A branch of this work which cannot be ignored is the collection of fresh facts illustrating the comparative economy of rural processes and industries, and the record of experiments tending to elucidate disputed points in farm practice. Scientific farmers, agricultural societies, industrial colleges, and the Department of Agriculture, furnish every year new material for such a record; and the attempt to present approximate estimates of the current crop productions of the country opens a constantly widening field of labor.
The scientific sections of this work, embracing agricultural chemistry, botany, entomology, and other branches of natural history, to which farmers are looking for advances upon the discoveries of Liebig, practical instruction upon the flora of America and of the world and the means of saving millions now given up to insect depredations, have facilities for efficient and valuable labor, the results of which, given to the public in these reports, it is hoped will year by year prove of increasing interest and value.
In accordance with these views and aims, so far as developed and wrought out with yet imperfect facilities, the accompanying articles are presented. They are not merely the work of one man, or of several working in official cloisters, but the embodiment of the freshest views of thousands in communication with the Department--among them those recognized as foremost in knowledge and practice of some specialty or interest--and as such worth far more than the essay of a single individual, with its limited field of observation, a tendency to display of personal egotism, a habit of bestriding a favorite hobby, and too often a pecuniary axe to sharpen. Besides, the essay in our former experience has been almost invariably, and generally from necessity, a retrospect, a mere compilation, a new use of old material; it usually adds little to the stock of facts and experiences of practical agriculture. Such reiteration is useful and necessary in a newspaper; it should not be the staple and substance of an official report. While original facts and results should mainly constitute the matter of official publications, there are subjects of present interest, not new in themselves but freshly and urgently pressing themselves upon public attention, which should be examined retrospectively, but with constant reference to their points of immediate value and practical bearing upon industry and production. In this connection reference may be made to articles relative to tea culture, American sumac, the opium poppy, the cranberry interest, the results of steam-plow invention and steam culture, and the sugar-beet enterprise. Prominent among the subjects presenting the facts and progressive indications of the year, are those collating recent farm experiments, classifying new agricultural patents, distilling the spirit of the State reports of agriculture, recording the current history of industrial colleges, compiling recent laws concerning farm stock, mapping out the location of mineral fertilizers of the Mississippi Valley, and pointing out the resources of the great mountain section of the continent. These and similar presentations will illustrate, though they may fail fully to realize, the aim and object of the miscellaneous portions of the annual report of agriculture. If future observations continue to be conducted in this spirit, the ultimate results will be valuable and instructive in a higher and cumulative degree.
J. R. DODGE,
Editor of Reports.
Hon. Horace Capron, Commissioner.
Landscape gardening is a comprehensive art, combining the genius of the landscape painter with the art of the practical gardener; the exact knowledge of the engineer with the poetical imagination of the artist. The professor of this art should also possess a competent knowledge of the general principles of botany, architecture, geology, hydraulics, hydrostatics, mechanics, laws of heat and ventilation, pomology, and vegetable physiology. This may seem rather a formidable array of requirements, but in the multifarious details of selecting and arranging the style and location of rural residences, and their accompanying domestic auxiliary structures; the drainage of lands; the location and construction of roads; the preparation of garden sites, and the erection of horticultural buildings; the decoration of grounds for the purposes of beautifying and enriching the surroundings of rural homesteads, the more ambitious suburban villas, and public buildings of every description; and the artistic disposition of arborescent growths, so as to produce the most varied yet distinct beauties of which the scenery is susceptible--necessitate a knowledge more or less intimate and extensive with these, as well as with other branches of science.
During the last twenty years much attention has been given to landscape gardening, both in the laying out of private grounds and in the design and construction of public parks. Some of the latter are deserving of the highest commendation, both in design and execution, and have been the means of instructing and familiarizing the public with the capabilities and beauties of the art, and in educating the popular taste to an appreciation of the development of rural improvements, and their beneficial effects upon the moral and physical condition of society.
It cannot be too forcibly urged upon the attention of those who are intrusted with educational institutions that one of the most certain means of encouraging a desire for studies in natural history, and forming correct principles of taste in young minds, is that of landscape embellishment of school-house and college grounds. This has become one of the greatest wants in existing systems of education, and cannot long remain neglected.
It is not proposed to offer a treatise on landscape gardening, but rather to allude briefly to some of the more prominent points and subjects that will naturally arise for consideration in the location of residences and public buildings, and in the arrangement of the principal accessories, and the execution of various details connected with rural improvements.
GARDENING AND CIVILIZATION.
Gardens are of the most remote antiquity. Our first parents were placed in a garden, and the writings of the oldest historians and poets contain various descriptions and traditions concerning the extraordinary beauty of the gardens. History proves that a taste for gardening has kept pace with the progress of civilization, and that it has always exerted a powerful influence upon the passions and feelings of mankind. Much of the decorative beauty of architecture has resulted from the study of the beautiful combinations and graceful lines of the vegetable kingdom. Two thousand years before the Christian era Lydia was famed for its gardens. The gardens of Babylon are traditionally ranked among the greatest successful combinations of skill and wealth. The Persian kings were very partial to gardens, which were cultivated as much for their beauty as for their fruit, and even in gardens of limited extent the trees were arranged in regular lines and figures, and the walks bordered with tufts of roses, violets, and other odoriferous plants, The Greeks copied from the Persians, both in their gardening and their architecture. Epicurus took great delight in his garden, and there taught his philosophy. The Greeks excelled in architecture more than in gardening, although a public park or garden was planted by Cimon, the general, at Athens, furnished with streams of water and planted with shady groves, with gymnasia and places for exercise. They had flower markets which were well patronized, and learned or distinguished men wore crowns of flowers, and successful warriors were decorated with wreaths and garlands. Their garden decorations partook largely of statuary and other architectural appendages.
The Romans devoted much of their wealth to the adornment of their gardens and pleasure parks. Lucullus seems to have had large ideas of magnificent expenditures in this direction, being represented as having sumptuous villas in different parts of Italy, so that he could enjoy an agreeable climate every month in the year. Cicero had fine plantations at his Arpinum villa. Sallust, who made a fortune in the government of Numidia, devoted largely of his means to the laying out of gardens, which were for a long period the pride of Rome. Pliny's villa appears to have been laid out with more taste and less of ostentatious display than some others, since the pastoral beauty of his grounds are highly praised. It is apparent, however, that the principal features of ornamentation were derived from vases, fountains, and similar works of art that bore the semblance of wealth, and were at once objects that conveyed impressions of grandeur and magnificence, rather than to wait patiently for effects to be produced by artificial plantations, which required time for their development, and a higher appreciative taste for their enjoyment.
The Romans also devoted much attention to culinary vegetation, and carried their knowledge of science and the arts into such countries as they colonized, so that a great degree of wealth and enlightened prosperity accompanied their footsteps to an extent that the world has rarely seen equaled.
With the reign of the emperors commenced the decline of the empire. The reign of barbarism was triumphant, and the finest palaces, country houses, and gardens were destroyed. For five centuries the monks were almost the only class who cultivated gardens, and kept alive the culture of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and medicinal herbs during the dark ages. To them we are indebted for preserving and handing down the arts of gardening and architecture.
It was not until the middle of the fifteenth century that the arts of peace and commerce were so prosperous as to awaken a love for the fine arts; and the examples of former grandeur that still remained, together with traditions of ancient magnificence, stirred up a desire of imitation, and Italian gardening attained a perfection and standing that are still recognized and distinguished among rural improvements.
STYLES OF LANDSCAPE GARDENING.
There are two very distinct modes of laying out grounds, known as the geometrical and the natural. Various terms have been used from time to time by descriptive writers on these subjects to designate styles, but they are all easily referred to one or the other of these modes. Under the geometrical may be placed the formal, Roman, architectural, and ancient, as well as the Italian, French, and Dutch varieties of this style. Under the natural we may, in a similar manner, place the gardenesque, modern, irregular, English, and graceful.
A third style is commonly included, but has never been very successfully defined, either practically or hypothetically, that is the picturesque. The former two are sufficiently comprehensive for the present purpose.
THE GEOMETRICAL STYLE
In the earlier ages of the world the possessor of wealth exhibited his riches by surrounding his residence with such improvements as were most distinctive from the common scenery of the country. Hence gardens were ornamented with ballustraded terraces of massive masonry, magnificent flights of steps, elaborately decorated arcades, costly fountains, architectural grottoes, and lofty clipped hedges arranged with niches and recesses for the display of statuary. His less wealthy neighbor contented himself by substituting a sloped grass bank for the stone terrace, shaped his small lake in a square or circular form, and clipped his trees and shrubs into fantastic shapes, aiming at ostentation without regard either to propriety or good taste.
Such a style is well fitted for immediately producing startling, if not grand effects; and during early stages of society, and in countries abounding with the irregular and natural forms of uncultivated scenery, distinction is at once imparted by introducing perfectly level, or regularly sloping surfaces of ground, trees planted at uniform distances apart, and lakes or ponds bounded by geometrical lines, so as to leave no chance of mistaking any portion of the scene as having been the result of unassisted natural arrangement, but unmistakably to convey the impression of a display of wealth and refinement from the natural, uninclosed, rude scenery of the neighborhood.
