Gardens - Varied Gardens Fair
( Originally Published 1901 )
"And all without were walkes and alleys dight With divers trees enrang'd in even rankes ; And here and there were pleasant arbors pight And shadie seats, and sundry flowering bankes To sit and rest the walkers wearie shankes."
— Faerie Queene EDMUND SPENSER.
ANY simple forms of gardens were common besides the enclosed front yard ; and as wealth poured in on the colonies, the beautiful gardens so much thought of in England were copied here, especially by wealthy merchants, as is noted in the first chapter of this book, and by the provincial governors and their little courts ; the garden of Governor Hutchinson, in Milford, Massachusetts, is stately still and little changed.
English gardens, at the time of the settlement of America, had passed beyond the time when, as old Gervayse Markham said, "Of all the best Ornaments used in our English gardens, Knots and Mazes are the most ancient." A maze was a placing of low garden hedges of Privet, Box, or Hyssop, usually set in concentric circles which enclosed paths, that opened into each other by such artful contrivance that it was difficult to find one's way in and out through these bewildering paths. " When well formed, of a man's height, your friend may perhaps wander in gathering berries as he cannot recover himself without your help."
The maze was not a thing of beauty, it was "nothing for sweetness and health," to use Lord Bacon's words ; it was only a whimsical notion of gardening amusement, pleasing to a generation who liked to have hidden fountains in their gardens to sprinkle suddenly the unwary. I doubt if any mazes were ever laid out in America, though I have heard vague references to one in Virginia. Knots had been the choice adornment of the Tudor garden. They were not wholly a thing of the past when we had here our first gardens, and they have had a distinct influence on garden laying-out till our own day.
An Elizabethan poet wrote : —
" My Garden sweet, enclosed with walles strong,
These garden knots were not flower beds edged with Box or Rosemary, with narrow walks between the edgings, as were the parterres of our later formal gardens. They were square, ornamental beds, each of which had a design set in some close-growing, trim plant, clipped flatly across the top, and the design filled in with colored earth or sand; and with no dividing paths. Elaborate models in complicated geometrical pattern were given in gardeners' books, for setting out these knots, which were first drawn on paper and sub-divided into squares ; then the. square of earth was similarly divided, and set out by precise rules. William Lawson, the Izaak Walton of gardeners, gave, as a result of forty-eight years of experience, some very attractive directions for large " knottys with different " thrids " of flowers, each of one color, which made the design appear as if "made of diverse colored ribands." One of his knots, from A New Orchard and Garden 1618, being a garden fashion in vogue when my forbears came to America, I have chosen as a device for the dedication of this book, thinking it, in Lawson's words, "so comely, and orderly placed, and so inter-mingled, that one looking thereon cannot but won-der." His knots had significant names, such as " Cinkfoyle ; Flower de Luce; Trefoyle; Frette ; Lozenge; Groseboowe ; Diamond; Ovall ; Maze." Gervayse Markham gives various knot patterns to be bordered with Box cut eighteen inches broad at the bottom and kept flat at the top—with the ever present thought for the fine English linen. He has a varied list of circular, diamond-shaped, mixed, and "single impleated knots."
These garden knots were mildly sneered at by Lord Bacon; he said, "they be but toys, you see as good sights many times in tarts ;" still I think they must have been quaint, and I should like to see a garden laid out to-day in these pretty Elizabethan knots, set in the old patterns, and with the old flowers. Nor did Parkinson and other practical gardeners look with favor on "curiously knotted gardens," though all gave designs to "satisfy the desires" of their readers. " Open knots " were preferred ; these were made with borders of lead, tiles, boards, or even the shankbones of sheep, "which will become white and prettily grace out the garden,"—a fashion I saw a few years ago around flower beds in Charlton, Massachusetts. "Round whitish pebble, stones " for edgings were Parkinson's own invention, and proud he was of it, simple as it seems to us. These open knots were then filled in, but thin and sparingly," with " English Flowers " ; or with " Out-Landish Flowers," which were flowers fetched from foreign parts.
