Farm House 4 Surrounding Plantations Shrubbery Walks Etc
After the general remarks made in the preceding pages, no particular instructions can be given for the manner in which this residence should be embellished in its trees and shrubbery. The large forest trees, always grand, graceful, and appropriate, would become such a house, throwing a protecting air around and over its quiet, unpretending roof. Vines, or climbing roses, might throw their delicate spray around the columns of the modest veranda, and a varied selection of familiar shrubbery and ornamental plants checker the immediate front and sides of the house looking out upon the lawn; through which a spacious walk, or 126 carriage-way should wind, from the high road, or chief approach.
There are, however, so many objects to be consulted in the various sites of houses, that no one rule can be laid down for individual guidance. The surface of the ground immediately adjoining the house must be considered; the position of the house, as it is viewed from surrounding objects; its altitude, or depression, as affected by the adjacent lands; its command upon surrounding near, or distant objects, in the way of prospect; the presence of water, either in stream, pond, or lake, far or near, or the absence of water altogether—all these enter immediately into the manner in which the lawn of a house should be laid out, and worked, and planted. But as a rule, all filagree work, such as serpentine paths, and tortuous, unmeaning circles, artificial piles of rock, and a multitude of small ornaments—so esteemed, by some—should never be introduced into the lawn of a farm house. It is unmeaning, in the first place; expensive in its care, in the second place; unsatisfactory and annoying altogether. Such things about a farm establishment are neither dignified nor useful, and should be left to town's-people, having but a stinted appreciation of what constitutes natural beauty, and wanting to make the most of the limited piece of ground of which they are possessed.
Nor would we shut out, by these remarks, the beauty and odor of the flower-borders, which are so appropriately the care of the good matron of the household and her comely daughters. To them may be devoted a well-dug plat beneath the windows, or in the garden. 127 Enough, and to spare, they should always have, of such cheerful, life-giving pleasures. We only object to their being strewed all over the ground,—a tussoc of plant here, a patch of posey there, and a scattering of both everywhere, without either system or meaning. They lower the dignity and simplicity of the country dwelling altogether.
The business approach to this house is, of course, toward the stables and carriage-house, and from them should lead off the main farm-avenue.
The kitchen garden, if possible, should lie on the kitchen side of the house, where, also, should be placed the bee-house, in full sight from the windows, that their labors and swarming may be watched. In fact, the entire economy of the farm house, and its appendages, should be brought close under the eye of the household, to engage their care and watchfulness, and to interest them in all the little associations and endearments—and they are many, when properly studied out—which go to make agricultural life one of the most agreeable pursuits, if not altogether so, in which our lot in life may be cast.
A fruit-garden, too, should be a prominent object near this house. We are now advancing somewhat into the elegances of agricultural life; and although fruit trees, and good fruits too, should hold a strong place in the surroundings of even the humblest of all country places—sufficient, at least, for the ample use of the family—they have not yet been noticed, to any extent, in those already described. It may be remarked, that the fruit-garden—the orchard, for market 128 purposes, is not here intended—should be placed in near proximity to the house. All the small fruits, for household use, such as strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, blackberries, grapes, as well as apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches, pears, apples, quinces, or whatever fruits may be cultivated, in different localities, should be close by, for the convenience of collecting them, and to protect them from destruction by vermin, birds, or the depredations of creatures called human.
A decided plan of arrangement for all the plantations and grounds, should enter into the composition of the site for the dwelling, out-houses, gardens, &c., as they are to appear when the whole establishment is completed; and nothing left to accident, chance, or after-thought, which can be disposed of at the commencement. By the adoption of such a course, the entire composition is more easily perfected, and with infinitely greater expression of character, than if left to the chance designs, or accidental demands of the future.
Another feature should be strictly enforced, in the outward appointments of the farm house,—and that is, the entire withdrawal of any use of the highway, in its occupation by the stock of the farm, except in leading them to and from its enclosures. Nothing looks more slovenly, and nothing can be more unthrifty, in an enclosed country, than the running of farm stock in the highway. What so untidy as the approach to a house, with a herd of filthy hogs rooting about the fences, basking along the sidewalk, or 129 feeding at a huge, uncouth, hollowed log, in the road near the dwelling. It may be out of place here to speak of it, but this disgusting spectacle has so often offended our sight, at the approach of an otherwise pleasant farm establishment, that we cannot forego the opportunity to speak of it. The road lying in front, or between the different sections of the farm, should be as well, and as cleanly kept as any portion of the enclosures, and it is equally a sin against good taste and neighborhood-morality, to have it otherwise.
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