The term landscape garden is often used to describe the English garden design style characteristic of the eighteenth century.Landscape gardening has often been compared to the painting of a picture. Your graphics teacher without doubt has told you that a good scene should have a point of primary concern, and the rest of the points just offer to make more attractive the central theme, or to make a fine setting for it. Therefore in landscape gardening there must be in the gardener’s mind a scene of what he wants the entire to be when he completes his work.
By this analyse we shall be able to elaborate a brief theory of landscape gardening.
Let us move to the lawn. A good extent of open lawn space makes up always beautiful. It is quiet. It adds a feeling of place to even small grounds. Therefore we might generalize and say that it is good to make open lawn spaces. If one covers his lawn space with a lot of trees, with tiny flower layers here and there, the general outcome is stormy and crabby. It is a little like an over-dressed person. One’s grounds lose all personal identity thus treated. A single tree or a small group is not a bad arrangement with the lawn. Do not put the tree or trees in the middle of lawn. Let them drop a bit into the background. Create a pleasing side feature of them. In selecting trees one must keep in mind a number of things. You should not select an resistless tree; the tree should be one of good shape, with something interesting about its bark, leaves, flowers or fruit. Though the poplar is a rapid grower, it sheds its leaves early and so is allowed standing, bare and ugly, before the fall is old. Beware you, there are places where a row or double row of Lombardy poplars is very effective. But I suppose you’ll agree with me that one alone poplar is not. The catalpa is quite beautiful by itself. Its leaves are broad, its attractive flowers, the seed pods which clutch the tree until away into the wintertime, add a bit of picture squeness. The shiny berries of the ash tree, the brilliant foliage of the sugar maple, the blossoms of the tulip tree, the bark of the white birch, and the leaves of the purple beech all these are beauty points to consider.
Space makes a conflict in the selection of a tree. Suppose the lower part of the grounds is a little low and wet, then the place is perfect for a willow tree. Don’t group trees together which seem clumsy. A long-looking poplar tree does not go with a nice rather rounded little tulip tree. A juniper, so tidy and proper, would look silly beside a spreading chestnut tree. One must keep balance and suitability in mind.
I’d never suggest the planting of a group of evergreen plant* close to a house, and in the front yard. The effect is very dark indeed. Houses therefore surrounded are overcapped by such trees and are not only uncheerful to live in, but truly unhealthful. The important necessity inside a house is sunlight and plenty of it.
While trees are chosen because of certain good points, so bushes should be. In a bunch I should like some which blossomed early, some which blossomed late, some for the beauty of their autumn foliage, some for the colour of their bark and others for the fruit. Some spireas and the forsythia blossom early. The red bark of the dogwood tree makes a bit of colour all winter, and the red berries of the barberry stick to the bush well into the winter.
Certain bushes are good to use for hedge purposes. Normally a hedge is quite more beautiful than a surround. The Californian privet is fabulous for this use. Osage orange, Japan barberry, buckthorn, Japan quince, and Van Houtte’s spirea are other shrubs which make good hedges.
I forgot to tell that in tree and shrub selection it is generally better to select those of the vicinity one survives in. Uncommon and foreign plants do little fine, and much harmonize but badly with their new setting.
Landscape gardening may follow along very formal lines or along informal lines. The first would have direct paths, direct rows in strong layers, everything, as the name tells, absolutely formal. The other way is, naturally, the exact opposite. There are danger points in each.
The formal system is likely to look too strong; and the informal system, too crabby, too wiggly. As far as paths go, make this in mind, that a path should always lead someplace. That is its business to lead one to a certain place. Now, straight, even paths are not ungracious if the result is to be that of a formal garden. The risk in the curved path is an steep curve, a whirligig effect. It is utmost better for you to follow straight paths unless you can make a really beautiful curve. No one can tell you how to do this.
Garden paths may be of gravel, of dirt, or of grass. One finds grass paths in some very beautiful gardens. I doubt, even so, if they would attend as well in your small gardens. Your garden fields are so small that they should be re-spaded each season, and the grass paths are a heavy trouble in this job. Naturally, a rough path makes a fine appearance, but again you may not have gravel at your program line. It is feasible for any of you to dig out the path for two feet. Then set in six inches of stone or clinker brick. Across these, compact in the dirt, rounding it somewhat toward the middle of the path. There should never be depressions through the middlemost part of paths, as this form favorable places for water to stand. The low-level layer of stone makes a natural drainage arrangement.
A building often requires the help of vines or flowers or both to link it to the grounds in such a way as to form a balanced all. Vines impart themselves well to this job. It is best to plant a continual vine, and so let it make a permanent part of your landscape system. The Virginia creeper, wistaria, honeysuckle, a climbing rose, the clematis and trumpet vine are all most acceptable.
close your eyes and imagine a house of natural colour, that melt gray of the weathered shakes. Now impart to this old house a purple wistaria. May be you see the beauty of it? I shall not forget presently a quite awkward corner of my childhood home, where the dining room and kitchen met. Exactly there climbing over, and falling over a trellis was a trumpet vine. It made beautiful an awkward angle, an ugly bit of carpenter work.
Naturally, the morning-glory is yearly vine, as is the moon-vine and wild cucumber. At present, these have their special work. As often, it is requisite to cover an frightful thing for just a time, until the better things and better times come. The annual is ‘the chap’ for this job.
Along an old fencing a hop vine is a thing of beauty. One might try to rival the woods’ landscape work. As often one finds festooned from one decayed tree to other the ampelopsis vine.
Flowers may well move along the side of the building, or bordering a walk. As a whole, while, maintain the front lawn place open and unbroken by beds. What more adorable in early spring than a layer of daffodils close to the house? Hyacinths and tulips, too, form a blaze of glory. This is slight or no gravel, and start the spring right. One may keep of some bulbs an elision to the rule of unbroken front lawn. Snowdrops and crocuses planted through the lawn are gorgeous. They do not interrupt the common effect, but exactly blend with the whole. One expert bulb gardener supposes to take a basketful of bulbs in the fall, walk about your grounds, and just drop bulbs out here and there. Wherever the bulbs drip, plant them. Such small bulbs as those we plant in lawns should be in groups of four to six. Daffodils may be hence planted, too. You all remember the grape hyacinths that grow all through Katharine’s side yard.
The space for a flower garden is commonly at the side or back of the house. The backyard garden is a beautiful idea, is it not? Who wants to leave a lovely looking front grounds, turn the corner of a house, and find a dump heap? Not I. The flower garden may be ranged formally in tidy little beds, or it may be more of a thoughtless, hit-or-miss sort. Both have their good points. Large stacks of blossom are beautiful.
You should think of some whimsey of the shading of colour. Nature looks not to consider this at all, and still gets fantastic results. This is because of the enormous amount of her perfect background of green, and the limitlessness of her space, as we are enclosed at the finest to comparatively small areas. So we should effort not to blind people’s eyes with frictions of colours which do not at close range blend well. So to calve extremes of colours you can always use heaps of white flowers, or something like mignonette, which is effectively green.
At last, let us sum up our landscape lesson. The yard are a setting for the house or buildings. Open, free lawn places, a tree or a proper group well placed, flowers which do not jumble up the front yard, groups of shrubbery these are points to be remembered. The paths should direct someplace, and be either straight or well curved. If one starts with a formal garden, one should not mix the informal with it before the work is done.