The parterre succeeded the knot, and has been used in gardens till the present day. Parterres were of different combinations, well-contriv'd and ingenious." The " parterre of cut-work" was a Box-bordered formal flower garden, of which the garden at Hampton, Maryland (pages 57, 6o, and 95), is a striking and perfect example ; also the present gar-den at Mount Vernon (opposite page I2), wherein carefully designed flower beds, edged with Box, are planted with variety of flowers, and separated by paths. Sometimes, of old, fine white sand was care-fully strewn on the earth under the flowers. The "parterre à l'Anglaise" had an elaborate design of vari-shaped beds edged with Box; but enclosing grass instead of flowers. In the " parterre de broderie " the Box-edged beds were filled with vari-colored earths and sands. Black earth could be made of iron filings ; red earth of pounded tiles. This last-named parterre differed from a knot solely in having the paths among the beds. The Retir'd Gard'ner gives patterns for ten parterres.
The main walks which formed the basis of the garden design had in ancient days a singular name — forthrights ; these were ever to be "spacious and fair," and neatly spread with colored sands or gravel. Parkinson says, " The fairer and larger your allies and walks be the more grace your garden should have, the lesse harm the herbes and flowers shall receive, and the better shall your weeders cleanse both the bed and the allies." "Covert-walks," or " shade-alleys," had trees meeting in an arch over them.
A curious term, found in references to old American flower beds and garden designs, as well as English ones, is the "goose-foot." A "goose-foot " consisted of three flower beds or three avenues radiating rather closely together from a small semicircle ; and in some places and under some conditions it is still a charming and striking design, as you stand at the heel of the design and glance down the three avenues.
In all these flower beds Box was the favorite edging, but many other trim edgings have been used in parterres and borders by those who love not Box. Bricks were used, and boards ; an edging of boards was not as pretty as one of flowers, but it kept the beds trimly in place; a garden thus edged is shown on page 63 which realizes this description of the pleasure-garden in the Scots Gard'ner : "The Bordures box'd and planted with variety of fine Flowers orderly Intermixt, Weeded, Mow'd, Rolled and Kept all Clean and Handsome." Germander and Rosemary were old favorites for edging. I have seen snowy edgings of Candy-tuft and Sweet Alyssum, setting off well the vari-colored blooms of the border. One of Sweet Alyssum is shown on page 256. Ageratum is a satisfactory edging. Thyme is of ancient use, but rather unmanageable; one garden owner has set his edgings of Money-wort, otherwise Creeping jenny. I should be loth to use Moneywort as an edging ; I would not care for its yellow flowers in that place, though I find them very kindly and cheerful on dull banks or in damp spots, under the drip of trees and eaves, or better still, growing gladly in the flower pot of the poor. I fear if Moneywort thrived enough to make a close, suitable edging, that it would thrive too well, and would swamp the borders with its underground runners. The name Moneywort is akin to its older title Herb-twopence, or Twopenny Grass. Turner (1548) says the latter name was given from the leaves all " standying together of ech syde of the stalke lyke pence." The striped leaves of one variety of Day Lily make pretty edgings. Those from a Salem garden are here shown.
We often see in neglected gardens in New England, or by the roadside where no gardens now exist, a dense gray-green growth of Lavender Cotton, "the female plant of Southernwood," which was brought here by the colonists and here will ever remain. It was used as an edging, and is very pretty when it can be controlled. I know two or three old gardens where it is thus employed.
Sometimes in driving along a country road you are startled by a concentration of foliage and bloom, a glimpse of a tiny farm-house, over which are clustered and heaped, and round which are gathered, close enough to be within touch from door or window, flowers in a crowded profusion ample to fill a large flower bed. Such is the mass of June bloom at Wilbur Farm in old Narragansett (page 290) — a home of flowers and bees. Often by the side of the farm-house is a little garden or flower bed containing some splendid examples of old-time flowers. The splendid "running ribbons " of Snow Pinks, on page 292, are in another Narragansett garden that is a bower of blossoms. Thrift has been a common edging since the days of the old herbalist Gerarde.
"We have a bright little garden, down on a sunny slope, Bordered with sea-pinks and sweet with the songs and blossoms of hope.”
