This section is from the book "What England Can Teach Us About Gardening", by Wilhelm Miller. Also available from Amazon: What England Can Teach Us About Gardening.
The elegance and perfection of English landscapes and gardens are largely due to these connecting or transitional plants which give the finishing touch to a good design.
THE intoxicating beauty of English landscapes and gardens is chiefly caused by two things — luxuriance and finish. Such luxuriance we may never hope to attain until we begin to love our own American trees, shrubs, and vines and make them dominant in our plantings as the Europeans do with their own native vegetation. By "finish," I mean elegance, perfection, the last touch that makes an exquisite picture. This finishing touch is often supplied by edging plants or "ground covers" — low growths that carry the eye from the greenery of grass to that of the shrubs and trees without a break.
The perfect lawn is one that is free from trees and bushes except at the borders, where it is fringed by shrubbery. This idea is illustrated byJ plates i\ and 91. The dignity of this scene is due chiefly to the tall trees. The peacefulness and repose therein are mainly owing to the unbroken lawn, which seems greater and richer than it really is, because its surface is not speckled with showy plants. And the elegance of the picture is largely due to the shrubbery, which makes the transition between lawn and trees. To realize the truth of this last statement one has merely to think away the fringe of bushes.
How different this is from the "camp meeting" style of grove 277 in which we Americans often take complacent pride! Many people, otherwise cultured,take it for granted that there can be nothing finer than a grove carpeted with grass. For picnics, yes; for beauty and privacy, no. Call to mind the loveliest woods with which you are acquainted. Do they not have flowers within and a fringe of shrubbery without? So, too, the private parks of England would lose their elegance and finish if there were no fringe of shrubbery. This fringe, however, should not be continuous, as it often is in nature. There should be a long, solid stretch of bushes to give seclusion to those in the wood and to make the grove poetic, mystical, alluring. And then there should be a break with a glimpse of cool ferns amid cathedral columns, or gorgeous masses of distant rhododendron bloom. And at such opening there should usually be a path or trail. Such is the spirit of the English park - a spirit that would ennoble our groves, pleasure woods, and tree-girt lawns.
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