The Cottage Gardener 4: 76 (May 2, 1850)
Arrangement of Flower-beds
Donald Beaton

Allow me to thank your correspondent, S. N. W., page 41, for the spirit in which he criticised the Hower-garden in question; not that such consideration was necessary as far as D. Beaton is concerned, for if the critics will only keep their hands off him, I believe he is as impervious to pen and ink as the hide of a rhinoceros; and, moreover, he is one of the most inconsistent writers we have, for you have only to prove a case contrary to his most cherished opinion, and immediately he turns round and adopts your view as cordially as if no difference ever existed between you. It is provoking, however, that there is no standard by which to prove, not the difference between S. N. W. and D. B., but the difference butween the new school of flower gardening and the rules applicable to the laying out of flower-gardens as they were planted before the present mode had existence. When I see the plan pro raised by S. N. W., I can tell in five minutes if he is a planter according to the present style as well as a designer; and if he is, I shall be very glad to assist him; and if he is not, I see no good that can come of disputing the point. The present position of flower gardening in this country is anomalous. We have a new school, which can hardly be said to have had existence in 1825, and its merits were not discussed in print before 1831 or 1832. It is true that Lady Grenville, of Dropmore, and the late Lady Cumming Gordon, of Altyre, in Morayshire, with some others, and unknown to each other, originated this school when Buonaparte was secured at St Helena; but it has not taken firm root until within the last twenty years; and here we are now practising and studying in this new school without a vocabularly, a grammar, or a dictionary (and the old books only make our darkness more visible) the best plans according to the old style of planting. Dutch or other gardens go for little unless we can so modify them as to suit our present mode of practice. That this can be done, I have no doubt, but that it is a very difficult matter to do so, I equally admit. But to put the case so familiar as to come within the comprehension of all our readers, let us say that our different schools or styles of architecture are perfect of their kind; and let us suppose that a first-rate architect, who never heard or read of our domestic arrangements, were to design a mansion: such a house might exhibit the perfection of his art, but that would be a poor compensation to the owner if he found, on taking possession, that his wine cellar was at the top of the house, and no provision made to reach it, and that his bed-rooms "had ground for their floor." Now all this might happen and the house still be a perfect specimen of architecture, and it is exactly so with designs for flower-gardens: they may or may not be suitable for a given style of planting, and yet be masterpieces of art.

Beaton Bibliography