Sunday, October 31, 2010

Garden History - Trees-Bower

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In an 18th century pleasure ground or garden, a bower was a shelter or covered place in a garden, overarched with branches of trees, shrubs, or other plants. A bower made with boughs of trees or vines bent and twined together served as a shady recess from the sun.

William Shakespeare referred to a 1596 bower in 1 Henry IV, "Ditties...Sung by a faire Queene in a Summers Bowre."
In 1667, John Milton wrote, "Where the unpierc't shade Imbound the noontide Bowrs."
Richard Bradley warned in his Dictionary in 1727, "Care must be had that you do not confound the Word Bower with Arbour, because the first is always built long and arch'd, whereas the second is either round or square at Bottom, and has a sort of Dome or Ceiling at the Top."


In 1776, while traveling in western North Carolina and perhaps a little homesick, William Bartram wrote of "companies of young, innocent Cherokee virgins, some busily gathering the rich fragrant fruit, others having already filled their baskets, lay reclined under the shade of floriferous and fragrant native bowers of Magnolia, Azalea, Philadelphus, perfumed Calycanthus, sweet Yellow Jessamine and cerulian Glycine frutescens."
In the new republic of the United States of America in 1787, Manasseh Cutler described Gray's Garden near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "At every end, side, and corner, there were summer-houses, arbors covered with vines or flowers or shady bowers encircled with trees and flowering shrubs, each of which was formed in a different taste."
The Viginia Argus advertised a house for sale in the summer of 1799, in Bowling Green, Virginia:
"Valuable Property FOR SALE at the Bowling Green, near Richmond, that much frequented Tavern and public Garden...The garden is very extensive...with Summer Houses, and bowers for the accomodation of company."

When planning the landscaping for Monticello in 1804, Thomas Jefferson declared, "The kitchen garden is not the place for ornaments...bowers and treillages suit that better."

In his 1806 Gardener's Calendar, Philadelphian Bernard M'Mahon described where to place buildings in the garden, "Various light ornamental buildings and erections are introduced as ornaments to particular departments; such as temples, bowers, banqueting houses...and other edifices ...usually erected...in openings between the division of the ground, and contiguous to the terminations of grand walks."


In Salem, North Carolina, Juliana Margaret Conner descriped an 1827 visit to the Moravian community, "Afterwards walked into the garden...we saw what I conceived to be a curiosity and in itself extremely beautiful. It was a large summer house formed of eight cedar trees planted in a circle, the tops whilst young were chained together in the center forming a cone. The immense brances were all cut, so that there was not a leaf, the outside is beautifully trimmed perfectly even and very thick within, were seats placed around and doors or openings were cut, through the branches, it had been planted 40 years."
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Garden History - Trees-Bosquet

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A bosket or bosquet is a plantation of trees in a landscaped ground, garden, or park. The term comes from the Italian bosco meaning grove or wood. The term is seldom used before 1820, in early America.

To encourage visitors to walk inside bosquets, in Europe they are traditionally paved with gravel, since maintaining grass under trees is usually difficult.

At Versailles the bosquets are defined by geometrical paths and many contain sculptures & fountains hidden in the trees to surprise the garden visitor. These arrangements of trees are often planted as a quincunx and appear as a formal outdoor room. A bosquet offers both shade from the sun and a chance to see the sunlit spaces of gardens & grounds from shade.

As they mature, the trees of the bosquet form an interlacing and cooling, shady canopy overhead. Trees forming the bosquet are frequently limbed-up to reveal the intriguing and artistic textures and patterns of the tree trunks.

Occasionally, in order to keep the bosquet a defined garden area, perimeter trees were pleached. Pleaching (or plashing) is the practice of bending and inter-twining plants. Pleached trees grow together to form a sort of hedge on stilts.

In Philip Miller's Gardener's Dictionary of 1737, he defines bosquets as "small Compartments of Gardens...form'd of Trees, Shrubs, or tall large growing plants."

Garden with a Wooded Bosquet Beyond.

In an 1800 Baltimore, Maryland newspaper advertisement in the Federal Gazette, Adrian Valeck's country seat is describes as having "a large garden in the highest state of cultivation, laid out in numerous and convenient walks and squares bordered with espaliers, on which...the greatest variety of fruit trees, the choicest fruits from the best nurseries in this country and Europe have been attentively and successfully cultivated...Behind the garden is a grove and shrubbery or bosquet planted with a great variety of the finest forest trees, oderiferous & other flowering shrubs etc."
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Garden History - Trees-Thicket

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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."
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Garden History - Trees-Clump

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A clump is a cluster of trees or shrubs intentionally planted or left growing on a pleasure grounds to relieve the monotony of open ground. A clump could refer to a tuft of trees or shrubs or to any compact mass or patch of any growing plant in the grounds.

