Farm House 5 Grounds Plantations And Surroundings
A house of this kind should never stand in vulgar and familiar contact with the highway, but at a distance from it of one hundred to a thousand yards; or even, if the estate on which it is built be extensive, a much greater distance. Breadth of ground between the highway and the dwelling adds dignity and character to its appearance. An ample lawn, or a spreading park, well shaded with trees, should lay before it, through which a well-kept avenue leads to its front, and most frequented side. The various offices and buildings of the farm itself, should be at a respectable distance from it, so as not to interfere with its proper keeping as a genteel country residence. Its occupant is not to be supposed as under the necessity of toiling with his daily laborers in the fields, and therefore, although he may be strictly a man of business, he has sufficient employment in planning his work, and managing his estate through a foreman, in the various labor-occupations of the estate. His horse may be at his door in the earliest morning hours, that he may 150 inspect his fields, and give timely directions to his laborers, or view his herds, or his flocks, before his breakfast hour; or an early walk may take him to his stables, his barns, or to see that his previous directions are executed.
The various accommodation appurtenant to the dwelling, makes ample provision for the household convenience of the family, and the main business of the farm may be at some distance, without inconvenience to the owner's every-day affairs. Consequently, the indulgence of a considerable degree of ornament may be given, in the surroundings of his dwelling, which the occupant of a less extensive estate would neither require, nor his circumstances warrant. A natural forest of stately trees, properly thinned out, is the most appropriate spot on which to build a house of this character. But that not at hand, it should be set off with plantations of forest trees, of the largest growth, as in keeping with its own liberal dimensions. A capacious kitchen garden should lead off from the rear apartments, well stocked with all the family vegetables, and culinary fruits, in their proper seasons. A luxuriant fruit-garden may flank the least frequented side of the house. Neat and tasteful flower beds may lie beneath the windows of the rooms appropriated to the leisure hours of the family, to which the smaller varieties of shrubbery may be added, separated from the chief lawn, or park, only by a wire fence, or a simple railing, such as not to cut up and checker its simple and dignified surface; and all these shut in on the rear from the adjoining fields of the farm by belts of large shrubbery 151 closely planted, or the larger orchards, thus giving it a style of its own, yet showing its connection with the pursuits of the farm and its dependence upon it.
These various appointments, however, may be either carried out or restricted, according to the requirements of the family occupying the estate, and the prevailing local taste of the vicinity in which it is situated; but no narrow or stingy spirit should be indicated in the general plan or in its execution. Every appointment connected with it should indicate a liberality of purpose in the founder, without which its effect is painfully marred to the eye of the man of true taste and judgment. Small yards, picketed in for small uses, have no business in sight of the grounds in front, and all minor concerns should be thrown into the rear, beyond observation from the main approach to the dwelling. The trees that shade the entrance park, or lawn, should be chiefly forest trees, as the oak, in its varieties, the elm, the maple, the chestnut, walnut, butternut, hickory, or beech. If the soil be favorable, a few weeping willows may throw their drooping spray around the house; and if exotic, or foreign trees be permitted, they should take their position in closer proximity to it than the natural forest trees, as indicating the higher care and cultivation which attaches to its presence. The Lombardy poplar, albeit a tree of disputed taste with modern planters, we would now and then throw in, not in stiff and formal rows, as guarding an avenue, but occasionally in the midst of a group of others, above which it should rise like a church spire from amidst a block of contiguous houses—a 152 cheerful relief to the monotony of the rounder-headed branches of the more spreading varieties. If a stream of water meander the park, or spread into a little pond, trees which are partial to moisture should shadow it at different points, and low, water shrubs should hang over its border, or even run into its margin. Aquatic herbs, too, may form a part of its ornaments, and a boat-house, if such a thing be necessary, should, under the shade of a hanging tree of some kind, be a conspicuous object in the picture. An overhanging rock, if such a thing be native there, may be an object of great attraction to its features, and its outlet may steal away and be hid in a dense mass of tangled vines and brushwood. The predominating, natural features of the place should be cultivated, not rooted out, and metamorphosed into something foreign and unfamiliar. It should, in short, be nature with her hair combed out straight, flowing, and graceful, instead of pinched, puffed, and curling—a thing of luxuriance and beauty under the hand of a master.
The great difficulty with many Americans in getting up a new place of any considerable extent is, that they seem to think whatever is common, or natural in the features of the spot must be so changed as to show, above all others, their own ingenuity and love of expense in fashioning it to their peculiar tastes. Rocks must be sunk, or blasted, trees felled, and bushes grubbed, crooked water-courses straightened—the place gibbeted and put into stocks; in fact, that their own boasted handiwork may rise superior to the wisdom of Him who fashioned it in his own good 153 pleasure; forgetting that a thousand points of natural beauty upon the earth on which they breathe are
When unadorned, adorned the most;
and our eye has been frequently shocked at finding the choicest gems of nature sacrificed to a wanton display of expense in perverting, to the indulgence of a mistaken fancy, that, which, with an eye to truth and propriety, and at a trifling expense, might have become a spot of abiding interest and contentment.
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