This section is from the book "A History Of Gardening In England", by Alicia Amherst. Also available from Amazon: A History Of Gardening In England.
Batty Langley was one of the exponents of the principles which guided some of these Landscape-Gardeners. The chief of them he lays down in twenty-eight rules, among which are the following:" The grand front of the building lies open upon an elegant lawn, adorned with statues, terminated on its sides with open groves." " Such walks whose views cannot be extended terminate in Woods, Forests, misshapen Rocks, strange Precipices, Mountains, old Ruins, grand buildings, etc." " No regular evergreens in any part of an open plain or parterre." " No borders or scroll work cut in any lawn or parterre." " That all gardens be grand, beautiful and natural." "That all the trees in your shady walks and groves be planted with sweet Briar, white Jessemine, and Honeysuckle, environed at the Bottom with a small circle of Dwarf stock, Candy tuft and Pinks." " Hills and Dales be made by art where Nature has not performed the act before." " That the intersections of walks be adorned with statues," and many like rules for the correct way of making " rivulets, aviaries, grottoes, cascades, rocks, ruins, niches, canals, and fishponds." He also gives a long list of what statues were most suitable for each place :Pomona in the Orchard, Harpocrates, the God of Silence, for a grove, and so on. This subject of statues much perturbed some of the designers. " The use of statues," wrote George Mason, " is a dangerous attempt in gardening, not impossible, however, to be practised with success: how peculiarly happy is the position of the river God at Stourhead (Sir Richard Hoare's) in Wiltshire! ... I remember a figure at Hagley,* which one could fancy darting across the Alley of a grove . . . and only wished the pedestal had been concealed." These statues, urns and monuments, were arranged to impart to the beholder a particular impression, on first discovering them. Shenstone discusses the various sensations produced by an urn, and comes to the conclusion that " Solemnity is perhaps their point, and the situation of them should still co-operate with it." " They are more solemn, if large and plain." A clump of trees, a lake, or wilderness, had to be " sublime," " beautiful," " picturesque," "solemn," "grand," "dignified," or "elegant." A wood was planted for " rudeness or grandeur," a " grove for beauty," a cave or grotto was to strike "horror or terror." "A feigned steeple of a distant church or an unreal bridge, to disguise the termination of water,"* were brought in to "improve the landscape." These designers were careful not only of form but of colour, the " solemn grove" had to be planted with trees of dark foliage, and some touch of bright colour was introduced to give effect to the landscape. "An object of a sober tint unexpectedly gilded by the sun, is like a serious countenance suddenly lighted up by a smile, a whitened object, like the eternal grin of a fool," wrote one authority on the subject. Such were the high-flown ideas which inspired these designers, but in their efforts to reproduce the beauties of Nature they fell into the most artificial system that one can possibly imagine. William Mason's poem, " The English Garden," addressed to " Divine Simplicity," is characteristic of the spirit which guided these " reformers," of which Sir Walter Scott said it "is not simplicity but affectation labouring to seem simple".
* Laid out by Lord Lyttleton.
Many places were laid out on this new plan by Kent. The gardens at Esher, " Where Kent and Nature vied for Pelham's love," and at Claremont, were considered some of his best productions ; also Carlton House, which he designed for the Prince of Wales. Walpole thought " the most engaging of all Kent's works," and most "elegant and antique," was Rousham, in Oxfordshire. Kent began life as an apprentice to a coachbuilder; with the assistance of friends he went to Italy, and studied painting. He, however, never attained any good results in that art, but succeeded better as an architect, and designed temples and ruins for gardens. By the help of his patron, Lord Burlington, he was noticed by the Queen, and made Architect and then Painter to the Crown. He was looked up to by all the designers who followed, as the originator of the idea, and founder of the School of Landscape-Gardening. At one time, his wish to follow Nature, carried him so far that he planted dead trees in Kensington Garden "to give a greater air of truth to the scene." But Walpole says " he was soon laughed out of this excess." Philip Southcote appears to have been one of the first of those in whom Kent's " Elysian scenes excited the idea of improving their own domains," and " the elegance of Wooburn Farm (designed by him) was so conspicuous, that even its faults were imposing."* Pain's-hill, in Surrey, begun about the same time by Charles Hamilton, was " a perfect example of this mode." Hagley, laid out by Lord Lyttleton, was another garden, or " ferme ornee" in the same style, frequently referred to by contemporary writers, who praised "the new modelling of the shades and unfettering of the the rills." In spite of the admiration lavished by many on this place, Gilpin § remarks that although "there are certainly many beautiful views in these extensive gardens, yet we can easily conceive the same variety of ground . . . . so combined as to produce a much nobler whole." Hagley, in Worcestershire, was only a short distance from the Leasowes, already referred to, which was perhaps the most admired garden of this type. Goldsmith and others who had seen the place during the life-time of its poet-possessor, lamented the changes and decay which marred it, only a few years after Shenstone's death. Wright was another designer of this landscape-school, who succeeded Kent. He planned and sketched designs, but did not himself superintend the carrying out of the works.
* Horace Walpole, Essay on Modern Gardening. Sir Uvedale Price, On the Picturesque.
* George Mason, Essay on Design in Gardening. Wooburn Farm, near Chertsey, no longer existed in 1829.G. W. Johnson, Hist. Eng. Gardening.
§ Observations on Picturesque Beauty made in 1772, Particularly the Mountains and Lakes. By Wm. Gilpin.