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mixture of earth and dung once lying outside a farmer's field, full of beautiful mushroom spawn, and I resolved to try it mixed together, thinking it would be the means of keeping the bed cold, that it might be very soon spawned to be in readiness for market at the time wanted; and I was truly astonished, and so was my master, to see such an abundance of mushrooms of a superior quality, and lasting so long; the quality beyond any that we had ever seen before. It did not strike me till some years afterwards about its preserving the quality of the dung, although I never left off practising it, and with the same good effect. I have told many gardeners of it since, and I know they have put it into practice for some years past.
My next letter shall be on potato-growing in all its stages; the cause of curl, dry rot, and my opinion on the great abuse that most useful of all vegetables is subject to in this country generally, as far as I have observed.
Bicton Gardens, Nov. 4. 1842.
Art. VI. Notices of some Gardens and Country Seats in Somerset
shire, Devonshire, and Part of Cornwall. By the CONDUCTOR.
(Continued from Vol. for 1842, p. 555., and concluded.)
SEPT. 20. 1842. Sidmouth. Peake House ; E. B. Lousada, Esq. This is the largest place in the immediate neighbourhood of Sidmouth. The house is in a commanding situation at the top of an extensive slope which terminates near the sea shore. No expense has been spared to render this declivity uniform, but, as there were a number of trees to be left, they stand on elevated portions of the original surface, which either have not been sloped down at the edges at all, or sloped down so very imperfectly as to constitute glaring deformities. « The ugliest ground,” Sir Uvedale Price observes, “is that which has neither the beauty of smoothness and gentle undulation, nor the picturesqueness of varied tints of soil : of such kind is ground that has been disturbed, and left with risings upon it, which appear like knobs or bumps, or gashes into it, such as old gravel pits or quarries.” (Essays on the Picturesque, vol. i. chap. ix.) It is surprising to see, at a place which bears evidence of a large sum having been laid out on it, the finishing operation of uniting the bumps with the surface on which they stand so much neglected. The cause is evident: the proprietor has entered fully into the subject of improvement, as far as ambition and wealth are concerned, but has not imbued his mind with it in regard to taste. If country gentlemen and ladies would give themselves up as completely to their architects and landscapegardeners, as they do to their tailors and milliners, such deformities as those to which we allude would not be perpetrated, though the result would probably be nearly as great a sameness in the scenery of places as there is in dress. What then is to be done? Let taste be free, and let every country gentleman do as he pleases. We recommend those who do not think fit to employ a first-rate artist, and yet set some value on public opinion, to study the subject, and superintend their own improvements. It is necessary to be rationally occupied in order to pass the time agreeably, and what can be more rational than the improvement and adornment of that portion of our country's surface which we can call our own? What more conducive to health, to the prosperity of his neighbours who live by their labour, and what more patriotic ? Mr. Lousada has the great merit of being unsparing in expense; and, with a few years' experience and observation of other country seats, and some reading, he will acquire a good taste and display it. This is evident from what he has recently done in the flower-garden, in which there are some scenes that might engage the pencil of an artist.
In the kitchen-garden we observed a pine pit heated by hot water agreeably to a mode invented by Messrs. Garton and Jarvis of Exeter, the peculiarity of which is that the hot water can be let out of the pipes into troughs over them at pleasure, so as rapidly and abundantly to supply a moist heat. Of this, and some other improvements made by Messrs. Garton and Jarvis, we expect hereafter to give some account. Mr. Lousada's dwelling-house is replete with arrangements requisite for comfortable and elegant enjoyment, and it contains some good pictures, statues, and books.
A singular place at Sidmouth, belonging to Mr. Fish, was mentioned to us as worth seeing, but Mr. Fish only shows it on particular days, and our day happened not to be his.
Sept. 22. — Nutwell Court; Sir Thomas Trayton Fuller Elliot Drake, Bart. This place is extremely interesting on account of some remarkably fine trees which it contains; but in other respects it is crowded, confused, and not carefully kept. Nevertheless it has all the elements necessary to constitute a fine place: beautiful distant views across and along the Exe and to the sea; a varied surface, with hills and knolls; a fine spring of water, as the name implies; a good house, not badly situated; extent of park; and abundance of wood which only requires thinning out. We noted down the following dimensions of trees: Magnòlia grandiflòra 25 ft. high, with a head 30 ft. in diameter, and the stem 14 in. across at 1 ft. from the ground; Plátanus occidentalis 100 ft. high, with a trunk
5 ft. in diameter; Taxodium distichum 50 ft. high, with a trunk 2} ft. in diameter; Plátanus orientalis 60 ft. high, with a head 70 ft. in diameter; A'lnus glutinosa incìsa 70 ft. high, with a regular conical head; Salix Russelliàna 80 ft. high, with a trunk 5 ft. in diameter; a tulip tree 70 ft. high, with a trunk 4 ft. in diameter; a very large Lucombe oak; and numerous elms from 80 to 100 ft. high. There are, besides, cedars, silver firs, spruces, Scotch pines, hollies, and various other trees of large size, of which we had not time to take notes. In returning to Exeter, we observed in a cottage garden Phlomis fruticosa 8 ft. high, with a stem 4 in. in diameter, which ripens seeds in abundance. Throughout the South of Devonshire the Phlòmis becomes a large and very ornamental shrub.
