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History of Early American Landscape Design

Alexander Garden

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Alexander Garden

History

Texts

"I have met wt very Little new in the Botanic way unless Your acquaintance Bartram, who is what he is & whose acquaintance alone makes amends for other disappointments in that way.... One Day he Dragged me out of town & Entertain'd me so agreably with some Elevated Botanicall thoughts, on oaks, Firns, Rocks & c that I forgot I was hungry till we Landed in his house about four Miles from Town....

"His garden is a perfect portraiture of himself, here you meet wt a row of rare plants almost covered over wt weeds, here with a Beautiful Shrub, even Luxuriant Amongst Briars, and in another corner an Elegant & Lofty tree lost in common thicket — on our way from town to his house he carried me to severall rocks & Dens where he shewed me some of his rare plants, which he had brought from the Mountains &c. In a word he disdains to have a garden less than Pensylvania [sic] & Every den is an Arbour, Every run of water, a Canal, & every small level Spot a Parterre, where he nurses up some of his Idol Flowers & cultivates his darling productions. He had many plants whose names he did not know, most or all of which I had seen & knew them — On the other hand he had several I had not seen & some I never heard of."


  • Ogilvie, George, 1776, describing Alexander Garden's villa, Otranto, in Carolina; or, The Planter: Written in 1776 (Berkeley and Berkeley, 1969, 352-57)
"And lo! my friend, where all the muse demands,
"On Goose-creeks banks thy own Otranto stands!
"Where pleas'd and wond'ring as we thrid the maze,
"We doubt what beauty first demands our praise
"The river bounded by the impervious shade,
"The smooth green meadow, or the enamel'd glade,
"Where all the pride of Europe's florist yields

"To the assembled wildings of our fields....

"Here Pales seems with Flora to have strove,

"To blend the beauties of the lawn and grove....

Bright as the blush of Venus when she loves,
"Sweet as the woodbine of her Paphean groves...
"From tree to tree the flow'ry tindrils rove
"Till one continu'd garland binds the grove
"Winding through shady walks, we slow descend,

"To skirt the mead, or trace the river's bend...

"There midst the grove, with unassuming guise
"But rural neatness, see the mansion rise!...


  • Garden, Alexander, July 24, 1789, to Cadwallader Colden ("The Letters of George Ogilvie and Alexander Garden," 1986: 117)[1]
"A few unconnected remarks on the situation and productions of Otranto [and] the Reasources of Carolina are inclosed. Such of them as you can weave into a description of that once beautiful and roman tick spot, may show what a Carolina situation ornamentted with only the natural productions of the Country can arrive at when so laid out.— The magical deception of the winding of Streight walks was not the least ornament of the garden for while walking in the garden you saw no straight walk & yet when turning and walking along the Bank of the river you saw none but Streight walks & not one of these winding walks thro the meanders of which you had visited all parts of the Garden while in it. And what is it now-possessed by a Goth! It sickens my soul to think of it.

"Diversified grounds— Hill & Dale— A fine winding River— The opposite banks covered with tall primaeval trees with many a flourishing shrub making the most picturesque background. The river plenteously stored with a variety of Fish— the labrus sapidus or large voracious fresh water trout— The blue bream the most delicate and sweetest of fishes....

"The house on the top of the hill commanding a fine prospect of the adjacent grounds and many different views of the meanderings of the River— guarded on the West from the afternoon's sun by two large Liriodendrons or Tulip trees full of foliage and beautiful Blossoms during May June and part of July. Remember the large Liriodendron between the fish ponds rising eighty feet without a branch then spreading out into a large head having a large opening in the middle thro which the full moon about an hour high was seen from the Piazza of the house — Never was Cynthia seen so much to advantage before having not the simple fig leaf that Mother Eve resorted to but a full grown beard of tulip tree leaves and flowers. Had Endymion seen her thus arrayed what would he have said?
"Near the house is a rural Library overshaddowed with an Umbrageous Catalpa & Lofty magnolia under Cover of which the first Company of the world reside ...[Milton, Tasso, Ariosto, Gay, Voltaire, Horace, Theocritus, Thompson] Lineaus & Bufon accompany you to the Fields — Sir Issac & Cassini to the Celestial dance.

"The ponds full of fish Juletta a successful fisher for Perch, Carp, Blue Bream &c.

"The River at different seasons Covered with Ducks of Various kinds: ... the Mandarine Ducks— the blue winged teal and even the alligator in plenty....


Images


References

Notes

  1. "The Letters of George Ogilvie and Alexander Garden," The Southern Literary Journal, 18 (1986): 117–34, view on Zotero.

Retrieved from "https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Alexander_Garden&oldid=12823"

History of Early American Landscape Design contributors, "Alexander Garden," History of Early American Landscape Design, , https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Alexander_Garden&oldid=12823 (accessed November 27, 2021).

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