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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.




          During the Stuart dynasty and the succeeding reigns up to the present day, horticulture in all its branches, has made the most extraordinary progress, not only in Britain and in Europe, but throughout the world. With the exception of its immediate connection and influence upon the evolution of the art in New England, which will in turn receive due consideration, space does not permit one to enter into details to any extent. As the writings of some of the authors, whose names have been given above, were more or less familiar to the early settlers of the New World, previous to their departure from the mother country, and who afterwards consulted them as guides in the art of gardening, in their new homes, a few of these may be here briefly noticed.

          John Gerarde was born in 1545, was educated as a surgeon, and attained to eminence in the profession. His tastes, however, afterwards led him to the study and cultivation of plants, in the number and species of which his garden at Holborn probably exceeded any then in England. As a practical botanist, he certainly held a high position. His Herbal or General History of Plants was published in 1597. The work is divided into three books: (1) “Grasses, Grain, reeds, and Bulbous-Rooted Plants”; (2) “Herbs Used for Food, Medicine, or Ornament”; (3) “Trees, Shrubs, Fruits, Roses, Heaths, Mosses, and Sea Plants.” It continued to be considered the standard authority in botany for more than a century. Gerarde died in 1607. His life was a most useful one to his countrymen.

          William Lawson, of whose career we know little, except that he undoubtedly wrote from his own experience, published several works. Among these were: A New Orchard and Garden: or the best way for planting, graffing, and to make any ground good for a rich orchard: with the country Housewife’s garden, for herbs of common use: their Virtues, Seasons, Profits, Ornaments: Whereunto is newly added the art of propagating Plants, with the true ordering of all manner of Fruits, in their gathering, carrying home, and preservation. London, 1615. Gardener’s Kitchen Garden, 1599. The Fruiterer’s Secrets, 1604.

          Gervase Markham was born about the middle of the sixteenth century, in Nottinghamshire. He wrote several volumes, and among these were the following: The English Husbandman… Together with the Art of Planting, Grafting, and Gardening, 1613. The Country Housewife’s Garden, 1623.

          John Parkinson was born in 1567, and was at first an apothecary, but became a noted horticulturist and botanist. He was created Royal Herbalist by Charles I. His first publication, which was dedicated to the Queen, was Paradisus terrestris, or a garden of all sorts of pleasant flowers which our English ayre will permit to be noursed up, with a kitchen garden of all manner of herbes, rootes, and fruites for meate or sause, used with us, and an orchard of all sorte of fruite bearing trees and shrubbes fit for our land: together with the right orderinge, planting, and preserving of them, and their uses and virtues.

          The contents of this book do not in any way belie its title, for in its pages are given original, practical directions not only for the proper situation, nature of the soil, form and laying out of a garden, but for the kind and cultivation of every flower, vegetable, and fruit which could be “noursed up by English ayre,” but equally well by that of New England. His work was undoubetedly well known and fully appreciated by our remote grandmothers on these rugges shores.

          Parkinson also published a botanical book entited, Theatrum Botanicum or A Theatre of Plants, for which was conferred upon him the title royal. The year of his death is uncertain, but it was about 1656.

          Sir Hugh Platt was by profession a lawyer, but was very enthusiastic in his love for horticulture, corresponding larely with those interested in the subject, and making careful experiments in the garden in St. Martin’s Lane, London. Among other works, he published: A short Instruction very profitable and necessary, for all those that delight in Gardening, to know the time and season when it is good to sow and replant all manner of seeds. Whereunto is annexed, divers plots both for planting and graffing for the better ease of the Gardener, 1592. The Paradise of Flora, 1600. The Garden of Eden, or an accurate description of all Flowers and Fruits now growing in England, with particular rules how to advance their nature and growth, as well in seeds and hearbes, as the secret ordering of Trees and Plants.

          Platt’s death occurred in the early part of the seventeenth century.

          Conrad Heresback was born in 1508. Among other works, his Rei Rusticæ libri quatuor was first published in 1570. It was afterwards translated and published by his friend, the poet Barnaby Googe, in 1578. It is entitled, Foure Bookes of Husbandrie, containing the whole art and trade of Husbandrie, Gardening, Graffeing, and Planting, with the antiquitie and commendation thereof. Another edition appeared, with additions by Gervase Markham, in 1614. The work is expressed in dialogue form, and to this we are probably indebted for Issac Walton’s charming, descriptive volume, The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative Man’s Recreation. In the first book, Heresbackh speaks of husbandry. In the second, after a discussion upon the antiquity of horticulture, he treats of gardens, orchards, and woods, giving a complete list of the herbs, vegetables, and small fruits as then known, the pruning and care of trees, as also the cultivation of timber. He next discourses upon such flowers as area grown for pleasure, among which he mentions the lavender, cotton, gillyflowers, roses, lilies, and violets, giving also directions for destroying their parasites. As to the origin of the vine, upon the culture of which he enlares, Heresbach uses the following quaint language: “We that re taught by God’s holy worde, doe know that it was first found out by the Patriarke Noah, immediately after the drowning of the world: It may be the Wine was before that time, though the planting & the use thereof was not hten knowne. The heathen both most falsely & very fondly, as in many other things, doe give the invention of the same unto the God Bacchus. But Noah lived many yeeres before either Bacchus, Saturnus, or Uranius were borne.”

