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.”