"L'un a nos yeux presente D'un dessein regulier l'ordonnancc imposante, Prete aux champs des beautes qu'ils ne connaissaient pas, D'une pompe etrangere embellit leur appas, Donne aux arbres des lois, aux ondes des entraves, Et, despote orgueilleux, brille entoure d'esclaves; Son air est moins riant et plus majestueux L'autre, de la nature amant respectueux, L'orne sans la farder, traite avec indulgence Ses caprices charmants, sa noble negligence, Sa marche irreguliere, et fait naitre avec art Des beautes du desordre, et meme du hasard".
OUR first, most endearing, and most sacred associations," says the amiable Mrs. Holland, " are connected with gardens; our most simple and most refined perceptions of beauty are combined with them." And we may add to this, that Landscape Gardening, which is an artistical combination of the beautiful in nature and art — an union of natural expression and harmonious cultivation — is capable of affording us the highest and most intellectual enjoyment to be found in any cares or pleasures belonging to the soil.
The development of the beautiful is the end and aim of Landscape Gardening, as it is of all other fine arts. The ancients sought to attain this by a studied and elegant regularity of design in their gardens; the moderns, by the creation or improvement of grounds which, though of limited extent, exhibit a highly graceful or picturesque epitome of natural beauty. Landscape Gardening differs from gardening in its common sense, in embracing the whole scene immediately about a country house, which it softens and refines, or renders more spirited and striking by the aid of art. In it we seek to embody our ideal of a rural home; not through plots of fruit trees, and beds of choice flowers, though these have their place, but by collecting and combining beautiful forms in trees, surfaces of ground, buildings, and walks, in the landscape surrounding us. It is, in short, the beautiful, embodied in a home scene. And we attain it by the removal or concealment of everything uncouth and discordant, and by the introduction and preservation of forms pleasing in their expression, their outlines, and their fitness for the abode of man. In the orchard, we hope to gratify the palate; in the flower garden, the eye and the smell; but in the landscape garden we appeal to that sense of the beautiful and the perfect, which is one of the highest attributes of our nature.
This embellishment of nature, which we call Landscape Gardening, springs naturally from a love of country life, an attachment to a certain spot, and a desire to render that place attractive — a feeling which seems more or less strongly fixed in the minds of all men. But we should convey a false impression, were we to state that it may be applied with equal success to residences of every class and size, in the country. Lawn and trees, being its two essential elements, some of the beauties of Landscape Gardening may, indeed, be shown wherever a rood of grass surface and half a dozen trees are within our reach; we may, even with such scanty space, have tasteful grouping, varied surface, and agreeably curved walks; but our art, to appear to advantage, requires some extent of surface —- its lines should lose themselves indefinitely, and unite agreeably and gradually with those of the surrounding country.
In the case of large landed estates, its capabilities may be displayed to their full extent, as from fifty to five hundred acres may be devoted to a park or pleasure grounds.
Most of its beauty, and all its charms, may, however, be enjoyed in ten or twenty acres, fortunately situated, and well treated; and Landscape Gardening, in America, combined and working in harmony as it is with our fine scenery, is already beginning to give us results scarcely less beautiful than those produced by its finest efforts abroad. The lovely villa residences of our noble river and lake margins, when well treated — even in a few acres of tasteful foreground, — seem so entirely to appropriate the whole adjacent landscape, and to mingle so sweetly in their outlines with the woods, the valleys, and shores around them, that the effects are often truly enchanting.
But if Landscape Gardening, in its proper sense, cannot be applied to the embellishment of the smallest cottage residences in the country, its principles may be studied with advantage, even by him who has only three trees to plant for ornament; and we hope no one will think his grounds too small, to feel willing to add something to the general amount of beauty in the country. If the possessor of the cottage acre would embellish in accordance with propriety, he must not, as we have sometimes seen, render the whole ridiculous by aiming at ambitious and costly embellishments; but he will rather seek to delight us by the good taste evinced in the tasteful simplicity of the whole arrangement. And if the proprietors of our country villas, in their improvements, are more likely to run into any one error than another, we fear it will be that of too great a desire for display — too many vases, temples, and seats, — and too little purity and simplicity of general effect.
The inquiring reader will perhaps be glad to have a glance at the history and progress of the art of tasteful gardening; a recurrence to which, as well as to the history of the fine arts, will afford abundant proof that, in the first stage or infancy of all these arts, while the perception of their ultimate capabilities is yet crude and imperfect, mankind has, in every instance, been completely satisfied with the mere exhibition of design or art. Thus in sculpture the first statues were only attempts to imitate rudely the form of a human figure, or in painting, to represent that of a tree: the skill of the artist, in effecting an imitation successfully, being sufficient to excite the astonishment and admiration of those who had not yet made such advances as to enable them to appreciate the superior beauty of expression.