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History of Early American Landscape Design

Jane Loudon

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Jane Webb Loudon (August 19, 1807–July 13, 1858) was an English magazine editor, pioneer of science fiction, and writer on gardens and botany. She created some of the first popular gardening manuals and introduced non-specialist readers (particularly women and children) to the notion of gardening as an accessible and enjoyable recreation.


Orphaned at the age of seventeen, Jane Webb turned to writing as a means of supporting herself. A book of poetry published in 1824 was followed by The Mummy!: Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, a futuristic three-volume novel published anonymously in 1827.[1] Among the reviewers impressed by the book’s fantastic visions of future scientific and technological innovations was John Claudius Loudon, who published an enthusiastic review in The Gardener’s Magazine and subsequently met and married the author. Thereafter, Jane Loudon abandoned fiction and immersed herself in the study of botany, gardening, and horticulture. She attended the public lectures of John Lindley (1799–1865), Professor of Botany at the University of London, and served as her husband’s research assistant and scribe, accompanying him on trips to country houses and pleasure gardens scattered throughout England and Scotland.[2]

Recognizing the need for instructional texts on horticulture and botany addressed to amateurs rather than specialists, Loudon contributed articles on floriculture to The Gardener’s Magazine. She went on to publish a number of well-received books, including Instructions in Gardening for Ladies (1840), which sold 1,350 copies the day it was published, and The Ladies Companion to the Flower Garden (1841), which sold over 20,000 copies in nine editions, including an American edition brought out by Andrew Jackson Downing.[3] In these and numerous other publications, Loudon promoted gardening as a pursuit uniquely suited to women owing to their experience in using color, texture, and design to beautify their dress and domestic decor.[4] She countered the notion of women’s incapacity for manual labor with detailed instructions on how tasks such as pruning and mowing became less “laborious and unfeminine” with the right tools, and how even digging could be made easy with “a little attention to the principles of mechanics and the laws of motion.”[5]

Like her husband, Loudon conceived of gardens as works of art as well as manifestations of science. In addition to counseling her readers on matters of taste in garden design, she offered practical information and advice on new varieties of seeds introduced to Britain, innovative methods of propagating plants, and alternative systems of botanical classification.[6] Through her voluminous writings, Loudon played a crucial role in the popularization of plant science in 19th-century Britain.

