also be provided. Nothing is prettier than a vista
through the smooth-shaven green alley, with a statue or sundial or
pavilion at the end; or an archway framing a peep of the country beyond.

As to the garden's size, it is erroneous to suppose that the enjoyments
of a garden are only in proportion to its magnitude; the pleasurableness
of a garden depends infinitely more upon the degree of its culture and
the loving care that is bestowed upon it. If gardens were smaller than
they usually are, there would be a better chance of their orderly
keeping. As it is, gardens are mostly too large for the number of
attendants, so that the time and care of the gardener are nearly
absorbed in the manual labour of repairing and stocking the beds, and
maintaining and sweeping the walks.


But if not large, the grounds should not have the appearance of being
confined within a limited space; and Art is well spent in giving an
effect of greater extent to the place than it really possesses by a
suitable composition of the walks, bushes, and trees. These lines should
lead the eye to the distance, and if bounded by trees, the garden should
be connected with the outer world by judicious openings; and this rule
applies to gardens large or small.

Ground possessing a gentle inclination towards the south is desirable
for a garden. On such a slope effectual drainage is easily accomplished,
and the greatest possible benefit obtained from the sun's rays. The
garden should, if possible, have an open exposure towards the east and
west, so that it may enjoy the full benefit of morning and evening sun;
but shelter on the north or north-east, or any side in which the
particular locality may happen to be exposed, is desirable.

The dimensions of the garden will be proportionate to the scale of the
house. The general size of the garden to a good-sized house is from four
to six acres, but the extent varies in many places from twelve to
twenty, or even thirty acres. (See an admirable article on gardening in
the "Encyclopædia.")

Before commencing to lay out a garden the plan should be prepared in
minute detail, and every point carefully considered. Two or three acres
of kitchen garden, enclosed by walls and surrounded by slips, will
suffice for the supply of a moderate establishment.[45] The form of the
kitchen garden advocated by the writer in the "Encyclopædia" is that of
a square, or oblong, not curvilinear, since the work of cropping of the
ground can thus be more easily carried out. On the whole, the best form
is that of a parallelogram, with its longest sides in the proportion of
about five to three of the shorter, and running east and west. The whole
should be compactly arranged so as to facilitate working, and to afford
convenient access for the carting of heavy materials to the store-yards,

[Footnote 45: As the walls afford valuable space for the growth of the
choicer kinds of hardy fruits, the direction in which they are built is
of considerable importance. "In the warmer parts of the country, the
wall on the north side of the garden should be so placed as to face the
sun at about an hour before noon, or a little to east of south; in less
favoured localities it should be made to face direct south, and in the
still more unfavourable districts it should face the sun an hour after
noon, or a little west of south. The east and west walls should run
parallel to each other, and at right angles to that on the north side."]

There can, as we have said, be no fixed or uniform arrangement of
gardens. Some grounds will have more flower-beds than others, some more
park or wilderness; some will have terraces, some not; some a pinetum,
or an American garden. In some gardens the terraces will lie immediately
below the main front of the house, in others not, because the
geometrical garden needs a more sheltered site where the flowers can


Of the shapes of the beds it were of little avail to speak, and the
diagrams here given are only of use where the conditions of the ground
properly admit of their application. The geometrical garden is capable
of great variety of handling. A fair size for a geometrical garden is
120 ft. by 60 ft. This size will allow of a main central walk of seven
feet that shall divide the panel into two equal parts and lead down to
the next level. The space may have a balustrade along its length on the
two sides, and on the garden side of the balustrade a flower-bed of
mixed flowers and choice low-growing shrubs, backed with hollyhocks,
tritoma, lilies, golden-rod, etc. The width of the border will
correspond with the space required for the steps that descend from the
upper terrace. For obtaining pleasant proportions in the design, the
walks in the garden will be of two sizes, gravelled like the rest--the
wider walk, say, three feet, the smaller, one foot nine inches. The
centre of the garden device on each side may be a raised bed with a
stone kerb and an ornamental shrub in the middle, and the space around
with, say, periwinkle or stonecrop, mixed with white harebells, or low
creepers. Or, should there be no wide main walk, and the garden-plot be
treated as one composition, the central bed will have a statue, sundial,
fountain, or other architectural feature. Each bed will be edged with
box or chamfered stone, or terra-cotta edging. Or the formal garden may
be sunk below the level of the paths, and filled either with flowers or
with dwarf coniferæ.

Both for practical and artistic reasons, the beds should not be too
small; they should not be so small that, when filled with plants, they
should appear like spots of colour, nor be so large that any part of
them cannot be easily reached by a rake. Nor should the shapes of the
beds be too angular to accommodate the plants well. In Sir Gardner
Wilkinson's book on "Colour" (Murray, 1858, p. 372), he speaks of design
and good form as the very _soul_ of a dressed garden; and the very
permanence of the forms, which remain though successive series of plants
be removed, calls for a good design. The shapes of the beds, as well as
the colours of their contents, are taken cognisance of in estimating the
general effect of a geometrical garden. This same accomplished author
advises that there should always be a less formal garden beyond the
geometrical one; the latter is, so to speak, an appurtenance of the
house, a feature of the plateau upon which it stands, and no attempt
should be made to combine the patterns of the geometrical with the beds
or borders of the outer informal garden, such combination being
specially ill-judged in the neighbourhood of bushes and winding paths.

Of the proper selection of flowers and the determination of the colours
for harmonious combination in the geometrical beds, much that is
contradictory has been preached, one gardener leaning to more formality
than another. There is, however, a general agreement upon the necessity
of having beds that will look fairly well at all seasons of the year,
and an agreement as to the use of hardy flowers in these beds. Mr
Robinson has some good advice to give upon this point ("English Flower
Garden," p. 24): "The ugliest and most needless parterre (!) in England
may be planted in the most beautiful way with hardy flowers alone." (Why
"needless," then?) "Are we not all wrong in adopting one degree, so to
say, of plant life as the only fitting one to lay before the house? Is
it well to devote the flower-bed to one type of vegetation only--low
herbaceous vegetation--be that hardy or tender?... We have been so long
accustomed to leave flower-beds raw, and to put a number of plants out
every year, forming flat surfaces of colour, that no one even thinks of
the higher and better way of filling them. But surely it is worth
considering whether it would not be right to fill the beds permanently,
rather than to leave them in this naked or flat condition throughout the
whole of the year.... If any place asks for permanent planting, it is
the spot of ground immediately near the house; for no one can wish to
see large, grave-like masses of soil frequently dug and disturbed near
the windows, and few care for the result of all this, even when the
ground is well covered during a good season." Again our author, on p.
95, states that "he has very decided notions as to arrangement of the
various colours for summer bedding, which are that the whole shall be so
commingled that one would be puzzled to determine what tint predominates
in the entire arrangement." He would have a "glaucous" colour, that is,
a light grey or whitish green. Such a colour never tires the eye, and
harmonises with the tints of the landscape, "particularly of the lawn."
This seems to be neutralising the effects of the flowers, and this
primal consideration of the lawn is like scorning your picture for the
sake of its frame!

Sir Gardner Wilkinson, who writes of gardens from quite another point of
view, says: "It is by no means necessary or advisable to select rare
flowers for the beds, and some of the most common are the most eligible,
being more hardy, and therefore less likely to fail, or to cover the bed
with a scanty and imperfect display of colour. Indeed, it is a common
mistake to seek rare flowers, when many of the old and most ordinary
varieties are far more beautiful. The point to note in this matter of
choosing flowers for a geometrical garden is to ascertain first the
lines that will best accord with the design, and make for a harmonious
and brilliant effect, and to see that the flowers best suited to it
blossom at the same periods. A succession of those of the same colour
may be made to take the place of each, and continue the design at
successive seasons. They should also be, as near as possible, of the
same height as their companions, so that the blue flowers be not over
tall in one bed, or the red too short in another.... Common flowers, the
weeds of the country, are often most beautiful in colour, and are not to
be despised because they are common; they have also the advantage of
being hardy, and rare flowers are not always those best suited for
beds" (Wilkinson on "Colour," p. 375).