In the strictly geometrical style everything is architecturally accurate in its lines, perfect symmetry pervades the whole, and all parts are equally balanced. Statuary of all kinds, fountains, steps, ballusters, and pediments, broad walks, straight planted avenues, formal shaped flower beds, and clipped plants, all belong to this species of garden and landscape decoration.
THE NATURAL STYLE
In the geometrical style the hand of the artist is evident in every detail; but in the natural style artificial interference is not so conspicuously apparent. In the disposition of the material used for the development of landscape views and scenic effects, there is nothing, so far as general impressions are concerned, to indicate where the hand of the improver has been operating, or anything appearing beyond a natural production, or what may have been indigenous to the locality. All natural beauties are carefully preserved, so far as is consistent with objects of use or convenience, and the element of utility enters more largely, perhaps, into our ideas of the beautiful in this than in the geometrical style; and, while there is no desire to avoid the appearance of art in operative details, it is not rendered obtrusive, and the effects produced need not suggest the idea of painful and laborious operations.
The perception of the beautiful ought to be the first impression, and not that of the art by which it has been produced. The beauties of nature are limited in the disposition of trees and shrubs, and, so far as general scenic effect is concerned, the arrangement might be taken for a natural group; yet a closer examination of details will lead to the discovery that the plants employed are not indigenous to the locality, and thus art and design will be recognized. So also in a district where evergreen trees do not exist in the surrounding natural woods, their introduction in the scenery will at once convey the impression of an artificial plantation, so far as regards the materials of which it is composed. While, therefore, the general effects produced in this style are similar to those which we are familiar in natural scenery, the details are dictated by convenience, utility, and adaptability to the end in view.
A neglected foot-path, seen in the distance, curving gracefully around the sides of a hill, or on the banks of a stream, now embracing a thicket of trees and undergrowth, and lost in a maze of tangled vines, then emerging and tracing its course across the meadow, alternately widening and narrowing, and at times altogether lost in the massive foliage of grasses and other natural growths, is what might truly be termed a natural path. Let it be trimmed and widened, however, its surface neatly adjusted and covered with gravel, its curves well defined, and its sides made perfectly parallel, and it will have lost much of its beauty as a natural woodland path, although the contiguous scenery has not been disturbed, nor in any degree impaired. It is now invested with the beauty of utility, and, however much we may have admired it in its original condition, yet for comfort, as a dry and convenient walk, we greatly prefer its improved condition; and, in addition to the charms associated with its position, it has those of adaptability and fitness to the end in view.
CHOOSING A LOCATION FOR BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS
In choosing a location, one of the first considerations is that of access to and egress from a city, and if daily intercourse is contemplated, it becomes a question of special interest. The time, trouble, and expense of travel on bad roads are a severe tax upon country pleasures. A drive of half an hour on a hard road, during a fine summer evening, is a recreative pleasure which may not be appreciated when an hour and a half are spent on the same distance during a stormy winter morning. A good road in dry weather may become very indifferent after rains, and be impassable for three-fourths of the year.
In these days of railroads and steamboats it is difficult to indicate what might be considered a convenient distance from a city. Upon a well managed railroad a distance of twenty miles may be more accessible than two miles upon a common road. Proximity to a railroad station will always secure a certainty of convenient transit, even allowing the distance to be within an easy carriage drive. This facility should not be overlooked when it can be secured.
Healthiness of locality is of paramount importance. Low, flat lands are generally damp and cold, and should never be selected for the habitation either of man or beast, if there is any choice in the matter. Valleys, or even slight depressions, are equally unsuitable. The air after sunset is always dense in such places, dews are heavier and more frequent; and, as a consequence, frosts are more prevalent than on elevations. Fogs are most frequent on low lands. The extremes of temperature are also greater, especially if surrounded by forests, which prevent the free circulation and equalizing influence of winds. Wide and long valleys between uniform hills are frequently subjected to sweeping blasts. Even the vicinity of such localities ought to be avoided. A person may drain, cultivate, plant, and otherwise improve his own property and still be subjected to the injurious influences of unimproved lands over which he has no control.
An elevated situation is generally healthy. The extent of prospect it secures is also an advantage; yet it is not well to place too great a value on distant views. For permanent residence the exposure of elevations is a disadvantage. Though cool, airy, and agreeable in summer, they may be bleak, chilly, and exceedingly uncomfortable during winter. The tender and delicate varieties of flowers and shrubbery, as well as fruits and culinary products, are less likely to flourish when fully exposed to cold and unbroken winds.
SELECTING A BUILDING SITE.
This is too commonly settled by selecting the highest point of the ground, but not always wisely. A modern house set up on a sharp knoll has an isolated appearance which is not readily altered or improved by trees, and it is with difficulty approached by roads, if the grounds slope suddenly from it.
A somewhat level plateau, partially surrounded by higher ground, forms, a good position for a dwelling-house. The ground should fall from it in all directions, more rapidly in front than back, where the descent may be merely sufficient for drainage. Back of the house, positions should be selected for the vegetable garden, stables, and other buildings, such as greenhouses and graperies, all of which will be sheltered and protected by the higher ground beyond.
The nature of the soil should receive attention in selecting a spot for a house. Clay soils are retentive of water; and, even when artificially drained, the surface is disagreeable after rains. Clay, in contact with foundation walls, keeps them damp and cold. The expansion of clay when wet, and shrinkage when dry, unfit it for a safe foundation. If every other condition is secured in a site, art can do much toward ameliorating the physical qualities of the soil; but, for all the purposes of human comfort and enjoyment, in the immediate vicinity of a house, a light, open, porous soil is decidedly the best.
It is always desirable to secure the beauty and utility of a natural plantation; but, to select a site for a mansion in the center of a grove of old trees, with the intention of making them a nucleus for future landscape effect, will generally prove unsatisfactory. In natural forests the trees grow closely together; their trunks are long, slender, and destitute of branches; and, if thinning is attempted, those that are left seldom flourish for any length of time. If the thinning out is gradual, and the best of the remaining trees are judiciously pruned, they may ultimately recover, and make a satisfactory appearance.
Where old trees abound, it is difficult to prepare or keep a good lawn, or to introduce new shrubs or flowers. The roots of the trees prevent thorough renovation of the soil, and the shade of their branches interferes with the growth of plants. There is a steady antagonism between the old and the new, both with regard to individual growth and landscape effect, until either the one or the other predominates. It is no matter of doubt or uncertainty, but a settled question with all who have any experience in remodeling or adapting old woods or groves to modern improvements, that it is immeasurably better to commence on a treeless naked field; as a judicious selection and intermixture of fast-growing trees, properly planted in good soil, will, in a very few years, serve all useful purposes, produce such effects as are contemplated, and give far more satisfaction than can be derived from the accidental position and growth of natural forests, at least so far as relates to improvements in the immediate vicinity of a rural residence.
PLAN OF IMPROVEMENTS.
The grounds being secured and the site fixed upon for the house, the next step is to prepare a well-defined working plan of contemplated improvements, and this is of equal importance whether the grounds are extensive or quite limited. To strike out the rude and simple outlines of an arrangement for the various accessories and conveniences of a country residence requires a mind thoroughly imbued with the principles of taste, and conversant with the application of art to the development of beauty; and, although we admit that every individual best knows what will meet his ideas of comfort and convenience in the abstract, there are few who can execute all the details, or satisfactorily introduce and fit all the disjointed parts so as to produce a complete whole.
As it is wisdom on the part of those who are about building a house to enlist the services of a competent architect, so it is essential to consult with a landscape artist in the preparation of a plan for the improvement of the grounds; as to what trees to plant and where to plant them; the proper introduction and construction of roads and walks; locating and erecting barns, stables, glass houses, and other buildings; selecting and preparing the soil for vegetable and fruit gardens; making lawns, and the numerous details that are involved in perfecting all the indispensable, useful, and ornamental adjuncts to a suburban house and grounds.
All plans should be as definite and simple as possible, and not overloaded with mechanical embellishments, as an excess in this respect generally indicates a deficiency in more important particulars. They should be accompanied with ample references, where each tree and the most important shrubs should be distinctly named, and referred to numbers on the plan. Intelligible reasons should be given for everything proposed, both with reference to immediate and to future effect, with clear instructions and suggestions with regard to the operations proposed, and the relative order in which they should be conducted. It may be taken as a rule, that no proprietor should undertake improvements until he sees clearly the objects and intentions of the design or plan; and, if this information cannot be conveyed by inspection and explanation, it is strong presumptive evidence of defect either in the design, or in the explanation, or in both.