Robyn Asleson


  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 21)[7]
ARBORE'TUM.—A collection of trees and shrubs, containing only one or two plants of a kind, arranged together, according to some system or method. The most common arrangement is that of the Natural System; but the plants in an arboretum may be placed together according to the countries of which they are natives; according to the soil in which they grow; or according to their sizes and habits, or time of leafing, or flowering. In all small villa residences an arboretum is the most effectual means of procuring a maximum of enjoyment in a minimum of space, as far as trees and shrubs are concerned. To render an arboretum useful and interesting, each tree and shrub should be named.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 21)[7]
ARBOURS.—Seats or resting-places, forming terminations to walks, or fixed in retired parts of shrubberies or pleasure-grounds. In general, every straight walk ought to lead to some object of use, as well as of beauty; and an arbour is one of those in most common use. The structure being formed, climbing plants, ligneous or herbaceous, are planted all around it at the base of the trellis-work, or frame, against which, as they climb up, they ought to be tied and trained, so as to spread over the whole arbour. Some of the best plants for this purpose are the different species of Honeysuckle, Roses, and Clematis; and the Laburnum, the Periplòca graeca, the Maurandias, the Wistarias, Eccremocárpus scábra, Lophospermum, Rhodochiton, the Virginian creeper, Cobaea scándens, Menispermum canadensis, and ivy.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 33–34)[7]
BORDER.—A border differs from a bed in having a walk only on one side; and an ornamental border, in which flowers or shrubs, or both, are grown, ought to have the plants so arranged in regard to height and distance, as to have them seen to the greatest advantage from the walk. For this purpose the lowest-growing plants should be placed in front, and the highest kinds behind them, and the distance between the different plants should be proportioned to their breadth, not to their height. . . . With regard to the mode of arranging herbaceous plants in borders with reference to the colour of their flowers and time of flowering, the object ought to be to have an equal number of plants in flower in each of the floral months; and among the plants of each month to have as nearly as possible an equal number of each of the principal colours. This is the beau idéal that the cultivator should keep in view; but it is not easy to carry it out into practice without the assistance of a reserve garden, and a number of plants in pots, that can be brought out when in flower on the shortest notice. . . .
BORDER FLOWERS.—Herbaceous plants of hardy constitution; showy in appearance, and of easy culture, and therefore well adapted for ornamenting the borders which accompany walks in gardens.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 34)[7]
BOTANIC GARDEN.—A garden devoted to the culture of plants with a view to botanical science; and in which the plants are arranged according to some system, only one of a kind is planted, and a name appended to each. The most convenient mode for study is to place the plants in straight rows of narrow beds, one row in a bed, with a narrow path between; but the best mode for effect is to place them in groups of one order, tribe, or genus in a group. These groups have the best effect when of a circular form, and when placed on a lawn. The position of the groups relatively to each other should be such as to correspond with the botanical system followed.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 67)[7]
“COLD HOUSES FOR PLANTS are not generally in use, though it is a common practice with gardeners to remove plants from hothouses into the back sheds, in order to retard their blossoming or the ripening of their fruit. It is also the practice in some countries to place pots of fruit-bearing or flowering shrubs in ice-houses, so as to keep them dormant through the summer. . . .Bulbs are also retarded in a similar manner; and even nosegays are placed in ice-houses in Italy and other warm countries, when it is wished to retard their decay for particular occasions.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 69)[7]
CONSERVATORY.—This term originally implied a house in which orange-trees, and other large shrubs, or small trees, were preserved from frost during the winter; but at present it is applied to houses with glass roofs, in which the plants are grown in the free soil, and allowed to assume their natural shapes and habits of growth. A conservatory is generally situated so as to be entered from one of the rooms of the house to which it belongs; and from which it is often separated only by a glass door, or by a small lobby with glass doors. It should, if possible, have one side facing the south; but if it is glazed on every side, it may have any aspect, not even excepting the north: though in the latter case, it will only be suitable for very strong leathery-leaved evergreens, such as Camellias, Myrtles, &c. . . . The plants should be of kinds that will grow in a few years nearly as high as the glass; and they should, as much as possible, be all of the same degree of vigour, otherwise the stronger kinds will fill the soil with their roots, and overpower the weaker. . . . The pillars which support the roof, and, to a certain extent, the under side of the rafters, may be clothed with creepers. . . . The most suitable plants for conservatories are those that flower in the winter season, or very early in the spring.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 102)[7]
EDGINGS are lines of plants, generally evergreens, to separate walks from beds or borders. The plant in most universal use for this purpose in British gardens is the dwarf Box. . . .
Edgings to beds and borders are also formed of other materials, such as lines of bricks, tiles, or slates, or of narrow strips of stone, or even of wood. In general, however, edgings of this kind have a meager appearance, especially in small gardens, though they have this advantage, that they do not harbour snails, slugs, or other vermin. In architectural flower-gardens, near a house, where the garden must necessarily partake of the character of the architecture of the building, stone or brick edgings are essential, and they should be formed of strips of curb-stone, bedded on stone or brickwork, so as never to sink. . . .
“Much of the beauty of all gardens, whether useful or ornamental, depends on the neatness and high keeping of the edgings; for whatever may be the state of the boundary fence, of the gravel, or pavement of the walks, and of the soil or plants of the borders, if the edgings have an uneven, ragged appearance, or if the plants be either too large or too small, the garden will be at once felt to be in bad keeping.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 110–11)[7]
FENCES for flower-gardens and shrubberies, are either such as are intended to be invisible, or, more properly, not acknowledged,—such as barriers of wire, or, light iron rods, and sunk fences; or such as are intended to be acknowledged, and to form part of the landscape,—such as architectural parapets and hedges. . . .
“Architectural fences are used in small gardens, close to the house; and they should generally be low walls, of open work, in the style of the architecture of the building; and these walls may have piers at regular distances, terminating in vases, or other architectural ornaments, provided these are in harmony with the house. These walls, and indeed all other architectural fences, should be varied with shrubby plants planted against them, so as to harmonize them with the plants in the beds and borders within.
