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the fig, grape, and olive were known in Egypt from time imme
Culinary vegetables, such as roots and leaves, seem to have been in much less repute in the early ages than fruits; and they are still comparatively neglected in warm countries, from the unsuitableness of the climate to produce them in that degree of succulency in which they grow in more temperate regions. Leeks, onions, and garlic, however, together with cucumbers and melons, appear to have been in use in Egypt at a very early period (Numb. xi. 5.) Moses, from his description of the garden of Eden, and his directions as to the culture of the vine in Canaan, seems not only to have been a tasteful, but a judicious, husbandman. He directs, that after planting the vine and the fig, these trees should not be allowed to ripen any fruit for the first three years; the produce of the fourth is for the Lord,' and it is not till the fifth year that it may be eaten by the planter. This trait of Canaanitish culture must have contributed materially to the prosperity of fruit trees.
The gardens of Alcinous are said to have contained pears, pomegranates, figs, olives, and other fruits brilliant to the sight,' probably citrons or oranges. The culinary vegetables are not particularized, but they were planted in beds. It matters little that these gardens are fabulous; it is enough that the fruits mentioned were known in the days of Homer.
In the Laws of the Decemviri, the term hortus is used to signify both a garden and a country house; but afterwards, the kitchen garden was distinguished by the addition of pinguis. Pliny informs us that the husbandman called his kitchen garden 'a second dessert,' or a flitch of bacon, which was always ready to be cut;' or 'a salad easy to be cooked and light of digestion;' and judged that there must be a bad housewife where the garden (her special charge) was in disorder. According to this author, who wrote about the end of the first century, there were cultivated in the neighbourhood of Rome almost all the species of fruits known at the present day, and many of the culinary vegetables. The principal exceptions are the pineapple, orange, (the citron they had, but the orange was not introduced till the fourth century,) potatoe, and sea-kale. Very few of these fruits were aboriginal in Italy. The fig was introduced from Syria, the citron from Media, the peach from Persia, the pomegranate from Africa, the apricot from Epirus, apples, pears, and plums from Armenia, and the cherry from Pontus. Chesnuts, filberts, quinces, services, raspberries, and strawberries appear to have been their only native fruits. The gooseberry and currant are found wild in the woody hills of the north of Italy, but with these it does not appear they were acquainted; for the climate of the plains does not admit of their culture. The vine and the olive were then,
as now, cultivated as branches of general economy; the former was trained on the elm and the poplar; and some of the olive plantations mentioned by Pliny (among others, that in the vale of the cascade of Marmora near Terni) still exist.
The Romans, it is conjectured by Daines Barrington and Sir Joseph Banks, from some epigrams in Martial, (lib. viii. 14 and 68.) and from the way in which cucumbers are mentioned by Pliny (lib. xix. 23.) and Columella, (B. xi. ch. 3.) had even arrived at the luxury of forcing vegetables. The lapis specularis, we are informed, could be split into thin plates five feet in length, which supplied the place of glass frames: by means of these, Tiberius, who was fond of cucumbers, had a succession of them throughout the year: they were grown, Columella tells us, in baskets of warm horsedung covered with earth, placed out of doors in fine weather and taken in at night. It is probable, Sir Joseph Banks adds, that grapes and peaches were also forced; and that they had hot walls, as they were well acquainted with the use of flues. This we do not think likely; and we are also convinced, that there must be some error as to the size of the plates of talc, since it is found difficult at present to procure lamina of more than ten or twelve inches square, free from cracks and other defects.
The horticulture of the Romans was entirely empirical, and carried on with the superstitious observances dictated by polytheism. Varro directs his friend to adore Venus as the patroness of the garden, and to observe lunar days: some things, he adds, are to be done while the moon is increasing; and others, as the cutting of corn and underwood, when she is on the decrease. I attend to these regulations piously,' says Agrasius, not only in shearing my sheep, but in cutting my hair; for I might become bald if I did not do this in the wane of the moon.' We are informed by Columella, that husbandmen, who were more religious than ordinary, when they sowed turnips, prayed that they might grow both for themselves and for their neighbours. If caterpillars attack them,' he subjoins, with suitable gravity, 'a woman going with her hair loose, and bare footed round each bed, will kill them; but women must not be admitted where cucumbers or gourds are planted, for commonly green things languish and are checked in their growth by their handling of them.'