The garden of Secretary William H. Seward (in Auburn, New York), so beloved by him in his life-time, is shown on page 146 and facing page 134. In this garden some beds are edged with Periwinkle, others with Polyanthu"s, and some with Ivy which Mr. Seward brought from Abbotsford in 1836. This garden was laid out in its present form in 1816, and the sun-dial was then set in its place. The garden has been enlarged, but not changed, the old " George II. Roses" and York and Lancaster Roses still grow and blossom, and the lovely arches of single Michigan Roses still flourish. In it are many flowers and fruits unusual in America, among them a bed of Alpine strawberries.
King James I. of Scotland thus wrote of the garden which he saw from his prison window in Windsor Castle : —
" A Garden fair, and in the Corners set
These wandis were railings which were much used before Box edgings became universal. Some-times they were painted the family colors, as at Hampton Court they were green and white, the Tudor colors. These " wandis " still are occasion-ally seen. In the Berkshire Hills I drove past an old garden thus trimly enclosed in little beds. The rails were painted a dull light brown, almost the color of some tree trunks ; and Larkspur, Foxglove, and other tall flowers crowded up to them and hung their heads over the top rails as children hang over a fence or a gate. I thought it a neat, trim fashion, not one I would care for in my own garden, yet not to be despised in the garden of another.
A garden enclosed ! so full of suggestion are these simple words to me, so constant is my thought that n ideal flower garden must be an enclosed garden, that I look with regret upon all beautiful flower beds that are not enclosed, not shut in a frame of green hedges, or high walls, or vine-covered fences and dividing trees. It may IA selfish to hide so much beauty from general view ; but until our dwelling-houses are made with uncurtained glass walls, that all the world may see everything, let those who have ample grounds enclose at least a portion for the sight of friends only.
In the heart of Worcester there is a fine old mansion with ample lawns, great trees, and flowering shrubs that all may see over the garden fence as they pass by. Flowers bloom lavishly at one side of the house; and the thoughtless stroller never knows that behind the house, stretching down between the rear gardens and walls of neighboring homes, is a long enclosure of loveliness—sequestered, quiet, full of refreshment to the spirits. We think of the " Old Garden " of Margaret Deland : —
" The Garden glows
And 'gainst its walls the city's heart still beats.
There is a shaded walk in this garden which is a thing of solace and content to all who tread its pathway ; a bit is shown opposite this page, over-hung with shrubs of Lilac, Syringa, Strawberry Bush, Flowering Currant, all the old treelike things, so fair-flowered and sweet-scented in spring, so heavy-leaved and cool-shadowing in midsummer: what pleasure would there be in this shaded walk if this garden were separated from the street only by stone curbing or a low rail ? And there is an old sun-dial too in this enclosed garden ! I fear the street imps of a crowded city would quickly destroy the old monitor were it in an open garden ; and they would make sad havoc, too, of the Roses and Larkspurs (page 65) so tenderly reared by the two sisters who together loved and cared for this "garden enclosed." Great trees are at the edges of this garden, and the line of tall shrubs is carried out by the lavish vines and Roses on fences and walls. Within all this border of greenery glow the clustered gems of rare and beautiful flowers, till the whole garden seems like some rich jewel set purposely to be worn in honor over the city's heart a clustered jewel, not one to be displayed carelessly and heedlessly.
Salem houses and gardens are like Salem people. Salem houses present to you a serene and dignified front, gracious yet reserved, not thrusting forward their choicest treasures to the eyes of passing strangers ; but behind the walls of the houses, enclosed from public view, lie cherished gardens, full of the beauty of life. Such, in their kind, are Salem folk.
