Port Eliot Red Book — Designs for Lord Eliot by Humphry Repton (1792-3)

Port Eliot Red Book: The Plantations


If the more common appearances in Nature were objects of our imitation, we should certainly plant the valleys and not the hills, since Nature generally adopts this rule in her spontaneous plantations; but it is "la belle Nature" or those occasional effects of extraordinary beauty which nature furnishes as models to the landscape gardener. And though a wood on the summit of a bleak hill may not be so profitable or grow so fast as one in the sheltered valley, yet its advantages will be felt on the surrounding soil. The verdure will be improved by being defended from winds and fertilized by the successive fall of leaves and manure from cattle, which will more willingly frequent the hills when they are sheltered and protected by sufficient screens of plantation.

But when I recommend that the hills should be planted, I do not mean that the summits only should be covered by a patch or clump exactly fitted to its head (which looks like the bonnet of a highlander or the scanty cap worn by the boys of the blue coat hospital). On the contrary, the woods of the valleys should seem to climb the hills by such connecting lines as may neither appear meagre nor artificial but – following the natural shapes of the ground – produce an apparent continuity of wood falling down the hills in various directions —

"Rich the Robe
"And ample let it flow, that Nature wear
"On her thron'd eminence: where-e'er she takes
"Her horizontal march, pursue her step
"With sweeping train of forest; hill to hill
"Unite with prodigality of shade." —

For ease of reading, punctuation and capitalization have been modernized.