Sunday, December 19, 2021

Garden Design - The Wilderness in the American Garden

In an 18th century British American colonial or Early Republican garden, a wilderness refers to an ornamental mass of trees, thicket, or mass of shrubbery intentionally set in a remote area of a pleasure ground, pierced by walks sometimes forming a maze or labyrinth. Wildernesses often were integrated into the design of southern colonial grounds designed for hot weather exercise, the shade of the trees offering cooling relief from the summer sun.

The South Carolina Gazette advertised in February of 1734, that near Charleston, was a property, "To Be Let or Sold...on an island which commands an entire prospect of the Harbor...A delightful Wilderness with shady Walks and Arbours, cool in the hottest seasons. A piece of Garden-ground where all the best kinds of Fruits and Kitchen Greens are produced."

In May, 1743, Eliza Lucas Pinckney wrote describing William Middleton's plantation Crow-Field in South Carolina, "My letter will be of unreasonable length if I dont pass over the mounts, Wilderness, etc..."

Daniel Fisher described The Proprietor's Garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in May of 1755, "a pretty pleasure garden...a small Wilderness, and other shades that shows that the contrivor was not without Judgement."
1790s Christian Gullager (American artist, 1759-1826) George Washington.

In January of 1785, President George Washington was writing in his diary of riding throughout his properties searching for trees to use in the planning of his landscape at Mount Vernon, "Road...in search of the sort of Trees I shall want for my Walks, groves, and Wildernesses."  Washington continued to concentrate on the wilderness throughout the spring of 1785...

Thursday 17th. 1785
Laid out a walk for the Wilderness intended on the South of the Serpentine road on the left.

Friday 18th. 1785
I went to my Dogue run Plantation to make choice of the size, & to direct the taking up of Pine trees, for my two wildernesses. Brought 3 waggon load of them home, and planted every other hole round the Walks in them.

Monday 21st. 1785
Staked up the largest of my Trees in the avenues and Wilderness and Shrubberies to day, which from the softness of the ground & impression made on them by the Wind were leaning.

Tuesday 22d. 1785
Mrs. Grayson sent me 8 Yew & 4 Aspan trees & Colo. Mason some Cherry Grafts. Planted the intermediate holes round the Walk in the Wilderness on the right and filled the spaces between with young Pines.

Wednesday 23d. 1785
Finished Planting the Pine trees in the wilderness on the left and planted 4 of the live Oak Trees (which I had received from Norfolk) in the Shrubberies on the right and left on the grass plat in front of the House. Staked most of the Pines that had been planted.

Thursday 24th. 1785
Finding the Trees round the Walks in my wildernesses rather too thin I doubled them by putting (other Pine) trees between each.

Friday 25th. 1785
Planted some of the largest Pine trees on the Circular bank which is intended to inclose the Court yard, Shrubberies &ca. and Staked most of those wch. had been planted in the two Wildernesses.
Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura Kosciuszko (1746 - 1817)

Another American President, Thomas Jefferson, was also planning his wilderness in September of 1804, writing, "The Brooms wilderness on the South side to be improved for winter walking or riding."

At least one commercial public pleasure garden in the Early Republic added a wilderness as one of its components. A description of Grays Gardens in Philadelphia which appeared in the European Magazine and London Review, Volume 39, recounting a letter sent from Philadelphia in June of 1790 noting, "If we proceed straight forward, we pass through an elegant arched gate, which stems to be guarded by the figure of a satyr, extremely well painted. But this, as well as all the smaller avenues, alike produces os in the wilderness, into which we enter, passing over a neat Chinese bridge, preparing with much pleasure to penetrate a recess so charming. It is, indeed, a wilderness of sweets, and the views instantly become romantically enchanting, the scene is every moment Changing. Now side long bends the path; then pursues its winding way: now in a stratght line; then in a pleasing labyrinth is lost, until, in every possible direction, it breaketh upon us, amid thick groves of pines, walnuts, chesnuts, mulberries, & we seem to ramble, while, at the same time, we are surprised by borders of the richest and most highly cultivated flowers, in the greatest variety, which even from a royal parterre we might be led to expect."

The first American garden writer to describe the use of the wilderness in the garden was Bernard M'Mahon.  He described the wilderness in his 1806 American Gardener's Calendar published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "...to diversify the scenery...a wilderness... being generally planted in close assemblages, with serpentine walks between; some leading in private meanders toward the interior parts, or braking out...some places being closely bordered with tall trees, to effect a gloominess and perfect shade: the different walks leading now and then into circular openings, each being surrounded with plantations as aforesaid; making the principal walks terminate in a grand opening in the centre of the wilderness, in which may be some edifice, or fine piece of water."

Bernard M'Mahon's 1806 American Gardener's Calendar. B. Graves, no. 40, North Fourth-Street, Philadelphia

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Garden Design - Fishpond

Fishpond shaped like a fish at the base of the falling terraces at the 1760s William Paca house in Annapolis, Maryland.

Ponds in formal gardens have a long history.  Gorgeous hieroglyphics in Egyptian tombs depict water gardening in a fascinating formal fashion. A rectangular formal pond complete with water lilies & fish, with marginal edges adorned with lush aquatic plants was painted by the Egyptians in a Kings Tomb, verifying pond construction & pond designs over 3500 years ago!

More than a thousand years ago the Romans transported water hundreds of miles underground within aqua ducts. Later, Aqua duct style pond designs were eventually emulated in pond construction techniques to create formal water gardens. Canals, fountains & formal water gardens were contrived concepts that were engendered from the necessity to move water from one point to another.

Throughout properties in England built hundreds of years ago, the visitor can see water run across the tops of the walls in an aqua duct style construction fashion. Wherever water was needed on a property, fountains were created to pour out of walls into formal & informal constructed water gardens.

Formal rectangular Reflection Ponds, with other embellishments, came from the Ancient Greeks who engineered all kinds of Romans Water Garden Sculptures like the spectacular Titan Fountain in Rome.

The small, ornamental fish pond appeared in England in the Middle Ages, recorded in the 1250 garden of Henry III. It was designed to be both productive and aesthetic and could be called called a mirror pond if it produced a reflection of the owner's dwelling.  In early America, gentlemen often placed a fishpond in a garden or pleasure grounds near their dwelling. A fishpond was an artificial fresh water reservoir stocked with fish meant to be caught and eaten.

Fishponds did not appear in early American gardens just to supply food for the colonial table. Water was a vital element of formal, geometric, symmetrical 17th & 18th century English gardens.