In transferring designs to the ground, the most correct and speedy method is to divide the plan into squares, by lines drawn on it in both directions, the side of the square being of any length that will best subserve the purposes of accuracy. Squares of sixty feet for the sides will be found a convenient length; but in intricate designs, such as those for flower gardens, squares of thirty feet, or even shorter, may be necessary. The ground, or space to be operated upon, is to be divided into squares of the same size, and a stake set firmly at each point of intersection of the lines, and numbered to correspond with the numbers on the plan. A still more distinctive method is to use numbers for one direction and letters for the other; each stake will then be marked with a number and a letter. The plan and ground being thus prepared, the placing of a tree, or the laying down of a walk, or any other object, can be executed with the greatest facility. It also enables the work to be commenced at any point, and a short practice will enable any one, by looking at its position in the square on the plan, to place a tree in its relative position in the square on the ground, without having recourse to exact measurements. A plan carefully prepared with references, and accurate as to scale, may thus be transferred to the ground by any person capable of reading letters and figures.
ARRANGEMENT OF OUTBUILDINGS, STABLES, ETC.
The selection of sites for the various buildings required near a country or suburban residence, is second in importance only to the selection of a site for the mansion. Convenience dictates that these buildings should be as near the house as is practically consistent with their objects and character. The dwelling-house will, of course, occupy the best and most advantageous position, and its superior size and style of architecture will always be such as to render all other necessary structures of secondary and subordinate appearance. Such buildings as stables and ice-houses are so obviously necessary to domestic comfort that their presence is not only expected, but their absence conveys an impression of poverty or incompleteness altogether inconsistent with our ideas of what a country home should be.
Instead, therefore, of endeavoring to entirely conceal these offices by plantations and by other expedients, as is frequently advised, they should be located on the most eligible sites, and display, in their architectural details and ornaments, an expression of the purposes for which they are intended, and be judiciously exposed to view without rendering conspicuous the operations necessarily connected with the structure.
The best location for these buildings will be governed, to some extent, by local circumstances; but, where there are no grades, views, or other exceptional features to interfere with the selection, a point in a northeast direction from the house will combine the greatest number of advantages.
While the stables and other farm buildings should not be entirely hidden from view at certain points, at the same time it will be obvious that a due amount of privacy in and about the buildings themselves, as well as in the line of view from the dwelling-house, will be essential, and can readily be effected by the introduction of trees and shrubs at the points indicated.
LAYING OUT ROADS AND WALKS.
The guiding principle in designing the position of roads and walks is utility. Nature forms no roads. They are the works of men and animals, and would undoubtedly always proceed in straight lines from point to point, if obstructions of various kinds did not interfere and cause deviations. Necessity will therefore suggest where and how they should be introduced. So far as regards approaches and walks to and from buildings, the object of their introduction is sufficiently apparent; but, in laying out pleasure grounds and lawn fronts, it is a common practice to introduce walks for the mere purpose of variety. This is a very questionable reason at the best, and not always successfully accomplished; but even in cases of this kind, they should appear to aim for some definite object, or lead to points of sufficient importance to suggest their utility.
Unnecessary roads and walks should be carefully avoided. They are expensive in their construction, if properly made, and require constant attention to keep them clean and in repair. Nothing looks so woebegone and poverty-stricken as a weedy, neglected road to a house, or walks through pleasure grounds or garden. They detract much from the beauty of the surroundings, no matter how elaborate or intrinsically worthy they may be. An over-supply of roads and walks is always a serious infliction.
The beauty of curved lines sometimes prompts to a deviation from the more available direct course; and, where it can be done without too great sacrifice of utility, it is not objectionable. But no walk should be turned from its obvious direct course without an apparently sufficient reason. A change of level in the ground, a tree, or a group of plants, or other similar obstruction, will induce, and seemingly demand, a change of line.
There are many locations where the straight line should be preferred as a matter of taste in design. As a connecting link between the strictly horizontal and the perpendicular lines of a building, and the irregular surfaces surrounding it, a perfectly straight walk is in the best taste and adds greatly to the effect of the architecture, while a frequently curving walk detracts from it. So also a walk along the side of a straight boundary fence should not curve if both lines are visible at the same time. Most persons are aware of the great beauty of straight walks and avenues of trees; and for public parks of lesser order, inclosed by formal outlines, they can always be introduced with great effect, as well as convenience, where curving walks would be the reverse. In this case beauty depends upon harmony rather than contrast, and more than either upon utility.
When roads or walks are carried over irregular surfaces, the natural turns and windings necessary to follow an easy or uniform grade, and keep as near the original surface of the ground as possible, will usually develop pleasing curves. A little studied attention in this matter of the course of a road will not only increase the beauty of curves by adding to them the grace of utility, but also deep and expensive cuttings, as well as heavy embankments, will be avoided, and easy grades and economical construction be more certainly secured.
When it is necessary to branch a secondary road from the main line, it should leave the latter at as nearly a right angle as convenient, and at the same time be somewhat narrower, so that its appearance may covey the proper idea of its being subordinate, and so avoid confusion and mistake; otherwise the roads leading to the stable, ice house, or garden, may be mistaken for the road to the mansion. Under no circumstances should walks be made conspicuous in views of natural scenery. If it is essentially necessary that a walk should cross a lawn where it would interrupt a continuity of view, and destroy breadth of effect, it should be sunk beneath the line of vision, by placing it in a slight excavation, which may be further assisted by throwing up a small mound on the side nearest the point of view. These expedients, as also that of planting thick groups of low-growing shrubs, will be effective and satisfactory if properly executed.
In laying out curving roads it is not advisable to closely follow geometrical rules, or to set the curves out to any regular radius. This plan may occasionally prove perfectly satisfactory on a strictly level surface, but it will have quite an opposite effect where the ground is greatly undulating. The curves, to be pleasing, must be "eye-sweet"--not too sudden or abrupt--and properly blended at their points of junctions.
CONSTRUCTION OF ROADS AND WALKS.
Very much of personal comfort and pleasure in rural residences depends upon good roads. A smooth, firm, dry road is one of the greatest conveniences and enjoyments; while a rough, soft, muddy road is one of the greatest drawbacks and annoyances of country life. Bad roads form the greatest obstacles to progress and permanent improvements in all the neighborhoods that are blasted with their presence; they have a demoralizing effect upon the inhabitants, and are a sure sign either of poverty or mismanagement, or both.
Water is the worst enemy to good roads. It is, therefore, a leading principle in road-making so to construct them that they may be kept dry. In absence of a timely recognition of this principle, many costly roads have proved to be failures; but where it has had prominent recognition and its value has been properly appreciated, good roads have been made at a trifling expense.
After locating the road and marking out its course, the sides should be brought to the proper grade and finished by a layer of sod as a guide to further operations. In crossing a sloping surface it is not necessary to have both sides perfectly level, but the nearer this can be secured, with due regard to getting rid of surface water, the better it will admit of a neat finish and the more easily will it be kept in repair.
The road bed is then formed by excavating and removing the soil to a depth of six inches at the sides, curving slightly higher in the center, and made perfectly smooth by rolling, producing a uniform surface upon which the material of the road is to be placed.
The best stone for road metal is tough granite. Hard brittle stone is more readily reduced by pressure, but in a well-kept road this difference is not important. It is, however, all important that the stones should be broken small. The largest should easily pass through a two-inch ring, and if one-half of them are small enough to pass through a ring of only one inch diameter, the road will ultimately become all the more compact.
The road bed should be filled with this broken stone to a level with the sides, increasing in depth toward the center at the rate of one inch to the yard. Thus, a road sixteen feet in width would have a depth of about nine inches in the center. The utmost care should be applied to regulating the surface, and the smaller stones should be used on top, in order to secure an even, compact, carefully-molded grade, which should be compressed by repeatedly passing a heavy roller over it, wedging every stone, and making the surface almost as smooth and solid as a pavement. A thin layer, not more than one inch in thickness, of fine clayey gravel should then be evenly distributed over the stones, and the roller again applied until the surface becomes homogeneous, firm, and close.
The surface of the road will thus be higher than the sodded edgings; water will therefore pass readily from it, and one of the main points of keeping a good road will be secured. This will form a first-class road for ordinary carriage drives, or for all purposes required in public parks or private grounds; and, if kept in good surface by frequent rolling, so as to prevent the forming of ruts while it is settling; and, if a facing of gravel is applied when necessary, it will permanently fulfill all requirements of a good road.
The quality of gravel deserves notice. Wash gravel, consisting only of sand and rounded pebbles, should never be used. No amount of pressure will render it firm, and it is the most disagreeable material to walk upon. The best gravel is that to be found in banks composed of pebbles mixed with reddish clay; and the stones must be small. No detail in road-making is of so much importance as this. If a wagon wheel or the foot of a horse press on one extremity of a stone the other end of it will probably be slightly raised, allowing small particles of sand to fall into the crevice, when the stone is loosened, and will roll on the surface; hence the necessity of using only very finely divided stones on top, so that they will be smaller than the pressing point, and not become disarranged from leverage or compound action.