Hedges may either be of evergreens, neatly cut, so as to form living walls with standard plants at regular distances, to imitate architectural piers; or they may be formed of a mixture of different kinds of flowering shrubs, with evergreen standard low trees at regular distances.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 114–17)[7]
FLOWER-GARDENS embrace a subject on which a volume might be written without exhausting it; but the present article will be confined to a few general observations, applicable in every case; and to a short notice of the different kinds of flower-gardens which have been, or are, in most general use.
“All flower-gardens, to have good effect, ought to be symmetrical; that is, they ought to have a centre, which shall appear decided and obvious at first sight, and sides; and all the figures or compartments into which the garden is laid out, ought to be in some way or other so connected with the centre as not to be separable from it, without injuring the general effect of the garden. All the beds and borders ought to have one general character of form and outline; that is, either curved, straight, or composite lines ought to prevail. The size of the beds ought also never to differ to such an extent, as to give the idea of large beds and small ones being mixed together; and the surface of the garden ought to be of the same character throughout; that is, it ought not to be curvilinear on one side of the centre, and flat or angular on the other. In the planting flower-gardens the same attention to unity ought to be kept in view. One side ought not to be planted with tall-growing plants, and the other with plants of low growth; nor one part with evergreens, whether ligneous or herbaceous, and the other part with annuals or bulbs. Flower-gardens which are intended to be ornamental all the year, ought to have a large proportion of evergreen herbaceous plants distributed regularly all over them; such as Pinks, Sweet Williams, Thrift, Saxifrages, and intermixed with very low evergreen shrubs. . . . Flower-gardens which are intended to be chiefly ornamental in spring, ought to be rich in bulbs and early-flowering shrubs . . . those that are intended to be chiefly ornamental in summer, should be rich in annuals; and those that are to be in perfection in autumn, in Dahlias. Flower-gardens on a large scale never look so well as when the spaces between the beds are of turf; but those on a small scale may have the spaces between the beds of gravel, and the beds edged with box. . . .
“All the different kinds of flower-gardens may be reduced to the following:
The French garden, or parterre, is formed of arabesques, or scrollwork, or, as the French call it, embroidery of Box, with plain spaces of turf or gravel, the turf prevailing. The Box is kept low, and there are but very few parts of the arabesque figures in which flowers or shrubs can be introduced. Those plants that are used, are kept in regular shape by cutting or clipping, and little regard is had to flowers; the beauty of these gardens consisting in the figures of the arabesques being kept clear and distinct, and in the pleasing effect produced on the eye by masses of turf, in a country where verdure is rare in the summer season. These embroidered or arabesque gardens originated in Italy and France, and they are better adapted for warm climates than for England: they are, indeed, chiefly calculated for being seen from the windows of the house, and not for being walked in, like English flower-gardens.
The ancient English flower-garden is formed of beds, connected together so as to form a regular or symmetrical figure; the beds being edged with Box, or sometimes with flowering plants, and planted with herbaceous flowers, Roses, and one or two other kinds of low flowering shrubs. The flowers in the beds are generally mixed in such a manner, that some may show blossoms every month during summer, and that some may retain their leaves during winter. This kind of garden should be surrounded by a border of evergreen and deciduous shrubs, backed by low trees; and in the centre there should be a sundial, a vase, a statue, or a basin and fountain.
The modern English flower-garden has the groundwork of turf, on which a system of beds are formed, in such a manner as to constitute a symmetrical figure; or, if on a very large scale, groups of figures. The French flower-garden and the ancient English garden were chiefly calculated for being seen from an elevated situation, so as to show the whole at once; but the modern English flower-garden is calculated to be walked through, and seen by degrees. The beds are generally of roundish or curvilinear figures, and they should never be of figures with numerous narrow angles, or projecting points; because such parts can never be properly covered with plants, and therefore have always a bad effect. These beds are sometimes planted with a mixture of flowers alone, and sometimes with flowers and shrubs; but they are more generally planted, each bed with one kind of flower or one kind of shrub, so as to produce masses of colour, or of shades of colour, which will harmonize with the masses in the other beds. . . . For every garden of this kind there is, or ought to be, a basin of water, as well for effect, as for watering the plants; and if the garden be on a large scale, there may be statues, vases, open and covered seats, rustic baskets containing plants, rockwork, and a variety of other objects; but these require to be introduced with great caution, and afford an excellent opportunity for a lady to exercise her taste in their arrangement. In fact, these ornaments, if not well managed, destroy the simplicity and elegance of the garden, and do more harm than good. When flower-gardens are close to the house, and are intended to be very highly kept, the beds are often surrounded with a low frame-work of wire or trellis-work, so as to give them the effect of baskets of flowers; and this has sometimes a very good effect. . . .
The architectural flower-garden, or Italian garden, always adjoins the house, and it is bordered and separated from the rest of the pleasure-grounds by an architectural parapet or wall—see FENCES. It consists of beds symmetrically arranged, with gravel or pavement between; and the beds are bordered or edged with stone. In other respects, these gardens are treated like the old English flower-garden.
Terrace-gardens are merely architectural-gardens, formed on platforms adjoining the house, on one or more levels, each level being supported by a terrace-wall; but as they are chiefly adapted for mansions and places of considerable extent, where of course a regular gardener must be kept, it does not appear necessary to enlarge on them here.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 117)[7]
“FLOWER-POTS are commonly of a red porous kind of earthenware, which is much better for the plants than the more ornamental kinds sold in the china-shops: which from being glazed, and consequently not porous, are apt to retain the moisture so as to be injurious to the roots of the plants. . . . Glazed pots are most suitable for plants kept in balconies, where they are much exposed to the air. . . . There are ten sizes of pots in common use in British gardens, varying from two inches in diameter to a foot and a half. . . Besides these there are thumb-pots, about an inch in diameter and two inches deep, of which there are eighty to a cast; square stone pots for raising seeds, or striking cuttings, and which are seldom used but by nurserymen; and deep narrow pots for bulbous-rooted plants. Many other shapes have been invented to suit particular purposes, but the above are the only kinds in constant and regular use.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 118–19)[7]
