International Styles

Boundary Plantations

Boundary Plantations ought to be made so soon as the fences for their protection have been completed.

It has been a practice to surround the whole domain with a plantation thence called its Zone or Belt, and where a park does not exist to make its adoption imcorrect, the belt has many advantages : it obtains privacy; it opposes itself to ugly neighbourhoods over which the person planting may have no control; it hides the boundary fences, and if planted with correct trees, some of which the fence may be developed to exclude in occasional groups or single trees, it obtains a natural character of effect; so, if the interior forms be made to follow the irregular workings of nature in the shapes of bays, promontories, isthmuses, and islets of pasture and plantation, the boundary will soon lose its evidences of the labours of art.

The selection of trees for the purpose of the boundary, must also be ruled by the laws that govern nature - they must be suitable to the soil, and planted in masses of congenial kinds, occasionally interspersed with others seering, to have obtained accidental footing there: these, if placed with discretion, will give great effect by contrast of colour, form and leafage, and so prevent the appearance of too much sameness, which ought at all times to be avoided.

The ordinary practice of planting alternately oak, elm, lime, fir, larch, beech, birch, and again repeating oak, elm, lime, and so on, or any other order of arrangement upon the same erroneous system, is absurd, and completely unlike the broad and bold workings of nature, and is incapable of producing good effect or suitable variety; for although the trees be various, and have in themselves the principles of opposition and contrast in a high degree, yet when disposed in this way, and so mingled together, every twenty rods of it will be but the repetition of the former twenty rods; and although the plantation ought to be twenty miles round, it is capable of allowing no variety beyond that of each tree's actual identity, which at a distance cannot be recognized. Such plantations always look dull and heavy in colour, in consequence of the complete mixture of the bright and the dark together - so black and vhite, the greatest of all contrasts, when blended become grey; so, too, the most brilliant primitive colours, red, blue, and yellow, when mixed together, form a dusky hue, nearly approaching to a sooty black. The practice is so obviously bad, that it must necessarily be soon abandoned, and where the error has already been committed, the remedy must be applied when the plantations are thinned; at which time much of the objection may be removed, and a great deal of the effect desired may be obtained.

The projector in his general plan will do well to mark the nature of the soils if they differ, and form his first arrangements and selections from these circumstances. As one soil may be suitable to several kinds, he may next plan them in masses, conformably to suitableness, contrast, opposition and harmony of form and colour-not abruptly placing them in masses of oak, elm, and other trees, but as it were dovetailing them into each other in the way that nature herself has joined varieties of soil and growths; and, acting according to her own laws of fitness and variety, has so perfected her plantations.

If this practice of planning and planting be pursued, the interior of the domain so surrounded will seem a favoured place of nature's own creation, and warrant and demand the labours of art to subject its forest or wood-like qualities to human occupancy, and home and elegant enjoyment.

These plantations, when advanced a few years, may be thinned and opened with great advantage towards the producing of variety. When chief views are determined on, the planting may, in the first instance, be left out at such points; but for secondary effects, the plantations may be thinned in order to admit only a broken prospect, or to obtain it between the stems of the outer trees. Advantage may be taken at the same time of every incident which the operations of natural growth have pointed out, and to this no general rule is applicable, but which will be instantly seen and siezed by the mind of the artist. After a few years growth, thinning is absolutely necessary to the welfare of the plantation ; for either the larger trees will be robbed by those which have not so well succeeded, or they will grow up, choak and exhaust each other.

In thinning woods and coppices, much material is found for plantations; and its spare produce may be usefully employed.

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