The American colonial gentry hoped that their gardening efforts would reflect their understanding of an informed, civilized manner of elegant living, especially within the wilderness surrounding them. Fishponds appeared at the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg early. A note in the Virginia Council Journal stated, "The fine gardens Fish Ponds & Are not so much regarded as Formerly," and "the governor to call for what money he pleased out of their Treasury, to be spent about his House, Gardens, Fish ponds, &c." Governor Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740) stated "if the Assembly did not care to be at ye Expence of the Fish-Pond & Falling Gardens, to take them to myself; those improvements hapening to be upon the Town Land ."
English Woodcut

One of England's earliest garden commentators simply could not stand for messy fishponds to be part of his garden plans. Francis Bacon, (1561-1626), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, & author, wrote in his 1625 Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall in the essay entitled Of Gardens. His essay coincided with the new North American settlements along the Atlantic coast. Bacon wrote, "For Fountains, they are a great beauty and refreshment; but Pools mar all, and make the Garden unwholesome, and full of flies and frogs. Fountains I intend to be of two natures; the one that sprinkleth or spouteth water: the other a fair receipt of water, of some thirty or forty foot square, but without fish, or slime, or mud."

But, by the 1650s, fishing was a literate gentry sport, enjoyed by both men and women. Izaak Walton's (1593-1683) widely popular The Compleat Angler was first published in 1653, but Walton continued to add to it for a quarter of a century.


In 1731, in Mercer County, New Jersey, an ad in the Pennsylvania Gazette noted a communal fishpond intended to generate income for its owner, "To be Let, A Plantation Three Miles above Trenton...a share in a Fish-pond either at shares or Rent."

In 1733 Charleston, a house-for-sale ad in the South Carolina Gazette touted, "To be sold...a garden on each side of the House...a fish-pond well stored with pearch, roach, pike, eels, and cat-fish."
Fishpond at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson's small fishpond was just an ornamental holding reservoir. Jefferson's slaves would go fishing in the creeks nearby transplanting the fish they caught to the fishpond, so Jefferson, his family, & guests could enjoy fresh fish regularly.

A similar notice appeared in the June 5, 1736, Charleston's South Carolina Gazette, "To be Sold A Plantation containing 200 Acres...An artificial fish-pond, always supplied by fresh water springs, and well stored with several sorts of fish."

By 1740, Samuel Richardson was writing of the social aspects of the fishpond in his popular novel Pamela, "We then talked of the garden, how large and pleasant it was, and sat down on the tufted slope of a fish-pond, to see the fishes play upon the surface of the water."

Eliza Lucas Pinkney described the amazing fishponds at William Middleton's Crow-Field in 1743 South Carolina, "...a large fish pond with a mount rising out of the middle-- the top of which is level with the dwelling house and upon it is a roman temple. On each side of this are other large fish ponds properly disposed which form a fine prospect of water from the house."
Crim Dell at William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia

Near Philadelphia in the same year, Isaac Norris II of Fairhill noted, "...opening my woods into groves, enlarging my fishponds and beautifying my springs."

In 1745, Charleston's South Carolina Gazette noted, "To be sold at publick Vendue...six Acres of Land, with a Dwelling house, Kitchen, two Summer houses, a large Garden and a Fish Pond."

On Peter Kalm's travels through the colonies during November of 1748, he wrote, "Not only people of rank, but even others that had some possessions, commonly had fish ponds in the country near their houses. They always took care that fresh water might run into their ponds, which is very salutary for the fish; for that purpose the ponds were placed below a spring on a hill."
English Woodcut
In South Carolina, lots for sale were promoted by their potential for adding a fishpond to the property. The January, 1751, South Carolina Gazette touted, To be Sold, a Lot in Ansonburgh...where with little trouble, there might be a very good fishpond.

Alexander Gordon wrote of the property he was trying to sell in July of 1748, in the Charleston South Carolina Gazette, "TO BE SOLD...a beautiful Pond, supplied with Fish at the End of the Garden." Richard Lake placed a similar ad in the same newspaper 6 months later, "To be sold...a very large garden...with a large fish-pond." Several months later, a similar advertisement appeared in the Charleston newspaper, "...a kitchen garden, at the end of which is a canal supplied with fresh springs of water, about 300 feet long, with fish."

In June of 1753, John Murray Esq of Murraywhaithe, Charleston, South Carolina, received this advise to a friend, "By all means mention the fine Improvements of your garden... You'll certainly dig a Fish pond & another for geese & Ducks & one Swan...William Murray."

In 1758, Thomas Hale in his Compleat Body of Husbandry, was recommending commercial fish ponds for farmers. His book was widely owned throughout the colonies. George Washington owned a copy and referred to it. Although his book is aimed at the farmer, he asserts, "We write here to the gentleman as well as to the farmer; and we may name the supply of the table as a great article. All that is saved in the expence is got: and the addition of good fish in plenty is a consideration of great value."
1803 Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Entrance to Ashley Hall near Charleston, South Carolina with fishpond.

Hale's favorite fresh water pond fish was the carp, especially because of its ability to allude poachers. "It will endure frost better than any; it is so shy, that it preserves itself from common enemies. No fish is more dissicult to be taken out by the common methods of stealing. They will not readily bite at the hook when grown to a size, in rich ponds ; and even the casting net rarely surprizes rhem. They plunge to the bottom upon the first notice of any disturbance in the water, and strike their heads into the mud/ The net draws over their tails, without laying hold of them."

By 1759, Laurence Stern was noting the calming effect of just sitting by a fishing pond in his popular novel Tristam Shandy, "When the misfortune...fell so heavily upon my father's head...he walked composedly out with it to the fish-pond. Had my father leaned his head upon his hand, and reasoned an hour which way to have gone,— reason, with all her force, could not have directed him to any thing like it: there is something, sir, in fish-ponds ;—but what it is, I leave to system-builders and fish-pond-diggers betwixt 'em to find out; —but there is something, under the first disorderly transport of the humours, so unaccountably becalming in an orderly and a sober walk towards one of them."

Even Edmund Burke (1729-1797) in discussing his distrust of certain negotiators wrote, "I would not take one of these as my arbitrator in a dispute for so much as a fish-pond— for if he reserved the mud to me, he would be sure to give the water that fed the pool, to my adversary."

Mr. James Reid 's large house only a mile from Charles-Town, was advertised for sale in the South Carolina Gazette on October 22, 1763. "Near to the house is a large garden, wherein is a fishpond , orange and other fruit trees."
The Governor's Palace from Governor Spotswood's Canal at Colonial Williamsburg.

In 1765, the Pennsylvania Gazette advertised property for sale "in Whiteland Township, Chester County...containing about 150 Acres of good Land...it being the long and well known Tavern called the White Horse, having a good Stone Stable, a Barn...a good Stone Brew house...two good bearing Orchards...good Garden and Fishpond."