It was held by the Roman writers on georgics, that any scion may be grafted on any stock; and that the scion, partaking of the nature of the stock, will have its fruit changed accordingly. Pliny instances the effect of grafting the vine on the elm, and of drawing the shoot of a vine through the trunk of the chesnut; but modern experience has ascertained that no faith is to be placed in these and similar doctrines, even though Pliny and others assert that they were eye witnesses of some of the phenomena which they record.
In Italy, at the present day, attempts are made to impose on strangers roses, myrtles, and jessamines grafted on the orange. Evelyn was thus deceived at Genoa, and again at Brussels, about the middle of the last century: but every one, in the slightest degree acquainted with vegetable physiology, knows the thing to be impossible. It is a simple trick; and performed by planting a rose and an orange, for example, close together, and drawing the shoot of the former through a hole bored in the trunk of the latter. Various other modes of effecting deceptions of this kind are pointed out by Professor Thouin, in the Jardin des Plantes at Paris, in what he calls the Greffe Charlatan.
The only native fruits of Britain are the wild plum or sloe, currant, bramble, raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, black, red, and white heather berries, elder berries, roans, haws, hips, hazel nuts, acorns, and beech-mast. All the others have either been introduced by the Romans, (whose gardening would, no doubt, spread with their conquests,) or by the monks and religious houses during the dark ages from the tenth to the fifteenth century. The same thing may be affirmed as to most of our culinary vegetables, of which only the carrot, celery, beet, asparagus, sea kale, and mushroom are natives.
Gardens and orchards are frequently mentioned in the earliest chartularies; of the latter, many traces still remain in different parts of the island; one, in Icolmnkiln, is described by Dr. Walker (Essays, vol. ii. p. 5.) as having existed in all probability from the sixth century, and Leland and Camden cite various instances in England. Priests have at all times been attached to gardening, both as a recreation and on account of the useful and agreeable products it affords. Very little, however, is known of the state of horticulture in Britain previously to the time of Henry VIII. when the London market was supplied with culinary vegetables from Holland. This monarch's gardener introduced various fruits, salads, and potherbs, and cultivated them in the garden of the palace of Nonsuch, in Surry, together, as it is commonly supposed, with the apricot and Kentish cherry. According to an account of this garden, taken during the Usurpation, it was surrounded by a wall fourteen feet high, and contained 212 fruit trees.
Books on husbandry began to appear in England about the beginning of the sixteenth century. The first was a translation by Bishop Grosthead, in 1500; this was followed, in 1521, by Arnold's Chronicles, in which there is a chapter on the crafte of graftynge, and plantynge, and alterynge of Fruits, as well in colours as in taste.' Tusser's One Hundred Points of Good Husbandry' appeared in 1557. In this he gives a list of the fruits and culinary vegetables then known, under the following heads:
'Seedes and herbes for the kychen, herbes and rootes for sallets and sawce, herbes and rootes to boyle or to butter, strewing herbes of all sortes, herbes, branches, and flowers, for windowes and pots, herbes, to still in summer, necessarie herbes to grow in the gardens for physick, not reherst before. In the whole, he enumerates more than 150 species, besides a copious catalogue of fruits; which, with the exception of the fig, orange, and pomegranate, introduced a few years afterwards, the musk-melon about the end of the sixteenth century, and the pine-apple in the beginning of the last century, include all the species at present cultivated in British gardens.
