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the most earnest utilitarian will admit and advocate; for the practice of rural taste in the adornment of one's home is only the application to rural economy. From what source have originated the palatial residences of our city merchants and other wealthy citizens, but from the indulgence of that taste in domestic affairs, which, when directed to rural adornment, expends its energies in drawing out the beauties of nature for our benefit and admiration ?
There are other considerations of equal, and even of greater, weight, which evince as distinctly the benefit of rural taste. Diligence and activity of body and mind are no less beneficial to us in the pursuit of innocent recreations than they are instrumental to our prosperity in businoss occupations, and whether we turn our thoughts to the merchant retired from the busy life of trade, to the farmer, or to the more humble artisan in his cottage, we shall be disappointed if we do not find that each one who employs his leisure hours, be they many or few, in the embellishment and adornment of his country home, adds thereby daily to his stock of health, and we are sure it will be admitted, that to add increased health to body and mind, is to make gond use of our time.
Another great use, which cannot be overestimated in the cultivation of rural taste, is to be found in the powerful influence whịch-experience bears testimony to—it exercises over the social intercourse of a neighborhood. We could, in support of this view, mention many instances in nu. merous parts of the country, and our personal observations will present the proofs of its truth. The kindly relations, the good offices, and the interest in each other's rural enjoyments, which the practice and extension of rural adornment in any neighborhood never fails to draw forth, are ample proofs, that if it be commendable to love one another, to contribute to the comforts of our neighbors, and to associate our-rising generation with a state of things around them, that is calculated to call forth their better natures to the adaptation of the social wants of their fellow man—if these objects are commendable, then rural taste bas its use, and its benefits must be admitted.
The cultivation of the beautiful in nature has been justly considered on important element in the culture and education of mankind. It is to every beloved home in the country its greatest outward charm, and to the country itself its greatest attraction. A traveler never travels through England, without speaking in the higbest terms of admiration of the taste there displayed by the perple, in the rural embellishment of their homes, and his praises are as justly due to the wayside cottages of the humble laborers as to the great palaces, public gardens, and parks, and all this is owing to the love of horticulture and the taste for something above the mere useful, which characterizes their owners, as a class, and which renders their homes so beautiful, with the bloom and fragrance of the loveliest flowers and shrubs. The contrast with the comparatively naked and neglected country dwellings that are the average rural homes of our country at large, and the neglected condition of the surroundings of our public and charitable institutions, is very striking. Undoubtedly this is, in some measure, owing to the want of means, as well as the absence of a true love for rural life, and for which time and cultivation will effect a remedy ; for it requires more time and patience to garden well than to build finely. A stately builiding can be designed and erected in a few months, with ample means, but it requires the same number of years to surround it with beautiful tress and shrubs. The want of means, or the newness of our civilization, is not, however, sufficient apology for the apparent want of that culture and refinement, so essential to home life. Immense sums are lavished upon fine buildings and stately edifices, rich furniture, and handsome equipages, while the garden and grounds are left bare and bald for want of cultivation, an evidence of the want of taste or an utter indifference to what is essential to the requirements of modern civilization.
What we lack, perhaps, more than all, is not the capacity to perceive and enjoy the beauty of ornamental gardening, and the pleasure derived from the planting of trees and flowers—the rural adornment alike of cottage and more substantial dwelling—but we are, as a people, deficient in the knowledge and the opportunity of knowing how beautiful our homes may be made, by a little time, taste, and means expended in this way. In older countries it is clearly seen that the taste there displayed has been f stered and encouraged by the rich, an, during a long series of years, the taste has gradually descended from the palaces of the wealthy, the public parks and gardens of the nations, to the homes of the many.
The influence of the examples of good taste and liberal encouragement of late years, in our public parks, and in the dwellings of our more wealthy citizens, on the neighborhood in which they are situated, is baving its good effects, and is one of the best proofs of the growth of good taste, proving beyond doubt that the people do not lack that appreciation of the beauties and pleasures of rural embellishments, but would gladly do something to give a sentiment to their homes, but are ignorant of the way to set about it, and consequently, do some things that ought not to be done, and leave undone those that ought to be done. The public parks and gardens, the pretty residences around and in the immediate neighborhood of our large cities, such as Boston, Philadelphia, and others, have long been famed for their beautiful gardens, and they have done much towards the cultivation of a correct taste in gardening.