Where stone cannot conveniently be obtained, the road bed may be filled with refuse matters of many kinds, such as coal ashes, clinkers from furnaces, and shells. Oyster shells are plentiful in many places near the seaboard, and form an admirable road; but the permanency, as well as efficiency of these materials in a road bed, will depend altogether upon the care of surfacing with proper gravel. Where it is impracticable to procure, or deemed inexpedient to use, any of the foregoing materials, an earth road may be rendered very serviceable by proper attention to the leading principle--that is, to keep it dry. In this case, instead of excavating a road bed, slight excavations should be made at the sides and the material spread over the center; and that surface water may pass to the sides more rapidly and thoroughly, a greater convexity may be given to the curve. In some sections of the country good roads are kept up in this manner, but they are carefully repaired whenever necessary, and all ruts and tracks are filled up as soon as they are formed. The same general principles apply to the formation of walks and foot paths. The depth of material, however, need not exceed a few inches. It is certain that much unnecessary expense is frequently laid out upon mere foot-walks. A porous, gravelly, or sandy soil is in itself a good walk if properly shaped. Such walks admit of greater convexity than carriage roads, which is equivalent to a saving of material. Walks should be well filled up. There is no more disagreeable object, or one that conveys so meager an expression, as deep, raw edgings to a walk, looking as if they had been trimmed with a plow. Walks in this condition may be serviceable as water-courses, but they are not comfortable foot-paths.
FORMATION AND MANAGEMENT OF LAWNS.
A fine lawn is the most beautiful of external ornaments. Soft, velvety, elastic turf, smoothly shorn and of fine color, is always pleasing, but not always attained, Formerly the emerald lawns of European pleasure grounds were considered to be unequalled; and it was thought that nothing approaching to their beauty could be realized in this climate of scorching suns and summer droughts; but it has been demonstrated beyond any doubt that lawns may be produced and maintained here, as fine as those to be found in any country.
The primary requisite is thorough preparation of the soil. Without this, failure is probable, but if properly done at the outset, success is certain, with subsequent intelligent management. First of all, a good foundation must be laid by draining and subsoiling, trenching, manuring, or otherwise loosening and enriching the soil. With limited lawns, spade-trenching will be at once thorough and permanent; but, where a plow and other implements can be used, the work may be executed much more economically, and, by using the subsoil plow in connection with the common surface turning, a depth of eighteen inches will be reached, which, on ordinarily good corn-producing lands, will be ample preparation for a good lawn. Previous to the final plowing a heavy dressing of manure should be applied. This should be well decomposed, more especially if the soil is partially of a gravelly or sandy character.
The surface must be rendered smooth and regular. Careful plowing can accomplish much toward making a smooth surface; but whatever the expense may be, the finish should be made perfect before sowing the grasses. There are two seasons for sowing--autumn and spring, either of them appropriate; and the choice will depend upon circumstances, and is of secondary consideration, compared to the preparation of the land. To get rid of weeds and clean the ground before laying it down to grass, it is a commendable practice to plant it with early potatoes. These, if cultivated with ordinary care, will soon cover the surface with their leaves, and prevent the growth of weeds; and the operation of digging up and removing the crop tends to pulverize and loosen the soil. The potatoes can be removed and grass seed sown by the middle of August to the middle of September, and the grasses will vegetate and cover the surface before frosts. A top dressing of thinly sprinkled manure will protect the young plants during the winter, and a good thick set lawn will be secured early in the following summer.
In hard clayey lawns, where a sufficiently comminuted surface is not so easily obtained, the ground should be prepared in the latter portion of the year, and plowed over, so as to leave a rough surface to be acted upon by frost during the winter. This will insure a friability not easily attainable by mechanical means on tenacious soils. The seeds should be sown as early as can be done in the spring, but not until the ground is dry. Working a clayey soil when it is wet is ruinous to the future crop.
In the immediate preparation of the ground before seeding, the surface should be pulverized by the harrow and roller if necessary. The seed will be sufficiently covered by passing a light harrow or roller over the ground. The former is best in clayey or baking soils, and the roller on light and sandy soils.
The best grasses for permanent lawns are red top (Agrostis vulgaris,) and June grass (Poa pratensis.) The following proportions have been used in the lawns of the Department, with great satisfaction: one bushel red top, two bushels June grass, one quart timothy, and two pounds white clover, to each acre of land. These should be thoroughly mixed before sowing. This is heavy seeding, but experiments demonstrate that a good lawn can be secured only by seeding heavily, when sown in the spring; autumn sowing may be thinner, but the thick seeding will be the most satisfactory, There is no grass equal to the June grass for fine lawns; this is also known as green grass, and Kentucky blue grass. The red top also forms a good sward where the soil is good, and the summers comparatively cool and moist; but during dry warm weather it becomes hard and wiry. The timothy grass vegetates quickly and greatly assists the growth of the others. The clover is also valuable, in rapidly producing a thick close sod.
The practice of sowing oats, barley, or other grains with the grasses, under the impression that they will protect the young plants from sun and drought, is altogether wrong, as it practically does much more harm than good. The larger growing plants rob the soil of its moisture to the destruction of the tender and more feebly rooting grass plants. No such protection is necessary even were it possible to supply it without injury. With fair preparation of ground, and seed put in as soon as practicable in the spring, the lawn will be fit to mow in June at latest.
A very successful improver, especially in the making of lawns, sows down in August and adds about two pounds of turnip seed to the acre. The gradual growth of the turnip foliage forms a congenial damp shade for the vegetation and spread of the young grass plants. The larger leaves of the vegetable also protect the grass against injury from the early frosts. Their gradual decay and ultimate removal are effected before the grasses are so far advanced as to be hurt by continuous shade, and a thick sward is secured before winter. A slight covering of strawy manure will be of advantage to autumn-sown lawns, particularly so if the soil inclines to be wet, and therefore liable to have the young plants thrown to the surface by the alternate action of freezing and thawing. A heavy roller should be passed over it as early in the spring as the firmness of the soil will admit, in order to tighten the earth around the roots, and press down such plants as have been loosened during the winter.
While it is true that a fine lawn cannot be produced without good preparation, it is equally true that a fine lawn cannot be maintained without frequent mowing. The recent improvements in lawn mowers leave but little to be desired so far as mowing facilities are concerned. They also roll the lawn at the same time that it is cut, which is essential to the most perfect keeping. That which was formerly regarded as a formidable operation is now one of the easiest, and the lawn is kept in good order at less cost than any other portion of the pleasure grounds. One of the best points in the lawn mower is its incapacity for cutting long grass, thus compelling frequent mowing, which is the great secret in keeping a superior lawn. Mow early and often is the rule. Even on newly seeded lawns the mower should be at work as soon as the grass is high enough to cut; indeed much injury results from procrastination at this time; weeds will gain the ascendency, and unequal growths follow. A lawn sown down in April was cut six times before the 1st of August, and had the appearance of an old thick set sod.
Neither in the preparation and formation of a lawn, nor in its keeping in this climate, are there any half-way compromises. The work must be done thoroughly to begin with, and then timely attention to cutting all through the growing season will insure a satisfactory result. Neither soil nor climate can justly be blamed for poor lawns, although it is a very convenient mode of shifting responsibility, and one frequently adopted.
As already remarked, lawn mowing machines will not operate to any good purpose where the grass is long; hence it has been recommended to leave the cut grass as a mulch. During the first year this course may be followed with advantage; but experience shows that a long continuance of the practice injures the lawn very materially, particularly during early spring, or late in the season. In the hottest portion of summer the cut grass dries up so thoroughly as to be but of slight influence either way.
The lawn will be benefited by a top dressing once in three or four years; not, however, by throwing over it an unsightly covering of rough, strawy litter, which, however beneficial, is not commendable in neatly kept grounds. A compost made up of fresh stable manure and any ordinarily good surface soil, thrown together in layers, and intermixed and pulverized by frequent turnings during the summer, will be in condition for application any time in early winter. This should be evenly distributed, broken up, and raked in among the roots, taking advantage of frost to assist in the work of disintegration, and removing the rougher portions altogether before rolling the lawn in the spring.
BELTS OR MARGINAL PLANTATIONS.
In suburban districts, where surrounding properties are likely to be improved and the scenery is liable to be changed at any time, too much value should not be given to neighboring views. It frequently occurs that the site for a dwelling-house is selected mainly on account of its commanding certain distant views, even to sacrificing other important considerations in order to secure the prospect, and before the house is completed, the fine views are obstructed by operations on an adjoining property. In localities of this kind the interest of the position should not so much depend upon external beauties that are beyond control, as upon the internal improvements and local objects. Preliminary to this acquirement the grounds should be isolated by an umbrageous boundary of trees and shrubs, which will form a pleasant margin to the ground improvements, and provide that seclusion, retirement and privacy which are always congenial to home comfort.
Whether the place is large or small, a carefully planted boundary of selected trees and shrubs should encircle that portion of the grounds appropriated to gardening purposes. With regard to small places in thickly populated neighborhoods, this should be the first consideration. The place will thus be made to look larger and the house can be partly surrounded by a somewhat open lawn, which will be distinctly defined and fringed by the border of shrubs. In grounds of greater extent, shelter and protection, to both plants and animals, will be largely secured by thickly-set evergreen trees on the most exposed quarters. Distinctiveness of arrangement will also necessitate the formation of a well marked, division between the garden, the lawn, and the open fields beyond, and here a continuous belting of foliage will serve to render the boundary line more pleasing if not less conspicuous.
