This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
"Then came faire May, the fayrest mayd on ground,
Deck"t all with dainties of her season's pryde,
And throwing flowres out of her lap around:
Upon two brethren's shoulders she did ride,
The twinnes of Leda; which on either side
Supported her like to their soveraine queene;
Lo! how all creatures laught when her they spide,
And leapt and daunc't as they had ravisht beene, And Cupid self about her fluttered all in greene." Spenser.
This is the month which poets in all ages and countries have delighted to honour under various names. The season of budding-and flowering vegetation suggests a thousand delightful thoughts, and is always more pleasing than the autumn to all but hypochondriac and melancholy spirits. Painters of times long gone by represented May as a youth of a lovely and pleasant countenance, clothed in a mantle of white and green, enamelled with various flowers. He wore on his head a garland of roses, white and red. In one hand he held a lyre, and a nightingale perched on the forefinger of the other, intimating that in this month that bird first makes the woods vocal with its evening song. The works of our own poets are as thickly embroidered with descriptions and eulo-giums of May, as the month itself is with daisies and buttercups. There is, indeed, an air of summer about the May of our older writers, which does not agree with our own experience. They represent May-day as a time for young people to rise with the lark to gather posies, and to spend the day from morn to eve in the open air. We wish our May had this genial character, as we look on our stocks of plants ready for bedding out, and dare not yet trust them to their summer quarters.
Perhaps poetic fancy has given a warmth to the May of our forefathers which it did not always actually possess, and it is certain the alteration of the style has made it much earlier with us than with them. But even with these allowances, we conclude the temperature must have somewhat altered, for who, in the present day, about to describe the Rose, would speak of it as "the glory of April and May," as the poet Watts did, a century and a half ago?
However good the character may be which you have of this month from various renowned sources, and however bland, and smiling, and warm he may actually become as he basks in the advancing sun, I entreat you, ladies, not to trust him until he has the mature age of twenty days; for at any earlier period he is apt to be a deceiver. Often has he taken the precious favourites of the gardener, and promised to cherish them, and speedily to clothe them with floral beauty; but instead of this, he has left them to the charge of a night frost, and come laughing next morning at our disfigured pets, and at our easy credulous folly. We can trust him in the day, but not at night; and therefore, unless prepared to afford protection to all tender things committed to the ground, during the hours of darkness, we had better wait until his twentieth birthday is accomplished.
All plants in pots intended to adorn the parterre at the right time, should be carefully looked over occasionally, to see that they do not become pot-bound; for if they do, they will be probably stunted and otherwise injured in their future growth. Growing shoots should be pinched off, to make the plants more compact and bushy, and every thing done to forward the flowering; so that, as I mentioned in a former paper, the beds may be really adorned by them when they are turned out. Aphides should be looked for, or rather got rid of, for unfortunately in this month they do not require seeking. The sudden manner in which Rose-trees, etc. become covered with caterpillars leads superstitious people to snuff up the east wind, and talk learnedly of blight: I hope my readers will pursue the more rational course of studying entomology, so as to know how to guard against such unwelcome intruders.
The Bury, Luton. Henry Burgess.