Fishponds were not reserved only for the gardens of the gentry. In the fall of 1768, in Trenton, New Jersey, a woman in the business of curing & selling ocean fish but hoping to return to England, advertised that her business property also supported a fresh water fish pond. "The Subscriber, having for many years, made it her business to cure Sturgeon in North America...takes this method of acquainting the public, that she intends...to leave this part of the world, but is desirous and willing to instruct a sober industrious person or family in the whole art, secret and mystery of manufacturing sturgeon in the several branches, consisting of making isinglass, pickling, cavear, glue, and oil...apply to her at Mr. Elijah Bond's fishery near Trenton, where is every thing convenient for carrying on the business, and plenty of fish throughout the whole year furnished by Mr. Bond's fish pond. Margaret Broadfield."

A fishpond was mentioned in an 1769 memoir at Oswego, New York, "A summer house in a tree, a fish-pond, and a gravel-walk were finished before the end of May."  In Annapolis, Maryland, during the 1770s, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his father were improving their property which ran to the rivers edge. There was no need for a fishpond there, but they did build octagonal summerhouses at each end of the 400' walkway along the river. Charles Carroll wrote that between the pavilions, ladies often fished along the walkway.

Fishing in the colonies was a social sport, and the outcome was as unpredictable then as it is nowadays. Mollie Ridout, Director of Horticulture for Historic Annapolis, sent me this poem the Maryland Gazette about preparing a list of items to take on a fishing trip on the Severn River in 1754.
Six bottle of wine, right old, good and clear;
a dozen at least, of English strong Beer:
Six quarts of good Rum, to make Punch and Grogg
(the latter a Drink that’s now much vogue)
some Cyder, if sweet, would not be amiss:
Of Butter Six pounds, we can’t do with less.
A tea Kettle, Tea, and all the Tea Geer,
To treat the Ladies and also small Beer.
Sugar, Lemons, a Strainer, likewise a Spoon;
Two China Bowls to drink out of at Noon:
A large piece of Cheese, a Table Cloth too,
A sauce-pan, two Dishes, and a Corkscrew:
Some Plates, Knives and Forks, Fish Kettle or pot,
And pipes and Tobacco must not be forgot:
A frying pan, Bacon or Lard for to Fry:
a tumbler and Glass to use when we’re dry
A hatchet, some Matches, a Steel and a Flint,
Some touch-wood, or Box with good tinder in’t.
some vinegar, Salt, some Parsley and Bread
or else Loaves of Pone to eat in it’s stead:
and for fear of bad Luck at catching of Fish
Suppose we should carry- A READY DRESSED DISH

English Woodcut

Fishing was a fashionable pastime for the ladies, who did not dress down for the sport. Quite to the contrary, they dressed in their finest to spend an afternoon fishing and hoping to be noticed. One Englishman observed,
Silks of all colors must their aid impart,
And ev'ry fur promote the fisher's art.
So the gay lady, with expensive care,
Borrows the pride of the land, of sea, and air;
Furs, pearls, & plumes, the glittering thing displays
Dazels our eyes, and easy hearts betrays.

c. 1796 Charles Fraser (1782-1860) Detail of The Seat of Joseph Winthrop, Esq. on Goose Creek, South Carolina. Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Josiah Quincy, Jr. visited near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the spring of 1773, "Dined with the celebrated Pennsylvania Farmer, John Dickenson Esqr, at his country seat about two and one-half miles from town...his gardens, green-house, bathing-house, grotto, study, fish pond."

In July of 1773, the Virginia Gazette contained an ad for a tract of land, "on James river, in Amherst county...containing about 600 acres of high and low grounds...including the dwellinghouse...a remarkable natural fishpond, and a fishery for white shads."

Colonel George Braxton in 1776-1781, Frederick County, Virginia, wrote, "I agreed wth Alexander Oliver Gardener...to finish my falling Garden wth a...neat Fish Pond."
Another view of Thomas Jefferson's fishpond in his garden.

Adam Smith in his 1776 Wealth of Nations referred to a fishpond in one of his most convincing passages, "When Vedius Pollio, in the presence of Augustus, ordered one of his slaves, who had committed a slight fault, to be cut into pieces, and thrown into his fish pond, in order to feed his fishes, the emperor commanded him, with indignation, to emancipate immediately, not only that slave, but all the others that belonged to him."

In South Carolina, John Champney’s purchased property from William Williamson’s estate in 1786. Williamson’s plantation, known as “The Garden”, was on the Stono River near Wallace’s Ferry. He died in November 1783, and his property was advertised for sale in the State Gazette of South Carolina (Charleston) for February 23, 1786. Twenty acres were set aside as a pleasure garden and seven or eight acres, including three canals of fishponds, were “laid out and improved in a taste no where excelled in this State…. The most curious Botanists may here be entertained…In short, nature and art are happily united: nature is improved but no where violated in this delightful spot. " (A plat was made by Joseph Purcell in 1786 and appears in John McCrudy Plat Book No. 4- p. 48 showing the layout of the garden.)

The image of the civilized fishpond springing from the wild swampland was used in a political essay in the 1787 Pennsylvania Gazette promoting federal sentiments in the new nation, "He leads the murmuring brook in pleasing mazes through the meadow, and sprinkles the borders with lillies of the valley; by lopping and brushing his woods he gets plenty of fuel, and makes them beautiful parks; he drains an ugly, unwholesome swamp, by forming an agreeable fishpond . He makes his little farm the seat of plenty, liberty, domestic bliss."

Jedidiah Morse admired 1789, Elizabethtown, New Jersey, writing, "Its fine situation...the arrangement and variety of forest-trees - the gardens - the artificial fish-ponds...discover a refined and judicious taste."
1800. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Brabants on French Quarter Creek, The Seat of the Late Bishop Smith. South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association, Charleston, South Carolina.

In French Quarter Creek near Charleston, South Carolina, at the seat of the late Bishop Smith, Brabant, or Brabaks, was described as having a fine garden, shrubbery, and ornamental lake...long known as "the Bishops Fish Pond."
Williamsburg, Virginia

By 1793, John Aikin and his sister Anna Laetitia Aikin Barbauld in London were using a garden setting in their popular juvenile fiction, "There was a garden enclosed with high brick walls, and laid out somewhat in the old fashion. Under the walls were wide beds planted with flowers, garden stuff, and fruit trees. Next to them was a broad gravel walk running round the garden; and the middle was laid out in grass plots, and beds of flowers and shrubs, with a fishpond in the centre."

Thomas Wilson wrote in his Biography of the Principal American Military and Naval Heros that in December of 1799, George Washington was planning improvements for Mount Vernon. "A gentleman, who was present at Mount Vernon, has furnished the following particulars...A little before his death, he had begun several improvements on his farm. Attending to some of these, he probably caught his fatal disease. He had contemplation of a gravel walk on the banks of the Potomack; between the walk and the river there was to be a fish pond. Some trees were to be cut down, and others preserved. On Friday the day before he died, he spent some time by the side of the river marking the former. There came a fall of snow, which did not deter him from his pursuit, and he continued till his neck and hair were quite covered with snow."

