Trees!
Being A Diatribe Against The Needless Planting Of Trees, Bushes, Shrubs, And Other Impedimentia To The Enjoyment Of Victorian Architecture

This page is a primal scream against trees and bushes.  Not that I have anything against greenery in the normal course of things, you understand.  I enjoy dozing off in the shade of an oak tree....ice-cold glass of lemonade at hand and the radio softly murmuring baseball play-by-play....as much as anyone.

It's when people plant the darn things ALL around their Victorian houses that I get annoyed.  The Victorians did not believe in planting too many things next to their houses.  They thought that bushes, brambles, and briars too close to the house prevented the circulation of fresh air, attracted insects, and thus in varied ways promoted disease and general unhealthiness.  Look in any book of old photos of Victorian houses, and you will see what I mean:  the houses are all setting, every one of them, in the center of a nearly bare lawn.  There is seldom a tree, a single bush, or even a flower bed around the foundation.  Relentlessly hiding every square inch of the foundation of a house behind a mat of flowers and shrubs (as though we are embarrassed to admit that our houses are actually resting on concrete, rather than floating above the lawn on an anti-gravity coil) is a very 20th-century notion.  The Victorians didn't do that.

I cannot count the number of Victorian houses I have found which are marvelous, I think, but I cannot be sure because I cannot see them.  They are so surrounded by trees and bushes, from every direction, that it is literally not possible to get a clear view of them from anywhere.  Quite frankly, what is the point in owning a Victorian home, and spending the considerable amount of money it takes to restore one to its historical beauty, if no one can see it?

The Victorians certainly understood that their houses were meant to be seen.  It is only in our modern world that the movers and shakers want to hide their houses on remote islands, or far behind the well-guarded perimeters of gated compounds.  [Security cameras scan the bulwarks, ultrasonic motion detectors warn of intruders, guard dogs prowl.]

Wealthy Victorians built their houses right on the street, better yet on a corner, so that everyone could see exactly how successful they were....and they sure as heck didn't hide their success behind a screen of trees.  About 90% of the reason behind why they built all those towers and brackets and bay windows and turrets in the first place was so everyone could see that they had the money to afford a house laden with towers and brackets and bay windows and turrets.

And now people buy those same houses, spend a small fortune restoring them....and put a 10-foot-high solid wooden fence all around it, and an arboretum's worth of trees behind that.  I don't understand.

For the most part, the angles on the photographs in this Web site represent the only way I could photograph the house without having a large tree or a wall of shrubs smack in the center of the picture.  You end up with a lot of looming perspectives like that, because it is really rare (believe me, folks) to find a good house that you can actually stand away from and shoot with a reasonable perspective.  There are an awful lot of good Victorian houses out there that I have finally just shrugged and walked away from, because there simply wasn't any way to photograph even a part of them, not from any direction, not from any angle.

I think I've finally figured out why you see those same few Victorian houses in the glossy photo books, over and over again.  They're the only ones in the U.S.  that don't have trees in front of them.

Contact me by e-mail at: David Taylor

All photos in this web site (except as specifically designated) are copyright 1997 and 2001 by David Taylor.  Permission to use them for one-time private or educational use is granted.  All commercial use without permission is prohibited.

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