This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
If the readers of the Florist have honoured our essays with a perusal, and will call to mind what has been said in preceding papers, it will be evident that the pursuits of the gardener have an important influence on national welfare and happiness. If floral tastes counteract worldliness; if they bring before us the way in which our Maker allows us to be fellow-workers with Him; if they produce refinement of manners; if they teach faith and confidence in God; and, lastly, if they promote goodwill and kindness among all the classes of society who cultivate them, - they must surely be important agents in producing national well-being. Those political economists who rate every thing by a money-value may demur to this conclusion; but it will be admitted unreservedly by those who believe that the number of well-regulated minds in the body politic constitute its real greatness. If it were possible to make all members of the higher classes amateur gardeners, and all mechanics and labourers cultivators of some little plot of ground which they could call their own, who does not see that a higher grade would at once be occupied by society at large? What dissipation would be avoided, and how many elevating and gentle thoughts and affections cultivated, if all thus took an interest in flowers! It is well known that savings-banks are the best security we have against popular outbreaks, because they keep men's own acknowledged interests on the side of peace and quiet.
To some extent also a generally diffused taste for gardening has the same result, by attaching a value to home and home pursuits. Among the poor, the beneficial results of horticulture are more perceptible, because they have but little time to spare, so that this taste, when possessed, is a certain safeguard against debasing associations and pleasures. We have, before, guarded remarks of this kind, to prevent its being thought we are weak enough to think gardening is a specific for every social malady, a panacea for all ills. Alas, how often is the contrast most dark and deep between the innocence and purity of a flower, and the bosom which wears and cherishes it! What we do say, without fear of contradiction, is this: Floriculture has a direct tendency to promote industry, temperance, and thoughtfulness; and therefore, however numerous may be the exceptions, it has an important bearing on national prosperity and happiness.
But this conclusion is correct in a more material and commercial sense; for gardeners are experimentalists and discoverers, the consequences of whose skill are made to bear on that extended agriculture on which this country's welfare is so dependent. With some exceptions, it will be found that improvements in field operations have had their origin in gardens, where, on a small scale, various modes of growth are tested, and their relative value decided upon. Hybridising, for example, has been practised very extensively by the Florist, with results most unexpected and extraordinary; and there can be no doubt that the great crops which are the staff of life are capable of similar development and improvement by the same means. It is sufficient just to glance at this topic, to suggest a variety of probable improvements, which the agricultural interests will in time avail themselves of, having their origin in the labours of the more humble gardener.
We have now brought our task to a close, and with it has arrived the end of another year. Can the readers of the Florist hesitate to say that the time spent in the service of Flora, or the more laborious cultivation of a general garden, has not been misspent? We trust that many of the higher influences of these pursuits which we have indicated, have fallen gently like refreshing dew upon the minds of many since the year began; and that through the new period of time which will soon commence, .our readers will enjoy all the entertainment and derive all the instruction which the flowers of the garden and the field are capable of affording.