Frank Frankfort Moore.

A garden of peace, a medley in quietude online

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just under a terrace. They had heard that sunk gar-
dens were the fashion and they would not be happy
if there was a possibility of any one thinking that they
were out of the fashion.


Then the charm of the rock garden was being
largely advertised and talked about, so mounds of
broken bricks and stones and " slag " and rubbish arose
alongside the trim villas, and the occupants slept in
peace knowing that those heights of rubbish repre-
sented the height the heights of fashion. Then came
the " crevice " fashion. A conscientious writer dis-
coursed of the beauty of the little things that grow
between the bricks of old walls, and forthwith yards
of walls, guaranteed to be of old bricks, sprang up in
every direction, with hand-made crevices in which
little gems that had never been seen on walls before,
were stuck, and simple nurserymen were told that
they were long behind the time because they were
unable to meet the demand for house leeks. I have
seen a ten-feet length of wall raised almost in the
middle of a villa garden for no other purpose than to
provide a foot-hold for lichens. The last time I saw
it it was providing a space for the exhibition of a
printed announcement that an auction would take
place in the house.

But by far the most important of the schemes which
of late have been indulged in for adding interest to
the English garden, is the " Japanese style." The
" Chinese Taste," we all know, played a very impor-
tant part in many gardens in the eighteenth century,
as it did in other directions in the social life of Eng-
land. The flexible imagination of Thomas Chippen-
dale found it as easy to introduce the leading Chinese
notes in his designs as the leading French notes ; and
his genius was so well controlled that his pieces " in


the Chinese Taste " did not look at all incongruous
in an English mansion. The Chinese wallpaper was
a beautiful thing in its way, nor did it look out of place
in a drawing-room with the beautifully florid mirrors
of Chippendale design on the walls, and the noble
lacquer caskets and cabinets that stood below them.
Under the same impulse Sir Thomas Chambers was
entrusted with the erection of the great pagoda in
Kew Gardens, and Chinese junks were moored along-
side the banks to enable visitors to drink tea " in the
Chinese Taste." The Staffordshire potters repro-
duced on their ware some excellent patterns that had
originated with the Celestials, and in an attempt to
be abreast of the time, Goldsmith made his Citizen of
the World a Chinese gentleman.

For obvious reasons, however, there was no Jap-
anese craze at that time. Little was known of the
supreme art of Japan, and nothing of the Japanese
Garden. Now we seem to be making up for this
deprivation of the past, and the Japanese style of
gardening is being represented in many English
grounds. I think that nothing could be more interest-
ing, or, in its own way, more exquisite: but is it not
incongruous in its new-found home?

It is nothing of the sort, provided that it is not
brought into close proximity to the English garden.
In itself it is charming, graceful, and grateful in every
way ; but unless its features are kept apart from those
of the English garden, it becomes incongruous and
unsatisfactory. It is, however, only necessary to put
it in its place, which should be as far away as possible


from the English house and House Garden, and it will
be found fully to justify its importation. It possesses
all the elements that go to the formation of a real
garden, the strongest of these being, in my opinion,
a clear and consistent design; unless a garden has
both form and design it is worth no consideration,
except from the very humblest standpoint.

Its peculiar charm seems to me to be found in what
the nurseryman's catalogue calls the " dwarf habit."
It is essentially among the miniatures. Though it
may be as extensive as one pleases to make it, yet it
gains rather than loses when treated as its trees are
by the skilful hands of the miniaturist. Without
suggesting that it should be reduced to toy dimensions,
yet I am sure that it should be so that no tall human
being should be seen in it. It is the garden of
a small race. A big Englishman should not be
allowed into it. It would not be giving it fair

Fancying that I have put its elements into a nut-
shell, carrying my minimising to a minimum, I repeat
the last sentence to Dorothy.

' You would not exclude Mr. Friswell," said

" Atheist Friswell is not life-size : he may go without
rebuke into the most miniature Japanese garden in
Bond Street," I reply gratefully.

" And how about Mrs. Friswell? " she asks.

" She is three sizes too big, even in her chapel
shoes," I replied.

