This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
We shall pursue the plan recommended by writers on logic and rhetoric, and sanctioned by being the most natural one, and arrange the advantages arising from a love of flowers in an ascending series, beginning with the least, and advancing to the most important. Yet even the lowest mental benefit in the scale is of incalculable value, as our readers will at once confess when we mention it. Floral tastes counteract worldliness, by drawing the thoughts from the excitement and competition and bustle of life, and giving us something to work upon and to love, without reference to pecuniary profit. It must be distinctly remembered, that it is a love of flowers for their own sake, of which alone this advantage can be predicated, and not the mere possession and cultivation of them. Even the objects of our religion, so pure and so holy, may be contemplated and employed for mercenary ends; and there can be no doubt that many skilful growers of flowers have only valued them as articles of merchandise. Our observations, then, do not refer to those who cultivate flowers for a livelihood only, nor to those whose sole bond of union with them is the hope of conquest and fame at an exhibition; but to all, whether amateurs or dealers, who love the objects of their solicitude, and would carefully tend them, although they had no pecuniary value, and were never destined to attract the eyes of others.
Such an appreciation of the beauties of Nature in this department of her works, will counteract the sordidness which is more or less incident to the pursuits of commerce, and the other engrossing cares of life.
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these!" In this beautiful lesson of the great Master of wisdom we have the principle stated which we are now illustrating; and the object contemplated by Him is identical with ours in these papers. He knew how prone the best men are to fancy that their worldly affairs cannot prosper unless they are always and exclusively attending to them with anxious heart and furrowed brow, and therefore pointed to objects inferior to man, which arrive at perfection without thoughtfulness, by the Divine oversight and blessing. He knew how the natural eye would be opened and strained in the search after food and raiment and luxuries, to the neglect of the intellectual and moral powers, and therefore He called attention to the lilies of the field, as calculated to engage the mental vision, and open the heart to a light and beauty too liable to be neglected and tbrown into darkness.
At the risk of having our political economy laughed at, we must express our conviction, that in the present age the attention requires to be turned to pursuits which are not profitable, or which bring no return except in mental enjoyment, and the gratification of moral sentiments and affections. There is a very large class of men, we fear they constitute an overwhelming majority, who judge of every thing by its market or exchangeable value, and whose motto is Cui bono? or, " What is it worth?J' Wo be to the community which has not in it a cui-bono school, but equally dangerous is a state of society which measures every thing by its money value. What we plead for is, that a proper balance should be maintained between the sensual and the mental, between conventional and popular estimates of what is good, and that which is so from age to age in the arrangements of divine Providence. It is our duty, prescribed by natural laws and by revelation, to care for the mind as well as the body, to lay up treasures in the heart and the intellect, as well as in the storehouse which is to supply our physical wants. Many things assist us in this, but perhaps nothing more so than the innocent yet highly-wrought beauties of vegetable life.
Their faultless symmetry, their brilliant colours, their various forms, and their delicious odours, all teach us that God bestows His skill on that which has no direct reference to mere corporeal wants; and that man cannot, without peril to his best interests, refuse to admire and study the handy-work of his Maker. As articles of food only, where is the necessity that vegetable productions should be so profusely adorned? That they are so, is a loud call upon us to stand still in the midst of the bustle of business, and lend an attentive ear to the lessons taught us by the lilies and other flowers of the fields. The following lines, from a little poem called The Pleading of the Flowers, will illustrate our meaning. A florist is supposed to have resolved to give up gardening because it is unprofitable, and the flowers plead in the following way:
"Has the babe in the cradle no hold
On your heart e'en before it can prattle?
Must a long list of profits be told
Ere you give it a pop-gun and rattle?
Since men are but babes overgrown,
You should blush like the rose but to own That with profitless flowers you battle!
You spurn not the sky of deep blue
Because it no profit can yield; Then be to your heart ever true,
And love us in garden and field. ' By the skill which has painted your skin, By the bright flowing honey within, I will ever esteem it a sin
Not to love you in garden and field !'"