This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Tiie religious is the noblest style of man. To hold communion with our Creator, and to refer every thing we do to his will and pleasure, is to make the closest approximation to present happiness, and to promote most effectually the highest ends of our whole being. If we state that the love and the culture of flowers tend to this most desirable accomplishment, we believe we take up an impregnable position; for we have already seen that these beauties of nature are evidently intended to attract our notice and win our regard. They constitute, indeed, the illustrations of the great volume of natural religion, which no revelation is intended to close, but rather to explain and confirm its contents. They consequently have an important bearing on man's spiritual and religious nature, and can only be neglected as means of the highest instruction by the ignorant and fanatical.
The divorce between natural and revealed religion was unknown to the divine Founder of Christianity and his immediate followers, although it has been proclaimed and acted upon too much in succeeding times. There is a glory of the sun, and of the moon, and of the stars, although they have different degrees of brightness; and there is divine teaching in a flower as a terrestrial instrument, although its accents are less commanding and authoritative than those of celestial ones. There is an alluring and persuasive force in the various objects of the floral world, demanding assent to the great truths which their construction and uses more than obscurely hint at. We are thus surrounded by monitors to correct our errors, and by stimulants to arouse us to duty; and although, through our natural obduracy, the impressions they make may be slight, they exert an influence notwithstanding. Even to the passive spirit they imperceptibly convey valuable instruction, more perhaps than we are in the habit of supposing to be the case; how effective, then, must be the doctrines they teach to the heart which is ready to listen to them with filial reverence as to the counsels of a father and a friend!
In the biographies of many pious persons allusion is made to the aid they have gained in their arduous course by meditations among the beauties of nature. Such cases are too numerous to allow of our mentioning names, and we will merely refer to the constant reference to rural scenes and floral associations in the Holy Scriptures. From the time when " the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley" supplied emblems to Solomon, to the modern writer who makes " the herb called Heartsease" the symbol of a contented and humble spirit, there has been a constant succession of prophets and divines and private Christians, who have been refined and encouraged and elevated by these simple means. We feel sure we are uttering the experience of many of our readers when we say, that a humble flower can teach faith and submission and childlike confidence; and that through all the gradations of vegetable life, from the Daisy to the lofty Pines on mountain-tops, or the Cedars of Lebanon, sweet voices are uttered in the ear of the observers of divine Providence.
"Oh, chide not at the simple theme which wakes the minstrel's lay, Earth were less bright without the flowers which blossom by the way; He at whose word the universe her ancient might did yield Hath taught proud man a lesson from the flowers of the field; I thank thee, God, for every boon thy hand in mercy showers, And oh, not least among thy gifts, the beautiful wild flowers!"
Perhaps our observations may by some be thought too serious; but we ask, Is floriculture to be subservient only to mere amusement, or is it to perform a part in our highest mental and moral training? It would ill become us to trace the influence of a love of nature on refining and civilising outward life, and not to dwell on its capacity for ennobling the finer powers of the intellect and the heart. We have discharged a duty which has been profitable to ourselves in its performance, and we hope it has not been fruitless in reference to others. We have only to dwell on the subsidiary results of floriculture when combined with the social principle, either in public exhibitions or in private life, and our task will be done.