Mrs. Friswell, in spite of her upbringing perhaps



on account of it wears the heelless shoes of Little

:< Then Mr. Friswell will never be seen in a Jap-
anese garden," said Dorothy.

She does like Mrs. Friswell.


BUT there is in my mind one garden in which I should
like to see the tallest and most truculent of English-
men. It is the Tiergarten at Berlin. I recollect very
vividly the first time that I passed through the Brand-
enburger Gate to visit some friends who occupied a
flat in the block of buildings known as " In den
Zelten." I had just come within sight of the sentry
at the gate-house when I saw him rush to the door
of the guard-room and in a few seconds the whole
guard had turned out with a trumpet and a drum.
I was surprised, for I had not written to say that I
was coming, and I was quite unused to such courtesy
either in Berlin or any other city where there is a
German population.

Before the incident went further I became aware
of the fact that all the vehicles leaving " Unter den
Linden " had become motionless, and that the officers
who were in some of them were standing up at the
salute. The only carriage in motion was a landau
drawn by a pair of gray horses, with a handsome man
in a plain uniform and the ordinary helmet of an
infantry soldier sitting alone with his face to the
horses. I knew him in a moment, though I had never
seen him before the Crown Prince Frederick, the



husband of our Princess Royal the " Fritz " of the
intimate devotional telegrams to " Augusta " from the
battlefields of France in 1870.

That Crown Prince was the very opposite to his
truculent son and that contemptible blackguard, his
son's son. Genial, considerate, and unassuming, dis-
liking all display and theatrical posing, he was much
more of an English gentleman than a German Prince.
His son Wilhelm had even then begun to hate
him so I heard from a high personage of the Court.

I am certain that it was his reading of the campaign
of 1870-1 that set this precious Wilhelm this
Emperor of the penny gaff on his last enterprise.
If one hunts up the old newspapers of 1870 one will
read in every telegram from the German front of
the King of Prussia and the Crown Prince marching
to Victory, in the campaign started by a forgery and
a lie, by that fine type of German trickery, unscrupu-
lousness, brutality, and astuteness, Bismarck. Wil-
helm could not endure the thought of the glory of his
house being centred in those who had gone before him,
and he chafed at the years that were passing without
history repeating itself. He could with difficulty re-
strain himself from his attempt to dominate the world
until his first-begotten was old enough to dominate the
demi-monde of Paris " Wilhelm to-day successfully
stormed Le Chemin des Dames," was the telegram
that he sent to the Empress, in imitation of those sent
by his grandfather to his Augusta. Le Chemin des
Dames! beyond a doubt his dream was to give
France to his eldest, England to his second, and


Russia to the third of the litter. After that, as he
said to Mr. Gerard, he would turn his attention to

That was the dream of this Bonaparte done in
German silver, and now his house is left unto him
desolate unto him whose criminality, sustained by
the criminal conceit of his subjects, left thousands of
houses desolate for evermore.

But we are now in the Garden of Peace, whose
sweet savour should not be allowed to become rank by
the mention of the name of the instigator of the
German butcheries.

There is little under my eyes in this garden to re-
mind me of one on the Rhine where I spent a summer
a good many years ago. Its situation was ideal. The
island of legends, Nonnenworth, was all that could be
seen from one of the garden-houses; and one of the
windows in the front was arranged in small squares
of glass stained, but retaining their transparency,
in various colours crimson, pink, dark blue, ultra-
marine, and two degrees yellow. Through these
theatrical mediums we were exhorted to view the
romantic island, so that we had the rare chance of
seeing Nonnenworth bathed in blood, or in flames of
fire. It was undoubtedly a great privilege, but I only
availed myself of it once ; though our host, who must
have looked through those glasses thousands of times,
was always to be found gazing through the flaming
yellow at the unhappy isle.

From the vineyard nearer the house we had the
finest view of the ruins of the Drachenf els, and, on the


other side of the Rhine, of Rolandseck. Godesburg
was farther away, but we used to drive through the
lovely avenue of cherry-trees and take the ferry to
the hotel gardens where we lunched.

