Monday, October 25, 2010

Garden History - Trees-Thicket

In the design of 18th century pleasure grounds, a thicket is an intentionally planted or natural collection of small trees, dense underwoods, or shrubs growing thickly together, which are left in the landscape to add intrigue to the view and to attract singing birds. A thicket usually has tangles and vines protecting it from intrusion and providing a thermal cover for birds and small animals. Thickets are a little intimidating and a little joyful all at the same time.

In 1593, William Shakespeare wrote in 3 Henry VI, "Leave off to wonder why I drew you hither, into this cheefest Thicket of the Parke."

While John Milton wrote in in 1667, "How often from the steep Of echoing Hill or Thicket have we heard Celestial voices to the midnight air...singing."
In 1704, when Sarah Kemble Knight was traveling from Boston to New York on horseback, she was apprehensive when, "we rode on very deliberately a few paces, when we entered a thicket of trees and shrubs, and I perceived by the horse's going we were on the descent."

In 1743, Eliza Lucas Pinckney describing William Middleton's Crow-Field in South Carolina, wrote, "Next to that on the right hand is what immediately struck my rural taste, a thicket of young tall live oaks where a variety of Airry Chorristers pour forth their melody."

When Manasseh Cutler visited Grey's Gardens in 1787 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he noted, "We came into a spacious gravled walk, which directed its course further along the grove, which was tall wood interspersed with close thickets of different growth."

In planning the grounds around Monticello in 1804, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The best way of forming the thicket will be to plant it in labyrinth spirally, putting the tallest plants in the centre and lowering gradation to the external termination, a temple or seat may be in the center then leaving space enough between the rows to walk and to trim up, replant the shrubs...and...This [grove] must be broken by clumps of thicket, as the open grounds of the English are broken by clumps of trees. plants for thickets are broom, calycanthus, altheas, gelder rose, magnolia glauca, azalea, fringe tree, dogwood, red bed, wild crab, kalmia, mezereon, euonymous, halesia, quamoclid, rhododendron, oleander, service tree, lilac, honeysuckle, brambles."