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How to Plant Trees for a Natural Landscape

English landscape gardener Humphry Repton (1752-1818) designed landscapes around the turn of the eighteenth century. Since he was considered one who followed the landscape gardening style of Lancelot Capability Brown, he was familiar with and promoted the natural landscape.

He found that the use of trees if planted correctly could result in a more natural landscape .

In his book The Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1803)  he wrote: “No groups [of trees] will appear natural unless two or more trees are planted very near each other, whilst the perfection of a group consists in the combination of trees of different age, size, and character.”

Trees in an artificial scene
A. Trees in an artificial scenery

He then gave an example in a drawing of  what he called the ‘artificial scenery’ [above].

Then he presented a second drawing in which the trees are different sizes and shapes.  He calls that drawing ‘natural scenery’ [below].

He wrote “In the same drawing I have supposed the same trees grown to  a considerable size, but from their equi-distance the stems are all parallel to each other, not like the group [in the other illustration] where being planted much nearer, the trees naturally recede from each other.’

Thus he proposed the value of the natural look in the landscape, simply by the way the landscape gardener planted the trees.

He concluded with this remark: “It may be observed that the single tree, and every part of the first sketch, is evidently artificial, and that the second one is natural, and like the groups in a  forest.”

His remarks indicate that the natural landscape, or picturesque, demands planning and execution much like the intricate geometric style of garden design only for a quite different result.  The goal in the natural landscape is to replicate the look of a forest or woods in the landscape.

Trees in a natural setting
B. Trees in a natural setting



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