In Baltimore's 1800 Federal Gazette, the country seat of Willow Brook was noted to have, "In the garden is...a fish pond well stocked with fish."
c. 1799 Charles Fraser (1782-1860) View of a South Carolina Plantation Barn with probable fishpond before it.

Eliza Clitherall described in 1801, The Hermitage plantation near Wilmington, North Carolina, "The Gardens were large, and laid out in the English style--a Creek wound thro' the largest, upon its banks grew native shrubbery...a fishpond, communicating with the Creek, both producing abundance of fish."

John Beale Bordley in 1803, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, described the possibilities of a fishpond,
Pond Fish.
1. Carp...will not thrive in a cold hungry water, but require a pond with a fat rich soil at bottom...
2. Tench...The pond should have a muddy bottom with weeds
3. Perch...like a clear and moderately deep water, with a pebbly, gravelly, or a sandy clay bottom...
4. Crucian...brought from Germany...
5. Gold and Silver Fish...possessing a finer flavor...calculated for the table...
6. Pike...pond...should be of good depth, with weeds growing in it...
7. Eels...never breed in perfect standing water...
8. Bream...Roach...Dace...Minnows...kept in ponds with Pike and Perch, as food for them...
Ruff or Pope, which is much like the Perch, but esteemed better eating: and the Gudgeon...equal in goodness to the delicate Smelt...delights in a gravelly bottom...

For Fish...
The sluices for emptying the ponds should have vent holes guarded with boxes, perforated so as water but not fish may pass...Small ponds of standing water should be cleansed once in seven or eight years, and left dry one summer--Large ponds every two or three years, in October, when the bottom may be ploughed and sown with Oats, and the water returned...no trees, except...willows, should grow near the pond, as the fallen leaves and rotten wood, are pernicious to the fish; as is water running from hemp, dunghills, stables, and wash houses.

Turtle in Colonial Williamsburg's Governor's Palace Pond

Also in the same year, the popular Domestic Encyclopaedia: Or, A Dictionary of Facts and Useful Knowledge from London, instructed, "FISH-PONDS, are those reservoirs made for the breeding and rearing of fish. They are considered to be no small improvement of watery and boggy, lands, many of which can be appropriated to no other purpose. In making a pond, its head should be at the lowest part of the ground, that the trench of the flood-gate, or sluice, having a good fall, may, when necessary, speedily discharge the water...Ponds should be drained every three or four years, and the fish sorted. In those which are kept for breeding fish, the smaller kind should be taken out, for storing other ponds; but a good stock of females, at least eight or nine years old, ought to remain, as they never breed before that age."

In 1808, Washington Irving wrote in his New York satire Salmagundi, "Another odd notion of the old gentleman, was to blow up a large bed of rocks, for the purpose of having a fish-pond, although the river ran at about one hundred yards distance from the house, and was well stored with fish ;—but there was nothing, he said, like having things to one's-self. So at it he went with all the ardour of a projector, who has just hit upon some splendid and useless whim-wham. As he proceeded, his views enlarged; he would have a summer-house built on the margin of the fishpond ; he would have it surrounded with elms and willows..." In a few years," he observed, " it would be a delightful piece of wood and water, where he might ramble on a summer's noon, smoke his pipe, and enjoy himself in his old days."
Fishing in 18th century North Carolina.

The Boston Repertory, March 24, 1809, promoted a fishpond lottery with a woodcut & a poem. While the lottery itself was a gamble, the poem implies that gentlemen wagered on their fishpond catches, as well.
Fortune's Anglers
In the fish pond of fortune men angle always,
Some angle for titles, some angle for praise,
Some angle for favor, some angle for wives,
And some angle for nought all the days of their lives:
(Chorus) Ye who'd angle for Wealth, and would Fortunes obtain, Get your hooks baited by Kidder, Gilbert & Dean.
Some angle for pleasure, some angle for pain,
Some angle for trifles, some angle for gain,
Some angle for glory, some angle for strife,
Some angle to make themselves happy for life:
(Chorus)Ye who'd angle...

Some angle for wit, and some angle for fame,
Some angle for nonsense, and some e'en for shame,
Some angle for horses, some angle for hounds,
For angling's infinite, it never new bounds:
(Chorus)Ye who'd angle...


Persons at a distance may be assured, that the most punctual and strict attention will be given their orders for tickets, (post paid) enclosing cash or prize tickets, addressed to Gilbert & Dean, 79, State street, or W. & T. Kidder, 9, Market-square, and the earliest information sent them respecting the fate of their numbers.
Jefferson's Home Reflected in His Fishpond.

By the 19th century, some American home owners, famililar with the English movement toward more natural grounds, advocated the addition of artificial lakes instead of smaller fishponds. One of these was Rosalie Stier Calvert (1778–1821) of Riversdale in Prince Georg'e County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. In the winter of 1808, she wrote to her brother, "A lake just finished which looks like a large river before the house on the southern side gives a very beautiful effect, and furnishes us at the same time with fish and ice for our ice house." In the new republic, it was a virtue to counterbalance ornament with usefulness.

The ever-practical and commercially-minded English agriculturalist Richard Parkinson had spent three years in the United States farming and visiting the plantations of others, such as George Washington, at the turn of the century. When he returned to London, Parkinson, who was always sure that he knew best, wrote of fishponds in 1810. "Gentlemen often have fish-ponds made on hills, by way of ornament...if a gentleman put more value on his land looking well, and being profitable, than on a mere exhibition of water, he should pay regard to situation in forming his fish-ponds; as making a pond on a hill is like having a leaky cistern at the top of a house, which will infallibly rot or injure some part of the building: thus a fish-pond, if only one acre of water, will often damage, or perhaps half destroy, from ten to twenty acres of land, should care not be taken to cut drains where it first makes its appearance."
Ladies still fishing in 19th-century America & still dressed-up..

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Garden Design - Avenues, Alleys, & Walks

Most 18th century Atlantic coast gardens & grounds contained pathways of brick, grass, crushed oyster shells, or gravel dividing & connecting various components of the grounds & connecting the gardens with nearby buildings.  Any walk is a place prepared or set apart for humans to walk. These particular walks were the skeleton of the 18th century garden defining distinct areas, while directing walking pathways & lines of sight.

A walk  connecting to the garden was first mentioned in English appeared in Geoffrey Chaucer's Knight's Tale. "The gardyn...Ther as this fresshe Emelye...Was in hire walk, and romed vp and doun." In 1693, John Evelyn pronounced that "A Walke must be broad enough for two Persons to walk a-breast at least...without which it would no longer be a real Walk, but a large Path."

