Beautifying the Farm

Noted landscape architect E. H. Herminghaus left his mark on Nebraska’s capital city,

creating scenes of “natural” beauty at Pioneers Park, the grounds of the State Capitol, the

Sunken Gardens, and more. But his notions of landscaping weren’t simply for city-slickers.

Herminghaus made these suggestions for the rural landscape to the Nebraska State

Horticultural Society in 1911. His title: “Beautifying the Farm.”

“It cannot be denied that the tasteful ornamentation of rural homes is not only one of the most

agreeable, but also the most natural recreation that can occupy a human mind. Yet there are

but few well ornamented rural homes.

“Surely the first thing to consider is the general neatness of the place. We must have lumber

piles and iron heaps, but put them in some unseen place. All that is necessary is to take a

certain plot of ground and enclose it with trees and shrubs. You can also make a rustic fence

and cover the same with vines such as grape or morning glory.

“As you drive through the country, how many farm homes do you see with uniformly painted

buildings? In most cases you will find only the house and barn painted, the former white and

the latter red. A uniform painting of buildings as regards to color will give a most pleasant

effect. Never paint your buildings white. First, it is too conspicuous a color; and secondly,

white as a color will not blend with the landscape. As a general rule select the colors of

building material, such as cement, stone, wood, bark of trees, etc. In doing this you select a

neutral color and one which will blend with the landscape. Browns, drabs, fawns, and grays

are just fine. Paint buildings the same color, but it is well to paint the house a few shades

lighter than the other buildings as it should be more conspicuous.

“While it is always necessary to have a fence around the house, it is nevertheless bad. All

fences are bad but there are degrees of badness. The best fences are, of course, those that are

most natural; namely hedges. A good privet hedge will keep out the chickens and, by the

way, this is one of the most hardy and beautiful of hedges.

“A parlor would seem at a loss without a rug or a carpet and just so would the landscape be

without a green sward. The lawn is the foundation of landscape effects on the farm and

without it, it is incomplete. Never break up a lawn with flower beds. Trees and shrubs

should be to the side, leaving an open center.

“Using the parlor example again, trees are no more indispensable to the landscape than

furniture is to the parlor. By all means plant vines. Plant them on the fence if it still stands.

Never think how much it is going to cost, but ask if it is going to be beautiful.”


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