Landscape Gardening.

By Joann Breen

Landscape gardening has oftentimes likened to the painting of a picture. Your art-work instructor has undoubtedly told you that a good picture should have a point of main interest, & therest of the points just go to make more glorious the central idea, or to form a fine setting for it. So in landscape horticulture there must be in the nurseryman's mind a picture of what he wants the whole to be when he completes his assignment.

From this analysis we might be able to work out a little theory of landscape gardening.

Let us go to the lawn. A good extent of open lawn space is perpetually beautiful. It is reposeful. It adds a feeling of space to even small grounds. So we might infer and say that it is well to keep open lawn spaces. If one covers his lawn space with many trees, with little flower beds here and there, the common outcome is choppy & fussy. It is a bit like an over-dressed person. One's grounds lose all individuality hence treated. A single tree or a small group is not a bad arrangement on the lawn. Do not centre the tree or trees. Let them drop a bit into the background. Make a admirable side feature of them. In selecting trees one must keep in mind a number of things. You should not select an overpowering tree; the tree should be one of good shape, with something interesting about its bark, leaves, flowers or fruit. While the poplar tree is a fast grower, it drops its leaves early and so is left standing, bare & ugly, before the fall is old. Mind you, there are places where a row or double row of Lombardy poplar trees is very efficient. But I think you will agree with me that one lone poplar is not. The catalpa is quite beautiful by itself. Its leaves are broad, its flowers fascinating, the seed pods which stick to the tree until away into the winter, add a bit of picture squeness. The bright berries of the ash, the superb foliage of the sugar maple, the flowers of the tulip tree, the skin of the white birch, and the leaves of the copper beech all these are beauty points to view.

Place makes a difference in the survival of a tree. Suppose the lower part of the grounds is a bit low and moist, then the spot is perfect for a willow tree. Do not grow trees together which look weired. A long-looking poplar does not go with a nice rather rounded little tulip tree. A juniper bush, so trim and prim, would look ridiculous beside a spreading chestnut. One must keep ratio & suitability in mind.

I'd never apprise the planting of a group of evergreen plants close to a house, and in the front yard. The result is very drearydark indeed. Houses thus embedded are overcapped by such trees and are not only dreary to live in, but truly unhealthful. The important necessity inside a house is sunlight and plenty of it.

As trees are selected because of particular good points, so bushes should be. In a clump I should wish some which flowered early, some which bloomed late, some for the beauty of their fall foliage, some for the color of their skin & others for the fruit. Some spireas & the forsythia flower early. The red bark of the dogwood tree makes a bit of colour all winter, and the red berries of the barberry cling to the shrub well into the winter.

Certain shrubs are good to use for hedge purposes. A hedge is rather better usually than a fence. The Californian privet is excellent for this purpose. Osage orange, Japan barberry, buckthorn, Japan quince, & Van Houtte's spirea are some other shrubs which make good hedges.

I forgot to say that in tree & shrub choice it is generally better to choose those of the locality one lives in. Unique & foreign plants do less well, and often harmonize but poorly with their new placing.

Landscape horticulture may follow along very formal lines or along informal lines. The first would have straight ways, straight rows in stiff beds, everything, as the name tells, absolutely conventional. The other method is, of course, the exactly different. There are risk points in each.

The conventional arrangement is likely to look too stiff; the informal, too fussy, too wiggly. As far as paths go, keep this in mind, that a path should always lead someplace. That is its business to direct one to a decided place. Now, straight, even ways are not unpleasing if the effect is to be that of a conventional garden. The danger in the twisted path is an abrupt curve, a whirligig outcome. It is far better for you to stick to straight paths unless you can make a actually beautiful curve. No one can tell you how to do this.

Garden ways may be of gravel, of dirt, or of grass. One sees grass ways in some very stunning gardens. I doubt, still, if they would help as well in your small gardens. Your garden areas are so limited that they should be re-spaded every season, & the grass paths are a great bother in this work. Of course, a gravel path makes a fine appearance, but again you may not have gravel at your command. It is achievable for any of you to dig out the path for two feet. Then put in six inches of stone or clinker. Over this, pack in the dirt, rounding it slightly toward the centre of the path. There should never be depressions through the central part of ways, since these form favorable places for water to stand. The under layer of stone makes a natural drainage system.

A building often needs the help of vines or flowers or both to tie it to the grounds in such a way as to form a well-balanced whole. Vines lend themselves well to this work. It is better to plant a perennial vine, and so let it form a permanent part of your landscape scheme. The Virginia creeper, wistaria, honeysuckle, a climbing rose, the clematis & trumpet vine are all most satisfactory.

Close your eyes and visualize a house of natural colour, that mellow gray of the weathered shingles. Now add to this old house a purple wistaria. Can you see the beauty of it? I shall not forget soon a rather ugly corner of my childhood home, where the dining room and kitchen met. Just there climbing over, and falling over a trellis was a trumpet vine. It made pretty an awkward angle, an ugly bit of carpenter work.

Naturally, the morning-glory is an annual vine, as is the moon-vine and wild cucumber. Now, these have their special function. For often, it is essential to cover an ugly thing for just a time, until the better things and better times come. The annual is 'the chap' for this work.

Along an old fence a hop vine is a thing of beauty. One might try to rival the woods' landscape work. Oftentimes one sees festooned from one rotted tree to another the ampelopsis vine.

Flowers may well go along the side of the building, or surrounding a walk. In common, though, keep the front lawn space open and unbroken by beds. What more scenic in early spring than a bed of daffodils close to the house? Hyacinths and tulips, too, form a blaze of glory. These are little or no bother, and start the spring aright. One may make of some bulbs an exception to the rule of unbroken front lawn. Snowdrops & crocuses planted through the lawn are beautiful. They do not disturb the general effect, but just blend with the whole. One expert bulb gardener says to take a basketful of bulbs in the fall, walk about your grounds, and just drop bulbs out here and there. Wherever the bulbs drop, plant them. Such small bulbs as those we plant in lawns should be in groups of four to six. Daffodils may be thus planted, too. You all remember the grape hyacinths that grow all through Katharine's side yard.

The place for a flower garden is broadly at the side or rear of the house. The backyard garden is a lovely idea, is it not? Who wishes to leave a beautiful looking front yard, turn the corner of a house, and find a dump heap? Not I. The flower garden may be laid out formally in neat little beds, or it may be more of a sloppy, hit-or-miss sort. Both have their good points. Great masses of bloom are attractive.

You should have in mind some opinion of the blending of colour. Nature appears not to consider this at all, & still gets special results. This is because of the special amount of her perfect background of green, & the infinitude of her space, while we are limited at the best to relatively small areas. So we should endeavour not to blind people's eyes with brushes of colours which do not at close range blend well. In order to break up extremes of colours you can always use masses of white flowers, or something like mignonette, which is in outcome green.

Eventually, let us sum up our landscape lesson. The grounds are a setting for the house or buildings. Open, free lawn spaces, a tree or a proper group well placed, flowers which do not clutter up the front yard, groups of shrubbery these are points to be commended. The ways should lead somewhere, & be either straight or well twisted. If one starts with a formal garden, one should not mix the informal with it before the work is done. - 29857

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