I know no more speaking, though silent, criticism than those old Salem gardens afford upon the mod-ern fashion in American towns of pulling down walls and fences, removing the boundaries of lawns, and living in full view of every passer-by, in a public grassy park. It is pleasant, I suppose, for the passer-by ; but homes are not made for passers-by. Old Salem gardens lie behind the house, out of sight — you have to hunt for them. They are terraced down if they stretch to the water-side ; they are enclosed with hedges, and set behind high vine-covered fences, and low out-buildings; and planted around with great trees : thus they give to each family that secluded centring of family life which is the very essence and being of a home. I sat through a June afternoon in a Salem garden whose gate is within a stone's throw of a great theatre, but a few hundred feet from lines of electric cars and a busy street of trade, scarce farther from lines of active steam cars, and with a great power house for a close neighbor. Yet we were as secluded, as embowered in vines and trees, with beehives and rabbit hutches and chicken coops for happy children at the garden's end, as truly in beautiful privacy, as if in the midst of a hundred acres. Could the sense of sound be as sheltered by the enclosing walls as the sense of sight, such a garden were a city paradise.
There is scant regularity in shape in Salem gar-dens ; there is no search for exact dimensions. Little narrow strips of flower beds run down from the main garden in any direction or at any angle where the fortunate owner can buy a few feet of land. Salem gardens do not change with the whims of fancy, either in the shape or the planting. A few new flowers find place there, such as the Anemone Japonica and the Japanese shrubs; for they are akin in flower sentiment, and consort well with the old inhabitants. There are many choice flowers and fruits in these gardens. In the garden of the Manning homestead (opposite page 112) grows a flourishing Fig tree, and other rare fruits ; for fifty years ago this garden was known as the Pomological Garden. It is fitting it should be the home of two Robert Mannings—both well-known names in the history of horticulture in Massachusetts.
The homely back yard of an old house will often possess a trim and blooming flower border cutting off the close approach of the vegetable beds (see opposite page 66). These back yards, with the covered Grape arbors, the old pumps, and bricked paths, are cheerful, wholesome places, generally of spotless cleanliness and weedless flower beds. I know one such back yard where the pump was the first one set in the town, and children were taken there from a distance to see the wondrous sight. Why are all the old appliances for raising water so pleasing? A well-sweep is of course picturesque, with its long swinging pole, and you seem to feel the refreshment and purity of the water when you see it brought up from such a distance ; and an old roofed well with bucket, such as this one still in use at Bishop Berkeley's Rhode Island home is ever a homelike and companionable object. But a pump is really an awkward-looking piece of mechanism, and hasn't a vestige of beauty in its lines; yet it has something satisfying about it; it may be its domesticity, its homeliness, its simplicity. We have gained infinitely in comfort in our perfect water systems and lavish water of to-day, but we have lost the gratification of the senses which came from the sight and sound of freshly drawn or running water. Much of the delight in a fountain comes, not only from the beauty of its setting and the graceful shape of its jets, but simply from the sight of the water.
Sometimes a graceful and picturesque growth of vines will beautify gate posts, a fence, or a kitchen doorway in a wonderfully artistic and pleasing fashion. On page 70 is shown the sheltered doorway of the kitchen of a fine old stone farm-house called, from its hedges of Osage Orange, "The Hedges." It stands in the village of New Hope, County Bucks, Pennsylvania. In 1718 the tract of which this farm of over two hundred acres is but a portion was deeded by the Penns to their kinsman, the direct ancestor of the present owner, John Schofield Williams, Esq. This is but one of the scores of examples I know where the same estate has been owned in one family for nearly two centuries, sometimes even for two hundred and fifty years ; and in several cases where the deed from the Indian sachem to the first colonist is the only deed there has ever been, the estate having never changed ownership save by direct bequest. I have three such cases among my own kinsfolk.