Much of the efficiency, as well as the beauty of this boundary belt, will depend upon the form of its ground plan, as well as upon its sky outline, which is a curving line, widening and narrowing at certain points, as heavy masses of planting may be made to hide deformities, or openings lift through which to view the distant scenery. In arranging openings it is not necessary to arrest the continuous line of shrubbery. This can be maintained by using very low growing plants opposite to the selected openings. This will further have the effect of varying the sky outline, both by elevation and perspective. The projecting points giving space for larger growing plants, will enhance variety in sky outline. These occasional masses of heavier plantings produce a pleasing variety of effect when contrasted with open spaces of lawn and groups of low-growing shrubbery.
The selection of the species and varieties, as well as the disposition of plants in a marginal border, requires skill and forethought. The proper gradation of heights, the contrasting and harmonizing of forms and colorings of foliage and flowers, and the general adaptation of the whole to the extent of grounds, and to the requirements of the architectural and other improvements, will influence, to a certain degree, both the selection and disposition of the plants.
Where the grounds are so extensive as to admit of a plantation belt varying in width from fifty to two hundred feet, thus affording space for the growth of the largest trees, the selection of sorts will be less difficult than where the space limits the border to a maximum breadth of fifty feet. The following list includes some of the best trees of the smallest size, suitable to small grounds:
Acer campestre. (hedge maple) Eloeagnus angustifolia. Paliurus aculcatus.
Acer Pennsylvanicum. Fraxinus viridis. Prunus mahaleb.
Amelanchier Canadensis, var., Halesia tetraptera. Prunus padus.
botryapium. Hamamelis Virginica. Ptelea trifoliata.
Aralia spinosa. Koelreuteria paniculata. Pyrus aucuparia.
Carpinus betulus. Laburnum vulgare. Pyrus coronaria.
Cercis Canadensis.(Judas) Maclura aurantiaca. Shepherdia argentea.
Chionanthus Virginiea. Magnolia conspicua. Sophora Japonica.
Cornus florida.(Flowering Dogwood) Magnolia glauca. FENCES AND HEDGES
Some sort of fence is usually necessary to guard against intruders, or to designate ownership, and the kind of fence used will generally be governed by necessity.
Whatever materials may be used for outside fences, they should be strong and substantial. Inside fences for such purposes as that of separating the lawn from the vegetable garden may be of lighter construction; especially if a fence crosses a lawn, as seen from the house with an open view beyond, it should be as light and elegant as is consistent with strength and durability. In such cases it is often desired to conceal the fence, as an intrusive object in the landscape, by adopting the sunken fence. This may be described as a ditch-like excavation four or five feet in depth, finished by a perpendicular wall on the lawn-side, and the ground flatly sloped on the opposite.
The propriety of persistently concealing the fence in such positions may be questioned. Utility is a strong element of the beautiful, and if no visible barrier intervenes between the pleasure ground and a grazing field, we at once condemn the incongruity. We cannot distinguish where the flower garden ends or the grazing meadow begins, and must suppose that the cattle can perambulate the flower garden if they choose; we can imagine the result, and we feel that a fence becomes a necessity to separate objects that cannot well be united without injury to one or both. Wire fences are well adapted to this purpose, as they are so light as not materially to interrupt the view; and if properly constructed, are sufficiently strong and permanent.
Even in those happy communities where cattle are not permitted to run at large, some kind of fence will be necessary to designate boundary lines of property. It has been claimed that the highest degree of rural beauty is a village without fences, or any other distinctive marks to properties. As well might it be claimed that the best arrangement in a picture gallery will be produced by taking the paintings out of the frames and nailing the canvas to the walls. The love of exclusive possession is a mainstay of society. Well-defined boundary lines to property greatly enhance its enjoyment, especially when applied to lawns and gardens.
For this purpose the live fence is by far the most appropriate, and that formed of evergreen plants the most permanently beautiful. The Siberian arbor vitae, Nootka cypress, and hemlock spruce are among the best for northern climates. In the South the Chinese arbor vitae, Japan enonymus, and other evergreen shrubs may be added to the list. If deciduous plants are preferred, a selection may be made from the following list: Japan quince, buckthorn, elaeagnus, Japan privet; and, if a somewhat formidable fence is desired, the Osage orange and honey locust will answer that purpose.
Hedges are also useful as shelter to gardens, rendering them earlier, more productive, and greatly exempt from casualties of climate and locality. In the growth of all kinds of small fruits, as well as those of larger orchard growth, shelter is always of the greatest benefit. Many of the diseases of our fruit trees and imperfections in the products can be effaced by sheltering hedges and plantations--facts that are now being fully appreciated by fruit-growers.
In grounds of very limited dimensions, where the boundary lines are at no great distance from the house, an evergreen hedge set inside the fence will afford great relief to the eye and form a background, as it were, to the shrubbery and flower borders. The stiff line of the hedge can be modified in appearance by planting small, diversified ground shrubs, or low-growing evergreens along its front. A continuous border varying in width and of curving outline, running in a direction parallel with the hedge, and thickly planted with flowering shrubs of variety, interspersed with such flowering herbaceous perennials as hollyhocks, phloxes, chrysanthemums, delphinums, &c., is one of the best modes of treating a small pleasure garden and lawn.
A rockery properly located and tastefully arranged is capable of affording much of interest and pleasure to those who can appreciate the beauties of nature. It is not advised to attempt the imitation of rocky scenery, which can rarely be successfully accomplished, even with the command of unlimited means. Abortions of this kind, where the means have been made more conspicuous than the end, have tended to discard rockeries from situations where they would be highly prized, were their real purpose fully understood.
The simplest form of rockwork may be described as a mound of soil covered with stones; and its purpose that of securing conditions for the culture of the native plants of our woods and dells, as mosses, ferns, and others of similar habits, which will not flourish in the ordinary borders or beds of the flower garden, where they are too much exposed to sultry suns and drying winds.
A secluded spot or corner of the pleasure grounds, shaded by trees, but not directly under them, is the position for a rockwork of the kind in question. Here, concealed from all points by an inclosure of shrubbery, or by an evergreen hedge, and approached by a rustic pathway through a leafy thicket, the rockery may be located, without any violation of good taste or interference with other and more ambitious decorations.
A basin to contain water may be cheaply constructed of brick and cement, and will add very much to the variety of the plants that may be grown. Shade and humidity, which are essential to the growth of many woodland plants, such as the sarracenias or pitcher plants, and also a constant evaporation during dry periods, will enable these, and plants of similar habit, to flourish as luxuriantly in an artificial state as they do in their native wilds.
A circular basin, eight to ten feet in diameter and twelve to sixteen inches in depth, surrounded by a rock-covered mound of soil, of varied breadth and elevation, will afford space for a large number of plants. It will also allow scope for tasteful arrangement, both in the construction of the work and in the distribution of the plants. If some of the largest pieces of rock are allowed to project over the water, in varied shapes and masses, some of them forming foundation for miniature perpendicular cliffs, and others for rapidly receding cavities, a pleasing play of light and shadow will be thrown over the surface of the water. An additional feature may be given by running through and around the rockwork a concealed pipe, with numerous small perforations over its surface, through which water will be conducted to the plants, trickling over the rocks and dropping into the pool below, producing at once a charming rural effect and a congenial atmosphere for the vegetation.
This, or some similar simple method of arrangement, will usually be more satisfactory than an iron or even a marble fountain, with numerous fanciful jets and basins, supported by questionable statuary, displayed in a conspicuous position on the lawn.
By the use of small stones and cement a center ornament may be erected in the basin, and a jet inserted, through which the water is delivered in a finely divided spray. This will provide hygrometric temperature peculiarly adapted to such situations and objects.
There are but few country places where the means for securing these specialties cannot readily be obtained. The water supply may not always be convenient; still, by exercising a little ingenuity, plans may be devised for its introduction, either by utilizing the waste from cisterns or forcing it into elevated receptacles. It may be mentioned that small jets are sometimes supplied by rain water collected in cisterns, although this is not recommended as a plan likely to prove satisfactory.
A species of rock garden of more elaborate character may be formed by laying out a small geometric plan of raised beds of earth, supported by irregularly shaped stones. Old tree-roots may also be used to elevate and diversify the sky outline. These will in time become covered with foliage of creeping plants, ferns, mosses, and other low growths. The beds should be planted with low-growing hardy evergreens, such as various species of Juniperus, Cupressus, Biota, Thuja, Taxus, and Retinospora. The Mahonias are well suited to plant in such positions. Yuccas are admirable, giving a somewhat oriental character when massed in groups. Larger trees may be used where space will admit. The hemlock-spruce is beautiful everywhere; the silvery deodar cedar will give variety of color; and the Pyracanth, Rhododendrons, and Kalmias, with many others, may be formed into picturesque groups of great beauty, depending very much, however, upon their location and skillful arrangement.