FOUNTAINS are of two kinds; jets, which rise up in a single tube of water to a great height, and then fall in mist or vapour; and drooping fountains, which are forced up through a pipe, terminated by a kind of rose pierced with holes, called an adjutage, which makes the water assume some particular shape in descending. The principle on which fountains are constructed is, that if a large quantity of water be contained in a cistern, or other reservoir, in any elevated situation, and pipes be contrived from it to carry the water down to the ground, and along its surface, that the water will always attempt to rise to its own level the moment it can find a vent. . . . The height to which a jet of water will ascend, therefore, depends on the height which the cistern that is to supply it is above the ground from which it is to ascend; and on the size of the orifice through which it is to issue. . . .
“Drooping fountains do not require the water to rise so high for them as for jets; and consequently the cistern need not be so much elevated. The beauty of fountains of this kind depends on the adjutages, which are so contrived as to throw the water in many different forms. For example, some are intended to represent a dome, and others a convolvulus, a basket, a wheatsheaf, and a variety of other devices. The water from these fountains is generally received into a shell, whence it forms a sort of miniature cascade to the basin below.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 128)[7]
GEOMETRIC GARDENS.—This style of gardening is that in which the shape of the ground, of the beds, of the walks, and even of the shrubs, is regular, or symmetrical; such as may be formed on paper by a rule and compass. The ground, if originally flat, is reduced to a general level surface, over which the beds, or borders, are distributed so as to form figures, either simply regular, such as squares and parallelograms, repeated one after another—or squares and parallelograms, and circles or ovals, or other curvilinear figures,—so arranged as to be symmetrical; that is to say, that one-half of the figure formed by the whole shall correspond with the other half. When the surface is naturally irregular or on a slope, it is thrown into different levels, which are joined by steep slopes called terraces, generally covered with turf, and ascended and descended by stone steps. Each of the levels is laid out either regularly or symmetrically, in the same manner as if the whole were only one bed; but the figures are of course smaller. Small trees or evergreen shrubs are distributed among the figures, and especially on each side of the main walks; and these trees or shrubs ought, in strict accordance with the style, to be cut or clipped into regular shapes; such as cones, pyramids, balls, candelabra, statues of men or animals, arcades, columns, or other architectural figures. In modern practice, this is generally neglected; but its omission is a defect, for cut trees are as essential to the geometric style, as having the ground cut or shaped into artificial surfaces.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 143)[7]
GREENHOUSE.—A structure for growing those plants in (more particularly in the winter season,) which will not endure the open air of British winters. It may be of any form, but the most convenient is a square or a parallelogram, with upright glass in front, sufficiently high to admit of walking upright under it immediately within the glass; and with a sloping roof, at such an angle as readily to throw off the rain. This roof, for the better receiving the sun’s rays, should face the south, south-east, or south-west, and this is called the aspect. The front should seldom be lower than seven feet in height, and the height of the back should be about two-thirds of the width of the house. The space within is generally laid out so as to have a shelf in front, about two feet high from the ground, and two or three feet in width; and next there is a path two or three feet in width; the remainder of the floor, from the edge of the path to the back wall, being occupied with a series of shelves, rising one above another like the steps of a staircase, on which the pots of plants are to be placed. . . . The fire should be at one end, or behind the house, whichever may be most convenient. . . . Other minor details need not be here entered into, as they are perfectly understood by all constructors of greenhouses, whether of wood or iron. With respect to these two materials, iron admits of the greatest variety of shape, such as a curvilinear ground plan and roof, and it also admits most light; but the construction in wood is most generally understood, and is rather the cheapest.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 146)[7]
GROTTOES are covered seats, or small cells or caves, with the sides and roof constructed of rockwork, or of brick or stone, covered internally with spar or other curious stones, and sometimes ornamented with marine productions, such as corals, madrepores, or shells. A kind of grotto is also constructed of roots ornamented with moss. Perhaps the most generally effective grotto is one formed with blocks of stone, without ornaments either externally or internally, with the floor paved with pebbles, and with a large long stone, or a wooden bench painted to imitate stone, as a seat. The roof should be rendered waterproof by means of cement, and covered with ivy; or a mass of earth may be heaped over it, and planted with periwinkle, ivy, or other low-growing evergreen shrubs, which may be trained to hang down over the mouth of the grotto. In some cases it answers to cover grottoes with turf, so that when seen from behind they appear like a knoll of earth, and in front like the entrance into a natural cave. As grottoes are generally damp at most seasons of the year, they are more objects of ornament or curiousity than useful as seats or places of repose. One of the finest grottoes in England is that at Pain’s Hill, formed of blocks of stone, with stalactite incrustations hanging from the roof, and a small stream running across the floor. Pope’s grotto at Twickenham, the grotto at Weybridge, and that at Wimbourne St Giles, which last cost 10,000l., are also celebrated. A fountain or gushing stream is a very appropriate ornament to a grotto; though, where practicable, it is better in an adjoining cave, when a person sitting in the grotto can hear the murmur of the water, and see the light reflected on it at a distance, than in the grotto itself.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 151)[7]
HEDGES for flower-gardens should be composed of ornamental plants, such as Cydònia japónica, Privet, Laurestinus, Rìbes sanguínea, Roses, and double-blossomed Furze, or Ivy and other climbers, trained over iron trellis-work. The hedge to a flower-garden should never be stiff and formal, so as to look like a mere barrier; but it should be so arranged, and should consist of plants which harmonize so well with the flowers in the garden, as to make them appear a part of it. For farther details on this subject, see FENCES.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 248–49)[7]
HOTHOUSES differ from greenhouses in being kept at a higher temperature, so as to suit tropical plants; and in having a flat bed for the principal part of the plants to stand on, instead of a sloping stage of shelves. This bed is commonly surrounded by a narrow brick wall, two or three feet high, and filled with tan in which the plants are plunged; but in some cases, instead of tan, or any other fermenting material, there is a cavity beneath the bed, in which flues or pipes of hot water are placed; and the surface of the bed is either covered with sand, or some other material, calculated to retain an equality of moisture, in which the pots are plunged in the same manner as in the tan.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 213)[7]
ORANGERY.—A house intended only for Orange trees may be opaque at the back, and even the roof, with lights only in front, provided the plants be set out during summer. In fact, so that the plants are preserved from the frost, they will do with scarcely any light during winter; and in many parts of the Continent, they are kept in a cellar.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 220–23)[7]