Sept. 24.- Killerton Park; Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Bart., M.P. This place is situated on the side of a hill, which slopes gradually and beautifully down to a level country or broad valley on one side of the house, and on the other rises to a summit crowned with wood. Nothing can be more judiciously disposed than the trees on the lower part of the slope, and in the level valley. Immediately in front of the entrance to the house the surface contains very few trees, but at a short distance these commence, at first thinly scattered and sparingly grouped, and then increased in number till the groups unite into masses, and the masses are lost in one grand valley of wood. The surface of this wood is fully commanded by the eye from the house, and forms a grand and effective contrast to the rest of the place. As a contrast to this wood in front of the house, which is looked down upon, we have another behind and at each side to which we look up. Turning to the pleasure-ground side of the house, we have smooth glades between masses of rhododendrons and other finely tufted shrubs, which lead the eye up the trunks of the trees which form the venerable wood crowning the hill on the side of which the house stands. This hill to the right and left of the house affords many fine walks, commanding extensive prospects. Some of these walks, particularly the one leading to the chapel, are nearly level in regard to surface, but, as they follow the windings of the slope, they are exceedingly varied in regard to direction; and this, in our opinion, constitutes one of the finest descriptions of walk that can any where be made. There is much to admire at Killerton, both of natural feature and artificial treatment, for Sir Thomas Dyke Acland has an excellent taste in landscape-gardening. There are many fine old trees, the dimensions of which will be found in our Arboretum, including a remarkably large tulip tree close to the house : in 1834 it was 63 ft. high, with a thick trunk, and a very wide spreading head; and the trunk, we were informed, has since increased
several inches in circumference. There are here some of the largest Lucombe oaks in the country, and, in short, very large specimens of most trees in cultivation half a century ago. In an architectural flower-garden we observed a very effective and economical imitation of stone flower-baskets. They are formed of paper-printers' blocks after they are no longer of any use to print from. These blocks are made of the best oak, square in shape, and when painted and sanded they bear a close resemblance to sculptured stone. All that they require is a framework in which to fix them as panels. The price is little more than that of old wood sold for fuel. These blocks are also well adapted for forming the panels to fixed garden benches, boundary parapets to architectural flower-gardens, and for various other garden purposes:
A very handsome Gothic chapel has lately been erected in the grounds from the design of C. R. Cockerell, Esq. It is situated at the extremity of the beautiful walk already mentioned, near the public road, so as to be convenient for the public who choose to attend, and on ground so far elevated as to form a fine object from various parts of the surrounding country. It stands on a terrace, and the principal approach to it is through
cypresses. The house is commodious, and rich in books and pictures; and we were particularly gratified with seeing the numerous very artistical landscapes and sketches made by Sir Thomas in different parts of Europe. There is no study whatever equal to that of sketching landscape, for giving a just taste in landscape-gardening. It is difficult to conceive how persons with minds little cultivated by the study of prints or pictures, and who have not sketched a good deal, can understand the value of breadth of light and shade, of connexion, of grouping, of symmetry, of contrast (the most important ingredient in all composition, whatever may be the line of art), and of a whole. Without this kind of knowledge all attempts at landscape-gardening must be little better than random work. Without this science of landscape, as it may be called, no person can give a sufficient reason for what he proposes, or foresee its result. At the same time this knowledge alone is not sufficient : a knowledge of trees and their culture is equally requisite ; for otherwise a design may be made that cannot be carried into execution, or commonplace sameness may be the result, instead of arboricul
There is a good kitchen-garden, well cropped, and the fruit trees carefully trained. We noticed in particular some vines on the open wall trained horizontally, and bearing abundantly. The whole place was, and we were told at Exeter always is, in excellent order, for which much praise is due to Mr. Craggs, the
gardener, as well as to his enlightened and kind-hearted employer.
Silverton Park, the Earl of Egremont, is separated from Killerton by the river Culm; and the finely wooded hill which we have mentioned as forming the apex to the landscape of which Killerton House is the main feature, is the principal object in the view from the house at Silverton. This house is situated in an inner angle formed by the concurrence of two immense banks, on the site of an old mansion. The greater part of the new building is not yet finished. It is eminently classical
, abounding in colonnades and porticoes, without a single vulgar feature externally; the interior we had not an opportunity of seeing. The appearance of the entrance front gave us the idea that the house was sunk much too low; but this impression is not made by the pleasure-ground fronts. As the whole place was undergoing a course of improvement, we could not judge what will be the ultimate effect.
Sept. 26. - Poltimore House, Lord Poltimore, is an extensive place, with a flat surface, and a house which appeared to us too low for the situation. There are ample space and scope for improvement in the neighbourhood of the house, and few situations are better adapted for an architectural garden. There is a fine lime tree avenue to the church.
Sept. 29.— Winslade House, Henry Porter, Esq., possesses naturally some fine features, and much has recently been done by art. There is a terraced garden in front of the house, which conducts by a succession of levels to a piece of water, along which there is a broad gravel walk, separated by an enriched parapet. The design and execution of the terrace-work and the parapet next the water are good, with the exception of some slight details. There is an excellent kitchen-garden ; and, on the whole, the place is remarkably complete in every requisite for substantial and refined enjoyment. There is a rosary laid out and planted by Mr. Pince with great taste (of which he promised us a plan and list); and various rustic structures designed by Mrs. Porter. In the house are many rare and valuable articles of virtù, sculpture, pictures, books, &c., recently brought from Italy and Germany, more especially from Dresden; and, among some beautiful specimens of foreign birds, we observed the Bell bird of Mr. Waterton, its plumage beautifully preserved.
Sept. 26. to 29. — Heanton Park, near Torrington ; Lord Clinton. This is a place of great extent, and capable of very great improvement. The house is situated on an immense bank, with another immense bank facing it, about a mile distant, with a broad valley between, the whole or any part of which might be covered with water at very little expense, or might be laid down in meadow or covered with wood at