          This edition was popular, and must have been well known and appreciated by those interested in horticulture, either in England or elsewhere, in spite of the supposed influence of astrology and many superstitions then prevalent, of which the following is an example. “You shall take Damask rose water and boyle therein the powder of cloaves, cinnamon, three graines of Amer & one of Muske, & when it is come to be somewhat thick take a round gouge & make an hole on the maine stocke of the vine, full as deepe as the heart, & then put therein the medicine, stopping the hole with Cypress or Juniper, & the next Grapes which shall spring out of the vine will taste as if they were perfumed.”

          John Worlidge, although a voluminous writer, and one especially interested in rural affairs, is best known for his Systema Horticulturæ or The Art of Gardening, in which he treats upon everything relating to the subject, and directs attention particularly “to the great improvement of every sort of land, as well for use and profit as for ornament and delight.”

          With many other books, he also produced, Systema Agriculture: The mystery of Husbandry discovered.

          John Evelyn, born in 1620, was contemporary with Worlidge and, like him, delighted in rural pursuits. He was compared by Switzer to another Virgil. In addition to the advantages which he had received by extensive travel throughout Europe, and the royal preferments that were bestowed upon him during the rreigns of Charles II. and James II., all of which made him pre-eminent, the tastes of Evelyn led him to scientific research the results of wich were given to his countrymen. At his beautiful estate, Sayes Court, he wrote his Sylva and Terra, treatises which passed through several editions, and firmly established his reputation as an horticultural author, a reputation which continued for more than a century. Several other works, literary, horticultural, and translations from the French, of much merit, issued from his pen, and were published. Among these were: Kalendarium Hortense or the Gardener’s Almanack. The French Gardener, Parallel of the Ancient Architecture with the Modern. Acetaria, or a Discourse of Sallets.

          In connection with ornamental gardening the names of Worlidge, Evelyn, Bacon, and temple will receive fitting mention in these pages.

          The formal, mathematical features which had distinguished the pleasure grounds and gardens attained their height at the termination of the seventeenth century. “What multitudes of grand, quaint, and artificial gardens were spread over the country, and stood in all that stately formality which Henry and Elizabeth admired, and in which our surreys, Leicesters, Essexes: the splendid nobels of the tudor dynasty, the gay ladies and gallants of Charles II’s court, had walked and talked, fluttered in glittering processions, or flirted in green alleys and bowers of topiary-work: and amid figures, in lead or stone, fountains, cascades, copper trees dropping sudden showers on the astonished passers under, stately terraces with gilded balustrades, and curious quincunx, obelisks, and pyramids.”1

          1 Rural England, by Howitt.

To the above, Johnson truly says: “Such novelties were pleasing, and man could do no more in this style, when he increased the size of his gardens, than vary the arrangement of the repetition: he might turn the kaleidoscope at will; but the same materials, the same ideas appeared only in a different direction. Invention was at a stand-still; confined to a square plot of wall-girted ground, she could do no more.The trees and flowers employed were of the rarest kinds: the basins and temples of the costliest materials: vases and statues of the finest workmanship were scattered throught he ground: and then what remained? Nothing but to demolish the walls, and let in the view of the surrounding country, to teach mankind the beauties of which, under certain combinations, they required no masters.”1

          1 G. W. Johnson.

          Such masters however had existed, and among them Bacon had long before, by his writings, and partly by his example, taught his countrymen that man was only the servant and interpreter of nature. Yet, notwithstanding this maxim, his teaching was to little purpose, for although he ridiculed some of the absurd prevalent customs, he still adhered to the mechanical style of the garden. This must be square, surrounded on all sides by a stately arched hedge, the arches to be upon pillars of carpenter’s work. In these were to be hung bird cages and plates of round colored glass gilt, for the sun to play upon. While he advocates straight alleys, with parterres, trees, or shrubs on both sides, exactly corresponding to each other, also fountains and statues, he condemns evergreens cut into images – “they be for children.” There should be no pools of water, “as they mar all, and make the garden unwholesome and full of lies and frogs.” Water, wherever present, should be in perpetual motion, and never be allowed to remain in bowls or cisterns.

          Bacon’s nearest approach to the natural style of gardening, consisted in the proposed heath or desert, which should terminate the garden grounds and “should be framed as much as may be to a natural wildness.”

          Sir William Temple, in his Garden of Epicurus inculcates the taste for the primness, formality, and stiffness so generally prevalent in England at the date of its publication, and which he had seen carried to its full extent in Holland, in the laying out of pleasure grounds and gardens.