PARTERRE.—The French term for what in England is called a flower-garden, but which in France in former times, when the word was originated, was most frequently a figure formed on the surface of the ground by turf, box, and gravel or sand, with occasional flowers or low shrubs. In these parterres flowers and shrubs were altogether secondary objects, the main features being the compartments of turf and the curious scroll-work of box. . . . Parterres of embroidery are now rarely to be met with either in France or England. . . .Parterres of compartments . . . are at present common both in France and England. Parterres anglaises may now be considered as included in the parterres of compartments; because the French do not now cut up the ground into so many beds as formerly, and plant a great many more flowers than they did in the time of Le Nôtre. . . . In a word, parterres are now assemblages of flowers in beds or groups, either on a ground of lawn or gravel; in the former case the beds are dug out of the lawn, and in the latter they are separated from the gravel by edgings of box or stone, or of some plant, or durable material. The shape of the beds in either case depends on the style of architecture of the house to which the parterre belongs, or to the taste and fancy of the owner. Whatever shapes are adopted, they are generally combined into a symmetrical figure; for when this is not the case the collection of beds ceases to be a parterre, or a flower-garden, and can only be designated as a group or collection of groups on a lawn. Hence it is that all parterres and regular flower-gardens ought to be separated from the scenery by which they are surrounded by a line of demarcation, such as a low architectural wall with a balustrade and piers, and vases; a low evergreen hedge, a canal, a ridge of rockwork, a sunk fence with the sides of turf or of stone, a raised fence with the ridges and top of turf, or a raised terrace-walk of grass or gravel. . . .
“In planting parterres there are two different systems; one is to plant only one kind of flower in a bed so as that each bed shall be a mass of one colour, and the other is to plant flowers of different colours in the same bed. It is almost needless to state that the former system is by far the best for general and striking effect; but as a parterre is frequently a kind of botanic garden, and as in this case it is desirable to keep all the species of a genus together, flowers of all colours must occasionally occur in the same bed. In general, botanic parterres should not be mixed with parterres for effect, because the one kind never fails greatly to injure the other.
“In planting parterres for general effect, the colours should be arranged so that those which are adjoining each other should be contrasts; and those which occupy corresponding parts of the same figure should be the same. . . .
“The laying out and planting of parterres should always be attended to by the ladies of the place, because it requires a degree of taste and artistical feeling which is very seldom to be found among some gardeners to a sufficient extent; and which, indeed, can hardly be expected in many of them.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 239–40)[7]
PLEASURE-GROUND is that portion of a country residence which is devoted to ornamental purposes, in contradistinction to those parts which are exclusively devoted to utility or profit, such as the kitchen-garden, the farm, and the park. In former times, when the geometrical style of laying out grounds prevailed, a pleasure-ground consisted of terrace-walks, a bowling-green, a labyrinth, a bosquet, a small wood, a shady walk commonly of nut-trees, but sometimes a shady avenue, with ponds of water, fountains, statues, &c. In modern times the pleasure-ground consists chiefly of a lawn of smoothly-shaven turf, interspersed with beds of flowers, groups of shrubs, scattered trees, and, according to circumstances, with a part or the whole of the scenes and objects which belong to a pleasure-ground in the ancient style. The main portion of the pleasure-ground is always placed on that side of the house to which the drawing-room windows open; and it extends in front and to the right and left more or less, according to the extent of the place; the park, or that part devoted exclusively to pasture and scattered trees, being always on the entrance front. There is no limit to the extent either of the pleasure-ground or the park, and no necessary connection between the size of the house and the size of the pleasure-ground. . . . In small places of an acre or two, the most interesting objects which may be introduced in a pleasure-ground, are collections of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, which may always be arranged to combine as much picturesque beauty and general effect as if there were only the few kinds of trees and shrubs planted which were formerly in use in such scenes.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 266)[7]
ROCKWORK is a very common ornament in gardens; and, producing a striking effect, it is introduced more frequently than judiciously. Rockwork may be divided into two kinds: that which is intended to imitate natural rocks, and that which is intended merely as a nidus for rock-plants. Imitations of nature should always consist of large blocks of stone of the same kind, and should, for the most part, be disposed in imitation of some kind of stratification. At the same time, as in many parts of the country, large, round, or roundish, or angular blocks of stone are found distributed over the surface, it is not objectionable to collect these together in groups so as to form a feature in scenery, and to insert plants among them. Rockwork, as a mere nidus for plants, should never be attempted on a large scale without the introduction of large blocks of stone, and some kind of stratification being adopted; and in this case, as before mentioned, using one kind of stone will produce an effect in accordance with that of nature. On a small scale, however, different kinds of stone may be used, more especially when these are well covered with plants; but even on a small scale, one kind of stone has always a better effect, and will be felt more agreeable to the eye, than a mixture of bricks, flints, pieces of granite, freestones, and perhaps marble, shells, fragments of carved stone, and even roots, which are not unfrequently seen in even the best gardens. Rockwork should always be an independent feature. It rarely looks well when piled up against a wall, or around the roots of a tree, or in any situation where it is overshadowed by trees; in short, where it does not form the prominent feature in the scene. It looks well near water and merging into it, or in an open airy garden, where it is surrounded by a gravel walk; but it does not look so well when rising from turf, without an adjoining walk, or when large shrubs grow up among the stones. Where there are collections of such plants as Saxifrages or other alpines, or of Cistuses, Helianthemums, or other mountain shrubs, rockwork is very desirable; and in such cases it may be placed on a lawn, as a feature in a general collection of herbaceous plants or shrubs arranged according to the natural system; but rockwork as an ornamental object, or as a nidus for a miscellaneous collection of plants, should always be in an open airy situation, near a pond, or surrounded by a walk. In short, it may be laid down as a general principal that rockwork should either adjoin gravel or a piece of water; and that it should seldom or never adjoin trees or grass, or walls or buildings.
“One of the most common faults in rockwork is the indiscriminate mixture together of all sorts of stones, bricks, shells, fragments of statuary or sculpture, and even roots of trees; which latter object, though very suitable as receptacles for plants, should always be arranged in masses, apart from any intermixture of stones.—See ROOTWORK.”