With regard to the ornamental turf-beds of our modern gardens. To judge
of a garden upon high principles, we expect it to be the finest and
fittest expression that a given plot of ground will take; it must be the
perfect adaptation of means to an end and that end is beauty. Are we to
suppose, then, that the turf-beds of strange device that we meet with in
modern gardens are the best that can be done by the heir of all the ages
in the way of garden-craft? A garden, I am aware, has other things to
attend to besides the demands of ideal beauty; it has to embellish life
to supply innocent pleasure to the inmates of the house as well as to
dignify the house itself; and the devising of these vagrant beds that
sprawl about the grounds is a pleasure that can be ill spared from the
artistic delights of a modern householder. It is indeed wonderful to
what heights the British fancy can rise when put to the push, if only it
have a congenial field! So here we have flower-beds shaped as crescents
and kidneys--beds like flying bats or bubbling tadpoles, commingled
butterflies and leeches, stars and sausages, hearts and commas,
monograms and maggots--a motley assortment to be sure--but the modern
mind is motley, and the pretty flowers smile a sickly smile out of their
comic beds, as though Paradise itself could provide them with no fairer

And yet if I dare speak my mind "sike fancies weren foolerie;" and it
were hard to find a good word to say for them from any point of view
whatever. Their wobbly shapes are not elegant; they have not the
sanction of precedent, even of epochs the most barbarous. And though
they make pretence at being a species of art, their mock-formality has
not that geometric precision which shall bind them to the formal lines
of the house, or to the general bearings of the site. Not only do they
contribute nothing to the artistic effect of the general design, but
they even mar the appearance of the grass that accommodates them. Design
they have, but not design of that quality which alone justifies its
intrusion. No wonder "Nature abhors lines" if this base and spurious
imitation of the "old formality," that Charles Lamb gloats over, is all
that the landscape-garden can offer in the way of idealisation.

One other feature of the old-fashioned garden--the herbaceous
border--requires a word. It is worthy of note that, unlike the modern,
the ancient gardener was not a man of one idea--his art is not bounded
like a barrel-organ that can only play one invariable tune! While the
master of the "old formality" can give intricate harmonies of inwoven
colours in the geometric beds--"all mosaic, choicely planned," where
Nature lends her utmost magic to grace man's fancy--he knows the value
of the less as well as the more, and finds equal room for the
unconstrained melodies of odd free growths in the border-beds, where you
shall enjoy the individual character, the form, the outline, the colour,
the tone of each plant. Here let the mind of an earlier generation
speak in George Milner's "Country Pleasures":

     "By this time I have got round to the old English flower-bed, where
     only perennials with an ancient ancestry are allowed to grow. Here
     there is always delight; and I should be sorry to exchange its
     sweet flowers for any number of cartloads of scentless
     bedding-plants, mechanically arranged and ribbon-bordered. This bed
     is from fifty to sixty yards long, and three or four yards in
     width. A thorn hedge divides it from the orchard. In spring the
     apple-bloom hangs over, and now we see in the background the apples
     themselves. The plants still in flower are the dark blue monkshood,
     which is 7ft. high; the spiked veronica; the meadow-sweet or
     queen-o'-the-meadow; the lady's mantle, and the evening primrose.
     This last may be regarded as the characteristic plant of the
     season. The flowers open about seven o'clock, and as the twilight
     deepens, they gleam like pale lamps, and harmonise wonderfully with
     the colour of the sky. _On this bed I read the history of the
     year._ Here were the first snowdrops; here came the crocuses, the
     daffodils, the blue gentians, the columbines, the great globed
     peonies; and last, the lilies and the roses."

And now to apply what has been said.

Since gardening entails so much study and experience--since it is a
craft in which one is so apt to err, in small matters as in large--since
it exists to represent passages of Nature that have touched man's
imagination from time immemorial--since its business is to paint living
pictures of living things whose habits, aspects, qualities, and
character have ever engaged man's interest--since the modern gardener
has not only not found new sources of inspiration unknown of old, but
has even lost sensibility to some that were active then--it were surely
wise to take the hand of old garden-masters who did large things in a
larger past--to whom fine gardening came as second nature--whose success
has given English garden-craft repute which not even the journeyman
efforts of modern times can quite extinguish.

These men--Bacon, Temple, Evelyn, and their school--let us follow for
style, elevated form, noble ideals, and artistic interpretation of

For practical knowledge of trees and shrubs, indigenous or exotic--to
know _how_ to plant and _what_ to plant--to know what to avoid in the
practice of modern blunderers--to know the true theory and practice of
Landscape-gardening, reduced to writing, after ample analysis--turn we
to those books of solid value of the three great luminaries of modern
garden-craft, Gilpin, Repton, Loudon.

And it were not only to be ungenerous, but absolutely foolish, to
neglect the study of the best that is now written and done in the way of
landscape-gardening, in methods of planting, and illustration of botany
up to date. One school may see things from a different point of view to
another, yet is there but one art of gardening. It is certain that to
gain boldness in practice, to have clear views upon that delicate
point--the relations of Art and Nature--to have a reliable standard of
excellence, we must know and value the good in the garden-craft of all
times, we must sympathise with the point of view of each phase, and
follow that which is good in each and all without scruple and
doubtfulness. That man is a fool who thinks that he can escape the
influence of his day, or that he can dispense with tradition.

I say, let us follow the old garden-masters for style, form, ideal, and
artistic interpretation of Nature, and let us not say what Horace
Walpole whimpered forth of Temple's garden-enterprise: "These are
adventures of too hard achievement for any common hands." Have we not
seen that at the close of Bacon's lessons in grand gardening he adds,
that the things thrown in "for state and magnificence" are but nothing
to the true pleasure of a garden?

The counsels of perfection are not to be slighted because our ground is
small. In gardening, as in other matters, the true test of one's work is
the measure of one's possibilities. A small, trim garden, like a sonnet,
may contain the very soul of beauty. A small garden may be as truly
admirable as a perfect song or painting.

Let it be our aim, then, to give to gardening all the method and
distinctness of which it is capable, and admit no impediments. A garden
not fifty yards square, deftly handled, judiciously laid out, its beds
and walks suitably directed, will yield thrice the opportunity for
craft, thrice the scope for imaginative endeavour that a two-acre
"garden" of the pastoral-farm order, such as is recommended of the
faculty, will yield. The very division of the ground into proportionate
parts, the varied levels obtained, the framed vistas, the fitting
architectural adjuncts, will alone contribute an air of size and scale.
As to "codes of taste" (which are usually in matters of Art only
someone's opinions stated pompously), these should not be allowed to
baulk individual enterprise. "Long experience," says that accomplished
gardener and charming writer, E. V. B., in "Days and Hours in a Garden"
(p. 125), "Long experience has taught me to have nothing to do with
principles in the garden. Little else than a feeling of entire sympathy
with the diverse characters of your plants and flowers is needed for
'Art in a Garden.' If sympathy be there, all the rest comes naturally
enough." Or to put this thought in Temple's words, "The success is
wholly in the gardener."

If a garden grow flowers in abundance, _there_ is success, and one may
proceed to frame a garden after approved "codes of taste" and fail in
this, or one may prefer unaccepted methods and find success beyond one's
fondest dreams. "All is fine that is fit" is a good garden motto; and
what an eclectic principle is this! How many kinds of style it allows,
justifies, and guards! the simplest way or the most ornate; the fanciful
or the sweet austere; the intricate and complex, or the coy and
unconstrained. Take it as true as Gospel that there is danger in the use
of ornament--danger of excess--take it as equally true that there is an
intrinsic and superior value in moderation, and yet the born gardener
shall find more paths, old and new, that lead to Beauty in a plot of
garden-ground than the modern stylist dreams of.

