George Plummer Burns

The Rules for Landscaping

Today is the birthday of the botanist George Plummer Burns who was born on this day in 1871.

Burns was the chairman of the UVM botany department. He also had served as the superintendent of the park department for Burlington, Vermont. When I was researching Burns, I stumbled on a newspaper clipping from 1916, which shared a speech he gave to the Rutland Woman's Club called Landscape Gardening for the Home. 
He gave four rules for landscaping:

1.Avoid straight lines; 
2. Keep open spaces; 
3. Plant in mass; 
4. Use common sense.

Burns gave this advice about shrubs:

"Do not use a shrub simply because a man wants to sell it to you. 
Do not use a shrub or tree simply because your neighbor has one, and if you do, do not use it in the same way.
After the house is built shrubs should be planted around the base to soften the lines. Next, a hedge should be placed around the' lot so that the owner, in looking from his place, can see the skyline and have the immediate surroundings hidden. In that way, a person owns as far as he can see."

And, we get a little glimpse into Burns' personal preferences when he said:

"Never spoil a lawn by cutting a circular bed and filling it in with cannas. Such art is like putting a da ub of paint on a beautiful picture. Cannas are all right in their place but not in beds on a lawn.
Shrubs should always be planted in mass and never should a single root be set; not one rosebush but 20 should be set out."

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George Plummer Burns
George Plummer Burns

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