The fertility of the soil of England was depreciated by some in Tusser's time, probably, as Dr. Pulteney conjectures, from seeing the superior productions brought from Holland and France. Dr. Boleyn, a contemporary of Tusser, defends it, saying, we had apples, pears, cherries, plums, and hops of our own growth, before the importation of these articles into England by the London and Kentish gardeners, but that the cultivation of them had been much neglected. He refers, as a proof of the natural fertility of the land, to the great crop of sea-pease (Pisum maritimum) which grew on the beach between Orford and Aldborough, and saved the poor from famine in the dearth of 1555. Oldys, speaking of Gerrarde's garden, and alluding to the same subject, considers it as a proof 'that our ground could produce other fruits besides hips and haws, acorns and pignuts.' Gerrarde was an apothecary; his garden was in Holborn, and was rich in every useful and ornamental plant.
James I. patronized gardening, and formed or improved one at the palace of Theobalds, and another at Greenwich. The former is said by Mandelso, who visited it in 1640, to be surrounded by a high wall, and very rich in fruit trees. Charles I. brought over Tradescant, a Dutchman, as his kitchen gardener, and appointed, for the first time in England, a royal botanist, Parkinson, whose Paradisus Terrestris is one of the most original of our early works on Horticulture and Flower Gardening. Musk-melons were then cultivated on an open hot-bed placed on a sloping bank, and covered with straw instead of glass; as in France and Italy. Cauliflower and celery were rare at this time, and broccoli was not yet introduced. Virginia potatoes (our common sort) were little known, but Canada potatoes (our Jerusalem artichoke) were in common use. The varieties of fruits were very considerable. Of apples 58 sorts are mentioned, of pears 64, plums 61, peaches 21, nectarines 5, apricots 6, cherries 36, grape-vines 25, figs 5, with quinces, medlars, almonds, walnuts, filberds, gooseberries, currants, raspberries, and strawberries.
Cromwell promoted agriculture rather than gardening, and pensioned Hartlib a Lithuanian, who, as Harte informs us, had studied
in Flanders, and first communicated and recommended to notice 'the two grand secrets of Flemish husbandry,' that of letting farms on improving leases, and cultivating green crops.
Charles II. introduced French gardening, and his gardener Rose, who had spent some time in Holland, then the best school of hortculture, and had also studied under Quintiney at Paris, introduced 'such famous dwarf fruit trees' at Hampton court and Marlborough gardens, that London, his apprentice, in the translation of the
Retired Gardener,' published in 1667, challenges all Europe to exhibit the like. In allusion to the last two gardens, Waller describes the mall of St. James's Park as,
'All with a border of rich fruit trees crown'd.'
When Quintiney came to England to visit Evelyn, Charles II. offered him a pension to reside here and superintend the royal gardens; but this, Weston informs us, he declined, and returned to serve his own master. Quintiney was the first horticulturist of modern times who united learning and practical knowledge. He was educated for the church, but having a decided preference for gardening, turned his whole attention that way. M. Tambonneau, his patron, first committed his gardens to his care: and soon after he was intrusted with the entire direction of those of the court. He died at Paris, in 1701. Louis XIV. always spoke of him with regret, and assured his widow that he was an equal sufferer with
Evelyn translated Quintiney's work on Orange trees' and his Complete Gardener,' and wrote the Kalendarium Hortense, (the fruitful parent of a useful class of books,) in 1664. His last work on gardening (the Acetaria) was published in 1699. This excellent man was one of the founders of the Royal Society, and was consulted by the Government on all questions relating to planting and agriculture. In 1662, it was proposed to the society to recommend the culture of potatoes to prevent the recurrence of famine; but Evelyn, who does not seem, at that time, to have been aware of the value of the root, or the nature of its culture, gave them no encouragement, and the plan was laid aside. He patronized, however, a great many useful publications on rural subjects, and especially on horticulture; among others, the translation of Arnaud d'Andilly's Essay on Fruit-trees,' one of the best practical works of that day, and remarkable as being the first to censure the fashionable absurdity of clipping them into the form of animals, &c. Sherrock, Rea, Worlidge, Meager, and Langford, were also encouraged by Evelyn, who is said, by Sir Henry Wooton, to have done more for rural economics, than all former ages; and by Switzer (in his Ichnographia Rustica) to be the first who taught
Gardening to speak proper English.