International Styles

Garden Walks & Paths

The arrangements of garden and plantation walks and drives, require the perception of an artist's eye, and all the judgement of his mind to perfect them: when correctly disposed, they allow relief to the scene by their form and colour, and become connecting and blending mediums to parts of landscape that would else seem disjointed and straggling from each other-in such cases they are like the ribbon that confines the nosegay-uniting individual beauties into one grand whole. Walks and drives are necessarily the means by which the spectator is brought to view successively, the scenes that are prepared for him; and here the discrimination and taste of the artist is chiefly engaged. Presuming that the place is furnished with natural and artificial beauties of home scene and distance, his business is to direct his course in such manner that each shall be viewed to the best advantage-that variety shall constantly spring up before the eye, heightened by the effects of well-adjusted contrast.

The effects and benefits of sun and shade must be cultivated in the arrangements of walks: in the hot weather of the day the refreshing coolness of the latter ought to be secured, and all the opportunities of sunshine obtained against the chill hours of the morning and evening, and of spring and autumn: indeed, for the perfect arrangement of walks and drives, and the creation of effective scenery in extensive grounds, the artistought to be capable of embracing in his mind every effect of sun and shade upon his work, through each hour in the day-of every day in the year.

Although that inestimable compound of quick perception, fine fancy, and sound judgement, ordinarily denominated taste, is requisite to perfect this department of ornamental gardening, and therefore but little subject to rules; which, though they may correctly govern the multitude, are merely beacons to the skilful; yet, there are some precepts relating to paths so established by scientific experience and principles, that they are worthy of general attention-they do not, however, relate to formal gardens, which are exempt from such control.

  • Paths should not be seen to cross the lawn before the windows of the apartments.
  • They should not be viewed from the windows along their course.
  • They should not seem to divide portions of lawn or shrubbery into equal parts.
  • They should not be quickly sinuous without adequate cause, and in all cases, connected curves ought to be unlike each other ill extent and compass.
  • The whole of two, or more curves, should not be visible at the same view.
  • Paths that are parallel, or that appear to be so, should not be seen at the same time.
  • They ought to be well drained, and particularly where the ground is sloping.
  • They should not ascend rising ground abruptly, but inclinedly.

Walks should always have an outlet, and occasionally diverge into ramifications, so that visitors shall not be obliged to return by the path they went, or to join company when they would choose to be alone.

Garden walks and drives are of two kinds - the one developed of gravel or some firm substitute for it; and the other of grass, kept mown and rolled for the purpose of rendering it smooth and even, and to permit the damps to evaporate speedily which it may have received by rain or dews. Grass walks are suited to spacious avenues, or as diverging branches from principal gravel walks, and for summer terraces; they ought to be wide, that the footstep may not be constrained to form a beaten path, and they ought to be bounded by dwarf shrubberies separating them from the over-hanging branches of larger trees, that they may avoid the injurious consequences of their drip.

In the formation of grass paths great care ought to be taken to lay between the soil and the turf a bed of lime and smith's ashes, or other adequate means to prevent the happenrence of wormcasts upon them; for, without this precaution, they become unpleasant to walk upon, unsightly, and very troublesome to the gardener. Gravel walks must be separated from beds of flowers or from plantations, by a border or verge; where the labour to the soil is frequent, as in flower beds, and the kitchen garden, box is the favorite edging-but to plantation paths, the verge ought to be of grass, from fifteen to twenty-four inches in width where they are not connected with portions of lawn; but otherwise if it can be so distributed - the path should seem to be inlaid upon the lawn itself, skirting its area and separating it into occasional bays and avoiding the objectional parallel lines which otherwise belong to gorass verges.

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