Saturday, December 22, 2012

Landscape-Gardening, The Saving Of Natural Features part V

The Saving of Natural Features and

There has been a tendency in the United States, and perhaps in most countries, to use up or destroy
many things that would have been of value to future generations. We have needlessly wasted, destroyed and burned up large portions of the forests that would have been of priceless value even to the present generation. We have needlessly worn out and destroyed much of the natural richness of soil and have allowed large quantities of it to be washed away. We have destroyed most of the fur-bearing animals and the game that was once so abundant. We have destroyed the fish in rivers and lakes. All of these facts are quite generally recognized and regretted, but we have not yet reformed. The destruction of forests goes on, and scarcely any provision is made for the future supply of lumber. The same is true regarding many other natural products. Even coal and oil are not conserved as they should be.
One feature of this country, however, which is being destroyed and which is seldom mentioned, is its beauty. This loss is intimately connected with the other losses named. A needless destruction of a forest often leaves a barren waste. Compare the primeval forest with the “pine barrens” that have taken its place. Compare a newly discovered creek or river with banks well covered by native growth with the same river a generation later when its banks are denuded of growth and the river as if angry spends its energy in gouging out the land on either side. Compare the shores of a lake as first seen by white people with the same shores after the trees have been cut away and their places taken by ice-houses and other protruding or obtrusive buildings. Compare the tree-covered hills of some of the southern states with neighboring hills that have been denuded of forest and have been eroded by storms until the virgin soil has disappeared and the ground is worthless.
The history of what is taking place in this country is but a repetition of that in other lands. In France, for example, it has been necessary to spend millions to reforest mountains and foothills that had become worthless through erosion and to prevent the destruction of land below. Such destruction would result from its becoming covered with the material washed from above. The reforesting would bring back not only beauty but safety. Many countries once prosperous have become, through the destruction of their forests, like deserts and almost uninhabitable. The United States should avoid a catastrophe of this kind. The loss of beauty always accompanies the destruction of a forest. This is one of the many cases where beauty and utility are closely connected. The forest is valuable for the wood and timber it produces and for the protection it gives, but it is also valuable for its beauty; and this chapter would call especial attention to this attribute which it possesses, and base on it a plea for the preservation of woods. This plea would be for the protection of the undergrowth as well as of the larger trees. In subsequent chapters attention will be called to the various elements of natural beauty. In this chapter a general discussion of the subject of landscape-gardening in its relation to the entire country will be attempted.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Landscape-Gardening, The Art Expression part IV


The beginning of every fine art is, hidden in obscurity. It has been gradually developed until it attained a great degree of perfection. It may-be surmised that there was a time when men and women could not sing, and when there were no musical instruments. Probably the earliest representatives of the human race could utter pleasing sounds, but it must have taken a long time to develop tunes, to learn the harmony of music, and ages to perfect such instruments as the violin, the clarinet, the organ, and the piano. The devotion to music was such, however, that this fine art became part of the life of every civilized nation.
Music is needed at most social gatherings and at nearly all religious exercises. It is necessary in war and in peace. It is capable of exciting emotions of patriotism, of joy, and of sadness. It forms not only a part of the life of a nation, but dominates, to some extent, the lives of many individuals and families.
The development of sculpture doubtless began in rude attempts, like those seen today among
some savage tribes, and continued with the progress in civilization until it culminated in Greece more than two thousand years ago. While this fine art does not make so universal an appeal as does music,
it nevertheless exerts a powerful influence.
The different styles of architecture have culminated at various periods, but each, during its
development, has been understood and appreciated by all classes of persons and has really formed part of the life of the nation or nations where it came to its greatest perfection.
Poetry and the art of verbal expression kept pace with music, sculpture, and architecture, and at present no art exerts a greater influence. One can scarcely imagine a civilization without books.
Literature, indeed, lies at the foundation of modern life.
Painting and the graphic arts reached the highest development they have attained somewhat later
than the arts that have just been named. Thedevelopment of the fine art of making pictures, in so far as they represent landscapes, is comparatively recent. Such pictures now form an important part of the paintings seen in art galleries, public buildings, and residences. They appear abundantly among the illustrations of books and periodicals.