The pragmatic aspect of garden walks was equally important. Pathways of heavily rolled grass & gravel assured firm & relatively level ground underfoot. Remember, these folks were pretty heavy drinkers, from hard cider to more ardent spirits. They just didn't trust well water, often with good reason; and one fall or broken bone could be disastrous.  Practical gravel & brick walks often connected the dwelling with the "necessary" & other utility outbuildings & yards, which the garden owners & their servants would have to walk day & night, good weather & bad. Not many indoor options existed.
Some of the simplest features - the lawn and gravel walks - were the most labor intensive to maintain.  In The Universal Gardener and Botanist (1787), lawns were lauded as “add[ing] to the grandeur of the garden and beauty of the mansion,” which the bowling green does at Mount Vernon. Gravel walks were praised as “great ornaments to the gardens as well as the most useful kinds of walks for common walking.” But both required weekly maintenance. This work was typically done by enslaved individuals. 

Lawns were to be mowed once a week. Prior to mowing, the lawn would be poled with long tapered pliable poles, 15 to 18 feet in length, rolled across the ground The purpose of the poling was to “break and scatter the worm-casts about.” Earthen mounds left by worms were considered unsightly. If the lawn was damp, it was suggested to roll the lawn with a wooden roller so that the earth that had been scattered would adhere to the roller “and render the surface perfectly clean.” Mowing would occur at least once a week using a scythe. Stone rollers would have been used occasionally “to press down all inequalities close, so as to preserve a firm, even, smooth surface.” 

Similarly, gravel walks required weekly required raking and rolling. The rolling would be repeated, “till the surface is rendered perfectly compact, firm and smooth; and if after the first shower of rain, you give it another good rolling, it will bind like a rock.” George Washington’s hired gardeners frequently recorded the dressing, sweeping, and raking of the gravel walks in the gardens. New gravel was added throughout the year.

Grass walks invited more leisurely dry-weather strolls. Some walks led through the garden, so that the visitor could get a close-up view of the skills & the horticultural knowledge of the gardener & his plantings.  Some walks meandered around the wooded edge of the garden grounds leaving more time for talking about the news of the day. And some garden walks lead through a well-thought-out thick wilderness to ensure added privacy.
Walks were places for public & private exercise, serious romance, and other less physical & emotional social interactions.

And then, there was also the question of how you portrayed yourself to visitors & to those passing by your property. The gentry, cut off from their traditional heredity paths to power, needed to convince the locals; that they were meant to be in charge in this new land. They needed to be on the highest prospect, and their house & grounds needed to be the most impressive in the area.  So, early American landscape planners enjoyed playing with optics, when they designed gardens & grounds. Sometimes optics were used in pleasure grounds to make a walk appear longer, the width would decrease as the walk lead away from the main building, making the grounds seem larger. Occasionally, the width of the walk would increase as the walk lead away from the dwelling, making the house seem more imposing.

Avenues, Alleys, & Grasswalks

Gardeners also used smaller alleys of trees, to help define their gardens. Consisting of single or double rows of trees or hedges, these alleys usually bordered walkways. Alleys through the center of a garden were wider than intersecting ones. Occasionally the designers also manipulated the perspective of these alleys, so that their apparent size was lengthened, by gradually narrowing the width toward the far end. Often, colonial gentry used the term alley to refer to the walkways that ran between beds of plants & were bordered by low-growing shrubs.

Gentlemen garden planners designed their garden alleys to offer cooling shade & exercise, direct the line of sight, define garden compartments, & add ornament to their grounds. More often than not, they planted fruit-bearing plants as their alleys. George Washington planted “Apricots and Peach Trees which stood in the borders of the grass plats.”
Deborah Norris Logan reported that in 1767, the garden at the home of Charles Norris in Philadelphia was, "...laid out in square parterres and beds, regularly intersected by graveled and grasswalks and alleys."

When Manasseh Cutler visited the public pleasure garden called Gray's Garden, near Philadelphia, in 1787, he noted that, "...gardens seemed to be in a number of detached areas, all different in size and form. The alleys were none of them straight, nor were there any two alike. 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."

Lewis Beebe recorded in his journal viewing Henry Pratt's The Hills\Lemon Hill near Philadelphia, in 1800, "Mr. Pratts garden for beauty and elegance exceeds all that I ever saw--It is 20 rods long--and 18 wide An alley of 13 feet wide runs the length of the garden thro' the centre--Two others of 10 feet wide equally distant run parallel with the main alley. These are intersected at right angles by 4 other alleys of 8 feet wide--Another alley of 5 feet wide goes around the whole garden, leaving a border around it of 3 feet wide next the pales--this lays the garden into 20 squares each square has a border around it 3 feet wide--Likewise the border of every square is decorated with pinks and a thousand other flowers." 

Irishman Bernard M'Mahon came to Philadelphia in the last decade of the 18th century to apprentice at the David Landreth nursery before establishing his own seed business on Philadelphia's Second Street. He soon bought 20 acres of land on the Schuylkill River on Germantown Pike to build greenhouses and a botanic garden, which he named Upsal in commemoration of Linnaaeus' connection with Uppsala University. M'Mahon wrote about the gardens in 18th century Great Britain and America after a few years in Philadelphia, "Straight rows of the most beautiful trees, forming long avenues and grand walks, were in great estimation, considered as great ornaments, and no condsiderable estate and eminent pleasure ground were without several of them."

John Gardiner & David Hepburn wrote in their book The American Gardener in 1804, in Washington, District of Columbia, that January was the time to, "Roll your grass and gravel walks one a week at least if you wish to have them neat."

Fellow garden writer Bernard M'Mahon wrote in his 1806 The American Gardener's Calendar in Philadelphia, "With respect to walks, some ought to be made of gravel, and some of grass; the former for common walking, and the latter for occassional walking in the heat of summer... gravel walks however should lead all round the pleasure-ground, and into the principal internal divisions...As to the distribution of gravel walks...first a magnificient one from 15 to 20 or 30 feet wide, should range immediately close and parallel to the front of the house, and be conducted across the lawn into the nearest side shrubberies."
c. 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). The Seat of James Fraser, Esq., Goose Creek, South Carolina.

Landowners in 18th century South Carolina tended to keep one eye on the sun and the other on the latest, most fashionable garden design, as they planned the gardens and grounds around their homes. Carolina gardeners used the same traditional European design components as their fellow colonists up and down the Atlantic coast, but they seldom forgot to factor in the oppressive Carolina summer heat. Shady trees and cooling water played a large part in colonial South Carolina garden design.

Garden planners throughout the colonies charted walkways, alleys, and avenues to form the basic skeleton of their gardens. Most colonial British Americans called the entire outdoor area surrounding their living quarters "gardens." Property owners often divided these garden areas into beds for growing flowers and vegetables; yards for enclosing a variety of outdoor work; and larger turfed open areas for playing lawn games or visiting with friends and family.