The art of gardening may now be known of all men. Gardening is no longer
a merely princely diversion requiring thirty wide acres for its display.
Everyone who can, now lives in the country, where he is bound to have a
garden; and I repeat what I said before, let no one suppose that the
beauty of a garden depends on its acreage, or on the amount of money
spent upon it. Nay, one would almost prefer a small garden plot, so as
to ensure that ample justice shall be done to it.[46] In a small garden
there is less fear of dissipated effort, more chance of making friends
with its inmates, more time to spare to heighten the beauty of its

[Footnote 46: "Embower a cottage thickly and completely with nothing but
roses, and nobody would desire the interference of another
plant."--LEIGH HUNT.]

To some extent the success of a garden depends upon favourable
conditions of sun, soil, and water, but more upon the choiceness of its
contents, the skill of its planting, the lovingness of its tendence.
Love for beauty has a way of enticing beauty; the seeing eye wins its
own ranges of vision, finds points of vantage in unlikely ground. "I
write in a nook," says the poet Cowper, "that I call my boudoir; it is a
summerhouse, not bigger than a sedan-chair; the door of it opens into
the garden that is now crowded with pinks, roses, and honeysuckles, _and
the window into my neighbour's orchard_. It formerly served an
apothecary as a smoking-room; at present, however, it is dedicated to
sublimer uses." What a mastery of life is here!

    "As if life's business were a summer mood;
    As if all needful things would come unsought
    To genial faith, still rich in genial good;

           *       *       *       *       *

    By our own spirits are we deified."

But I must not finish the stanza in this connection.

A garden is pre-eminently a place to indulge individual taste. "Let us
not be that fictitious thing," says Madame Roland, "that can only exist
by the help of others--_soyons nous_!" So, regardless of the doctors,
let me say that the best general rule that I can devise for
garden-making is: put all the beauty and delightsomeness you can into
your garden, get all the beauty and delight you can out of your garden,
never minding a little mad want of balance, and think of proprieties
afterwards! Of course, this is to "prove naething," but never mind if
but the garden enshrine beauty. To say this is by no means to allow that
the garden is the fit place for indulging your love of the
out-of-the-way; not so, yet a little sign of fresh motive, a touch of
individual technique, a token, however shyly displayed, that you think
for yourself is welcome in a garden. Thus I know of a gardener who
turned a section of his grounds into a sort of huge bear-pit, not a
sunk-pit, but a mound that took the refuse soil from the site of his new
house hollowed out, and its slopes set all round with Alpine and
American garden-plants, each variety finding the aspect it likes best,
and the proportion of light and shade that suits its constitution. This
is, of course, to "intrude embankments" into a garden with a vengeance,
yet even Mr Robinson, if he saw it, would allow that, as in love and
war, your daring in gardening is justified by its results, where, as
George Herbert has it--

    "Who shuts his hand, hath lost its gold;
    Who opens it, hath it twice told."

A garden is, first and last, a place for flowers; but, treading in the
old master's footsteps, I would devote a certain part of even a small
garden to Nature's own wild self, and the loveliness of weed-life. Here
Art should only give things a good start and help the propagation of
some sorts of plants not indigenous to the locality. Good effects do not
ensue all at once, but stand aside and wait, or help judiciously, and
the result will be a picture of rude and vigorous life, of pretty colour
and glorious form, that is gratifying for its own qualities, and more
for its opposition to the peacefulness of the garden's ordered

A garden is the place for flowers, a place where one may foster a
passion for loveliness, may learn the magic of colour and the glory of
form, and quicken sympathy with Nature in her higher moods. And, because
the old-fashioned garden more conduces to these ends than the modern, it
has our preference. The spirit of old garden-craft, says: "Do everything
that can be done to help Nature, to lift things to perfection, to
interpret, to give to your Art method and distinctness." The spirit of
the modern garden-craft of the purely landscape school says: "Let be,
let well alone, or extemporise at most. Brag of your scorn for Art, yet
smuggle her in, as a stalking-horse for your halting method and
non-geometrical forms."

And, as we have shown, Art has her revenges as well as Nature; and the
very negativeness of this school's Art-treatments is the seal to its
doom. Mere neutral teaching can father nothing; it can never breed a
system of stable device that is capable of development. But old
garden-craft is positive, where the other is negative; it has no
niggling scruples, but clear aims, that admit of no impediment except
the unwritten laws of good taste. Hence its permanent value as a
standard of device--for every gardener must needs desire the support of
some backbone of experience to stiffen his personal efforts--he must
needs have some basis of form on which to rest his own device, his own
realisations of natural beauty--and what safer, stabler system of
garden-craft can he wish for than that of the old English garden--itself
the outcome of a spacious age, well skilled in the pictorial art and
bent upon perfection?

The qualities to aim at in a flower-garden are beauty, animation,
variety, mystery. A garden's beauty, like a woman's beauty, is measured
by its capacity for taking fine dress. Given a fine garden, and we need
not fear to use embellishment or strong colour, or striking device,
according to the adage "The richly provided richly require."

[Illustration: (PERSPECTIVE VIEW).


Because Art stands, so to speak, sponsor for the grace of a garden,
because all gardening is Art or nothing, we need not fear to overdo Art
in a garden, nor need we fear to make avowal of the secret of its charm.
I have no more scruple in using the scissors upon tree or shrub, where
trimness is desirable, than I have in mowing the turf of the lawn that
once represented a virgin world. There is a quaint charm in the results
of the topiary art, in the prim imagery of evergreens, that all
ages have felt. And I would even introduce _bizarreries_ on the
principle of not leaving all that is wild and odd to Nature outside of
the garden-paling; and in the formal part of the garden my yews should
take the shape of pyramids or peacocks or cocked hats or ramping lions
in Lincoln-green, or any other conceit I had a mind to, which vegetable
sculpture can take.


As to the other desirable qualities--animation, variety, mystery--I
would base my garden upon the model of the old masters, without adopting
any special style. The place should be a home of fancy, full of
intention, full of pains (without showing any); half common-sense, half
romance; "neither praise nor poetry, but something better than either,"
as Burke said of Sheridan's speech; it should have an ethereal touch,
yet be not inappropriate for the joyous racket and country cordiality of
an English home. It should be

    "A miniature of loveliness, all grace
    Summ'd up and closed in little"--

something that would challenge the admiration and suit the moods of
various minds; be brimful of colour-gladness, yet be not all pyramids of
sweets, but offer some solids for the solid man; combining old processes
and new, old idealisms and new realisms; the monumental style of the old
here, the happy-go-lucky shamblings of the modern there; the page of
Bacon or Temple here, the page of Repton or Marnock there. At every turn
the imagination should get a fresh stimulus to surprise; we should be
led on from one fair sight, one attractive picture, to another; not
suddenly, nor without some preparation of heightened expectancy, but as
in a fantasy, and with something of the quick alternations of a dream.


Your garden, gentle reader, is perchance not yet made. It were indeed
happiness if, when good things betide you, and the time is ripe for your
enterprise, Art

    ... "Shall say to thee
    I find you worthy, do this thing for me."



     "I am tired of civilised Europe, and I want to see a wild country
     if I can."--W. R. GREG.

     "Howsoever these things be, a long farewell to Locksley

We have discussed the theory of a garden; we have analysed the motives
which prompt its making, the various treatments of which it is
susceptible; we have made a kind of inventory of its effects, its
enchantments, its spendthrift joys. Now we will hear the other side, and
find out why the morbid, tired man, the modern Hamlet, likes it not, why
the son of culture loathes it as a lack-lustre thing, betokening to him
the sedentary and respectable world in its most hostile form. Having
made our picture now we will turn it round, and note why it is that the
garden, with its full complement of approved ornament, its selected
vegetation, its pretty turns for Nature, its many-sided beauty--

    "Or gay, or grave, or sweet, or stern was there
    Not less than truth designed"

--shall never wholly satisfy.