Fig. 1, Anonymous, “Moveable Garden Seat,” in Gardening for Ladies (1843), p. 283, fig. 49.
  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 283–84)[7]
SEATS for gardens are either open or covered; the latter being in the form of root-houses, huts, pavilions, temples, grottoes, &c., and the former being either fixed, temporary, or portable. Fixed seats are commonly of stone, either plain stone benches without backs, or stone supports to wooden benches. Sometimes, also, wooden seats are fixed, as when they are placed round a tree, or when boards are nailed to posts, or when seats are formed in imitation of mushrooms, as in the grounds at Redleaf. Fixed seats are also sometimes formed of turf. Portable seats are formed of wood, sometimes contrived to have the back of the seat folded down when the seat is not in use; so as to exclude the weather, and avoid the dirt of birds which are apt to perch on them. Another kind of portable seat, which is frequently formed in iron, as shown in fig. 49, is readily wheeled from one part of the grounds to another; and the back of which also folds down to protect the seat from the weather. There is a kind of camp-stool which serves as a portable seat, imported from Norway, and sold at the low price of 2s. 6d. or 3s.; and there are also straw seats, like half beehives, which are, however, only used in garden-huts, or in any situation under cover, because in the open air they would be liable to be soaked with rain. There are a great variety of rustic seats formed of roots and crooked branches of trees, used both for the open garden and under cover; and there are also seats of cast and wrought iron, of great variety of form. There should always be some kind of analogy between the seat and the scene of which it forms a part; and for this reason rustic seats should be confined to rustic scenery; and the seats for a lawn or highly kept pleasure-ground ought to be of comparatively simple and architectural forms, and either of wood or stone, those of wood being frequently painted of a stone colour, and sprinkled over with silver sand before the paint is dry, to give them the appearance of stone. Iron seats, generally speaking, are not sufficiently massive for effect; and the metal conveys the idea of cold in winter and heat in summer. [Fig. 1]
“When seats are placed along a walk, a gravelled recess ought to be formed to receive them; and there ought, generally, to be a footboard to keep the feet from the moist ground, whether the seat is on gravel or on al awn [sic]. In a garden where there are several seats, some ought to be in positions exposed to the sun, and others placed in the shade, and none ought to be put down in a situation where the back of the seat is seen by a person approaching it before the front. Indeed the backs of all fixed seats ought to be concealed by shrubs, or by some other means, unless they are circular seats placed round a tree. Seats ought not to be put down where there will be any temptation to the persons sitting on them to strain their eyes to the right or left, nor where the boundary of the garden forms a conspicuous object in the view. In general, all seats should be of a stone colour, as harmonizing best with vegetation. Noting can be more unartistical than seats painted a pea-green, and placed among the green of living plants.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 288)[7]
“The style of planting and thinning so as to keep each plant distinct, and always about to touch but never actually touching those around it, is what Mr. Loudon calls the gardenesque treatment of shrubberies and plantations; and the style of grouping is called the picturesque mode of planting and management.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 323–24)[7]
WALKS may be considered with reference to their direction, their construction, and their management. In a small garden, the direction of the main walks should generally be governed by the boundary lines; and hence, in a plot of ground which is square or oblong, the walks should be straight and rectangular; the object in such a case being to produce the beauties of regularity and symmetry. On the other hand, when the boundaries of the garden are irregular, the surrounding walk may be irregular also; the object in this irregularity being to create variety by contrast in the direction. When a garden bounded by straight lines, is so large as to contain an acre or two, and the whole of the interior is to be laid out as a pleasure-ground, then the walks may be varied in direction; the boundary being concealed by trees and shrubs, or by artificial undulations of the soil. In general, it may be laid down as a principle, that all walks should be straight when there is no obvious reason why they should be otherwise; and hence, in the case of all winding walks, if there is not a natural and apparently unavoidable reason for their deviating from the straight line, an artificial reason ought to be created. . . . All straight walks should lead to some conspicuous object at the further end of the walk, and facing it, so as to appear to belong to it; and this object should be seen the moment the walk is entered upon. . . . A winding walk, on the contrary, requires no object at the further end to allure the spectator; because every turn has the effect of an object by exciting his curiosity and inducing him to advance to see what is beyond.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 327–28)[7]
WALLS for gardens are either used as boundary fences, and at the same time for the purpose of training plants on, or they are erected in gardens for the latter purpose only. They may be formed of different materials, according to those that are most abundant in any given locality; but the best of all walls for garden purposes are those which are built of brick. . . . In no case, however, ought garden walls, or indeed division or fence walls of any kind which have not a load to support perpendicularly, or a pressure to resist on one side, to be built with piers. . . . Walls of nine inches in thickness, and even four-inch walls, if built in a winding or zigzag direction, may be carried to a considerable height without either having piers or being built hollow; and such walls answer perfectly for the interior of gardens.”