Landscape-gardening is now in the process of development. One or two generations ago there
were less than a half dozen firms following this profession in the United States. Indeed, only a small percentage of all people are awere that there is such a profession, and of those who have heard of it only a few know what it really is. Before it reaches its full development, it also must become a part of the life of the people.
If, as stated above, this art of landscape-gardening is growing, what will be its final attainment? What will it do for the people ? If properly guided in its growth, it will teach them to see the beauty of nature, the beauty of this world, of which many are now as ignorant as the ten-year-old boy was of the beauty of sunsets before his attention was called to them.
It will bring about a different spirit with regard to beauty wherever seen. There are many who regard anything which is beyond or outside of what is generally called “practical” as something foolish, wasteful, and effeminate, not realizing that it is the beautiful which makes life worth living.
It will open the eyes of farmers and their families to the beauty that is always around them in the
sky and in their fields, and, if they possess them, in their wood-lots, their orchards, springs, streams, and hedgerows, and in the birds that delight in bushes and trees. It will enable those who live in the country to get far greater pleasure from life than many do at present, and will stimulate them to beautify their homes and take pride in their surroundings, their work, and their free healthful lives. It will prevent a farmer from renting
his field or his barn for a bill-board to advertise someone’s pills. It will teach him that he may have, if he will, during each day of his life, that enjoyment in the beauty of the country to which business men of the city look forward as the crowning pleasure of their declining years, those years when rheumatism, deafness, and other infirmities frequently prevent one from receiving the full measure of happiness that nature should give.
It will teach the city dweller, who, to a certain extent, is fond of nature, that it is not the part of wisdom to create beautiful parks and build beautiful drives or parkways and then border them with bill-boards. It will teach him to respect the wooded bluffs and hillsides, the springs, streams, river banks and lake shores within the city boundaries, and preserve them with loving care. This appreciation and care will also extend to the suburbs and will bring about a friendly relation between the people of the city and those of the country.
The full development of that fine art, of which this book gives mere suggestions and glimpses, should result in preserving the country’s natural beauty, and developing real outdoor pictures every-where until the United States becomes the most beautiful country in the world — more beautiful than any now imagined, and fully worthy of the affection and pride of all its people.
What of the landscape-gardener? What should he have in the way of equipment, aims, and compensation? As to equipment, “all is grist that comes to his mill”; but he should have above all a love and appreciation of natural beauty. It is of advantage to him if he has been born in the country, or at least has lived a portion of his life in intimate relation with woods, streams, and open fields. The history of the world, as revealed in astronomy, geology, physiography, botany, zoology, chemistry, and the development of nations, is of value to him. The skill of the artist in various forms of expression is also of value — expression in words, in drawings, and in actual construction. His aims should include helping his fellow men and women to live happier, richer, fuller lives; helping his country, his city, his neighborhood, his own home to grow more beautiful; helping everywhere in that material, artistic and ideal development that comes from doing things in rational, thoughtful, common-sense way.
His compensation in a material way should correspond with that received by men in other professions; but in the satisfaction that comes from seeing and producing beauty, from breathing fresh air, getting outdoor exercise and all the delights that go with the country and the great outdoors and in the pleasure and satisfaction of doing helpful constructive work, no profession can vie with that of this new art.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Landscape-Gardening, The Aims Of Landscape-Gardening part III

Part 3

While landscape-gardening is more nearly allied to painting than to any other fine art, in some ways it more nearly resembles architecture. These are the utilities. Architecture is concerned with many matters not particularly connected with beauty. These are for the comfort, safety and use of those occupying buildings. In like manner, landscape-gardening is concerned with walks, drives, gardens, fences, location of buildings, and other features having to do with the comfort, convenience, and use of mankind. There is a similarity also in the professional methods of landscape-gardeners and architects.
The grading of surfaces, which is an important part of the landscape-gardener’s work, is not unlike the work of sculptors, while the planting material he uses makes an appeal to the senses of smell, taste, and feeling not made by the other fine arts. In illustration of this appeal, think of the smell of the rose, the woods, the meadows, the sweetbriers,
the hundreds of flowers of the old-fashioned garden, the taste of fruits, sassafras and all the products of vegetation, the feel of a mullein leaf, the bark of trees, the velvety lawn, the polished surfaces of cherries, the breeze from the sea, the water in the swimming pool, the snow and ice of winter.