Another of the features of the great garden of our
villa was a fountain whose chief charm was found in
an arrangement by which, on treading on a certain
slab of stone at the invitation of our host, the un-
initiated were met by a deluging squirt of water.

This was the lighter side of hospitality; but it was
at one time to be found in many English gardens,
one of the earliest being at our Henry's Palace of

In another well-built hut there was the apparatus
of a game which is popular aboard ship in the Tropics :
I believe it is called Bull; it is certainly an adapta-
tion of the real bull. There is a framework of
apertures with a number painted on each, the object
of the player being to throw a metal disc resembling
a quoit into the central opening. Another hut had a
pole in the middle and cords with a ring at the end of
each suspended from above, and the trick was to in-
duce the ring to catch on to a particular hook in a set
arranged round the pole. These were the games of
exercise; but the intellectual visitors had for their
diversion an immense globe of silvered glass which
stood on a short pillar and enabled one to get in absurd
perspective a reflection of the various parts of the
garden where it was placed. This toy is very popular
in some parts of France, and I have heard that about
sixty years ago it was to be found in many English


gardens also. It is a great favourite in the German

These are a few of the features of a private garden
which may commend themselves to some of my
friends; but the least innocuous will never be found
within my castle walls. I would not think them
worth mentioning but for the fact that yesterday
a visitor kept rubbing us all over with sandpaper, so
to speak, by talking enthusiastically about her visits to
Germany, and in the midst of the autumn calm in our
garden, telling us how beautifully her friend Von
Bosche had arranged his grounds. She had the impu-
dence to point to one of the most impregnable of my
" features," saying with a smile,

" The Count would not approve of that, I'm

" I am so glad," said Dorothy sweetly. " If I
thought that there was anything here of which he
would approve, I should put on my gardening boots
and trample it as much out of existence as our rela-
tions are with those contemptible counts and all their

And then, having found the range, I brought my
heavy guns into action and " the case began to spread."

I trust that I made myself thoroughly offensive,
and when I recall some of the things I said, my
conscience acquits me of any shortcomings in this

' You were very wise," said Dorothy; " but I think
you went too far when you said, ' Good-bye, Miss
Haldane.' I saw her wince at that."


" I knew that I would never have a chance of speak-
ing to her again," I replied.

" Oh, yes ; but Haldane Haldane ! If you had
made it Snowden or MacDonald it would not have
been so bad; but Haldane!"

" I said Haldane because I meant Haldane, and
because Haldane is a synonym for colossal impudence
the impudence of a police-court attorney defending
a prostitute with whom he was on terms of disgust-
ing intimacy. What a trick it was to leave the War
Office, out of which he knew he would be turned,
and then cajole his friend Asquith into giving him
a peerage and the Seals, so that he might have his
pension of five thousand pounds a year for the rest
of his natural life! If that is to be condoned, all that
I can say is that we must revise all our notions of
political pettifogging. I forget at the moment how
many retired Lord Chancellors there are who are
pocketing their pension, but have done nothing to
earn it."

' What, do you call voting through thick and thin
with your party nothing? "

" I don't. That is how, what we call a sovereign
to-day is worth only nine shillings, and a man who
got thirty shillings a week as a gardener only gets
three pounds now: thirty shillings in 1913 was more
than three pounds to-day. And in England "

" Hush, hush. Remember, * My country right or
wrong.' '

" I do remember. That is why I rave. When * my
country, right or wrong ' is painted out and ' my


party, right or wrong ' substituted, isn't it time one
raved ? "

" You didn't talk in that strain when you wrote a
leading article every day for a newspaper."

" I admit it ; but but well, things hadn't come
to a head in those old days."

" You mean that they had not come into your head,
mon vieuoc, if you will allow me to say so."

I did allow her to say so she had said so before
asking my leave, which on the whole I admit is a very
good way of saying things.