Another form of garden and mode of planting which was in vogue in the " early thirties" is shown facing page 92. This pillared house and the stiff garden are excellent types ; they are at Napanock, County Ulster, New York. Such a house and grounds indicated the possession of considerable wealth when they were built and laid out, for both were costly. The semicircular driveway swept up to the front door, dividing off Box-edged parterres like those of the day of Queen Anne. These parterres were sparsely filled, the sunnier beds being set with Spring bulbs ; and there were always the yellow Day Lilies somewhere in the flower beds, and the white and blue Day Lilies, the common Funkias. Formal urns were usually found in the parterres and sometimes a great cone or ball of clipped Box. These gardens had some universal details, they always had great Snowball bushes,, and Syringas, and usually white Roses, chiefly Madame Plantiers ; the piazza trellises had old climbing Roses, the Queen of the Prairie or Boursault Roses. These gardens are often densely overshadowed with great evergreen trees grown from the crowded planting of seventy years ago ; none are cut down, and if one dies its trunk still stands, entwined with Woodbine. I don't know that we would lay out and plant just such a garden to-day, any more than we would build exactly such a house; but I love to see both, types of the refinement of their day, and I deplore any changes. An old Southern house of allied form is shown on page 72, and its garden facing page 7o,— Green-wood, in Thomasville, Georgia ; but of course this garden has far more lavish and rich bloom. The decoration of this house is most interesting—a conventionalized Magnolia, and the garden is surrounded with splendid Magnolias and Crape Myrtles. The border edgings in this garden are lines of bricks set overlapping in a curious manner. They serve to keep the beds firmly in place, and the bricks are covered over with an inner edging of thrifty Violets. Curious tubs and boxes for plants are made of bricks set solidly in mortar. The gar-den is glorious with Roses, which seem to consort so well with Magnolias and Violets.
I love a Dutch garden, " circummured " with brick. By a Dutch garden, I mean a small garden, oblong or square, sunk about three or four feet in a lawn—so that when surrounded by brick walls they seem about two feet high when viewed outside, but are five feet or more high from within the garden. There are brick or stone steps in the middle of each of the four walls by which to descend to the garden, which may be all planted with flowers, but preferably should have set borders of flowers with a grass-plot in the centre. On either side of the steps should be brick posts surmounted by Dutch pots with plants, or by balls of stone. Planted with bulbs, these gardens in their flowering time are, as old Parkinson said, a "perfect fielde of dente." We have very pretty Dutch gardens, so called, in America, but their chief claim: to being Dutch is that they are set with bulbs, and have Delft or other earthen pots or boxes for formal plants or shrubs.
Sunken gardens should be laid out under the supervision of an intelligent landscape architect ; and even then should have a reason for being sunken other than a whim or increase in costliness. I visited last summer a beautiful estate which had a deep sunken Dutch garden with a very low wall. It lay at the right side of the house at a little distance ; and beyond it, in full view of the peristyle, extended the only squalid objects in the horizon. A garden on the level, well planted, with distant edging of shrubbery, would have hidden every ugly blemish and been a thing of beauty. As it is now, there can be seen from the house nothing of the Dutch garden but a foot or two of the tops of several clipped trees, looking like very poor, stunted shrubs. I must add that this garden, with its low wall, has been a perfect man-trap. It has been evident that often, on dark nights, workmen who have sought a " short cut " across the grounds have fallen over the shallow wall, to the gardener's sorrow, and the bulbs' destruction. Once, at dawn, the unhappy gardener found an ancient horse peacefully feeding among the Hyacinths and Tulips. He said he didn't like the grass in his new pasture nor the sudden approach to it; that he was too old for such new-fangled ways. I know another estate near Philadelphia, where the sinking of a garden revealed an exquisite view of distant hills ; such a garden has reason for its form.
We have had few water-gardens in America till recent years ; and there are some. drawbacks to their presence near our homes, as I was vividly aware when I visited one in a friend's garden early in May this year. Water-hyacinths were even then in bloom, and two or three exquisite Lilies ; and the Lotus leaves rose up charmingly from the surface of the tank. Less charmingly rose up also a cloud of vicious mosquitoes, who greeted the new-comer with a warm chorus of welcome. As our newspapers at that time were filled with plans for the application of kerosene to every inch of water-surface, such as I saw in these Lily tanks, accompanied by magnified drawings of dreadful malaria-bearing insects, I fled from them, preferring to resign both Nymphaea and Anopheles.