Landscape-gardening, more than any other art, makes use of the natural sciences. Geology, botany, and chemistry are of special importance, and there is hardly any line of study that will not make the landscape-gardener better equipped for the work he has in hand and better able to meet and discuss with his clients the many subjects that go
with the development of land. Even if one should not intend to take up landscape work as a profession, there are few subjects the study of which will do more for one’s general culture. An appreciation of attractive scenery will add to the enjoyment of life, the pleasure of reading and to one’s interest in the history of the world. The Japanese have professors of the arrangement of flowers and this subject is taught in their colleges. The study of landscape, embracing, as it does, all that one sees out-of-doors, is one of the broadest of subjects. It is far more important as a fine art than painting, sculpture, architecture, flower arrangement and gardening, since it includes in a general way all of these, and its principles are those of all the other arts.
It follows, therefore, that the landscape-gardener works with his imagination. This is true in a greater or less degree of other men, but, for the landscape-gardener it is preeminently so. He must be a dreamer, a designer, an inventor, a creator, — a dreamer more than most designers because it may take years for his designs to develop. He not only dreams but he creates, working with land, plants, water, rocks, buildings, roads, and bridges. He puts two and two together, joining the work of the architect or engineer with that of nature. His aim is to produce beautiful outdoor scenery, the scenery that includes all one sees
whenever he walks or rides through country or city. He is often called a “landscape architect,” but architect implies building, working with lumber, bricks, stone, mortar, glass, metals, in short, materials that are for the most part rigid and fixed. The work of the landscape-gardener is largely with things that are alive, growing, changing. As Bryan Lathrop has said, “It is not the name so much as the idea behind it which is objectionable.” To use the word “architect” tends to take away that freedom and gracefulness that should go with the development of beautiful landscapes. The term “landscape engineer,” which has also been used, is even more objectionable than “landscape architect,” since engineering is not a fine art, and, while the products of engineering may and ought to be beautiful, its aim is strength rather than beauty. “Landscape designer” is not so objectionable, since it indicates the character of the work undertaken by the man to whom it is applied.
A “landscape-gardener” is one who may be thought of as trying to produce a Garden of Eden, a garden which is purely imaginary but is thought of as the work of a Power greater than man and more beautiful than anything the present generation has seen. The aim of the landscape-gardener is high, and this term, while not free from objections, conveys the correct idea.
All of the various terms employed are objectionable because each contains two words.
“Landscape” is common to all, and if but one word were to be used, “landscaper” would seem to be the most appropriate. It would be used just as is “painter.” The “landscaper” would landscape a tract of land, a park or a home. His work would be “landscaping,” and when finished, the tract of land on which he had worked would be “landscaped.”
The term used in this volume is the one that has been generally adopted by those who have written on the subject of which it treats, among whom the name of A. J. Downing stands prominently, because the wide influence of his writings entitles him to the distinction of being considered the father of landscape-gardening in this country.
In the following pages the materials employed in this art and some of the general principles of the art will first be considered; and then the principles will be applied to the treatment of special cases.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Landscape Gardening The Aims Of Landscape Gardening Part II

Part 2
The landscape-gardener works in the same way. He studies the out-of-doors. He looks at nature on lines usually varying but a few degrees from the horizontal. He notes the sky lines, the masses of foliage, the lights and shadows, the varying colors and shapes of leaves and flowers, the lay of the land, the reflections in water. He learns the things that make
a view pleasing, and then when he grades lands, plants trees, shrubs, and flowers, introduces water, rocks, or other objects, he makes use of the pleasing effects he has learned to produce pleasing scenery appropriate to the situation and the locality. His canvas, the background for his work, is the sky. Against this he may see the earth itself, the ocean,
mountains, hills, prairies, or forests. Against this canvas he plants trees and other objects to form a pleasing composition, a picture if you will, and if he is wise and has the opportunity he will leave a generous open space on his canvas for nature to fill in with clouds and sunshine, with stars and moonlight. Nature indeed is a most helpful and willing partner
in all the real work of a landscape-gardener, and also his best teacher. She teaches other artists as well, but for the one who tries to help her in beautifying
the earth or in keeping it beautiful, she produces an infinite variety of plant growth and plant-food; she brings rain and warmth and sunshine; she provides air to breathe and a stimulating companionship to encourage growth and beauty; and she spreads a protecting blanket in winter.