To be really frank, I confess that I was very glad
that the dialogue ended here. I fancied the possibility
of her having stored away in that wonderful group
of pigeon holes which she calls her memory, a memo-
randum endorsed with the name of Campbell-Banner-
man or a dossier labelled " Lansdowne." For myself
I recollect very well that a vote of the representatives
of the People had declared that Campbell-Bannerman
had left the country open to destruction by his failure
to provide an adequate supply of cordite. In the days
of poor Admiral Byng such negligence would have
been quickly followed by an execution; but with the
politician it was followed by a visit to Buckingham
Palace and a decoration as a hero. When it was plain
that Lord Lansdowne had made, and was still mak-
ing, a muddle of the South African War, he was pro-
moted to a more important post in the Government
namely, the Foreign Office. With such precedents
culled from the past, why should any one be surprised
to find the instigator of the Gallipoli gamble, whose


responsibility was proved by a Special Commission of
Inquiry, awarded the most important post next to
that of the Prime Minister?

Yes, on the whole I was satisfied to accept my
Dorothy's smiling rebuke with a smile ; and the sequel
of the incident showed me that I was wise in this
respect; for I found her the next day looking with
admiring eyes at our Temple.

Our Temple was my masterpiece, and it was the
" feature " which our visitor had, without meaning it,
commended so extravagantly when she had assured
us that her friend Count Von Bosche would not have
approved of it.

" I think, my child, now that I come to think of it,
that your single-sentence retort respecting the value
of the Count's possible non-approval was more effec-
tive than my tirade about the vulgarity of German
taste in German gardens, especially that one at Hon-
nef-on-Rhine, where I was jocularly deluged with
Rhine water. You know how to hit off such things.
You are a born sniper."

" Sniping is a woman's idea of war," said Dorothy.

" I don't like to associate women and warfare,"
said I shaking my head.

!< That is because of your gentle nature, dear," said
she with all the smoothness of a smoothing-iron fresh
from a seven-times heated furnace. "But isn't it
strange that in most languages the word War is a
noun feminine?"

" They were always hard on woman in those days,"
said I vaguely. " But they're making up for it now."


" What are you talking about? " she cried. " Why,
they're harder than ever on women in this country.
Haven't they just insisted on enchaining them with
the franchise, with the prospect of seats in the House
of Commons? Oh, Woman poor Woman! poor,
poor Woman what have you done to deserve this? "


THE Temple is one of the " features " which began to
grow with great rapidity in connection with the House
Garden. And here let me say that, in my opinion,
one of the most fascinating elements of the House
Garden is the way in which its character develops.
To watch its development is as interesting as to watch
the growth of a dear child, only it is never wilful, and
the child is sometimes. There is no wilfulness in the
floral part: as I have already explained, the "dwarf
habit " of the stock prevents all ramping and every
form of rebellion : but it is different with the " fea-
tures." I have found that every year brings its sug-
gestions of development in many directions, and
surely this constitutes the main attractiveness of
working out any scheme of horticulture.

I have found that one never comes to an end in
this respect; and I am sure that this accounts for
the great popularity of the House Garden, in spite
of its enemies having tried to abolish it by calling it
Formal. The time was when one felt it necessary
to make excuses for it Mr. Robinson, one of
the most eminent of its detractors, was, and still
is, I am happy to be able to say, the writer to
whom we all apply for advice in an emergency. He



is uEsculapius living on the happiest terms with

But when we who are her devotees wish to build a
Temple for her worship, we don't consult ^Bsculapius:
he is a physician, not an architect, and Mr. Robinson
has been trying to convince us for over twenty years
that an architect is not the person to consult, for he
knows nothing about the matter. ^Esculapius is on
the side of Nature, we are told, and he has been assur-
ing us that the architect is not ; but in spite of all its
opponents, the garden of form and finish is the garden
of to-day. Every one who wishes to have a garden
worth talking about a garden to look out upon from
a house asks for a garden of form and finish.