Your garden will serve you in many ways. It will give a sense of
household warmth to your home. It will smile, or look grave, or be
dreamily fanciful almost at your bidding. If your bent be that way it
will minister to your imaginative reverie, and almost surfeit you with
its floods of lazy music. If you are hot, or weary, or dispirited, or
touched with _ennui_, its calm atmosphere will lay the dust and lessen
the fret of your life. Yet--let us not blink the fact--just because
_all_ Nature is not represented here; because the girdle of the garden
walls narrows our view of the world at large, and excludes more of
Nature's physiognomy than it includes; because the garden is, as Sir
Walter truly says, entirely "a child of Art"; the place, be it never so
fair, falls short of man's imaginative craving, and, when put to the
push, fails to supply the stimulus his varying moods require. Art's
sounding-line will never fathom human nature's emotional depths.

Nay, one need not be that interesting product of civilisation, the
over-civilised artist who writes books, and paints pictures, and murmurs
rhyme that--

    "Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
    Telling a tale not too importunate
    To those who in the sleepy region stay,
    Lulled by the singer of an empty day."

There is the _ennuyé_ of the clubs whom you are proud to meet in Pall
Mall, not a hair of his hat turned, not a wrinkle marring the sit of his
coat; meeting him thus and there you would not dream of supposing that
this exquisite trophy of the times is a prey to reactionary desires! Yet
deep down in the hidden roots of his being lies a layer of unscotched
savagery--an unextinguished, inextinguishable strain of the wild man of
the woods. Scratch him, and beneath his skin is Rousseau-Thoreau.
Scratch him again in the same place, and beneath his second skin see the
brown hide of the aboriginal Briton, the dweller in wattled abodes, who
knew an earlier England than this, that had swamps and forests, roadless
wastes and unbridled winter floods, and strange beasts that no man could
tame. Even he ("the sweetest lamb that ever loved a bear") will prate to
you of the Bohemian delights of an ungardened country, where "the white
man's poetry" has not defiled the landscape, and the Britisher shall be
free to take his pleasure sadly.

Let us not be too hard, then, on that dislike of beauty, that worship of
the barbaric which we are apt to condemn as distempered vagaries, for
they denote maladies incident to the age, which are neither surprising
nor ignoble. This disdain for Art in a garden, this abhorrence of
symmetry, this preference for the rude and shaggy, what is it but a new
turn given to old instincts, the new Don Quixote sighing for
primævalism! This ruthlessness of the followers of the "immortal Brown"
who would navvy away the residue of the old-fashioned English gardens;
who live to reverse tradition and to scatter the lessons of the past to
the winds; what is it but a new quest of the bygone, the knight-errantry
of the civilized man, when turned inside out!

And for yet another reason is the garden unable to meet the moods of the
age. In discussing the things it may rightly contain, we saw that the
laws of artistic presentment, no less than the avowed purpose for which
a garden is made, require that only such things shall be admitted, or
such aspects be portrayed there, as conduce to gladness and poetic
charm. And, so far as the garden is concerned, the restriction is
necessary and desirable. As with other phases of Art, Sculpture,
Painting, or Romance, the things and aspects portrayed must be
idealistic, not realistic; its effects must be select, not
indiscriminate. The garden is a deliberately contrived thing, a
voluntary piece of handicraft, purpose-made; and for this reason it must
not stereotype imperfections; it may toy with Nature, but must not
wilfully exaggerate what is ordinary; only Nature may exaggerate
herself--not Art. It must not imitate those items in Nature that are
crude, ugly, abnormal, elementary; it may not reproduce the absolutely
repellent; or at most, the artist may only touch them with a light hand,
by way of imaginative hint, but not with intent to produce a finished
picture out of them.

On this point there is a distinct analogy between the guiding principles
of Art and Religion. Art and Religion both signify effort to comply with
an ideal standard--indeed, the height of the standard is the test of
each--and what makes for innocence or for faultiness in the one, makes
for innocence or faultiness in the other. Innocence is found in each,
but to be without guile in Art or in Religion means that you must be
either flawlessly obedient to a perfect standard, or be beyond the pale
of law through pure ignorance of wrong. Where no law is, there can be
no transgression. Between these two points is no middle-ground, either
in the fields of Art or of Religion.

To apply this to a garden. Untaught, lawless Nature may present things
indiscriminately, as they are, the casual, the accidental, the savage,
in their native dress, or undress, in all their rugged reality, and not
be ashamed. But the artist-gardener, knowing good and evil, exercising
free-will in his garden-craft, must choose only what he may rightly
have, and employ only what his trained judgment or the unwritten
commandments of good taste will allow.

There you have the art of a garden. But because of its necessary
exclusiveness, because all Nature is not there, the garden, though of
the best, the most far-reaching in its application of art-resources,
fails to satisfy all man's imaginative cravings.

Your garden, I said, will serve you many a good turn. Here one may come
to play the truant from petty worries, to find quiet harbourage in the
chopping sea of life's casual ups and downs; but when _real_ trouble
comes, on occasions of spiritual tension, or mental conflict, or heavy
depression, then the perfect beauty of the garden offends; the garden
has no respect for sadness--then it almost mocks and flaunts you; it
smiles the same, though your child die, and then instinct sends you away
from the lap of Art to the bosom of Nature--

    "Knowing that Nature never did betray
    The heart that loved her."

All of man, then, asks for all of Nature, and is not content with less.
Just as a stringed instrument, even when lying idle, is awake to
sympathetic sound but refuses to vibrate to notes that are not kindred
to its compass, so the garden, with all its wakeful magic, will voice
only such of your moods as it is in touch with; and there are many
chords missing in the cunningly encased music of a garden--many human
notes find no answering pulsation there.

Let us not blink the fact, then; Art, whether of this sphere or of that,
is not all. If you want beauty ready-made, obvious gladness of colour,
heightened nobleness of form, suggested romance, Nature idealised--all
these things are yours in a garden; and yet the very "dressing" of the
place which heightens its appeal to one side of man's being is the bar
to its acceptance on another side. To have been baptised of Art is to
have received gifts rich and strange, that enable the garden's contents
to climb to ideal heights; and yet not all men care for perfectness; the
most part prefer creatures not too bright or good for human nature's
daily food. So, to tell truth, the wild things of field, forest, and
shore have a gamut of life, a range of appeal wider than the gardens;
the impunities of lawless Nature reach further than man's finished
strokes. Nay, when man has done his best in a garden, some shall even
regret, for sentimental reasons, that he brought Art upon the scene at
all. "Even after the wild landscape, through which youth had strayed at
will, has been laid out into fields and gardens, and enclosed with
fences and hedges; after the footsteps, which had bounded over the
flower-strewn grass have been circumscribed within firm gravel-walks,
the vision of its former happiness will still at times float before the
mind in its dreams." ("Guesses at Truth.")

Beauty, Romance, and Nature await an audience with you in the garden;
but it is Beauty after she has been sent to school to learn the tricks
of conscious grace; Beauty that has "the foreign aid of ornament," that
walks with the supple gait of one who has been well drilled; but gone
are the fine careless raptures, gone the bounding step, the blithe
impulses of unschooled freedom and gipsy life out of doors.

Romance awaits you, holding in her hand a picture of things bright and
jocund, full of tender colour and sweet suggestion; a picture designed
to prove this world to be unruffled Arcadia, a sunlit pageant, a dream
of delectation, a place for solace, a Herrick-land

    "Of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers;"

and human life a jewelled tale with all the irony left out.

Nature awaits you, but only as a fair captive, ready to respond to your
behests, to answer to the spring of your imaginings. To man's wooing, "I
love you, love me back," she resigned herself, not perceiving the drift
of homage that was paid, not so much to the beauty that she had, but to
the beauty of a heightened sort that should ensue upon his cultivation,
for the sake of which he sought her. So now her wildness is subdued.
The yew and the holly from the tangled brake shall feel the ignominy of
the shears. The "common" thorn of the hedge shall be grafted with one of
the twenty-seven rarer sorts; the oak and maple shall be headed down and
converted into scarlet species; the single flowers, obedient to a
beautiful disease, shall blow as doubles, and be propagated by
scientific processes that defy Nature and accomplish centuries of
evolution at a stride. The woodbine from the vernal wood must be nailed
to the carpenter's trellis, the brook may no more brawl, nor violate its
limits, the leaves of the hollybush and the box shall be variegated, the
forest tree and woodland shrub shall have their frayed hedges shorn, and
their wildness pressed out of them in Art's dissembling embrace.