The more robust plants may be pruned when necessary, to keep them within prescribed limits; and shaded spots will be found where the Epigaeas, Mitchellas, Ferns, and kindred plants, can be introduced, desirable and interesting either for their floral beauty or their historical and botanical associations.
When appropriately introduced, the effect of water in pleasure grounds is always pleasing; frequently it is strikingly beautiful; and, of all the materials that enter into the composition of natural scenery, there are none that produce a greater amount of varied interest and beauty. It is, therefore, eagerly desired as an adjunct to the more artificial improvements of private residences, public institutions, and city parks, and is always a valuable acquisition where it can be secured.
To form an artificial lake, the first requisite is an ample supply of water at all seasons. There cannot well be a more unsatisfactory object in artificial grounds than a lake where the supply of water is insufficient to keep it properly filled, and where natural facilities for a constant supply do not exist its construction should not be attempted. The surface water, or casual supply derived from rains and snows, may be sufficient during winter and spring, but entirely inadequate to meet the evaporation during summer; and lakes that are dependent upon this source, and become partially empty and stagnant during the warm season, are as injurious to health as they are opposed to all correct ideas of beauty.
Water for ponds is sometimes procured from the discharges of underground drains; and where the drained area is extensive enough to furnish all the water necessary, which can be ascertained by observations during summer, a pond may be excavated at the lowest point, allowing the surface of the water to be on a level with the discharge pipes of the drains. The excavated soil can be used in forming the banks of varied heights and configurations. The outline of the pond, like that of a belt of trees or shrubbery border skirting a lawn, should be varied and irregular, with bold points and deep indentations, and these should be few and bold rather than frequent and tame. The resemblance between a level lawn, surrounded by curved outlines of shrubbery, and that of a smooth sheet of water in a pond or small lake, with jutting banks and retiring bays, is very close, so far as relates to their artistic treatment in ornamental planting.
The most natural position for a sheet of water is in a hollow or low ground, occupied by a constantly running stream. It frequently occurs that small streams are so situated that by skillfully throwing a dam across the valley hollow through which the water runs a large surface may be flooded and the water permanently retained. The water level on the surrounding ground will probably show a beautifully varied outline which may be increased or rendered more definite by deepening bay-like recesses and adding to prominent or jutting points. This, together with the effects that may be produced by planting, will give variety to otherwise monotonous outlines.
In geometrically arranged flower gardens simple basins of water may be introduced with good effect either with fountains or without them. In these situations the marginal finish or connection between the grass and water should be of an architectural description. Any attempt made toward a rugged, or what is usually termed a natural looking finish, will certainly prove unsatisfactory.
ENTRANCE GATES AND CARRIAGE TURNS.
First impressions are strongly influencing, and oftentimes prove to be the foundation of lasting prejudices. A neatly designed and tastefully arranged gateway at the entrance of a property creates the favorable expectation of finding these characteristics pervading other improvements. An imposing entrance way, therefore, becomes an important feature; but it should always bear a close relation to the general style and scale of the situation; and, if it is architectural in design, should harmonize with the style of the mansion to which it is an adjunct; at the same time it may be more highly ornamented, keeping strictly in mind that no amount of mere decoration will compensate for any appearance of insufficient strength or utility.
Iron gates appear to greatest advantage when they are hung to stone posts or attached to pillars of masonry. A single block of granite, fashioned into a post, forms a very satisfactory support for an ordinary iron gate. Large, heavy, and elaborately constructed iron gates demand heavier and more massive supporting pillars, ornamented to correspond with the style and finish of the gate. The main or principal entrance gate to any place, even of the most humble description, should be placed on a line receding more or less from the line of the outside or public road, being connected with the latter by a curved line of fence. The extent of this recess will vary with the extent of the place, facilities of position, and size and style of the gate; but ten to thirty feet may be given as a range. Even in places of quite limited extent, the former distance will be sufficient to give a decided effect, without encroaching too severely on the grounds, and will establish a largeness of expression to the whole surroundings. In placing posts for gates the mistake is frequently made of setting them parallel to the public road instead of having them at a right angle to the road to which they properly belong. When the private road leaves the public one at right angles, and continues in a straight line for some distance, the gate will, of course, be properly placed in a line parallel to the public road; but where the front lawn is small in extent and it becomes a necessity to branch the road suddenly to right or left, the importance of adhering strictly to the rule of placing the gate at a right angle to the carriage road will appear very conspicuous; for if the posts are set parallel with the public road, it will be found to be a matter of much nicety to drive a carriage through the gateway without either coming in contact with the post or allowing the horses to walk on the grass or road edging. Examples of this may be seen in most suburban districts.
The greater the inequality of the respective distances between the posts and the line of the outside or public road the more difference will there be in the length of the curved lines connecting them with the fence. One will be much shorter and have a different radius from the other; but this will not destroy the symmetry of composition which a gateway should possess, since the apparent utility of the arrangement will convey a strong reason for its adoption, which can be further increased by the judicious planting of trees; besides, it should be remembered that an expression of symmetry can be obtained without having a strict adherence to uniformity in details.
A space sufficiently large for allowing a carriage to turn is a necessary convenience to a house, and as near to the main entrance as practicable. In the front of very large buildings, a gravel space wide enough for this purpose is sometimes provided; but when the house is one of ordinary dimensions, and the grounds of only moderate extent, a large gravel space will very materially abridge the breadth of the front. The reflection of heat from gravel is not pleasant, neither is it so agreeable to the eye as the grassy lawn. Some of the objections to an open gravel space are removed by forming a circular carriage-way, directly in front of the house, inclosing a bed for shrubbery or a grass plot. The amount of roadway is, by this mode, somewhat reduced, but the evil of breaking up the front still exists; nor does it provide all the requirements of a carriage turn, as there is no alternative but to perambulate the circle when retiring; and the annoyance of having vehicles and animals obstructing the views from the principal windows of the house is also a great objection to this arrangement. The best position for a carriage-turn is beyond the house, so that a vehicle, after approaching the main entrance, can proceed onward, turn, and approach the house again in the opposite direction. The turn in this case can be partially screened from the house by planting shrubbery; and arrangements for tying horses can be made in unobjectionable positions where they will not present annoying features as seen from the house. This allows the grass or lawn to be carried closer to the building, the roadway only intervening, and the side grouping of plants can be executed much more effectively. The curve of the road, entering into the grounds on one side, will be balanced by a similar curve on the other side, toward the turn. In this proximity to a building, the walks, as well as artificial plantings, should be symmetrical in their tendencies, and in keeping with the formal style of treatment which such a position demands. The central view from the building will be open, and impart an expression of freedom and apparent extent of lawn, which is always pleasing, particularly in limited areas.
PLANTING ROADS AND AVENUES.
In the planting of straight roads and avenues it is essential to preserve regularity of line, as also uniformity in the color and shape of the trees. The nearest approach to the sublime in landscape gardening is in effects produced by extended uniform lines of trees. Continuity of line and uniformity of object, when combined with great extension, produce sublimity. Objects are sublime which possess quantity and simplicity in conjunction. It is not on a small rivulet, however transparent or beautifully winding it may be; it is not on a narrow valley though variegated with flowers of a thousand hues; it is not on small elevations, though they are clothed with the most delightful verdure, that we bestow the epithet sublime; but it is upon Niagara, the Mississippi, the Andes, the ocean, the wide expanse of the firmament, or the immensity of space uniformly extended, without limit and without termination. To produce this effect it is, therefore, imperative that only one variety of tree should be used. Anything that tends to break up the uniform continuity will at once destroy it. A straight avenue, planted with a variety of trees of varied forms, some broad and spreading, others tall, pointed, and spiry, is as much at variance with good taste as would be a Grecian facade, furnished with columns embracing all the different orders of architecture. Among the best trees for planting wide avenues are the tulip tree, the sugar and the silver maple, lindens, sycamores, walnuts, oaks, and chestnuts. For narrower roads, those from sixteen to twenty feet in width, the Norway maple, the black and the white ash, the horse chestnut, and those of kindred habit, will be more suitable.
On wide and long avenues, in positions where a side view of the lines is prominent, the wall-like effect may be very much softened and toned down, by setting a double or even a triple row of trees, and this will be still further increased by planting each opposite row, respectively, with a distinct kind. An avenue of tulip trees will, in this arrangement, be well supported by an outside line of red maples; their forms will blend pleasingly, and the contrast of their spring verdure, and autumn colorings will be agreeable. In a similar disposition the sugar maple, sweet gum, and ash-leaved maple may be used. Such combinations may be indefinitely varied and adapted to the embellishment of avenues, as their extent and importance may demand or require.
In planting curving roads, the disposition of the trees will obviously be determined by the general character of the grounds through which the road passes.
