The Dutch Garden in England

´╗┐The Dutch Garden in England

The Dutch garden is said to have been brought to England by William III, though some of its characteristics might have been discovered there before his day. It was an adaptation of the French and Barocco styles, hardly to be called original, but comprising certain features at least individual.

This individuality was due to the limited extent of terra-firma and to the abundance of water in Holland. An ordinary plan became extraordinary because laid out on such a surprisingly small scale. A scheme covering dozens of acres in France was to be seen reproduced on a fewer number of feet in Holland. The parterres of Versailles might almost as well have been reduced to serve as embroidery for a pocket handkerchief. In a Dutch garden no tree could be admitted until its growth had been stunted, and no flower larger than a tulip could be allowed to engross the space without danger of spoiling the composition. Shell-work took the place of marble, and glass balls or other trivial objects were often substituted for statues, as ornamentation. Miniature canals were more usual than fountains; for the supply of water, though large, had not the force to rise to a height. A favorite architectural feature was a grotto, answering the purpose of both an arbor and a summer-house. This niche of shell-work, sometimes encasing paintings of mythological subjects and sheltering a spout of water, was far less attractive than similar niches at Pompeii, where the barocco ornamentation appeared more appropriate.

Evidences of Dutch taste were shown in England by the frequent introduction of dwarf trees, choice tulips, and canals of water. Although the dampness of the climate made grottoes peculiarly unattractive, they also were favorite accessions. Travelers early in the seventeenth century often described the famous grotto at Wilton, but this was rather in the Italian than the Dutch style. Evelyn designed one at Albury with a “crypta through the mountain thirty perches in length.” Defoe mentions gardens at Richmond and Sutton Court where besides canals there were several grottoes, and others are described by various other writers.

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