Settlers in the British American colonies were accustomed to referring to a walk in a garden or a park, generally bordered with trees or bushes, as an alley. They also used the term alley to refer to the spaces between beds of flowers or plants.

Lining their larger turfed open areas, South Carolinians especially enjoyed alleys of trees, because they offered cooling shade for year-round exercise. Alleys also directed the onlooker's line of sight, defined garden compartments, and added ornament to the grounds. Gardeners usually planned an alley as a walkway bordered with single or double rows of trees or hedges.

Alleys leading from a central door of a dwelling through the center of an adjoining garden were wider than subsidiary intersecting walkways. Garden planners often intentionally manipulated the perspective using optics, so that the apparent size of an alley was lengthened by gradually narrowing the width of the alley towards the far end.

Some gardeners also called those walkways between beds of plants bordered by low-growing shrubs alleys. On May 22, 1749, in Charleston, a landowner advertised, ''A garden, genteelly laid out in walks and alleys, with flower-knots, & laid round with bricks" for sale in the South Carolina Gazette. Although this was an early reference to alleys in the British American colonies, it was not the first.

Private Garden Walks

During Jasper Danckaerts' 1680 visit to New York, he reported, "We had nowhere seen so many vines together as we saw here, which had been planted for the purpose of shading the walks on the river side, in between the trees."

In 1722, Hugh Jones wrote about his visit to Williamsburg, Virginia, "...the Palace or Governor's House, a magnificent structure built at the publick Expense, finished and beautified with Gates, fine Gardens, Offices, Walks."
1765. Boys on a Walk within a Walled Garden. John Durand.

Judge Sewall wrote with melancholy when describing his garden in 1726 Boston, Massachusettes, "I miss my old friends and the charming garden and walks which are all vanished."

On February 2, 1734 in Charleston, the South Carolina Gazette advertised, "To Be Let or Sold...on an island...A delightful Wilderness with shady Walks..."
Brick Walk to a "Necessary" in Williamsburg, Virginia.

In 1736, Will Griff's contract for Thomas Hancock's house in Boston contained, "I...oblidge myself...to lay out the...upper garden allys. Trim the Beds & fill up all the allies with such Stuff as Sd Hancock shall order."

From Virginia, John Bartram wrote to Peter Collinson in England on July 18, 1740, "Colonel Byrd is very prodigalle...new Gates, gravel Walks, hedges, and cedars finely twined..."
Entrance Walk from Road to Dwelling.

In May of 1743, Eliza Lucas Pinckney wrote describing William Middleton's Crow-Field in South Carolina, "From the back door is a spacious walk a thousand foot long; each side of which nearest the house is a grass plat ennamiled in a Serpentine manner with flowers."

Also in South Carolina in 1749, in Charleston, a landowner advertised, "A garden, genteelly laid out in walks and alleys, with flower-knots, & laid round with bricks" for sale in the South Carolina Gazette. Some gardeners called walks between beds of plants bordered by low-growing shrubs alleys.

Ezra Stiles described Springettsbury near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1754, "passing a long spacious walk, set on each side with trees, on the summit of a gradual ascent...besides the beautiful walk, ornamented with evergreens."
Walks Defining the Garden Beds at Paca House in Annapolis, Maryland.

Hannah Callender reported in 1762, on William Peters' Belmont near Philadelphia, "A broad walk of English cherry trees leads down to the river. The doors of the house opening opposite admit a prospect of the length of the garden over a broad gravel walk to a large handsome summer house on a green."

The Charles Norris House of 1767, in Philadelphia, was described by Deborah Norris Logan, "...laid out in square parterres and beds, regularly intersected by graveled and grasswalks and alleys...with a grass plot and trees in front, and roses intermixed with currant bushes, around its borders."
Walk at the Fish Pond at Monticello in Virginia.

In 1769 Oswego, New York, Anne Grant noted, "A summer house in a tree, a fish-pond, and a gravel-walk were finished before the end of May."

By the fall of 1769, William Eddis wrote of the Governor's House at Annapolis, Maryland, "The garden is not extensive, but it is disposed to the utmost advantage; the center walk is terminated by a small green mount, close to which the Severn approaches..."
Brick Walks to Outbuildings at Riversdale in Maryland.

New Jersey schoolmaster Philip Vickers Fithian wrote in his journal in 1774, about the practical buildings at Nomini Hall, Virginia, "The area of the Triangle made by the Wash-house, Stable, & School-House is perfectly level, and designed for a Bowling-Green, laid out in rectangular Walks which are paved with Brick, & covered with Oyster-Shells."

In the midst of the Revolution in 1777, John Adams visited Mount Clare in Baltimore, Maryland, and observed, "There is the most beautiful walk from the house down to the water; there is a descent not far from the house; you have a fine garden then you descend a few steps and have another fine garden; you go down a few more and have another."
In 1787, Manasseh Cutler noted of Robert Morris' The Hills near Philadelphia, "...the gardens and walks are extensive...a commanding prospect down the Schuylkill."
Walk Dissecting the Garden at Berkeley in Charles City, Virginia.

Abigail Adams wrote in 1790, of Bush Hill in Philadelphia, "A beautiful grove behind the house, through which there is a spacious gravel walk, guarded by a number of marble statues."

In April of 1791, William Loughton Smith visited Mount Vernon near Alexandria, Virginia, "two pretty gardens, separated by a gravel serpentine walk, edged with willows and other trees."
Garden Walks at Carter's Grove in Virginia.

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."

Alexander Graydon wrote of Israel Pemberton's garden near Philadelphia, in his memoirs, "...laid out in the old fashioned style of uniformity, with walks and allies nodding to their brothers, and decorated with a number of evergreens, carefully clipped into pyramidal and conical forms."

Adrian Valeck's estate was advertised for sale in the 1800 Federal Gazette of Baltimore, "A large garden in the highest state of cultivation, laid out in numerous and convenient walks and squares bordered with espaliers."
Walk up to Gunston Hall in Virginia through the Garden from the River.

Elizabeth Clitherall wrote in 1801 of a garden in Wilmington, North Carolina, "There was alcoves and summer houses at the termination of each walk, seats under trees in the more shady recesses of the Big Garden."

Manasseh Cutler wrote to Mrs. Torrey in November, 1803, of visiting William Hamilton's Woodlands in Philadelphia, "We then walked over the pleasure grounds, in front, and a little back of the house. It is formed into walks, in every direction, with borders of flowering shrubs and trees."
Walk at Belvedere, Home of John Eager Howard, Baltimore, Maryland, 1786-1794, painting by Augustus Weidenbach c 1858.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Garden Design - Walls at Private Homes & Gardens

 1742-46 attributed to William Dering, Anne Byrd Carter.  These brick wall fences had balustrades of wood atop the wallBrick & stone walls were usually confined to enclosing the grounds of public buildings & grave-yards in early America. Most private homes & gardens were "well paled in" with fences made of wood. 