After the introduction to English folk of that wonder of the world, the Victoria Regia, it was cultivated by enthusiastic flower lovers in America, and was for a time the height of the floral fashion. Never has the glorious Victoria Regia and scarce any other flower been described as by Colonel Higginson, a wonderful, a triumphant word picture. I was a very little child when I saw that same lovely Lily in leaf and flower that he called his neighbor ; but I have never forgotten it, nor how afraid I was of it; for some one wished to lift me upon the great leaf to see whether it would hold me above the water. We had heard that the native children in South America floated on the leaves. I objected to this experiment with vehemence ; but my mother noted that I was no more frightened than was the faithful gardener at the thought of the possible strain on his precious plant of the weight of a sturdy child of six or seven years.
I have seen the Victoria Regia leaves of late years, but I seldom hear of its blossoming ; but alas ! we take less heed of the blooming of unusual plants than we used to thirty or forty years ago. Then people thronged a greenhouse to see a new Rose or Camellia Japonica ; even a Night-blooming Cereus attracted scores of visitors to any house where it blossomed. And a fine Cactus of one of our neighbors always held a crowded reception when in rich bloom. It was a part of the " Flower Exchange," an interest all had for the beautiful flowers of others, a part of the old neighborly life.
Within the past five or six years there have been laid out in America, at the country seats of men of wealth and culture, a great number of formal gar-dens, — Italian gardens, some of them are worthily named, as they have been shaped and planted in conformity with the best laws and rules of Italian garden-making—that special art. On this page is shown the finely proportioned terrace wall, and opposite the upper terrace and formal garden of Drumthwacket, Princeton, New Jersey, the country seat of M. Taylor Pyne, Esq. This garden affords a good example of the accord which should ever exist between the garden and its surroundings. The name, Drumthwacket — a wooded hill—is a most felicitous one; the place is part of the original grant to William Penn, and has remained in the possession of one family until late in the nineteenth century. From this beautifully wooded hill the terrace-garden overlooks the farm buildings, the linked ponds, the fertile fields and meadows; a serene pastoral view, typical of the peaceful landscape of that vicinity — yet it was once the scene of fiercest battle. For the Drumthwacket farm is the battle-ground of that important encounter of 1777- between the British and the Continental troops, known as the Battle of Princeton, the turning point of the Revolution, in which Washington was victorious. To this day, cannon ball and grape shot are dug up in the Drumthwacket fields. The Lodge built in 1696 was, at Washington's request, the shelter for the wounded British officers ; and the Washington Spring in front of the Lodge furnished water to Washington. The group of trees on the left of the upper pond marks the sheltered and honored graves of the British soldiers, where have slept for one hundred and twenty-four years those killed at this memorable encounter. If anything could cement still more closely the affections of the English and American peoples, it would be the sight of the tenderly sheltered graves of British soldiers in America, such as these at Drumthwacket and other historic fields on our Eastern coast. At Concord how faithfully stand the sentinel pines over the British dead of the Battle of Concord, who thus repose, shut out from the tread of heedless feet yet ever present for the care and thought of Concord people.
We have older Italian gardens. Some of them are of great loveliness, among them the unique and dignified garden of Hollis H. Hunnewell, Esq., but many. of the newer ones, even in their few sum-mers, have become of surprising grace and beauty, and their exquisite promise causes a glow of delight to every garden lover. I have often tried to analyze and account for the great charm of a formal garden, to one who loves so well the unrestrained and lavished blossoming of a flower border crowded with nature-arranged and disarranged blooms. A chance sentence in the letter of a flower-loving friend, one whose refined taste is an inherent portion of her nature, runs thus : —
"I have the same love, the same sense of perfect satisfaction, in the old formal garden that I have in the sonnet in poetry, in the Greek drama as contrasted with the mod-ern drama; something within me is ever drawn toward that which is restrained and classic."
In these few words, then, is defined the charm of the formal garden —a well-ordered, a classic restraint.
Some of the new formal gardens seem imperfect in design and inadequate in execution; worse still, they are unsuited to their surroundings ; but gracious nature will give even to these many charms of color, fragrance, and shape through lavish plant growth. I have had given to me sets of beautiful photo-graphs of these new Italian gardens, which I long to include with my pictures of older flower beds ; but I cannot do so in full in a book on Old-time Gar-dens, though they are copied from far older gardens than our American ones. I give throughout my book occasional glimpses of detail in modern formal gardens ; and two examples may be fitly illustrated and described in comparative fulness in this book, because they are not only unusual in their beauty and promise, but because they have in plan and execution some bearing on my special presentation of gardens. These two are the gardens of Avonwood Court in Haverford, Pennsylvania, the country-seat of Charles E. Mather, Esq., of Philadelphia; and of Yaddo, in Saratoga, New York, the country-seat of Spencer Trask, Esq., of New York.