          He advises his readers not to follow the example of the chinese in the selection of garden designs. “In place of such irregularities, Among us, the Beauty of Building and Planting is placed chiefly in some certain Proportions, Symmetries, or Uniformities: our Walks and our Trees ranged so as to answer one another, and at exact distances.” Again, as to the irregular forms, Temple says: “I should hardly advise any of these attempts in the figures of gardens among us: they are adventures of too hard achievement for any common hands, and though there may be more honour if they succeed well, yet there is more dishonour if they fail, and it is twenty to one they will; whereas in regular figures it is hard to make any great and remarkable faults.”

          Sir William’s beau ideal of a garden presenting stateliness and beauty, was that of the Countess of Bedford at Moor Park, Hertfordshire. He describes it as on the slope of a hill, with two terraces, one above the other, and connected by the grand flight of steps. There were parterres, ornamented fountains, statues, other embellishments and a wilderness. The delight which he took in his own beautiful garden at Sheen, in surrey, which he called his “Corner,” not only in the culture of flowers but of various fruits, especially of the vine, is much to be admired. To this spot he gave his heart, not only by metaphor while living, but literally, by giving instructions at this death that it should be placed in its midst beneath the sun-dial which had marked so many of his happy hours.

          In comparing the plans severally offered by Bacon and Temple, upon which princely gardens were to be constructed, it will be seen that, while both were influenced by adherence to mathematical precision, the former was much the more liberal in his ideas, and his essay larely contributed to bringing about the changes which afterwards gradually took place.

          Worlidge and Evelyn both advanced the prevailing tastes of the day. In the first book of his Art of Gardening, Worlidge treats of “the excellency, situation, soil, form, walks, arbours, springs, fountains, water-works, grottos, statues, and other magnificent ornaments of Gardens, with many necessary rules, precepts, and directions concerning the same.”

          The above quotation from the title-page, would seem to furnish sufficient evidence of the direction in which his prejudices tended. At the same time, some observations on cottage gardens, written by him in 1677, abundantly show that he could recognize and appreciate the sense of beauty when seen under the humblest circumstances. “Such is its pre-excellency, that there is scarce a cottage in most of the southern parts of England but hath its proportionable garden, so great a delight do most of men take in it, that they may not only please themselves with the view of the flowers, herbs, and trees, as they grow, but furnish themselves and their neighbours upon extraordinary occasions, as nuptials, feasts, and funerals, with the proper products of their gardens.”

          This statement by Worlidge is especially interesting to us, as the pleasnt memories connected with these small plots about their homes were brought over by Puritan and Pilgrim from various parts of England, with an earnest desire to reproduce them as far as possible upon these shores

          That Evelyn was influenced by similar general principles is made evident by his own estate at Saye’s Court, Herts, and also by his diary, in which he speaks warmly of Sir William Temple’s garden at Sheen. Of the seat of the Duke of Lauderdale, in Middlesex, he says: “The parterres, flower gardens, orangeries, groves, avenues, courts, statues, perspective fountains, aviaries, and all this on the bank of the sweetest river in the world, must needs be admirable.” He afterwards speaks of other places which were laid out in similar style.

          During the eighteenth century, the characteristic features of the art of gardening which have been considered, underwent the most remarkable changes, which appear to have risen comtemporaneously on the Continent and in England. The faint dawn of the modern or natural design of gardening, ushered in by the writings of Bacon, was gradually followed by the daylight, and finally, in the latter part of the century, by the full noon-tide of the popular favor. The essays of Addison, published in the Spectator, greatly contributed to this innovation, a model of which he presented in the arrangement of his estate near Rugby. In fact when he asserted in his first essay, that an imitation of nature should be the basis of ornamental gardens, Addison must be considered the pioneer in the introduction into England of this well-established maxim. “If we consider works of nature and art as they are qualified to entertain the imagination, we shall find the last very defective, in comparison of the former: for though they may sometimes appear as beautiful or strange, they can have nothing in them of that vastness and immensity which affords so great an entertainment to the mind of the beholder. The one may be as polite and delicate as the other, but can never show herself so august and magnificent in the design. There is something more bold and masterly in the rough, careless strokes of nature, than in the nice touches and embellishments of art. The beauties of the most stately garden or palace lie in a narrow compass, the imagination immediately runs them over, and requires something else to gratify her; but in the side fields of nature, the sight wanders up and down without confinement, and is fed with an infinite variety of images, without any certain stint or number. For this reason we always find the poet in love with the country life, where nature appears in the greatest perfection, and furnishes out all those scenes that are most apt to delight the imagination.”

          Pope, soon after, not only followed by an essay similar in character, but carried out his ideal style in his garden at Twickenham. Among the principal designers and advocates of the new school of gardening, the names of Bridgman, Kent, Wright, Mason, Brown, Shenstone, Price, Knight, Rapton, and Loudon are conspicuous. In the first years of the present century, the establishment of horticultural societies, and the publication of journals, magazines, and enclopædias devoted to the diffusion of knowledge on all subjects relating to horticulture, also contributed much to the adoption of those principles which now govern the educated landscape gardener.



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