And as with the green things of the earth, so with the creatures of the
animal world that are admitted into the sanctuary of a garden. Here is
no place for nonconformity of any kind. True, the spruce little squirrel
asks no leave for his dashing raids upon the beech-mast and the sweet
chestnuts that have escaped the range of the gardener's broom; true, the
white and golden pheasant and the speckled goligny may moon about in
their distraught fashion down the green alleys and in and out the
shrubberies; the foreign duck may frisk in the lake; the white swan may
hoist her sail, and "float double, swan and shadow;" the birds may sing
in the trees; the peacock may strut on the lawn, or preen his feathers
upon the terrace walls; the fallow deer may browse among the bracken on
the other side of the ha-ha--thus much of the animal creation shall be
allowed here, and not the most fastidious son of Adam will protest a
word. But note the terms of their admission. They are a select company,
gathered with nice judgment from all quarters of the globe, that are
bound over to respectable behaviour, pledged to the beautiful or
picturesque; they are in chains, though the chains be aerial and not

It is not that the gardener loves pheasants or peacocks, ducks or swans
or guinea-fowls for themselves, or for their contribution to the music
of the place. Not this, but because these creatures assist the garden's
magic, they support the illusion upon which the whole thing is based; as
they flit about, and cross and recross the scene, and scream, and quack,
and cackle, you get a touch of actuality that adds finish to the
strangeness and piquancy that prevail around; they verify your doubting
vision, and make valid the reality of its ideality; they accord with the
well-swept lawn, the scented air, the flashing radiance of the fountain,
the white statuary backed by dark yews or dim stone alcoves, with the
clipt shrubs, the dreaming trees, the blare of bright colours, in the
shapely beds, the fragrant odours and select beauties of the place.
These living creatures (for they _are_ alive), prowling about the
grounds,[47] looking fairly comfortable in artificial surroundings from
whence their clipped wings will not allow them to escape, incline you to
believe that this world is a smooth, genteel, beneficent world after
all, and its pastoral character is here so well sustained that no one
would be a bit surprised if Pan with his pipe of reeds, or Corydon with
his white-fleeced flock, should turn the corner at any moment.

[Footnote 47: Lord Beaconsfield adds macaws to the ornament of his ideal
garden. "Sir Ferdinand, when he resided at Armine, was accustomed to
fill these pleasure grounds with macaws and other birds of gorgeous
plumage." But Lord Beaconsfield is Benjamin Disraeli--a master of the
ornate, a bit of a dandy always. In Italy, too, they throw in porcupines
and ferrets for picturesqueness. In Holland are our old friends the tin
hare and guinea-pigs, and the happy shooting boy, in holiday attire,
painted to the life.]

It is only upon man's terms, however, and to suit his scheme of scenic
effects, that these tame things are allowed on the premises. They are
not here because man loves them. Woe to the satin-coated mole that
blindly burrows on the lawn! Woe to the rabbit that sneaks through the
fence, or to the hare that leaps it! Woe to the red fox that litters in
the pinetum, or to the birds that make nests in the shrubberies! Woe to
the otter that takes license to fish in the ponds at the bottom of the
pleasaunce! Woe to the blackbirds that strip the rowan-tree of its
berries just when autumn visitors are expected! Woe to the finches that
nip the buds off the fruit-trees in the hard spring frost, presuming
upon David's plea for sacrilege! Death, instant or prolonged, or dear
life purchased at the price of a torn limb, for the silly things that
dare to stray where the woodland liberties are forbidden to either plant
or animal!

So much for the results of man's manipulation of the universe in the way
of making ornamental grounds! And the sketch here given applies equally
to the new style or to the old, to the garden after Loudon or to the
garden after Bacon; the destiny of things is equally interfered with to
meet the requirements of the one or the other; the styles are equally
artificial, equally remorseless to primal Nature.

But one may go farther, and ask: What wonder at the outcry of the modern
Nature-lovers against a world so altered from its original self as that
Hawthorne should say of England in general that here "the wildest things
are more than half tame? The trees, for instance, whether in hedgerow,
park, or what they call forest, have nothing wild about them. They are
never ragged; there is a certain decorous restraint in the freest
outspread of their branches!" Nay, so far does this mistaken man carry
his diseased appetite for English soil, marred as it is, that he shall
write: "To us Americans there is a kind of sanctity even in an English
turnip-field, when we think how long that small square of ground has
been known and recognised as a possession, transmitted from father to
son, trodden often by memorable feet, and utterly redeemed from savagery
by old acquaintance with civilised eyes" ("Our Old Home," p. 75).

What wonder, I say, that a land that is so hopelessly gardened as
this--a land so sentimentalised and humanised that its very clods, to
the American, are "poesy all ramm'd with life"--shall grate the nerves
of the Hamlets of to-day, who live too much in the sun, whom man
delights not, nor woman neither!

What a land to live in! when its best landscape painters--men like
Gainsborough or Constable--are so carried away by the influence of
agriculture upon landscape, so lost to the superiority of wild solitude,
that they will plainly tell you that they like the fields the farmers
work in, and the work they do in them; preferring Nature that was
modified by man, painting a well-cultivated country with villages and
mills and church-steeples seen over hedges and between trees![48]

[Footnote 48: See P. G. Hamerton's "Sylvan Year," p. 112.]

What a land to live in! when even Nature's wild children of field and
forest hug their chains--preserve their old ways and habits up to the
very frontier-line of civilisation. For here is Jefferies (who ought to
know) writing thus: "Modern progress, except where it has exterminated
them, has scarcely touched the habits of bird or animal; so almost up to
the very houses of the metropolis the nightingale yearly returns to her
old haunts. If we go a few hours' journey only, and then step just
beyond the highway, where the steam ploughing-engine has left the mark
of its wide wheels on the dust, and glance into the hedgerow, the copse,
or stream, there are Nature's children as unrestrained in their wild,
free life as they were in the veritable backwoods of primitive

What wonder that a land where Nature has thus succumbed wholesale to
culture, should exasperate the man who has earned a right to be morbid,
or that he should cry aloud in his despair, "I am tired of civilised
Europe, and I want to see a _wild_ country if I can." Too many are our
spots renowned for beauty, our smiling champaigns of flower and fruit.
For "Fair prospects wed happily with fair times; but, alas, if times be
not fair!" Hence the comfort of oppressive surroundings over-sadly
tinged, to men who suffer from the mockery of a place that is too
smiling! Hence the glory of a waste like Egdon to Mr Hardy! ("The Return
of the Native," pp. 4, 5). For Egdon Heath, "Haggard Egdon appealed to a
subtler and scarcer instinct, to a more recently learnt emotion than
that which responds to the sort of beauty called charming and fair.
Indeed, it is a question if the exclusive reign of this orthodox beauty
is not approaching its last quarter. The new Vale of Tempe may be a
gaunt waste in Thule; human souls may find themselves in closer and
closer harmony with external things wearing a sombreness distasteful to
our race when it was young. The time seems near, if it has not actually
arrived, when the chastened sublimity of a moor, a sea, or a mountain
will be all of Nature that is absolutely in keeping with the moods of
the more thinking of mankind. And ultimately, to the commonest tourist,
spots like Iceland may become what the vineyards and myrtle-gardens of
South Europe are to him now; and Heidelberg and Baden be passed
unheeded as he hastens from the Alps to the sand-dunes of Scheveningen."