  • Loudon, Jane, 1843, Gardening for Ladies (1843: 330)[7]
“Water as an element of landscape scenery, is exhibited in small gardens either in ponds or basins, of regular geometrical or architectural forms; or in ponds or small lakes of irregular forms in imitation of the shapes seen in natural landscape. In general all geometrical or architectural basins of water ought to have the margins of masonry, or at least of stones placed so as to imitate a rocky margin. The reason is, that by these means the artificial character is heightened, and also a colour is introduced between the surrounding grass, vegetation, gravel, or dug-ground, which harmonizes the water with the land. Artificial shapes of this kind should never be of great diameter, because in that case the artificial character is comparatively lost, and the idea of nature occurs to the spectator. . . .
“Water in imitation of nature should be in ponds or basins of irregular shape; but always so contrived as to display one main feature or breadth of water. A pond, however large it may be, if equally broken throughout by islands, or by projections from the shores, can have no pictorial beauty; because it is without effect and does not form a whole. The general extent and outline of a piece of water being fixed on, the interior of the pond or lake is to be treated entirely as a lawn. If small, it will require no islands; but if so large as to require some, they must be distributed towards the sides, so as to vary the outline and to harmonize the pond with the surrounding scenery, and yet to preserve one broad expanse of water; exactly in the same manner as in varying a lawn with shrubs and flowers, landscape gardeners preserve one broad expanse of turf.”