In 1789, Jedidiah Morse's American Geography described the grounds around George Washington's Mount Vernon in Virginia, "the lands...ornamented with littles copcies, circular clumps and single trees."


On his travels through South Carolina in 1796, Duc de Francois LaRochefoucauld-Liancourt described Drayton Hall near Charleston, "The Garden here is better laid out...In order to have a fine garden, you have nothing to do but to let the trees remain standing here and there, or in clumps, to plant bushes in front of them, and arrange the trees according to their height. Dr. Drayton's father...began to lay out the garden on this principle; and his son...has pursued the same plan."
In the 1790s, Isaac Weld noted on his travels through the United States, "A neat boarded little mansion painted white, together with offices, were situated on a small eminence...A small lawn laid down in grass appeared in front of the house, ornamented with clumps of pines...large clumps of trees were left adjoining to the house."
Alexander Hamilton's 1802 notes for Hamilton Grange called for, "Some laurel should be planted along the edge of the shrubbery and round the clump of trees near the house."
In 1804, Thomas Jefferson noted of the grounds around Monticello, Virginia, "This must be broken by clumps of thicket, as the open grounds of the English are broken by clumps of trees."


John Gardiner and David Hepburn wrote in their 1804 American Gardener published in Washington, District of Columbia, "In forming a shrubbery, plant the lowest shrubs in front of clumps, and the tallest most backward, three to six feet apart, according to the bulk the shrubs grow. They will thus appear to most advantage."
Bernard M'Mahon agreed in his 1806 American Gardener's Calendar published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "In designs for a Pleasure ground...winding walks, all bounded with plantations of trees, shrubs, and flowers, in various clumps...For instance, a grand and spacious open lawn, of grass ground, is generally first presented immediately to the front of the mansion...having each side embellished with plantations of shrubbery, clumps, thickets, &c in sweeps, curves, and projections toward the lawn."
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Garden History - Trees-Copse

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During the 18th century, a copse was a small area of dense thicket of undergrowth or brushwood or trees often planned in the pleasure ground to add variety to the otherwise open scene. A copse might be planted as a rude surprise in the midst of an otherwise peaceful lawn or meadow as a stimulating interruption.

The small trees or underwood of a copse were often cut to remain open and sometimes for economic or practical purposes of sale or firewood. Sometimes a copse was referred to as a copice or coppice.

Copse of Trees at Gettysburg.

Jedidiah Morse reported in 1789, that at George Washington's Mount Vernon in Virginia, "lands...laid out some what in the form of English gardens, in meadows and grass grounds, ornamented with little copcies, circular clumps and single trees."

In November of 1803, Manasseh Cutler described the grounds around William Hamilton's Woodlands in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "Between are lawns of green grass, frequently mowed, and at different distances numerous copse of trees."
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Garden History - Trees-Grove

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A grove is a small woods or cluster of trees either occuring naturally & intentionally left in the landscape or purposefully planted in the pleasure grounds around a dwelling in the 18th century. Often a grove consisted of large trees whose branches shaded the ground below affoding shade or forming avenues or walks. Groves produced food attracting songbirds to delight visitors.

Some groves of trees were planted for remembrance honoring a passed friend or relative. Groves were often seen as solemn, whether intentionally planted as a memorial or not.


Eliza Lucas Pinckney wrote in a letter in 1742, from Charleston, South Carolina, "You may wonder how I could in this gay season think of planting a Cedar grove, which rather reflects an Autumnal gloom and solemnity than the freshness and gayty of spring. But so it is...I intend then to connect in my grove the solemnity (not the solidity) of summer or autumn with the cheerfulness and pleasures of spring, for it shall be filled with all kind of flowers, as well wild as Garden flowers, with seats of Camomoil and here and there a fruit tree--oranges, nectrons, Plumbs."

In June of 1743, Isaac Norris II at Fairhill near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was planning on, "...opening my woods into groves, enlarging my fishponds and beautifying my springs."