I admit that it is strange that time should hold in reserve such
revenges as this ascetic writing denotes--strange that man should find
beauty irksome, and that he should feel blasted with the very ecstasy
himself has built up in a garden! strange this sudden recoil of the
smooth son of culture from the extreme of Art, to the extreme of Nature!
Stranger still that the "Yes" and "No" of the _Ideal_ Hyde and the
_Real_ Jekyll should consist in the same bosom, and that a man shall be,
as it were, a prey to contrary maladies at one and the same time! Yet we
have found this in Bacon--prince of fine gardeners, who with all his
seeming content with the heroic pleasaunce that he has made, shall still
betray a sneaking fondness for the maiden charms of Bohemia outside.
Earthly Paradise is fine and fit, but there must needs be "mounts of
some pretty height, leaving the wall of the enclosure breast high to
look abroad in the fields"--there must be "a window open, to fly out at,
a secret way to retire by." Nay, after all, what are to him the charms
that inspire his rhapsody of words--the things that princes add for
state and magnificence! They are Delilah's charms, and "but nothing to
the true pleasure of a garden!"

"Our gardens in Paris," says Joubert, "smell musty; I do not like these
ever-green trees. There is something of blackness in their greenery, of
coldness in their shade. Besides, since they neither lose anything, nor
have anything to fear, they seem to me unfeeling, and hence have little
interest for me.... Those irregular gardens, which we call English
gardens, require a labyrinth for a dwelling."

"I hate those trees that never lose their foliage" (says Landor); "they
seem to have no sympathy with Nature; winter and summer are alike to
them." Says Thomson,

    ... "For loveliness
    Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
    But it is when unadorned adorn'd the most."

Or Cowley's

    "My garden painted o'er
    With Nature's hand, not Art's; and pleasures yield,
    Horace might envy in his Sabine field."

Or Addison: "I have often looked upon it as a piece of happiness that I
have never fallen into any of these fantastical tastes, nor esteemed
anything the more for its being uncommon and hard to be met with. For
this reason I look upon the whole country in spring-time as a spacious
garden, and make as many visits to a spot of daisies, or a bank of
violets, as a florist does to his borders or parterres. There is not a
bush in blossom within a mile of me which I am not acquainted with, nor
scarce a daffodil or cowslip that withers away in my neighbourhood
without my missing it." Or Rousseau: "I can imagine, said I to them, a
rich man from Paris or London, who should be master of this house,
bringing with him an expensive architect to spoil Nature. With what
disdain would he enter this simple and mean place! With what contempt
would he have all these tatters uprooted! What fine avenues he would
open out! What beautiful alleys he would have pierced! What fine
goose-feet, what fine trees like parasols and fans! What finely fretted
trellises! What beautifully-drawn yew hedges, finely squared and
rounded! What fine bowling-greens of fine English turf, rounded,
squared, sloped, ovaled; what fine yews carved into dragons, pagodas,
marmosets, every kind of monster! With what fine bronze vases, what fine
stone-founts he would adorn his garden! When all that is carried out,
said M. De Wolmar, he will have made a very fine place, which one will
scarcely enter, and will always be anxious to leave to seek the

Or Gautier, upon Nature's wild growths: "You will find in her domain a
thousand exquisitely pretty little corners into which man seldom or
never penetrates. There, from every constraint, she gives herself up to
that delightful extravagance of dishevelled plants, of glowing flowers
and wild vegetation--everything that germinates, flowers, and casts its
seeds, instinct with an eager vitality, to the wind, whose mission it is
to disperse them broadcast with an unsparing hand.... And over the
rain-washed gate, bare of paint, and having no trace of that green
colour beloved by Rousseau, we should have written this inscription in
black letters, stonelike in shape, and threatening in aspect:


"Such a whim--very difficult for one to realise who is so deeply
incrusted with civilisation, where the least originality is taxed as
folly--is continually indulged in by Nature, who laughs at the judgment
of fools."

Or Thoreau--hero of the Walden shanty, with his open-air gospel--all
Nature for the asking--to whom a garden is but Nature debauched, and all
Art a sin: "There is in my nature, methinks, a singular yearning towards
wildness.... We are apt enough to be pleased with such books as Evelyn's
'Sylva,' 'Acetarium,' and 'Kalendarium Hortense,' but they imply a
relaxed nerve in the reader. Gardening is civil and social, but it wants
the vigour and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.... It is true there
are the innocent pleasures of country-life, and it is sometimes pleasant
to make the earth yield her increase, and gather the fruits in their
season, but the heroic spirit will not fail to dream of remoter
retirements and more rugged paths. It will have its garden-plots and its
_parterres_ elsewhere than on the earth, and gather nuts and berries by
the way for its subsistence, or orchard fruits with such heedlessness as
berries. We should not be always soothing and training Nature.... The
Indian's intercourse with Nature is at least such as admits of the
greatest independence of each. If he is somewhat of a stranger in her
midst, the gardener is too much of a familiar. There is something vulgar
and foul in the latter's closeness to his mistress, something noble and
cleanly in the former's distance.... There are other savager, and more
primeval aspects of Nature than our poets have sung. It is only white
man's poetry."

To sum up the whole matter, this unmitigated hostility of the cultured
man (with Jacob's smooth hands and Esau's wild blood) to the amenities
of civilised life, brings us back to the point from whence we started at
the commencement of this chapter. While men are what they are, Art is
not all. Man has Viking passions as well as Eden instincts. Man is of
mixed blood, whose sympathies are not so much divided as double. And all
of man asks for all of Nature, and is not content with less. To the
over-civilised man who is under a cloud, the old contentment with
orthodox beauty must give place to the subtler, scarcer instinct, to
"the more recently learnt emotion, than that which responds to the sort
of beauty called charming and fair." Fair effects are only for fair
times. The garden represents to such an one a too careful abstract of
Nature's traits and features that had better not have been epitomised.
The place is to him a kind of fraud--a forgery, so to speak, of Nature's
autograph. It is only the result of man's turning spy or detective upon
the beauties of the outer world. Its perfection is too monotonous; its
grace is too subtle; its geography too bounded; its interest too full of
intention--too much sharpened to a point; its growth is too uniformly
temperate; its imagery too exacting of notice. These prim and trim
things remind him of captive princes of the wood, brightly attired only
that they may give romantic interest to the garden--these tame birds
with clipped wings, of distraught aspect and dreamy tread--these docile
animals with their limp legs and vacant stare, may contribute to the
scenic pomp of the place, but it is at the expense of their native
instincts and the joyous _abandon_ of woodland life. If this be the
outcome of your boasted editing of Nature, give us dead Nature
untranslated. If this be what comes of your idealisation of the raw
materials of Nature--of the transference of your own emotions to the
simple, unsophisticated things of the common earth, let us rather have
Nature's unspoilt self--"God's Art," as Plato calls Nature--where

    "Visions, as prophetic eyes avow,
    Hang on each leaf, and cling to each bough."

       *       *       *       *       *

    "But stay, here come the gardeners!"

    (_Enter a gardener and two servants!_)--_King Richard II._



    "In small proportions we just beauties see,
    And in short measures life may perfect be."--BEN JONSON.

    "The Common all men have."--GEORGE HERBERT.

What shall we say, then, to the two conflicting views of garden-craft
referred to in my last chapter, wherein I take the modern position,
namely, that the love of Art in a garden, and the love of wild things in
Nature's large estate, cannot co-exist in the same breast? Is the
position true or false?

To see the matter in its full bearings I must fetch back a little, and
recall what was said in a former chapter (p. 85) upon the differing
attitudes towards Nature taken by the earlier and later schools of
gardening. There is, I said, no trace in the writings, or in the
gardening, of the earlier traditional school, of that mawkish sentiment
about Nature, that condescending tenderness for her primal shapes, that
has nursed the scruples, and embarrassed the efforts of the
"landscape-gardener" from Kent's and Brown's days to now.

The older gardener had no half-and-half methods; he made no pretence of
Nature-worship, nursed no scruples that could hinder the expression of
his own mind about Nature, or check him from fathoming all her
possibilities. Yet with all his seeming unscrupulousness the old
gardener does not close his eyes or his heart to Nature at large, but
whether in the garden sanctuary or out of it, he maintains equally
tender relations towards her.

