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The Evolution of Horticulture in New England


Title Page


        6 SECTIONS   [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]


                 NEW ENGLAND

                 MASSACHUSETTS BAY

through page 105 of 180

I have posted what I have finished typing on this book but I am going to delay indefinitely the rest of the book because most of the rest of the book is unopened (the pages have not been split apart) and I would prefer not to open the pages as this is a good example of how books used to be made. If I get enough requests to finish the book, I will try to find an opened copy. So, if you want to know the ending, e-mail me.




          The Romans practiced very much the same course in horticulture as did the Grecians, and for our knowledge upon this point we are indebted to Cato, Varro, Palladius, Tacitus, Virgil, Columella, Martial, the younger Pliny, and others. According to Cato, many of the wealthy had their vegetable gardens in the neighborhood of Rome, from which they received their supplies of this nature, which were abundant and of excellent quality. Cato enumerates many of these vegetables which are familiarily known to us, and gives advice as to their proper cultivation. Especially is this the case with asparagus, for which he gives full directions for the formation of the bed, the proper distance between the plants, the time and mode of weeding and of “plucking.” Nearly all, especially the later writers, Columella, Varro, and Virgil, also make mention of the more common vegetables, among which lettuce, beets, peas, beans, carrots, parsnips, onions, parsley, and cucumbers are conspicuous. Both Cato and Palladius give advice as to the proper situation of a garden, which should have a southern aspect, and be amply supplied with water. In the earlier ears of the nation, the vegetable and fruit gardens were confined within a single enclosure, and it was not until the time of the younger Pliny, that separation of the two was effected. To the fruit garden or orchard the Romans were particularly devoted, an cultivated not only the indigenous fruits, but soon introduced many from foreign regions, as the cherry from Pontus, the fig and almond from Syria, and the various “mala,” comprehending apples, pears, pomegranates, quinces, and oranges from different parts of Asia.

          Cato gives many varieties of the different fruits, especially of the vine, and directions for their proper management, as also for grafting, budding, and pruning.

          The culture of flowers among the Romans, as among the Grecians, was at first confined to the enclosure which contained the vegetables and fruits. As wealth increased, however, and the people became more refined, the residences in the suburbs of Rome were judged suitable only for farming purposes, and their owners erected costly villas more remote, in connection with which were the pleasure grounds, containing all that pertained to embellishment; as flower-beds, walks, statuary, fountains, shrubbery, and various shade trees. The accounts which have come down to us of the magnificence of these villas and their pleasure grounds both within and without the city seem almost incredible. Among these may be mentioned those of Cicero, Sallust, and Lucullus. Plutarch thus speaks of the Lucullian gardens: “I give no higher name to his sumptuous buildings, porticos and baths, still less to his paintings and sculptures, and all his industry about those curiosities, which he collected with vast expense, lavishly bestowing all the wealth and treasure which he got in the war upon them, insomuch that even now, with all the advance of luxury, the Lucullian gardens are counted the noblest the emperor has. Tubero the stoic, when he saw his buildings at Naples, where he suspended the hills upon vast tunnels, brought in the sea for moats and fish-ponds round his house, and built pleasure-houses in the waters, called him Xerxes in a gown. He had also fine seats in Tusculum, belvederes, and large open balconies for men’s apartments, and porticos to walk in, where Pompey, coming to see him, blamed him for making a house which would be pleasant in summer but uninhabitable in winter; whom he answered with a smile: ‘You think me, then, less provident than cranes and storks, not to change my home with the season.’”

          The description of the Roman gardens by Pliny the younger should not be overlooked. In their situation and adornment they equaled and even excelled those of any nation in modern days. In a letter to a friend he describes the characteristics of the gardens attached to his Tuscan villa, which were those that strongly marked the art at the time, and which continued for centuries. The excavations at Herculaneum have revealed to us, by means of the paintings there discovered, the appearance that the gardens of the townsmen presented. These, although small and hedged about in various ways, were adorned according to the prevailing taste with urns, fountains, statues, etc., while at the windows of the houses were boxes and pots of flowers.

          Our knowledge of the variety of flowers recognized or cultivated by the Romans is meager. Livy, in describing the garden of Tarquin the Proud, as it existed two hundred years after the foundation of Rome, speaks of beds of roses, lilies, poppies, and various sweet-smelling herbs.

          Virgil, in his fourth Georgic, most charmingly introduces, in his gracefully measured verses, his old friend Corycius at work in his garden cultivating the roses which bore their blossoms twice in a year, the narcissus, white lilies, poppies, the savory and flowering herbs, — and these too upon land unfitted for other purposes, thus showing to his countrymen how much happiness could be derived from humble source.

          “’T is great pity the haste, which Virgil seems here to have been in, should have hindered him from entering farther into the account or instructions of gardening, which he said he could have given, and which he seems to have esteemed and loved, by that admirable picture of the old man’s felicity, which he draws, like so great a master, with one stroke of a pencil, in those four words: Regum æquabat opes animis. That in the midst of those small possessions, upon a few acres of wealth and opulence of kings, in the case, content, and freedom of his mind.”

          At the invasion of Britain by the Romans, it has been stated that the inhabitants of that country, depending chiefly upon the chase and the herds which they raised, cultivated no cereals. This, however, is an error, if we may judge from the descriptions given of them and their contemporaries, the Gallic nation, by Pliny. As to their horticulture, our knowledge is imperfect, but we may infer from the fact that certain plants were cultivated by the Druids for their medicinal qualities, that the art of gardening, to a certain extent, was very early practiced.

          Strabo1 informs us that the Southern Britons had gardens immediately about their houses, combining both vegetable and orchard departments. Certain fruits, especially apples, were known to the Britons, while others, especially the vine, were introduced by the Romans. In regard to flowers, it is probable that several, previously unknown to the Britons, were introduced by their conquerors. Among these were the rose and the violet. The same may be said in relation to many vegetables.

                1Strabo’s Geography.



SECTION 4 of 6   [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]