A 1761 house-for-sale ad in the Pennsylvania Gazette touted, "A small Grove of Pine Trees before the Garden, from which you are entertained with a most beautiful Prospect of the City of Philadelphia, and of the River, for 4 or 5 Miles downwards; so that no Ship can pass or repass, but by hailing her. you may easily know from whence she came, or wither she is going."
George Ogilivie wrote of the 1770s grounds at Alexander Garden's Otranto near Charleston, South Carolina,
"There midst the grove, with unassuming guise
But rural neatness, see the mansion rise!"


At the beginning of the American Revolution, General George Washington wrote a letter in August 19 1776, to Lund Washington, who remained at his home Mount Vernon in Virginia, "I mean to have groves of Trees at each end of the dwelling House ...these Trees to be Planted without any order to regularity (but pretty thick, as they can at any time be thin'd) and to consist that at the North end, of locusts altogether. and that at the South, of all the clever kind of Trees (especially flowering ones) that can be got, such as Crab apple, Poplar, Dogwood, Sasafras, Laurel, Willow...to be interspersed here and there with every greens such as Holly, Pine, and Cedar, also Ivy; to these may be added the Wild flowering Shrubs of the larger kind, such as the fringe Trees."

Washington was back at Mount Vernon, after the war had concluded and before he assumed the presidency. In March of 1785, he wrote in his diary, "Transplanted in the groves at the ends of the House...9 live Oak, 11 Yew or Hemlock, 10 Aspen, 4 Magnolia, 2 Elm, 2 Papaw, 2 Lilacs, 3 Fringe, 1 Swamp berry."

Reverend Manasseh Cutler wrote in 1787 of the trees on the mall in Philadelphia, "The trees are yet small, but most judiciously arranged. The...small groves in the squares have a most delightful effect."
Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, wrote in 1790 of the grounds at Bush Hill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "A beautiful grove behind the house, through which there is a spacious gravel walk, guarded by a number of marble statues."

When visiting the Moravian settlement of Salem, North Carolina in May of 1791, William Loughton Smith noted, "The church yard is on a hill above the town, surrounded by shady groves."

In 1791, Rev. William Bentley wrote of the garden of Joseph Barrell, a Boston merchant, "His garden is beyond any example I have seen. A young grove is growing the background, in the middle of which is a pond, decorated with four ships at anchor, and a marble figure in the centre."

George Washington's tree plantings had grown enough by 1796, that Benjamin Henry Latrobe wrote of them on his visit to Mount Vernon, Virginia, "The house becomes visible between two groves of trees at about a mile's distance." Just after George Washington's death, Mount Vernon was described in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1800. "On either wing is a thick grove of different flowering forest trees. Parallel with them, on the land side, are two spacious gardens, into which one is led by two serpentine gravel walks, planted with weeping willows and shady shrubs."
In 1798, Timothy Dwight wrote of Boston, Massachusettes, "Boston, enjoys a superiority to all other great towns on this continent...the gardening superior to what is found in most other places; the orchards, groves, and forests, numerous and thrifty."
In a house for sale ad in the Federal Gazette in 1800, the grounds of Adrian Valeck's country seat in Baltimore, Maryland, were described, "Behind the garden in a grove and shrubbery or bosquet planted with a great variety of the finest forest trees, oderiferous & other flowering shrubs etc."

When Manasseh Cutler visited the Woodlands in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in November of 1803, he wrote, "We then walked over the pleasure grounds...lawns of green grass, frequently mowed, and at different distances numerous copse of trees, interspersed with artificial groves, which are of trees collected from all parts of the world."

Grove of Trees at Monticello.

In 1803, Alexander Hamilton's garden contained, "A few dogwood trees, not large, scattered along the margin of the grove would be very pleasant."

In 1807, Thomas Jefferson made notes for his Virginia home of Monticello, "The canvas at large must be a Grove, of the largest trees, (poplar, oak, elm, maple, ash, hickory, chestnut, Linden, Weymouth pine, sycamore) trimmed very high, so as to give the appearance of open ground, yet not so far apart but that they may cover the ground with close shade."

Artist Charles Willson Peale wrote to his son Rembrandt Peale in 1810 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "I am often pleased with the solemn groves skirting my meadows in majestic silence and cool appearance."

New Yorker John Nicholson emphasized the practical use of a grove in The Farmer's Assistant in 1820, "These are both ornamental and useful. To plant heights of ground, the sides and tops of which are generally not very good for tillage or pasture, adds much to the beauty of a landscape; and is at the same time highly useful, as it regards the quantities of firewood which may be produced from such spots...Sugarmaple-trees, planted round the borders of meadows, and some straggling ones in them, are very pleasant and profitable, as they do no injury to the growth of the grass. Wherever trees can be planted in pastures and along fences, without doing injury to the growths of the adjoining fields by their shade, this part of rural economy ought never to be omited."
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Garden History - Trees-Wood

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A wood is a collection of trees growing more or less thickley together, of considerable extent, usually larger than a grove or copse (but including these), and smaller than a forest. In colonial America wood referred to a piece of ground covered with trees, with or without undergrowth.

