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than any where else, and that their gardens contained more rare
The moist climate of Holland is singularly favourable to the
A century ago, almost every garden production was obtained
brought to the
The climate, soil and surface of Britain, we think we may assert,
could be abroad in the air with pleasure, or, at least, without trouble and inconvenience, the most days of the year, and the most hours of the day; and this he thought he could be in England, more than in any country he knew of in Europe. There are,' says Sir William Temple, besides the temper of our climate, two things particular to us, that contribute much to the beauty and elegance of our gardens, which are the gravel of our walks, and the fineness and almost perpetual greenness of our turf. The first is not known any h where else, which leaves all their dry walks in other countries very unpleasant and uneasy. The other cannot be found in France or in Holland as we have it, the soil not admitting that fineness of blade in Holland, nor the sun that greenness in France, during most of the summer.'
The horticultural productions of Britain may, in variety, excellence and quantity, be truly said to surpass those of all other countries. Not to speak of the innumerable gardens of private persons, where the richest fruits, as the pine, grape, peach, melon, &c. are raised to as great perfection as in their native countries, let us confine ourselves to the supplies sent to Covent Garden Market, and to the London fruit shops. The quantity of pine-apples, at all seasons, is astonishing, and we are informed, on good authority, that there is more certainty of being able to purchase a pine, every day in the year, in London, than in Jamaica or Calcutta. Forced asparagus, potatoes, sea-kale, rhubarb-stalks, mushrooms and early cucumbers, are to be had in January and February. In March, forced cherries and strawberries make their appearance, with kidney-beans and various other articles. In April, grapes, peaches, and melons, with early pease. In May, all forced articles in abundance. In June, July, &c. to November, a profusion of all summer fruits. In October, grapes, figs, melons, several sorts of peaches, and the hardy fruits. In November and December, grapes, winter melons, nuts, pears, apples, plums, and, as before observed, at all times pines.
With respect to culinary vegetables, the excellence of the cabbage, borecoles and broccoli tribe, and all the endless varieties of edible roots, presented in the greatest abundance in January, February and March, cannot be surpassed. The quantity of radishes, lettuces, onions, asparagus, sea-kale, tart-rhubarb, &c. brought to market in April and May, is perfectly incredible; as is that of the pease, cauliflowers and new potatoes presented in June. The rest of the season is equally well furnished not only with every ordinary vegetable, but with such as are only used by foreigners, or occasionally in demand; such as samphires, burnet, saucealone, nettletops, dandelion, &c.
The supply of forced flowers, roses, mignionette, hyacinths, of greenhouse plants, and in summer of hardy flowers and shrubs is
equally rich, varied and abundant; and of curious herbs for domestic medicines, distilleries, &c. upwards of 500 species may be procured at the shop of one herbalist.
It is not enough to state that all these articles are produced; it ought to be added that they are produced in such abundance as to be sold at very moderate rates; and a substantial tradesman may, whenever he desires, have on his table a dessert, and in his drawing room an assemblage of flowers not surpassed by the first nobleman of the empire, and such as could not be procured by any sovereign in the other countries of Europe. Such are the combined effects of our climate, skill, and wealth.
Notwithstanding this state of things, however, there is still ample room for improvement in British horticulture. The same results may, in many cases, be produced by more simple means, and if that which now costs a shilling can be produced for sixpence, or even tenpence, the advantages are great and obvious. New and improved varieties both of herbaceous vegetables and fruit trees and shrubs may be produced, some of better flavour, others more prolific, or early or late, or larger, or more hardy. Of excellent fruits we do not yet possess a tythe of the sorts known in warm countries. Many of these are figured and described in Rumphius's Hortus Amboynensis, Roxburgh's Coromandel, &c.; the Durior, Mangostan, and Mango, are among the number. The first two are reckoned by many superior to the pine-apple; and Sir Joseph Banks, (Hort. Trans. vol. i. p. 151.) ventures to predict, that 'ere long these and other valuable fruits will be frequent at the tables of opulent persons; and some of them, perhaps, in less than half a century, be offered for sale on every market day at Covent Garden.'