In places of six to ten acres in extent; and in form nearly of a square or parallelogram, with the mansion placed one hundred yards back of the front line, the entrance gate may be judiciously set near one of the corners, and the road gradually curve to the building. A single continuous row of trees on one side of this road would have a monotonous effect, and a row on each side would destroy and completely break up any attempt at breadth of view. The road should rather appear to curve round and pass through masses of trees and shrubbery plantations. While attention may be given to partially shading the road, by planting suitable trees mainly on the south and west sides, yet these shade trees should form only a portion of groups, with an occasional isolated single specimen tree; or what, is still better, two trees of the same kind set six to ten feet apart, so that when they grow up they will give a distant appearance as of a single tree, with the additional variety of aspect when closely viewed. The plantings or groups should be more extensive and massive on the inner circle, around which the road will curve, with frequent open vistas looking in upon the lawn. The width and length of the road and extent of lawn will designate the size of the groups, and also suggest the particular kinds of trees and shrubs of which they are to be composed. Shade trees may be thus introduced in sufficient quantities, even on winding roads, to answer the combined purposes of shade and garniture, without producing an appearance of strained effort to secure it.
Where the road is wholly on the southern side of the dwelling, deciduous trees should be used in front or near the building. If the entrance and road are north of the house, a straight avenue of evergreen trees will form an admirable feature, if ample space is allowed for both road and trees. The Norway spruce is, perhaps, the first choice of tree for such planting. The hemlock spruce is the more graceful, and the best adapted to short roads or narrow grounds. The Austrian, the Scotch, and the white pine may be used where the grounds are extensive. Even when the Norway spruce is used the parallel lines should be fifty feet apart, not only to admit of sun and winds to act directly on the roadway, but also to give ample room for the spread of the lower branches of the trees; and in no case should they be planted nearer than sixteen feet from the edge of the road; and when the larger and more widely spreading pines are used, a space of at least twenty feet should be given. A very meagre effect will result from planting close to roadways, narrowing them into mere strips, which for at least one-half of the year are seldom dry.
PLANTING NEAR BUILDINGS.
A mischievous error, and one too frequently perpetrated, is that of placing trees close to buildings. Although trees and shrubs are the chief decorative ornaments of a place, they become not only disagreeable but positively injurious to animal life, when closely massed around a habitation, by shutting out light, and preventing the rays of the sun and drying action of winds from exerting their salutary influence on the walls, which, in consequence, are constantly damp and unhealthy. Where large trees are allowed to spread and overhang the roofs, choking gutters and water leaders, and causing a deposit of mold and other fungoid growths as far as their influence extends, it is impossible for the house to be dry, comfortable, or healthy for human beings. Many of the older houses throughout the country are rendered almost uninhabitable by the dense surroundings of trees and shrubbery, and the evil is greatly aggravated when the trees are of evergreen species. Ventilation is produced by heat, and a building shaded from the rays of the sun by lofty trees, and sheltered from currents of air by thickets of shrubbery, is deprived of the influences most conducive to health, and is a fitting subject for the attention of a sanitary commission.
Plantings of the finer species of dwarf flowering shrubs may be placed in moderately large masses on the lawn near the house, without any great injury, if not too frequently repeated; but even the smaller growing shrubbery, if planted in continuous thickets near the building, in any except a northerly direction, will sensibly exclude the genial cool breezes so grateful during summer. A house nestling on the sunny side of an evergreen plantation is suggestive of comfort, and presents a cheerful, sheltered appearance during winter. It is as economical as it is attractive, as many persons can testify who have had the foresight to plant sheltering borders of evergreens in bleak and treeless situations, and in consequence are realizing a higher thermometric tempera-ture; but even these, to be of greatest benefit, should not approach within one hundred feet of the house at least not in mass. Isolated specimens of rare, or otherwise specially interesting trees, may be planted nearer, but only on the northern sides of the house.
A certain amount of shade is very desirable in connection with a house, especially in climates where, during a great portion of the time, it is more agreeable out doors than it is in rooms; yet it had better be secured by covered verandas than by trees. It is also more conducive to health to sit under a covered roof. Exposure to evening dews is a well-known fruitful source of sickness, and the partial protection afforded by the overhanging branches of trees is not sufficient when dew is falling.
Trees of the large-growing species should not be planted nearer than sixty feet to the walls of a dwelling-house. Such trees are the sugar and the silver maple, the sycamore, elm, linden, ash, chestnut, and poplar. Trees of medium growth, such as the Norway and the English maple, and others of this class, that do not attain a height of more than thirty feet, may be planted thirty to forty feet from the building.
Another disadvantage resulting from surrounding the building with a thicket of foliage is, that it shuts out the views of immediate and distant scenery, as seen from the house, at the same time the house, as an object of the local landscape, is completely hidden from view. If the architecture of the structure has received any study as a work of artistic design, it should in itself form a picture which, to be properly appreciated, must be seen and viewed as a whole, so that its proportions, outlines, elevations, and ornamental details may be taken in at one view. Even beds of low shrubbery, if abundantly introduced near the base of a building, will foreshorten the elevation, obstruct the view of the horizontal base line, and seemingly destroy architectural proportions. Many of the finest structures, both public and private, are ruinously shorn of their beauty by careless or ignorant planters, who, in their endeavors to beautify a building, succeed only in concealing those salient lines and projections that give it character and distinctiveness.
A proper connection of the house with its surroundings is the first point to which attention should be given in laying out grounds as it is the most prominent and leading detail of improvements. A house should not appear to have risen out of the green lawn like a tree. It is necessary that some evidence should be apparent of suitable preparation having been made for the building; at least, a level platform of more or less width should project from the base line. The ground line should be level and all walks should correspond with the lines of the ground plan. Zigzag and curving walks close to the straight lines of a large, or even the most humble building are directly opposed to beauty or propriety; they are sure evidence of unskilled labor.
The principal front of a building should show a terrace, either architecturally treated, or at least with architectural appendages. The level line of terrace will furnish a uniform base to the building, and masses of low-growing plants may be introduced below the terrace where they will not interfere with the view of the structure. A few trees may be planted at the ends or in the rear, which will serve to connect the house with the grounds and their scenery, and this can be done without either hiding or overshadowing the building.
It has long been laid down as a general principle that round-headed trees contrast best with the prevailing perpendicular lines of Gothic architecture, and those of a pointed or conic shape with the horizontal of the Grecian. It may be questioned whether either of these rules is sufficiently accurate to be worthy of consideration; certain it is that there may be found compositions of expressive beauty, where the arrangements are the reverse of those proposed in the general principle. It is perhaps nearer the facts to state that, in the arrangement of forms, harmony will prove more pleasing than contrast; but when applied to colors, contrast will develop the most distinct and expressive compositions.
GROUPING TREES AND SHRUBS, AND PLANTING IN MASSES.
Among the various operative details in landscape gardening, the arrangement of vegetation is the most important, and there is no other that shows so distinctly the artistic skill and arboricultural knowledge of the operator. While this is the most decisive as to the ultimate beauty and value of the improvements, it is acknowledged to be the least understood; for artists of considerable repute, who may establish grades, run lines of roads, and stake out places for groups and single trees, fail to designate the kind of plants to be used, thus leaving to mere chance the only features where artistic merit can be developed.
Some of the principal and most conspicuous effects that may be realized from grouping and placing trees, are as follows:
1. The formation of distinct groups of the various species and varieties of trees.--In planting public parks, college and school-house grounds, or private grounds, if of sufficient extent, a great amount of arboricultural interest will be induced by forming groups of certain families, genera, or natural orders of plants. It might be presumed that this mode of arrangement would sacrifice beauty, in order to carry out a mere mechanical system of disposition, such as may be seen in orchards, and would prove monotonous, and destitute of that variety which results from a combination of different species. This is to a certain extent true, where the grounds are not extensive, and the planting is confined to one principal group. In that case the use of diversified materials will invest the group with a greater variety of interest to the lover of trees, and that also without impairing the landscape effect, if the arrangement is properly carried out; but where the plantation is extended over several acres, the groups will be more definite and distinctive in character if each is chiefly planted with the plants of one genus. This may be partly illustrated by supposing that there are twelve principal masses to be planted, and twelve species of trees to be employed. If each mass is composed of a mixture of the twelve species, the result will be twelve groups of precisely the same character; whereas, if each group is strictly confined to one species, the groups will be entirely dissimilar, each forming a distinct feature. Thus groups of maples, oaks, birches, elms, &c., will follow in succession; and where whole families are thus connected, there will be sufficient difference in form and habit of growth among the species to give great variety to the group when inspected in detail, and at the same time the mass will present distinctive features peculiar to the genus represented. In ornamenting the grounds of colleges, and other seats of education, this mode of planting is particularly appropriate, affording admirable facilities for studying the individual trees, and comparing them with other species of the same family. The beauty of this arrangement will depend upon the harmonious connection of forms, and adaptation of the respective growths to certain positions in the groups.