I am constantly feeling that I am protesting too
much in its favour, considering that it needs no apolo-
gist at this time of day, when, as I have just said, opin-
ion on its desirability is not divided, so I will hasten
to relieve myself of the charge of accusation by apol-
ogy. Only let me say that the beautiful illustrations
to Mr. Robinson's volume entitled Garden Design
and Architects' Gardens they are by Alfred Parsons
go far, in my opinion, to prove exactly the opposite
to what they are designed to prove. We have pic-
tures of stately houses and of comparatively humble
houses, in which we are shown the buildings starting
up straight out of the landscape, with a shaggy tree
or group of trees cutting off, at a distance of only
a few yards from the walls, some of the most inter-
esting architectural features; we have pictures of
mansions with a woodland behind them and a river


flowing in front, and of mansions in the very midst
of trees, and looking at every one of them we are
conscious of that element of incongruity which takes
away from every sense of beauty. In fact, looking
at the woodcuts, finely executed as they are, we are
forced to limit our observation to the architecture
of the houses only ; for there is nothing else to observe.
We feel as if we were asked to admire an unfinished
work as if the owner of the mansion had spent all
his money on the building and so was compelled to
break off suddenly before the picture that he hoped
to make of the " place " was complete or approach-
ing completeness.

Mr. Robinson's strongest objection is to " clip-
ping." He regards with abhorrence what he calls
after Horace Walpole, " vegetable sculpture." Well,
last year, being in the neighbourhood of one of the
houses which he illustrates as an example of his
" natural " style of gardening, I thought I should
take the opportunity of verifying his quotations. I
visited the place, but when I arrived at what I was
told was the entrance, I felt certain that I had been
misdirected, for I found myself looking through a
wrought-iron gate at an avenue bounded on both
sides with some of the most magnificent clipped box
hedges I had ever seen. Within I was overwhelmed
with the enormous masses treated in the same way.
It was not hedges they were, but walls massive forti-
fications, ten feet high and five thick, and all clipped!
I never saw such examples of topiary work. To
stand among these bet es noires of Mr. Robinson made


one feel as if one were living among the mastodons
and other monstrosities of the early world : the small-
est suggested both in form and bulk the Jumbo of
our youth no doubt it had a trunk somewhere, but
it was completely hiddeii. The lawn at the bottom
of which, by the way, there stood the most imposing
garden-house I had ever seen outside the grounds of
Stowe was divided geometrically by the awful bodies
of mastodons, mammoths, elephants, and hippo-
potamuses, the effect being hauntingly Wilsonian,
Wagnerian, and nightmarish, so that I was glad to
hurry away to where I caught a glimpse of some
geometrical flower beds, with patterns delightfully
worked in shades of blue Lord Roberts heliotrope,
ageratum, and verbena.

I asked the head -gardener, whom the war had
limited to two assistants, if he spent much time over
the clipping, and he told me that it took two trained
men doing nothing else but clipping those walls for
six weeks out of every year!

From what Mr. Robinson has written one gathers
that he regards the clipping of trees as equal in enor-
mity to the clipping of coins perhaps even more so.
If that is the case, it is lucky for those topiarists that
he is not in the same position as Sir Charles Mathews.

And the foregoing is a faithful description of the
" landscape " around one of the houses illustrated in
his book as an example of the " naturalistic " style.

But perhaps Mr. Robinson's ideas have become
modified, as those of the owner of the house must
have done during the twenty-five years that have


elapsed since the publication of his book, subjecting
Mr. Blomfield (as he was then) and Mr. Inigo Triggs
to a criticism whose severity resembles that of the
Quarterly Review of a hundred years ago, or the
Saturday of our boyhood.

To return to my Temple, within whose portals I
swear that I have said my last word respecting the old
battle of the styles, I look on its erection as the first
progeny of the matrimonial union of the house with
its garden. I have mentioned the mound encircled
with flowering shrubs at the termination of the lawn.
I am unable to say what part was played by this
raised ground in the economy of the Norman Castle,
but before I had been looking at it for very long
I perceived that it was clearly meant to be the site
of some building that would be in keeping with the
design of the garden below it some building in
which one could sit and obtain the full enjoyment
of the floral beds which were now crying out with
melodious insistence for admiration.

The difficulty was to know in what form the build-
ing should be cast. I reckoned that I had a free
choice in this matter. The boundary wall of the
Castle is, of course, free from all architectural tram-
mels. I could afford to ignore it. If the Keep or
the Barbican had been within sight, my freedom in
this respect would have been curtailed to the nar-
rowest limits: I should have been compelled to make

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Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreA garden of peace, a medley in quietude → online text (page 7 of 18)