Walls around private gardens in the British American colonies before the 18C are even more difficult to find portrayed in contemporary images.

In Maryland, a painting of Holly Hill from about 1730, depicts a walled brick garden attached to the house. Originally a primitive, two-room, 1 1/2-story frame dwelling constructed in 1698, Holly Hill still exists.
Holly Hill with brick wall around its garden about 1730 Maryland Historical Trust

Its owner Samuel Harrison added the 18 ft. section in 1713, and before his death in 1733, he encased the entire structure in brick. This is probably when the garden was walled-in as well. Holly Hill is one of the few extant examples of the medieval transitional style of architecture used in Maryland during the mid-17th century. Its transition from a primitive frame dwelling to a comfortable brick house reflects a pattern repeated in early Tidewater houses.
Holly Hill in Anne Arundel County, Maryland as it exists today

Virginia's Royal Governor William Beverley's (1605-1677) home Green Spring, built in 1649, was nearly 97' long and 25' wide. The house & grounds were named for a spring near the house, which a 1680s visitor described as "so very cold that 'twas dangerous drinking the water thereof in Summer-time." The Governor's wife Lady Frances Berkeley described her home in 1677 as "the finest seat in America & the only tollerable place for a Govenour."

Berkeley was an involved farmer & gardener who raised the Virginia cash crop tobacco, of course, plus fields of cotton, flax, hemp & rice. He planted fruit trees by the thousands. A a contemporary reported seeing "Apricocks, Peaches, Mellcotons (peaches grafted onto quince trees), Quinces, Warden (Winter Pears), and such like fruits." He grew grapes to produce his own wines, as well as vegetables and roses.

Although Green Spring was heavily damaged during Bacon's Rebellion in 1676-7, the restored house stood until the last decade of the 18C, when Benjamin Latrobe (1764-1820) painted a watercolor of it in 1797. The watercolor depicts brick curvilinear garden walls planned by Philip Ludwell II (1672-1726), & probably in place, when the property was bequeathed to Philip Ludwell III (1716–1776) in 1727. The Ludwells came to own Green Spring, when widow Lady Frances Berkeley married Phillip Ludwell.
Green Spring by Benjamin Latrobe (1764-1820) in 1797.  The Baroque curved garden walls replaced a straight-line 100' brick garden wall set at a right angle to the house which led down to the amazingly cold spring and which was probably on the property before 1680-83, when the restored brick house was completed.

Ironically, the other remaining Virginia house built before 1700 having a brick garden wall was Bacon's Castle. It was also known as Allen's Brick House and was used as a headquarters for the attack against Berkeley. The house had the earliest known private formal gardens in the British American colonies. The Jacobean house on the James River was built in 1665, by Arthur Allen. The garden was 195' by 360' divided into 6 large beds each 74' wide & between 90-98' long. The west side of the garden was defined by a brick forcing wall.
Bacon's Castle garden in Virginia with brick wall in background. The oldest identified private formal garden in the British American colonies.

It is more difficult to identify private homes with garden walls in early America from paintings & prints, because private clients of artists overwhelmingly chose portraits of themselves & their families over landscapes throughout most of the period. Fortunately, some of the portraits are depicted on the grounds of the subject's house.

In Virginia, Robert Beverley wrote in 1705, when there were a little over 75,000 folks in his colony, "The private buildings are of late very much improved; several Gentlemen of late having built themselves large Brick Houses." With these brick houses, brick garden walls were common.

Advertisements in the Pennsylvaia Gazette give a glimpse of stone & brick walls around Pennsylvania. In 1751, Burlington, New Jersey, a 208 acre plantation sitting on the Delaware River, had two large 2 acre gardens of which one was "walled in with brick, the other fenced in with cedar 7 feet high."

John Bartram skeptical about the thermal contribution of wall wrote on December 3, 1762, describing Charleston, SC, “I can’t find, in our country, that south walls are much protection against our cold, for if we cover so close as to keep out the frost, they are suffocated.”

In Philadelphia in 1766, there was a court dispute over a contract to build a stone wall around a garden in the city. And in the same year, a 170 acre property containing "a good Garden, walled in with Stone" Chester County, about 20 miles from Lancaster, was advertised for sale in the Pennsylvania Gazette.

One of Philadelphia's richest merchants, Samuel Neave (1707-1774) had his house & business at the corner of Second & Spruce Strees. The property, which contained the main house plus a coach house, stable, garden & greenhouse, had 50' on Second Street & 180' on Spruce Street. It wall all enclosed by brick walls.
Detail 1755 Joseph Blackburn (fl 1753-1763). Isaac Winslow & His Family with a brick wall with finials at the gate in background. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

In a letter to Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832) written when he was away at school in England, his mother Elizabeth Brook (d. 1761) wrote of Annapolis, in 1756, "This place... is greatly improved, a fine, flourishing orchard wtih a variety of choice fruit, the garden inlarged and a stone wall built around it, 2 fine meadows."

Charles Carrol of Annapolis advertised 12,000 acres within 12 miles of the head of the Patapsco River in Maryland, for sale in 1757. He noted that the property contained "a handsome Garden, inclosed by a Stone Wall."

George Washington, described Mount Vernon, March 27, 1760, describing Mount Vernon, wrote, “Agreed to give Mr. William Triplet, 18 to build the two houses in the Front of my House (plastering them also), & running walls for Pallisades to them from the Great house & from the Great House to the Wash House & Kitchen also.”

Paintings from the early American period depict stone and brick walls in private gardens and grounds, whether real or for affect is difficult to determine. I will try to include only one painting of each type of wall depicted by an artist who used walls in his portraits.
1760 William Williams (1727-1791). Deborah Richmond in front of a sophisticated curved wall. 

The home of George Johnson in Alexandria, Virginia, went up for sale the next year. The ad described a dwelling house "upwards of 100 Feet long...a good Garden; the whole enclosed with Pails, and Brick...defended from the Water by a Stone Wall, to which Wall Boats and other small Vessels may come at a moderate Tide."
c 1763 John Singleton Copley (1738-1815). Mary Turner (Mrs. Daniel Sargent) in front of a wall.

Also in 1767, a property of 150 acres at Blue Ball, Pennsylvania, was advertised for sale containing a "stone house...a garden, surrounded with a stone wall."

One traditional commercial garden, Gray's Chatsworth Garden, sat just north of the harbor in Baltimore. Owners converted this old, private garden into an updated public pleasure garden with the addition of serpentine pathways meandering around the tree-lined perimeters of the grounds. The heart of the commercial garden, however, remained an elegant eight-bed falling terrace garden laid out in geometric symmetry during the 1760s, which was completely surrounded by a brick wall.
1767 James Claypoole (1743-1814). Ann Galloway (Mrs Joseph Pemberton) sitting at a low wall.