The painter completes his painting in a few hours or days. It may then remain for years just as left by his. finishing touches. The landscape-gardener, on the other hand, must wait years for the picture he conceives to develop fully. His conception of the effect he wishes to produce may be the result of minutes or days of study. It is gained as quickly as the painter’s idea of his composition, and the time required for recording his conception on paper is comparatively brief. Sometimes the scheme he has in mind will be worked out directly on the ground without the use of drawings. The result he is after is out-doors, and as it is usually produced by living things — trees, shrubs, flowers, grass, and various ground-covering plants — which necessarily change, it becomes a moving picture. In other
words, his efforts result in a series of pictures or effects resembling each other but gradually approaching his ideal. His skill will depend first on this ideal, on his ability to form a satisfactory composition, to imagine a view with lights and shades in proper relations to each other, with harmonious outlines and colors — in short, on his appreciation of beauty; and next on his success in grading, selecting materials, planting, outlining open areas,
lakes, woods, groups of trees and shrubs, the selection and placing of herbaceous plants, and in his treatment of water, rocks, buildings, and other objects that may appear against his canvas.
Certain rules should govern his work. There should be unity. This means that from a given
point looking in one direction there should be one picture and in this picture some special feature should predominate. The rule of unity is violated when, in looking out of a window, one sees two vistas, two or more dominating trees, two lakes, two valleys, two hills or two mountains of equal importance. It is violated when a garden with bright colored flowers, pergolas and seats is made to compete with a view of the ocean. There may indeed be flowers in the ocean view, but they should be incidental, like clover blossoms in a meadow, the blossoms of apple trees, lilacs or locusts. Green foliage, rocks and trees may enhance the ocean view, helping to frame it or at least not competing with what should be the main feature of the picture. What is true of an ocean view would be true of a mountain view, or of a picture in which a valley or lake, a lawn, a house, the prairie, a distant
city, or a church spire formed the dominating feature. There may be several pictures seen from one point, if they are in different directions, but they should usually be separated from each other by some object such as a tree, a bit of woods, or a mass of shrubs. In landscape work the fact that the point of view can easily be changed must be constantly borne in
mind. It may be a window, a veranda, a seat under a tree or in a boat, any point along a walk or drive. or any position one may be in while strolling about the grounds. The landscape-gardener, therefore, designs a great number of landscapes in one piece of work, in all of which the rule of unity as well as the other rules to be mentioned will have a guiding influence. These rules also govern in pictures that are painted, in music, architecture, sculpture, and literature. There should be balance, but this does not mean that one side of a view should be just like the other. A tree may be balanced by a shrub, a rock by a building, a mass of flowers by a single blossom. A judicious arrangement of light and shade is desirable. In a well-designed land-scape there should be harmony of shapes, sizes and colors. A plant with foliage like the yucca would not be pleasing next to a maiden-hair fern. The leaves of pie plant do not harmonize with those of the rose. Magenta flowers do not go well with scarlet. A certain amount of contrast and variety give life to a landscape but if used to excess they may deprive it of repose. Repetition in landscapes as in painting tends to make a scene restful. Thus all the rules of composition that are applicable to paintings apply also to landscapes designed or appropriated by landscape-gardeners. A painter sometimes speaks of the “heaven-born ratio of three to two,” meaning that the focal point, the point to which the eye continually reverts, should be three units from one side and two from
the other side of the canvas, and the same ratio from the top and bottom, instead of being in the center.
The same ratio serves well in designing an actual landscape, since a tree or other subject placed directly in the center usually looks badly. The interest in any view is increased by
an arrangement which piques one’s curiosity. In illustration of this, think of woods into which one gets glimpses leading to unknown depths, bays of lakes disappearing behind islands or promontories, lawns partly hidden by projecting groups of shrubs.