In the 16th century, a wood in a pleasure ground was described in J. Manwood's Lawes Forest as a place "Where the trees do grow scattering her and there one, so that those trees do not one of them touch an other."


In 1762, Hannah Callender wrote in her diary of William Peters' Belmont near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "We left the garden for a wood cut into vistas. In the midst is a Chinese temple for a summer house. One avenue gives a fine prospect of the city...Another avenue looks to the obelisk."

New Yorker John Nicholson emphasized the practical use of a woodland in The Farmer's Assistant in 1820, every plantation or farm "ought to have a piece of woodland, or forest, sufficient for fuel and other purposes. Raising timber, for the purpose of fencing, will not often be found advisable. Farmers must eventually depend on waking stone walls, or hedges, for the purpose of enclosing their lands.

"But wood and timber sufficient for fuel, for building, for carriages and implements of farming, cannot be dispensed with. Of these, the Farmer will always find it most advantageous to keep the requisite stock himself, and not rely on others for purchasing it. Nor is it advisable to have his woodlands separate, and at a considerable distance from his farm; unless it be in parts of the country where part of the lands are too valuable to be kept in wood, and other adjacent parts are only fit for that purpose.

"When the Farmer is clearing up his farm, he ought to reserve, for woodland, that part which is least adapted for tillage, or for grass. Land which is swampy with a thin soil over a sandy bottom; that is rocky and hilly; or that is dry, poor, or very gravelly, may do well for woodland; while it would answer but indifferently for tillage.

"The quantity of ground to be set apart for this purpose must depend on the size of the farm; the quality of the soil of the woodland; the nature of the climate; and, frequently, according to the demand or market for wood; for, in some cases, it may be found more profitable to keep tolerably good land in wood, than in any other cultivation.

"Of the natural growth of wood, it will require as much as twenty acres, or more, to keep two fires, according to the common method of using wood for fuel."

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

George Wythe 1726-1806 Books on Landscape, Garden, & Farm


George Wythe

George Wythe (1726-1806) was a Virginia lawyer, educator, judge & statesman. Educated by his mother & briefly studying at the College of William & Mary. Wythe studied law with Stephen Dewey & was admitted to the bar at age 20 in 1746. Named attorney general of Virginia in 1753, Wythe later served in the House of Burgesses 1755-1775, representing Williamsburg, the College of William & Mary, & Elizabeth City County. Elected a representative to the Second Continental Congress, Wythe served until 1777. He supported & signed the Declaration of Independence.

Returning to Virginia, Wythe was elected Speaker of the House of Delegates, & worked to draw up the Virginia constitution, overhaul the laws of the state, & design the state seal. In 1779, he became professor of law at the College of William & Mary (making him the first official law professor in America), formalizing his role as a prominent educator (his students included Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall & Henry Clay).

George Wythe House in Colonial Williamsburg

Wythe was named a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but left Philadelphia early due to his wife's final illness. In 1789, Wythe was named judge of Virginia's Court of Chancery; he moved to Richmond in 1791, & lived there for the remainder of his life. Wythe was poisoned by a grandnephew in late May, 1806, & died on 8 June after an agonizing illness.

Wythe bequeathed his extensive library of law, classics & other books to Thomas Jefferson, a longtime friend who was serving as president when Wythe died in 1806.  Among Wythe's garden books was

In Latin, essays of classic garden & farm writers.  Rei rvsticae avctores Latini veteres, M. Cato, M. Varro, L. Colvmella, Palladivs: priores tres, e vetustiss. editionibus; quartus, e veteribus membranis aliquammultis in locis emendatiores: cum tribus indicubus, capitum, auctorum, & rerune ac verborum memorabilium ... Ex Hier
Bequeathed by Wythe to Thomas Jefferson in 1806. Sold by Jefferson to Congress in 1815

An Almanac Purchased by Wythe from the offices of the Virginia Gazette, 21 November 1764 (1/3 sh., through Mrs. Drummond), Daybooks, 1764-66.

The botanic garden : a poem, in two parts. With philosophical notes  Erasmus Darwin  New-York : Printed by T. &. J. Swords ..., 1798.

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