But the scruples of the earlier phase of the landscape school, about
tampering with Nature by way of attaining Art effects, are as water unto
wine compared with what is taught by men of the same school now-a-days.
We have now to reckon with an altogether deeper stratum of antipathy to
garden-craft than was reached by the followers of Brown. We have not now
to haggle with the quidnuncs over the less or more of Art permissible in
a garden, but to fight out the question whether civilisation shall have
any garden at all. Away with this "white man's poetry!" The wild
Indian's "intercourse with Nature is at least such as admits of the
greatest independence of each. If he is somewhat of a stranger in her
midst, the gardener is too much of a familiar. There is something vulgar
and foul in the latter's closeness to his mistress, something noble and
cleanly in the former's distance." "Alas!" says Newman, "what are we
doing all through life, both as a necessity and a duty, but unlearning
the world's poetry, and attaining to its prose?"

One does not fear, however, that the English people will part lightly
with their land's old poetry, however seductive the emotion which we are
told "prefers the oppression of surroundings over-sadly tinged, and
solitudes that have a lonely face, suggesting tragical possibilities to
the old-fashioned sort of beauty called charming and fair."

The lesson we have to learn is the falsehood of extremes. The point we
have to master is, that in the prodigality of "God's Plenty" many sorts
of beauty are ours, and nothing shall be scorned. God's creation has a
broad gamut, a vast range, to meet our many moods. "There are, it may
be, so many kinds of music in the world, and none of them is without

    "O world, as God has made it! All is beauty."

There is nothing contradictory in the variety and multiformity of
Nature, whether loose and at large in Nature's unmapped geography, or
garnered and assorted and heightened by man's artistry in the small
proportions of a perfect garden. Man, we said, is of mixed blood, whose
sympathies are not so much divided as double, and each sympathy shall
have free play. My inborn Eden instincts draw me to the bloom and wonder
of the world; my Viking blood drives me to the snap and enthusiasm of
anarchic forms, the colossal images, the swarthy monotony, the sombre
aspects of Nature in the wild. "Yet all is beauty."

Thus much by way of preamble. And now, after repeating that the gardener
of the old formality, however sternly he discipline wild Nature for the
purposes of beauty, is none the less capable of loving and of holding
friendly commerce with the things that grew outside his garden hedge,
let me bring upon my page a modern of moderns, who, by the wide range of
his sympathies, recalls the giants of a healthier day, and redeems a
generation of lopsided folk abnormally developed in one direction.

And the poet Wordsworth, self-drawn in his own works, or depicted by his
friends, is one of the old stock of sane, sound-hearted Englishmen, who
can be equally susceptible to the _inward_ beauties of man's created
brain-world, and the _outward_ beauties of unkempt Nature. So the
combination we plead for is not impossible! The two tastes are not
irreconcilable! Blessed be both!

We may trust Wordsworth implicitly as an authority upon Nature. No one
questions his knowledge of wild woodland lore. There is no one of
ancient or of modern times who in his outward mien, his words, his
habits, carries more indisputable proof of the prophet's ordination than
the man who spent a long noviciate in his native mountain solitudes.
There is no one so fully entitled, or so well able to speak of and for
her, as he who knows her language to the faintest whisper, who spent his
days at her feet, who pored over her lineaments under every change of
expression, who in his writings drew upon the secret honey of the beauty
and harmony of the world, telling, to use his own swinging phrases, of
"the joy and happiness of loving creatures, of men and children, of
birds and beasts, of hills and streams, and trees and flowers; with the
changes of night and day, evening and morning, summer and winter; and
all their unwearied actions and energies."

Of all Nature's consecrated children, he is the prince of the
apostolate; he is, so to speak, the beloved disciple of them all, whose
exalted personal love admits him to the right to lean upon her breast,
to hear her heart-beats, to catch knowledge there that had been kept
secret since the world began. None so familiar with pastoral life in its
varied time-fulness, sweet or stern, glad or grim, pathetic or sublime,
as he who carries in his mind the echoes of the passion of the storm,
the moan of the passing wind with its beat upon the bald mountain-crag,
the sighing of the dry sedge, the lunge of mighty waters, the tones of
waterfalls, the inland sounds of caves and trees, the plaintive spirit
of the solitude. There are none who have pondered so deeply over "the
blended holiness of earth and sky," the gesture of the wind and cloud,
the silence of the hills; none so free to fraternise with things bold or
obscure, great or small, as he who told alike of the love and infinite
longings of Margaret, of the fresh joy of

    "The blooming girl whose hair was wet
    With points of morning dew,"

of the lonely star, the solitary raven, the pliant hare-bell, swinging
in the breeze, the meadows and the lower ground, and all the sweetness
of a common dawn.

Thus did Wordsworth enter into the soul of things and sing of them

    "In a music sweeter than their own."

Nay, says Arnold, "It might seem that Nature not only gave him the
matter of his poem, but wrote his poem for him" ("Essays in Criticism,"
p. 155).

So much for Wordsworth upon Nature out of doors; now let us hear him
upon Art in a garden, of which he was fully entitled to speak, and we
shall see that the man is no less the poet of idealism upon his own
ground, than the poet of actuality in the woodland world.

Writing to his friend Sir Geo. Beaumont,[49] with all the outspokenness
of friendship and the simplicity of a candid mind, he thus delivers
himself upon the Art of Gardening: "Laying out grounds, as it is called,
may be considered as a Liberal Art, in some sort like poetry and
painting, and its object is, or ought to be, to move the affections
under the control of good sense; that is, those of the best and wisest;
but, _speaking with more precision, it is to assist Nature in moving the
affections of those who have the deepest perception of the beauties of
Nature, who have the most valuable feelings, that is, the most
permanent, the most independent, the most ennobling with Nature and
human life_."

[Footnote 49: See Myres' "Wordsworth," English Men of Letters Series, p.

Hearken to Nature's own high priest, turned laureate of the garden! How
can this thing be? Here is the man whose days had been spent at Nature's
feet, whose life's business seemed to be this only, that he should extol
her, interpret her, sing of her, lift her as high in man's esteem as
fine utterance can affect the human soul. Yet when he has done all,
said all that inspired imagination can say in her praise, in what seems
an outburst of disloyalty to his old mistress, he deliberately takes the
crown himself had woven from off the head of Nature and places it on the
brows of Art in a garden!

Not Bacon himself could write with more discernment or with more fervour
of garden-craft than this, and the pronouncement gains further
significance as being the deliberately expressed opinion of a great
poet, and him the leader of the modern School of Naturalists. And that
these two men, separated not merely by two centuries of time, but by the
revolutionary influences which coloured them, should find common ground
and shake hands in a garden, is strange indeed! Both men loved Nature.
Bacon, as Dean Church remarks,[50] had a "keen delight in Nature, in the
beauty and scents of flowers, in the charm of open-air life;" but his
regard for Nature's beauties was not so ardent, his knowledge of her
works and ways not so intimate or so scientifically verified, his senses
not so sympathetically allured as Wordsworth's; he had not the same
prophet's vision that could see into the life of things, and find
thoughts there "that do often lie too deep for tears." That special
sense Wordsworth himself fathered.

[Footnote 50: "Bacon," English Men of Letters Series, R. W. Church.]

Points like these add weight to Wordsworth's testimony of the high rank
of gardening, and we do well to note that the wreath that the modern man
brings for Art in a garden is not only greener and fresher than the
garland of the other, but it was gathered on loftier heights; it means
more, it implies a more emphatic homage.

And Wordsworth had not that superficial knowledge of gardening which no
gentleman's head should be without. He knew it as a craftsman knows the
niceties of his craft. "More than one seat in the lake-country," says Mr
Myres ("Wordsworth," p. 68), "among them one home of pre-eminent beauty,
have owed to Wordsworth no small part of their ordered charm."