The garden at Avonwood Court was designed and laid out in 1896 by Mr. Percy Ash. The flower planting was done by Mr. John Cope; and the garden is delightsome in proportions, contour, and aspect. Its claim to illustrative description in this book lies in the fact that it is planted chiefly with old-fashioned flowers, and its beds are laid out and bordered with thriving Box in a truly old-time mode. It affords a striking example of the beauty and satisfaction that can come from the use of Box as an edging, and old-time flowers as a filling of these beds. Among the two hundred different plants are great rows of yellow Day Lilies shown in the view facing page 76; regular plantings of Peonies ; borders of Flower de Luce ; banks of Lilies of the Valley ; rows of white Fraxinella and Lupine, beds of fringed Poppies, sentinels of Yucca — scores of old favorites have grown and thriven in the cheery manner they ever display when they are welcome and beloved. The sun-dial in this garden is shown facing page 82 ; it was designed by Mr. Percy Ash, and can be regarded as a model of simple out-lines, good proportions, careful placing, and symmetrical setting. By placing I mean that it is in the right site in relation to the surrounding flower beds, and -to the general outlines of the garden ; it is a dignified and significant garden centre. By setting I mean its being raised to proper prominence in the garden scheme, by being placed at the top of a platform formed of three circular steps of ample proportion and suitable height, that its pedestal is also of the right size and not so high but one can, when standing on the top step, read with ease the dial's response to our question, "What's the time o' the day ? " The hedges and walls of Honeysuckle, Roses, and other flowering vines that surround this garden have thriven wonderfully in the five years of the garden's life, and look like settings of many years. The simple but graceful wall seat gives some idea of the symmetrical and simple garden furnishings, as well as the profusion of climbing vines that form the garden's boundaries.
This book bears on the title-page a redrawing of a charming old woodcut of the eighteenth century, a very good example of the art thought and art execution of that day, being the work of a skilful designer. It is from an old stilted treatise on orchards and gardens, and it depicts a cheerful little Love, with anxious face and painstaking care, measuring and laying out the surface of the earth in a garden. On his either side are old clipped Yews ; and at his feet a spade and pots of garden flowers, among them the Fritillary so beloved of all flower lovers and herbalists of that day, a significant flower — a flower of meaning and mystery. This drawing may be taken as an old-time emblem, and a happy one, to symbolize the making of the beautiful modern Rose Garden at Yaddo ; where Love, with tenderest thought, has laid out the face of the earth in an exquisite garden of Roses, for the happiness and recreation of a dearly loved wife. The noble entrance gate and porch of this Rose Garden formed a happy surprise to the garden's mistress when unveiled at the dedication of the garden. They are depicted on page 81, and there may be read the inscription which tells in a few well-chosen words the story of the inspiration of the garden ; but " between the lines," to those who know the Rose Garden and its makers, the inscription speaks with even deeper meaning the story of a home whose beauty is only equalled by the garden's spirit. To all such readers the Rose Garden becomes a fitting expression of the life of those who own it and care for it. This quality of expression, of significance, may be seen in many a smaller and simpler garden, even in a tiny cottage plot ; you can perceive, through the care bestowed upon it, and its responsive blossoming, a something which shows the life of the garden owners ; you know that they are thoughtful, kindly, beauty-loving, home-loving.