The taste for rural improvements of every description is rapidly advancing in this country, and handsome villa residences are becoming more numerous; but it would require more time and space than our present limit to give even a faint idea of the progress in this direction.
In the country at large, however, there is much room for improvement, and it cannot be said that there is anything like a general taste for gardening or for the embellishment of the homes of the people. We are, as a class, too much occupied making a great deal, to have reached that point when we think it better and wiser to enjoy a little well than to exhaust both body and mind in getting an indefinite more.
The planting, laying out, and the execution of the necessary details in connection with rural improvements, is a comprehensive art, embracing the taste and artistic touch of the landscape painter with the art of the landscape gardener; the scientific knowledge of the engineer with a thorough knowledge of the material to be used, with a sound judgment acquired by practice and experience.
Effect on the Public Taste.
Much good in this way has been accomplished, but much remains to be done before we can justly lay claim to a full appreciation of the art, and it cannot be too forcibly or earnestly urged upon the attention of those who have built and endowed, or have been intrusted with the management of our educational institutions, that one of the most certain means of encouraging a desire for studies in natural history, and of forming correct principles of taste in young minds, is that of landscape gardening, and the rural adornment of school-houses and college grounds. With very few exceptions, the surroundings of such establishments have been sadly neglected, thus depriving the student of the opportunity to acquire a correct taste in one of the most necessary branches of natural history, and that high order of taste possessed by every person of culture and refinement.
Whether the neglect arises from pecuniary embarrassments, or from a want of the proper appreciation of the principles of such branches of study, the fact remains the same, and the neglect appears altogether unpardonable. That institutions of long standing entirely neglect this branch of study, so essential to the formation of correct principles of taste and refinement, is really one of the greatest wants of the existing system of college education, and one that cannot long escape the notice of those who have it in their power to apply the remedy. For, if education means anything, it means good to men—to men of all classes_in its power to evolve and diffuse practical knowledge and skill, true taste, love of industry, and sound morality, and not only through its apparatus, experiments, instructions, annual lectures, and reports, but through its thousands of graduates in every pursuit of life.
In order to carry out the principles here enunciated, there should be, in all our educational institutions, grounds devoted to a botanical and a common garden, orchards containing the various species of fruits, lawns, and promenades, in which the beautiful art of landscape gardening could be appropriately applied and illustrated, pasture, meadow, and tillage land needful for the prosecution of useful experiments. On these grounds should be collected and exhibited every variety of trees and shrubs, officinal, medicinal, and other plants of botanical interest, that minister to the health, wealth, or taste of the people. Their natural habits, merits, production, improvement, and culture, should be thoroughly scrutinized, tested, and made known to the students, and through them to the country at large.
Having said this much in regard to the benefits to be derived from the cultivation of rural taste, I will now say a few words as to the material used in connection with rural adornment. In regard to the trees and shrubs so essential to the embellishment of country homes, and which so largely contribute towards the landscape effects of the country, very little need here be said. The numerous catalogues of the leading nurserymen give full descriptions and directions as to planting and cultivation.
The Rhododendron as a Decorative Plant. There is, however, one class of plants that I think requires special mention, with a view to correct, if possible, some false impressions that are prevalent in connection with its management.
Beautiful as are many of the dwarf evergreens in common use for general decorative purposes, I know of none more desirable than the Rhododendron as material that goes to make up the perfect tout ensemble so much desired by the landscape artist.
Rhododendrons, when planted and grouped with taste and judgment, produce such telling effects in garden and park scenery that they should be planted wherever there is room for an undergrowth of shrubs. They not only produce in the blooming season glorious masses of bloom, but throughout the year they are quite equal in appearance to any of the pretty evergreens which are now so popular.
Compare a clump of Rhododendrons with a group of any other kind of shrubs or evergreens and they loose nothing by the comparison. Compare