These give possible opportunities for making discoveries, and such opportunities compete with variety in giving spice to life. The shape of a tree, the graceful or strong arrangement of its branches, the outlines and texture of its leaves, the color and forms of flowers, the curves of the earth’s surface, the reflections in water — are all objects of interest and beauty, but beyond all these in making a view interesting are the elements of curiosity and mystery.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Landscape Gardening The Aims Of Landscape Gardening Part I


THE purpose of this series of articles is to help make our country more beautiful. “ Our country ” refers especially to the United States, although in preparing the text the author has also had in mind all those parts of Canada in which climatic conditions, general appearance, and habits of thought are similar to our own, and he further acknowledges a sympathy with Thomas Paine’s statement, “ The world is my country.” One’s country includes all individual homes and the thoroughfares that make them accessible, all public grounds such as city squares, school and church yards, parks, cemeteries, railroad rights of way, golf courses, national monuments, parks and forests, all streams and lakes, all shores and all land upon which one may walk without feeling that he is trespassing. It includes the atmosphere, with its rain and sunshine, its fogs and clouds, its hail and snow, its storms and calms. It comprises night and day and all the seasons. It includes the rocks, and all material and living things within its boundaries.
Why seek to make the country beautiful? To many persons this question and its answer may seem unnecessary; the love of the beautiful is so nearly universal. To say that anything looks well usually secures its adoption or approval. Still, there are some persons who seem to be indifferent to appearances, and for them a few thoughts may be helpful.
Nature, from the greatest snow-covered mountains and broadest seas to the tiniest pollen-grain or smallest of spores, is beautiful and perfect. Happiness comes in largest measure to those who live in closest harmony with nature. It has been said that beauty pays, and this is undoubtedly true. A farm that looks well, other conditions being equal, will sell for more than one that appears bare and ugly or slovenly. A beautiful horse or cow, or an attractive dish or tool, will bring the highest price. But if one thinks of dollars and cents only, one does not get the full meaning of the word “pays.” Beauty pays by giving pleasure to those who see it. One can help to make one’s country more beautiful by making its home grounds, its road-
sides, its river banks, its parks, intrinsically better in appearance and by opening the eyes of those who fail to see such beauty as already exists.
The art that accomplishes this has usually been called landscape-gardening, and is the youngest of the arts. It was given a special impetus in the latter part of the eighteenth and the first part of the nineteenth centuries. To be sure, beautiful gardens and landscapes have existed since the time of the Garden of Eden, but the desire to create beautiful scenery and to treat its creation in a professional way first appeared in Europe at a comparatively recent date. It was the result of the effort to improve and organize the landscape. Repton, in the introduction to his “Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening,” published in 1795, said,
“I have adopted the term Landscape Gardening, as most proper, because the art can only be advanced and perfected by the united powers of the landscape painter and the practical gardener.” The powers of the practical gardener are such as are common in all agricultural pursuits, and presuppose some knowledge of soils, fertilizers, tillage, planting, spraying, and the care of plants in general. The power of the landscape painter as applied to pictures formed by real objects, to the creation of landscapes, to the study, appreciation, and development of beautiful scenery is the distinguishing feature of the art now under consideration. What power has the landscape painter? He depicts scenery upon canvas. One looks at his productions and realizes the warmth of spring sunshine in a valley,
the majesty of a mountain, the force of the ocean, the beauty of the pink glow of evening on the snow, the charm of woods, running streams, water margins, and open glades. One almost feels the wind, the warmth of a summer evening, the cool atmosphere
of the morning, the dampness of a rainy day, or the cold but delightful beauty of winter. How does the painter get this power? He learns how to draw and how to use pencils, charcoal, crayons, water-colors, oils, and pigments in the schools, but his chief inspiration, the source of his real power, comes from the out-of-doors. He looks abroad over the land, his range of vision stretching away on nearly horizontal lines to distant points. His canvas rests upon the easel in a nearly vertical position so that he can glance easily from the object he is depicting to the representation of that object