Of Wordsworth's own garden, one writes: "I know that thirty years ago
that which struck me most at Rydal Mount, and which appeared to me its
greatest charm, was the union of the garden and the wilderness. You
passed almost imperceptibly from the trim parterre to the noble wood,
and from the narrow, green vista to that wide sweep of lake and mountain
which made up one of the finest landscapes in England. Nor could you
doubt that this unusual combination was largely the result of the poet's
own care and arrangement. _He had the faculty for such work._"

Here one may well leave the matter without further labouring, content to
have proved by the example of a four-square, sane genius, that those
instincts of ours which seem to pull contrary ways--Art-wards or
Nature-wards--and to drive our lopsided selves to the falsehood of
extremes, are, after all, not incompatible. The field, the waste, the
moor, the mountain, the trim garden with its parterres and terraces,
are one Nature. These things breathe one breath, they sing one music,
they share one heart between them; the difference between the dressed
and the undressed is only superficial. The art of gardening is not
intended to supersede Nature, but only "to assist Nature in moving the
affections of those who have the deepest perceptions of the beauties of
Nature, who have the most valuable feelings, ... the most ennobling with
Nature and human life."

One need not, if Wordsworth's example prove anything, be less the child
of the present (but rather the more) because one can both appreciate the
realities of rude Nature, and that deliberately-contrived, purpose-made,
piece of human handicraft, a well-equipped garden. One need not be less
susceptible to the black forebodings of this contention-tost, modern
world, nor need one's ear be less alert to Nature's correspondence to

    "The still, sad music of humanity,"

because one experiences, with old Mountaine, "a jucunditie of minde" in
a fair garden. There is an unerring rightness both in rude Nature and in
garden grace, in the chartered liberty of the one, and the unchartered
freedom of unadjusted things in the other. Blessed be both!

It is worth something to have mastered truth, which, however simple and
elementary it seem, is really vital to the proper understanding of the
relation of Art to Nature. It helps one to appraise at their proper
value the denunciations of the disciples of Kent and Brown against Art
in a garden, and to see, on the other hand, why Bacon and the Early
School of gardeners loved Nature in the wild state no less than in a
garden. It dispels any lingering hesitation we may have as to the amount
of Art a garden may receive in defiance of Dryasdust "codes of taste."
It explains what your artist-gardener friend meant when he said that he
had as much sympathy with, and felt as much interest in, the moving
drama of Nature going on on this as on that side of his garden-hedge,
and how he could pass from the rough theme outside to the ordered music
inside, from the uncertain windings in the coppice-glade to the pleached
alley of the garden, without sense of disparagement to the one or the
other. It explains why it is that nothing in Nature goes unobserved of
him; how you shall call to see him and hunt the garden over, and at last
find him idling along the bridle-path in the plantation, his fist full
of flowers, his mind set on Nature's affairs, his ear in such unison
with local sounds that he shall tell you the dominant tone of the wind
in the tree-tops. Or he is in the covert's tangle enjoying

    "Simple Nature's breathing life,"

surprising the thorn veiled in blossom, revelling in the wealth of
boundless life there, in the variety of plant-form, the palpitating
lights, the melody of nesting birds, the common joy and sweet assurance
of things.

    "Society is all but rude
    To this delicious solitude."

Or it may be he is on the breezy waste, lying full length among the
heather, watching the rabbits' gambols, or the floating thistle-down
with its hint of unseen life in the air, or sauntering by the stream in
the lower meadows, learning afresh the glory of weed life in the lush
magnificence of the great docks, the red sorrel, the willow-herb, the
purple thistles, and the gay battalions of fox-gloves thrown out in
skirmishing order, that swarm on each eminence and hedgerow. Or you may
meet him hastening home for the evening view from the orchard-terrace,
to see the solemn close of day, and the last gleam of sunshine fading
over the hill.

It is worth something, I say, to win clear hold of the fact that Nature
in a garden and Nature in the wild are at unity; that they have each
their place in the economy of human life, and that each should have its
share in man's affections. The true gardener is in touch with both. He
knows where this excels or falls behind the other, and because he knows
the range of each, he fears no comparison between them. He can be
eloquent upon the charms of a garden, its stimulus for the tired eye and
mind, the harmony that resides in the proportions of its lines and
masses, the gladness of its colour, the delight of its frankly
decorative arrangement, the sense of rest that comes of its symmetry and
repeated patterns. He will tell you that for halcyon days, when life's
wheels run smooth, and the sun shines, even for life's average days,
there is nothing so cheery, nothing so blithely companionable, nothing
that can give such a sense of household warmth to your home as a
pleasant garden. And yet none will be more ready to warn you of the
limits of a garden's charms, of its sheer impotence to yield
satisfaction at either end of the scale of human joy or sorrow.

And so it is. Let but the mist of melancholy descend upon you, let but
the pessimistic distress to which we moderns are all prone penetrate
your mind, let you be the prey of undermining sorrow, or lie under the
shadow of bereavement, and it is not to the garden that you will go for
Nature's comfort. The chalices of its flowers store not the dew that
shall cool your brow. Nay, at times like these the garden poses as a
kind of lovely foe, to mock you with its polite reticence, its look of
unwavering complacency, its gentle ecstasy. Then the ear refuses the
soft and intimate garden-melodies, and asks instead for the rough
unrehearsed music of Nature in the wild, the jar and jangle of winds and
tides, the challenge of discords,

    "The conflict and the sounds that live in darkness,"

the wild rhetoric of the night upon some "haggard Egdon," or along the
steep wild cliffs when the storm is up, and the deeps are troubled, and
the earth throbs and throbs again with the violence of the waves that
break and bellow in the caves beneath your feet; and then it perhaps
shall cross your mind to set this brief moment of your despair against
the unavailing passion of tides that for ten thousand years and more
have hurled themselves against this heedless shore. Or you shall find
some sequestered corner of the land that keeps its scars of old-world
turmoil, the symptoms of the hustle of primeval days, the shock of grim
shapes, long ago put to sleep beneath a coverlet of sweet-scented turf;
and the unspoiled grandeur of the scene will prick and arouse your
dulled senses, while its peaceful face will assure you that, as it was
with the troubled masonry of the hills in the morning of the world, even
so shall it be with you--time shall tranquillise and at length cancel
all your woes. Or again,

    "Should life be dull, and spirits low
      'Twill soothe us in our sorrow
    That earth has something yet to show,
      The bonny holms of Yarrow."

Better tonic, one thinks, for the over-wrought brain than the soft
glamour of the well-swept lawn, the clipt shrubs, the focussed beauty of
dotted specimens, the ordered disorder of wriggling paths and sprawling
flower-beds of strange device, the ransacked wardrobe of the gardener's
stock of gay bedding-plants, or other of the permitted charms of a
modern garden; better than these is the stir and enthusiasm of Nature's
broad estate, the boulder-tossed moor, where the hare runs races in her
mirth, and the lark has a special song for your ear; or the high
transport of hours of indolence spent basking in the bed of purple
heather, your nostrils filled with gladsome air and the scent of thyme,
your eyes following the course of the milk-white clouds that ride with
folded sails in the blue heavens overhead and cast flying shadows on
the uplands, where nothing breaks the silence of the hills but the song
in the air, the tinkle of the sheep-bells, and the murmur of the
moorland bee.

And the upshot of the matter is this. The master-things for the
enjoyment of life are: health, a balanced mind that will not churlishly
refuse "God's plenty," an eye quick to discern the marvel of beautiful
things, a heart in sympathy with man and beast. Possessing these we may
defy Fortune--

    "I care not, Fortune, what you me deny:
    You cannot rob me of free Nature's grace,
    You cannot shut the windows of the sky
    Through which Aurora shows her brightening face;
    You cannot bar my constant feet to trace
    The woods and lawns, by living stream, at eve:
    Let health my nerves and finer fibres brace,
    And I their toys to the great children leave;
    Of fancy, reason, virtue, nought can me bereave."

       *       *       *       *       *


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