Much also remains to be done in the way of diffusing the comforts of horticulture among the lower classes. Very few farmers know how to make the most of their gardens. Pollard trees in hedges might be advantageously replaced by the pear or the apple; aud even the hedges themselves, as is done in some parts of Clydesdale, by lines of damson plums, a native fruit of great utility both for wine and pies, and which will ripen in every season. How much the comfort and happiness, the attachment to their homes, families and country, and the improvement in manners and in morals of the labouring classes might be increased by improving their cottages and gardens, it is not easy to determine. It is a general remark of travellers, which holds true over all Europe, that the condition of the cottager may always be known by his garden. But we have only to compare one part of Britain with another to be convinced how much is wanting in this respect. In short, there are few modes in which a landed proprietor could confer so much happiness at so little expense, and with so much eventual benefit both to himself
and the country, as by rendering every cottage on his estate a commodious and comfortable habitation, adding to each a small garden. A little additional labour of his gardener would supply them with fruit trees, seeds and plants of useful culinary vegetables, and instruct the tenant in their culture: premiums or other means might be adopted for rewarding such as kept their plots in the best order. Much might be done by the horticultural societies in this way; and we intreat their attention to so benevolent and patriotic an object.
We have but little room to speak of ornamental gardening, in which much improvement may also be made by simplifying the modes of culture, acclimating tender species, and improving the popular varieties. The rose, dahlia and chrysanthemum shew what may be done. This branch, indeed, has prospered wonderfully during the last half century. The total number of exotics, hardy and tender, introduced into this country, appears to be 11,970, of which the first forty-seven species, including the orange, apricot, pomegranate, &c. were introduced previously or during the reign of Henry VIII.; 533 during that of Elizabeth; 578 during the reign of the two Charles's and Cromwell; 44 in the short reign of James II.; 298 in that of William and Mary; 230 in that of Anne; 182 in that of George I.; 1770 in that of George II.; and no fewer than 6756 in the reign of George III.; above half the whole number of exotics now in the gardens of this country! For this proud accession to our exotic botany in the last century, the public are chiefly indebted to Sir Joseph Banks, and Messrs. Lee and Kennedy of the Hammersmith Nursery. There is still ample room for improvement, and as this, though generally the work of individuals, is always rendered more effectual when sanctioned by wealth and influence, it furnishes additional motives for the establishment of Horticultural Societies.
Besides these considerations, it may be added, that the practice of gardening is carried on much too empirically. Vegetable physiology, till it received the elucidations and practical applications of Mr. Knight, was but little understood in this country; and still remains to be incorporated with the science of gardening. England has always excelled more in practical knowledge than in theory or science. What a German or a Frenchman effects by skill, we effect by capital or main force. Accustomed to abundance, and to procure every thing by money, we feel little want of science. Our resources are in our purses rather than in our heads, and we blunder on without regarding expense till we attain our object. English gardening, if tried by this criterion, will be found attended by the national characteristics. The obvious remedy is a DD 4.
better professional education for gardeners, so as, if possible, to induce closer habits of observation, reflection and generalization.
We shall now inquire into the means adopted by the Horticultural Societies to promote their art.
The London Society owes its origin, in some measure, to T. A. Knight, Esq. of Downton Castle, its President. This gentleman began so early as 1795 to send papers to the Royal Society on grafting and other horticultural subjects. Finding a congenial mind in the President, and some of the Fellows, a sort of private Horticultural Society was formed in 1805, and finally incorporated by Royal Charter in 1809. The charter states the object of the Society to be the improvement of horticulture in all its branches; empowers it to purchase funds to the annual value of £1000, and to make and alter bye-laws, &c. The Society has held meetings and read papers from 1805; a volume of their Transactions appeared in 1812, a second in 1818, and a third in 1820. In 1817, the Society became occupiers of a small garden near Hammersmith; and they have a much more extensive one in contemplation. They have corresponding members in almost every part of the globe, from many of whom they have already procured seeds and plants. They have also sent a gardener to India and China to collect and bring home in a living state plants of the finer oriental fruits. The Society distribute gold and silver medals as premiums, as well to amateurs as to practical gardeners. Practical gardeners, it is to be observed, are admitted as Fellows at a more moderate rate than amateurs, and those who are not admitted as Fellows, if deemed eligible, may be admitted as corresponding members: thus the Society consists of about three parts of amateurs, and one of practical gardeners.
The Caledonian Society originated from a Florists' Society, which existed in Edinburgh from 1803. It enlarged its views, and became the Caledonian Society in 1809. Its objects are the same as those of the London Society; but it embraces also some branches of domestic economy unnoticed by the former, such as the management of bees, and the manufacture of British wines. It also extends its views to planting. It has published three octavo volumes of memoirs, the last in 1819. Its members are classed similarly to those of the London Society; it has procured, or is about to procure, an experimental garden, and it distributes gold and silver medals. Three-fourths of its members are practical gardeners.
The two principal writers in the Transactions of the London Society are Mr. Knight the President, and Mr. Sabine the Secretary, and the chief value of these volumes consists in their being