International Styles

Uses of Water in Gardens

As the character which water assumes is dependent on its shape, quantity and motion, each ought to be well considered before the ground is prepared for its reception. In England the source of a natural stream is generally a small bursting of water from the earth, bubbling in some elevated place, or the draining of hilly lands, for nature has benevolently placed on heights her treasury of fresh waters, whence she liberally dispenses them to the country until having fulfilled their duties they again blend themselves with the ocean. From their source they depart in a rill gentle or rapid, wide or contracted, deep or shallow, accord- ing to the form and slope of ground over which they pass. The confluence of several of these make the streamlet and the brook, until by multiplied union and increase, they become a river.

In the first instance it is the mere shape of ground that influences the course, but in its progress, the softer soil yielding to the stream, it speedily makes channels for itself, still however conforming to the resistance of harder soils or casual oppositions, every obstruction it meets with operates to change its course from a direct line, these being abundant the serpentine form of running waters must necessarily happen, and in proportion to the rapidity of its motion, the abruptness and sinuosity of the river will be found - the gentlest waters have easy and long sweeping curves.

It often happens that in the line of a river, the water is received into a valley which having no outlet under the level of the stream, lakes and islands are developed of various magnitudes, governed by the eminences which rise above the plane of its surface, this also collecting water from the surrounding hills the river departs from it with augmented supplies and greater power.

The quality of the beds of streams and rivers operate to create diversity of shape and character, for by the yielding or opposition of the soil beneath it the motion of the stream is increased or retarded, and the water is permitted to imbed itself, or is spread over the surface; from all these causes it is found that the margins of natural waters are seldom parallel to each other for any considerable distance, unless bounded by steep declivities, but that in general the widths and depths are proportioned to each other:

As The broad is shallow, and the narrow deep.

When their course is broken by abrupt changes of levels, ravines, cascades and waterfalls are created, accommodating themselves to the quality and structure of the soils over which they travel: the hard will effect a sharp and immediate fall like the overshot of a mill-dam, whereas the soft will gradually and partially give way, permitting the waters to form a ravine through which it will rush in a broken and rugged course, creating a variety of cascades in its progress.

Having examined the operations and effects of nature in these interesting features of her works, such portions of them may readily be adopted as are suitable to the character of the place to be improved, the magnitude of the property, and the object to be attained. The romantic stile admits the lake and the river, the ravine and the cataract, with all the wild abruptness of which water is capable. The garden and the pastoral compose the lake, the meer, the pool, the river, and all the lesser and milder operations of the stream. So the pleasure garden being a work of art, and in which art is avowedly directing nature in contradistinctional submission to her great mistress in all other parts of the domain-the canal, the basin and the fountains, are legitimate materials to the artist, provided he does not violate the laws of fitness and propriety in the use of them, and admits them only when designed with taste.

Where the grounds are adequately extensive it is very desirable to enlist portions of both the river and the lake into the landscape, commencing at the point of juncture as showed in nature. The variety of scene consequent on this proceeding would be very pleasing, and obviate the objectionable repetition of river forms in the several views about the property.

In laying out ground for the river, particular regard ought to be had to the point from which it will be chiefly viewed, as from the house or lawn, so that it may obtain variety of form and incident, and display the greatest possible breadth, contrasted with the narrowness consequent on the perspective.

The above is a perspective representation of a river so planned, viewed up its serpentine course, the margins of which are supposed to be parallel; but were that parallelism departed from according to nature, the effect would be increased, and the water appear of still greater magnitude.

The usual practice has been to place the water so that people at the house shall look across rather than along its course: this gives the effect of equal width to the stream, although it may considerably vary in its dimensions. The same principle ought to be applied to the formation of lakes and islands, for by a correct arrangement of form agreeably to the laws of pespective, their magnitude will, in appearance, be greatly increased; but if this be neglected, they will seem proportionably to diminish.

The heavy character of circular pools, square and oblong canals, and other such geometrical forms of masonry should have prevented the patronage they once obtained and so long possessed: they produce no intelligible change although viewed at various places, and therefore excite little interest beyond that which arises from their obvious cost, and the conUses of Water in Gardenslation of the excessive labour that produced them. They are capable of allowing astonishment but cannot please.

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