When Philadelphia botanist John Bartram (1699-1777) visited Henry Laurens's (1724-1792) at his town garden in Charleston, South Carolina in 1765, he wrote that Laurens was "making great improvements," and noted that his garden was walled with brick--200 yards long and 150 yards wide.
1771 William Williams (1727-1791). The Wiley Family in front of a tall formal wall. 

The Virginia Gazette placed a sale notice in 1770, "that beautiful seat and plantation on river, in King & Queen county, whereon John Robinson , Esq; late Treasurer, lived... a large falling garden inclosed with a good brick wall." In 1782, the Marquis de Chastellux (1734-1788), describing William Byrd's Westover in Virginia noted that "the walls of the garden and the house were covered with honeysuckle"
1772 William Williams (1727-1791). The William Denning in front of a tall, relatively simple brick wall.
Portrait of William Paca with the brick wall of his garden barely visible in the background in 1772. William Paca with his Annapolis garden & summerhouse in the background. Next to Paca is a bust of Cicero. By Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) Maryland State Art Collection, Annapolis, MD.
Maryland Signer of the Declaration of Independence. After serving in both the 1st & 2nd Continental Congresses, Paca went on to serve as Governor of Maryland for 3 1-year terms. In 1789, George Washington appointed him federal district court judge. 
Archaeological excavations have also proven that the 1760s Annapolis town garden of William Paca (1740-1799) was surrounded by a brick wall. 

A 1776 Pennsylvania Gazette an additional Philadelphia house-for-sale ad mentioned that, "A considerable part of the fence is well laid stone."

Thomas Lee Shippen noted on December 30, 1783, that Westover, seat of William Byrd III, on the James River, “the river is backed up by a wall of four feet high, & about 300 yards in length, & above this wall there is as you may suppose the most enchanting walk in the world.”

In 1787, Fran├žois Jean Marquis de Chastellux, 1780–82, described Westover, seat of William Byrd III, on the James River, “The walls of the garden & the house were covered with honey-suckles.”
1787 Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). Deborah McClenachan (Mrs. Walter Stewart) in front of a curving sophisticated wall.
1787 Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). Sarah Chew Elliott (Mrs. John O'Donnell) in front of a curving wall with urns used as finials. 

William Bentley on October 3, 1789, described the Collins & Ingersoll Gardens in Salem, MA, “Capt Collins laid the foundation of his new Sea Wall which makes his garden square at the bottom of Turner’s Lane, on the east side. Capt. S. Ingersoll on Turner’s Estate has added a new picketed fence to his excellent stone wall, which gives a good appearance.”

The Pennsylvania Gazette in February of 1791, offered for sale an "extraordinary tract of land for a Gentleman Farmer...county of Montgomery...two orchards of excellent fruit, and a garden of two acres surrounded with a stone wall and terrace."

In 1796, Timothy Dwight, described Worcester County, MA “In no part of this country are the barns universally so large, & so good; or the inclosures of stone so general, & every where so well formed. These inclosures are composed of stones, merely laid together in the form of a wall, & not compacted with mortar...This relative beauty these enclosures certainly possess: for they are effectual, strong, & durable. Indeed where the stones have a smooth regular face, & are skilfully laid in an exact line, with a true front, the wall independently of this consideration, becomes neat, & agreeable. A farm well surrounded, & divided, by good stone-walls, presents to my mind, irresistibly, the image of tidy, skilful, profitable agriculture; & promises to me within doors, the still more agreeable prospect of plenty & prosperity.”

In Baltimore, Maryland in 1797, fenced gardens divided into quadrants but not terraced & with few other embellishments appeared at 13 Baltimore homes. At least one of these kitchen gardens had a stone wall surrounding its four beds. 

George Washington, described the ha-ha wall enclosing his deer park at Mount Vernon in October 1798, “There are two reasons for doing it in this manner—the one is, to prevent the wall from being too serpentine & crooked (as the black line)—and the second is, that the hill below the wall may be more of a sameness.—otherwise it would descend very suddenly in some places & very gradually in others.—“You will observe that this wall is not to be laid out, as worked by a line—the whole of it is serpentine, which I am particular in mentioning least by the expression in your letter of zig-zag. You had an idea that it was to be laid out by line 20 or 30 feet or yards (as the hill would admit) one way then angling & as far as it would go strait another in the following manner.” 

1800 Felice Corne (1752–1845) Ezekiel Hersey Derby Farm near Salem, Massachusetts. Here is a combination of wooden fences & stone walls.

In 1800, Abigail Adams described the Peacefield, estate of John Adams, Quincy, MA, “the President has authorised me to have a number of Lombardy poplars set out opposite the house near the wall which was new just two years ago. . . he says he will have them extended from the gate. . . to the corner.”

1800 An Over-mantle from the Gardiner Gilman House in Exeter, New Hampshire.  This painting shows a combination of wooden fencing & stone walls.

In 1806, from her home called Riversdale in Maryland near, DC, Rosalie Stier Calvert (1778-1821) wrote to her father in Europe, "Our house comes along rapidly. At the moment we have brick-makers, masons, carpenters, plasterers--we lack only painters to have all the crafts represented, and we expect one tomorrow. The masonry of the wing will be finished this week, but in addition to what has to be done to the house and the porticoes, we also have to build a small house, a smoke house, a dairy, and an orangerie."
"We are also going to build a wall to the north and west of the garden, beginning at the wash-house and going alongside the orchard...We also need a house for the cattle. We won't stop making bricks until we have 170,000. You can see that we don't lack for work, which takes all my time. 

Riversdale is now open as a historic house. While the brick wall is no longer there, archeologists have found evidence of it on the grounds."

As towns developed, brick walls occasionally separated the street front of the house from private rear utility and garden areas.
Wall Separating Public from Private City Spaces in Washington, D.C. in 1817. F Street in the District of Columbia. Baroness Hyde de Neuville.
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As the influence of Humphrey Repton (1752-1818) and John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843) crossed the Atlantic, high brick walls came into disfavor. The natural landscape designers called for evergreen shrubs or fences which were nearly invisible if at all possible, posts & chains and iron railings were preferred. Repton noted, "It is hardly necessary to say, that the less they are seen the better; and therefore a dark, or as it is called, an invisible green...is the proper colour."

However, English landscape designer Humphrey Repton's (1752–1818) Business Card designed by Thomas Medland ( c.1765 – 1833) depicts Repton's open, "natural" (although well-planned!) landscape design. No fences or walls here.
After 1800, Repton’s work became more formal – he deliberately designed The Monk’s Garden at Ashridge as walled & formal to reflect the former monastic gardens on the site. This is his Rosearium. From "Report concerning the gardens at Ashridge, submitted to the Earl of Bridgewate" Humphry Repton architecture & landscape designs, 1813.