2. Planting evergreens with a view to forming a distinct winter scenery.--No effective or perfectly satisfactory results will be produced from a general intermixture of deciduous and evergreen plants. In forming shrubbery borders this distinction is not so strictly important as it is in the case of trees; but, even in the arrangement of shrubs a far more polished and artistic finish will be given by placing the larger growth of deciduous plants in the background, and bordering toward the front with some of the low-growing evergreen species. One of the most desirable plants for an edging to a border of shrubbery is the berberis acguifolia. It grows in a compact, rounding form and is beautiful at all seasons, whether in the glossy brightness of its varnished foliage during winter, the profuse cluster of its yellow blossoms in spring, the fern like delicacy of its young foliage in early summer, or when laden with clusters of its dark-colored berries. Where the mercury frequently sinks below zero this plant will not prove ornamental. The recent additions to our hardy evergreen shrubs have been notable and valuable. The retinosporas alone comprise great variety. The enonymus japonicus, and its silver and gold striped varieties, furnish valuable material where they will withstand the winters. The taxus, cupressus, juniperus, and thuja furnish numerous plants of dwarf growth for the shrubbery.
In respect to the heavier tree growths, it is clearly manifest that the finest examples of arrangement are those where evergreen and deciduous trees are treated as forming distinct scenery; and of these the evergreens are, perhaps, the most valuable; because they furnish a winter clothing to the landscape, with but little aid from deciduous plants, while the summer assistance of the latter only supplement and adorn the forms and colors of the evergreens.
To produce the best winter effect from evergreens, they should be planted mainly in the foreground, particularly on such projecting points as are conspicuous, so that while these points or groups may be rather widely separated, they will have a continuous appearance by the tops of those in one group apparently connecting with the lower branches of the group beyond, as seen from the principal points of view. An indiscriminate mixture of all kinds of trees is destructive of beauty. The deciduous varieties diminish the beauty of evergreens during winter by breaking up the continuity of color and repose so essential to the best effects, either in gardening or painting; and during the summer season, the more numerous branches and broader expanse of foliage of the deciduous trees, if close to evergreens, will overpower the latter, and, in time, completely destroy them, by an excessive amount of shade; and, also, by the extraction of moisture from the soil. For defining outlines, or rounding off groups, no plant is so appropriate, or can so well be adapted to any position, as the hemlock spruce. Its wavy branches convey a more finished impression than any other hardy evergreen, and no other can excel it either in beauty of growth or general usefulness in producing the best effects of landscape gardening.
3. To gradually blend evergreen and deciduous plantations by pleasing connections.--The majority of evergreen trees are conical and pointed in form, while among deciduous species the prevailing habit is flat or round-headed; but trees of these opposite forms may be found in both classes. Spiry topped and conical forms are seen in the larches, Carolina cypress, Lombardy and other poplars; and round-headed evergreens are seen in the Scotch and the Austrian pine. Many species of the pine tribe, although of a pyramidal or pointed form, when the plants are young, assume an open, spreading habit, as they become older.
To connect evergreen and deciduous groups, those trees that partake of intermediate characteristics should be employed in blending the two classes, where the plantation is continuous; and where a more distinct, but not an abrupt, line of separation is required between the two, it may be judiciously accomplished, and the margins of each group be toned down, by introducing a few of the most graceful trees of both classes, such as the Norway and the English maple, negundo and yellow wood among deciduous, and the hemlock spruce, Lawson's cypress, arbor vitas, and retinosporas among evergreen species. The rather novel difference between the arboreal aspect and the botanical classification of the Salisburia adiantifolia renders it peculiarly appropriate for an intermediate position between evergreen and deciduous trees.
4. To place certain trees in conspicuous positions.--Trees that are preeminently notable, on account of their rarity, beauty or botanical or historical associations, may be placed as isolated specimens in prominent positions on the lawn. This interpolation, however, should be carefully studied; a single tree, if wrongly placed, may destroy a fine picture. Indeed, it is everywhere evident that the greatest prevailing error in arranging ornamental plantations, is the oft-repeated single tree, dotting every spare surface with a plant, producing a spottiness quite opposed either to beauty or design.
Single trees may be made still more conspicuous by planting them on slightly elevated rounding mounds; this will add to their general effect and allow perfect freedom for assuming their normal habit of growth. Trees worthy of so distinguished sites, for their beauty of growth, are very numerous; but for extensive grounds where the largest class may be introduced, the Magnolia acuminata, the sugar and the Norway maple, Cladrastis tinctoria, Osage orange, negundo, willow-leaved oak, and English maple, may be noted as a few of the deciduous; while among evergreens, the hemlock and the Norway spruce, Himalaya pine, Nootka cypress, and Siberian arbor vitae, may be specially mentioned.
Of rare and interesting trees, the list is extensive, and will vary according to individual tastes and studies; the extent of ground and general disposition of other plants will also influence the selection and number of single specimens.
5. Plant with reference to individual beauty, as also with regard to that resulting from a combination of forms.--Isolating the trees, as alluded to in the preceding paragraph, will produce the highest degree of individual beauty and development. But to realize all the variety that may be obtained from contrast of forms, foliage, and flowers, requires much careful study and preparation. Irregularity of distances between plants will, in itself, affect variety in composition. Very little either of beauty or interest can attach to lawns where every tree is equidistant, or apparently so, from its neighbor, like so many cabbages or currant bushes. If we observe the disposition of trees in any natural group that attracts our attention, we shall learn that the influence of unequal distance, in massing foliage, and causing minor groupings of branches and stems and outlines, it will be essential to imitate, to some extent, the mode in which natural groves are formed, even to placing several trees together so as to present the appearance of several stems issuing from the same root. A degree of naturalness will thus be imposed upon groups, even should there not be any attempt at contrasting or harmonizing forms; but this latter will show more decidedly the foresight and skill of the designer.
6. To produce a pleasing sky outline to all heavy masses or distinct groups.--The sky outline composition of groups is a pleasing and noticeable feature. The monotonous sameness in the aspect of a peach or an apple orchard is a familiar result and example of what may be intensified by closely planted masses of formal growing trees. But it is a rare occurrence to find such monotony in natural forest scenery. A great diversity of sky outline will prevail, especially on the margins of groves, where the foliage is continued by suitable undergrowths down to the surface of the ground. Such distinct and unique forms as the Lombardy poplar, deciduous cypress, larches, and similarly pointed trees, will give a spirited effect to the most common place groups.
The edges of plantations composed of larger growing trees will be softened by the introduction of drooping forms; and one of the most beautiful compositions, with reference to direction and curvature of branches, as well as to sky outline, is that produced by surrounding two or three Lombardy poplars with a circle of weeping willows. The poplars should not be more than twelve feet apart, and should form one central figure; if spread out singly the distinctive feature of a spiry column will not be secured.
Similar effects may be secured with groups of evergreen trees. The balsam fir is admirably effective as a center to a mass of lighter colored evergreens, owing to its heavy , dark hue. The Scotch pine and the Austrian are well adapted, both in color and form, to accompany the balsam fir, and the beauty of finish can be added by introducing the wavy branchlets of the hemlock spruce.
7. Plant with regard to autumn colorings, and the introduction of flowering trees.--The cheerful appearance of flowering trees should be made a point of attraction in any arrangement of groups or masses. These can be introduced under any system, as they are mainly trees of the third class, such as dogwood, Judas tree, Virginia fringe, silver bell, &c. Their appropriate position is on the margin of groups, and an occasional dogwood, planted where its white involucres will be displayed against the darker color of evergreens, will brighten the early summer scenery. The dwarfer growths of spiraeas, forsythias, deutzias, cydonias, and other species of flowering shrubbery, may also be introduced, with the finest effect.
In arranging trees for the purpose of producing strong contrasts from the changing colors of autumn foliage there is a wide field for the artist.
The most conspicuous colors are the scarlet of the sour gum, red maple, wild cherry, and some of the oaks; and the yellow of hickories, tulip tree, sugar maple, and others. The dogwood and sassafras are also decided in their fall colorings.
The beauty of groups will greatly depend upon their definiteness, distinction, and separation, by expansive, open, green lawns. These grassy openings are the lights of the natural picture while the trees and vegetation furnish the shade. The error of too much planting is frequent, and disastrous in its effects. The open, clear, well-kept lawn should, largely predominate; for, as Bacon remarked three hundred years ago, "there is nothing more pleasant to the eye than green grass kept finely shorn."
(Note: the following are handwritten pages that appear following the treatise on Landscape Gardening. TWM.)
Acer campestre - hedge maple
Acer Pennsylvanicum - Striped maple (moosewood)
Amelanchier Canadensis - Oblong leaf junebery
Aralia spinosa - Hercules-club
Carpinus betulus - kind of ironwood
Cercis Canadensis - Judas tree
Chionanthus Virginiea - fringe-tree
Cornus florida - flowering dogwood
Elavagnus angustifolia - American silverberry
Fraxinus viridis - a kind of ash tree
Halesia tetraptera - related to silverbell tree
Hamamelis Virginica - common witch-hazel
Laburnum vulgare -
Maclura aurantiaca - like or variety of Osage orange
Magnolia conspicua -
Magnolia glauca -
Prunus mahaleb - Mahleb cherry
Prunus padus - European bird cherry (similar to Choke cherry)
Ptelea trifoliata - Hoptree
Pyrus aucuparia - European mountain-ash
Pyrus coronaria - American crabapple
Shepherdia argentea - Silver buffaloberry