Other Resources

Oak Spring Garden Foundation

Parks & Gardens UK

Library of Congress Authority File

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


  1. Alan Rauch, Useful Knowledge: The Victorians, Morality, and the March of Intellect (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001), 60–67, view on Zotero; Paul Aldon, “Bowdler Lives: Michigan’s ‘Mummy,’” Science Fiction Studies 1, no. 23 (March 1996): 123–30, view on Zotero.
  2. Heath Schenker, “Women, Gardens, and the English Middle Class in the Early Nineteenth Century,” in Bourgeois and Aristocratic Cultural Encounters in Garden Art, 1550–1850, ed. Michel Conan (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2002), 348–49, view on Zotero; John Claudius Loudon, In Search of English Gardens: The Travels of John Claudius Loudon and His Wife Jane, ed. Priscilla Boniface (Wheathampstead, Herts.: Lennard Publishing, 1987), 12–13, view on Zotero; Jane Loudon, “An Account of the Life and Writings of John Claudius Loudon,” in John Claudius Loudon and the Early Nineteenth Century in Great Britain, ed. Elisabeth MacDougall (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1980), 29–30, view on Zotero; John Claudius Loudon, “Hints for Improvements. New Ideas,” The Gardener’s Magazine and Register of Rural & Domestic Improvement 3, no. 12 (March 1828): 478–79, view on Zotero.
  3. Rauch 2001, 61, view on Zotero; Jane Loudon, Gardening for Ladies; And Companion to the Flower-Garden, ed. Andrew Jackson Downing (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1843), view on Zotero.
  4. Grace Kehler, “Gertrude Jekyll and the Late-Victorian Garden Book: Representing Nature-Culture Relations,” Victorian Literature and Culture 35, no. 2 (2007): 623, view on Zotero; Schenker 2002, 349–56, view on Zotero; Charles Quest-Ritson, The English Garden: A Social History, (London: Viking Press, 2001), 180, view on Zotero; see also Sarah Dewis, The Loudons and the Gardening Press: A Victorian Cultural Industry (Farnham, Surrey, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2014), view on Zotero.
  5. Sarah Bilston, “Queens of the Garden: Victorian Women Gardeners and the Rise of the Gardening Advice Text,” Victorian Literature and Culture 36, no. 1 (2008): 4–5, view on Zotero.
  6. Ann B. Shteir, Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science: Flora’s Daughters and Botany in England (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 220–27, view on Zotero.
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 7.19 7.20 7.21 7.22 7.23 7.24 Loudon 1843, view on Zotero.

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