Behind the beautiful pergola of the Yaddo garden, set thickly with Crimson Rambler, a screenlike row of poplars divides the Rose Garden from a luxuriant Rock Garden, and an Old-fashioned Garden of large extent, extraordinary profusion, and many years' growth. Perhaps the latter-named garden might seem more suited to my pages, since it is more advanced in growth and apparently more akin to my subject; but I wish to write specially of the Rose Garden, because it is an unusual example of what can be accomplished without aid of architect or landscape gardener, when good taste, careful thought, attention to detail, a love of flowers, and intent to attain perfection guide the garden's makers. It is happily placed in a country of most charming topography, but it must not be thought that the garden shaped itself; its beautiful proportions, contour, and shape were carefully studied out and brought to the present perfection by the same force that is felt in the garden's smallest detail, the power of Love. The Rose Garden is unusually large for a formal garden ; with its vistas and walks, the connected Daffodil Dell, and the Rock Garden, it fills about ten acres. But the estate is over eight hundred acres, and the house very large in ground extent, so the garden seems well-proportioned. This Rose Garden has an unusual attraction in the personal interest of every detail, such as is found in few American gardens cf great size, and indeed in few English gardens. The gardens of the Countess Warwick, at Easton Lodge, in Essex, possess the same charm, a personal meaning and significance in the statues and fountains, and even in the planting of flower borders. The illustration on page 83 depicts the general shape of the Yaddo Rose Garden, as seen from the upper ter-race ; but it does not show how the garden stretches down the fine marble steps, past the marble figures of Diana and Paris, and along the paths of standard Roses, past the shallow fountain which is not so large as to obscure what speaks the garden's story, the statue of Christalan, that grand creation in one of Mrs. Trask's idyls, Under King Constantine. This heroic figure, showing to full extent the genius of the sculptor, William Ordway Partridge, also figures the genius of the poet-creator, and is of an inexpressible and impressive nobility. With hand and arm held to heaven, Christalan shows against the back-ground of rich evergreens as the true knight of this garden of sentiment and chivalry.
" The sunlight slanting westward through the trees
The larger and more impressive fountain at Yaddo is shown on these pages. It is one hundred feet long and seventy feet wide, and is in front of the house, to the east. Its marble figures signify the Dawn ; it will be noted that on this site its beauties show against a suited and ample background, and its grand proportions are not permitted to obscure the fine statue of Christalan from the view of those seated on the terrace or walking under the shade of the pergola.
Especially beautiful is the sun-dial on the upper terrace, shown on page 86. The metal dial face is supported by a marble slab resting on two carved standards of classic design representing conventionalized lions, these being copies of those two splendid standards unearthed at Pompeii, which still may be seen by the side of the impluvium in the atrium or main hall of the finest Græco-Roman dwelling-place which has been restored in that wonderful city. These sun-dial standards at Yaddo were made by the permission and under the supervision of the Italian government. I can conceive nothing more fitting or more inspiring to the imagination than that, telling as they do the story of the splendor of ancient Pompeii and of the passing centuries, they should now uphold to our sight a sun-dial as if to bid us note the flight of time and the vastness of the past.
The entire sun-dial, with its beautiful adjuncts of carefully shaped marble seats, stands on a semicircular plaza of marble at the head of the noble flight of marble steps. The engraved metal dial face bears two exquisite verses — the gift of one poet to another—of Dr. Henry Van Dyke to the garden's mistress, Katrina Trask. These dial mottoes are unusual, and perfect examples of that genius which with a few words can shape a lasting gem of our English tongue. At the edge of the dial face is this motto :
At the base of the gnomon is the second motto : —
I have for years been a student of sun-dial lore, a collector of sun-dial mottoes and inscriptions, of which I have many hundreds. I know nowhere, either in English, on English or Scotch sun-dials, or in the Continental tongues, any such exquisite dial legends as these two—so slight of form, so simple in wording, so pure in diction, yet of sentiment, of thought, how full! how impressive ! They stamp themselves forever on the memory as beautiful examples of what James Russell Lowell called verbal magic; that wonderful quality which comes, neither from chosen words, nor from their careful combination into sentences, but from something which is as inexplicable in its nature as it is in its charm.
To tree lovers the gardens and grounds at Yaddo have glorious charms in their splendid trees ; but one can be depicted here — the grand native Pine, over eight feet in diameter, which, with other stately sentinels of its race, stands a sombrely beautiful guard over all this loveliness.