This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Father Leonard is eloquent and Mrs. Gaunt listens to his church discourses with rapt attention. He lives in a sort of monastery with another seminary priest and an old servant of Mrs. Gaunt's, now a widow, Betty Gough, is the housekeeper. Her little kitchen is a glorious place compared with the parlor, for it is illuminated with bright pewter, copper vessels, brass candlesticks and a nice clean woman with a plain gown kilted up over a quilted petticoat.
Betty sees Mrs. Gaunt driving by one day and asks her to come in and see her place. The priests are abroad until supper time and so Mrs. Gaunt smiles and goes in. She shivers in the cold gloom of the parlor, but she says he preaches so divinely, doubtless, angels come and brighten the place for him.
"Not always," says Betty, "I do see him with his head down on his hands by the hour, and hear him sigh ever so loud."
"Betsy Gough!" says Mrs. Gaunt, "let you and me sit down and see what is wanting, (for she pities him whom she has long revered). " First and foremost methinks this window should be filled with geraniums and jessamine and so forth. With all his learning perhaps he has to be taught;'the color of flowers and golden green leaves with the sun shining through, how it soothes the eye and relieves the spirits! yet every woman born knows that. Then do but see the bare table. A purple cloth on that, I say."
"Which he will fling out the window," says Betty.
"Nay, for I'll embroider a cross on the middle with gold braid."
"Oh, bless your heart! he's all for mortification."
"Well, we must begin with the flowers; God made them, and so, to be sure, he won't spurn them."
" Ay, ay," said Betty, "the flowers first."
They plan other- improvements, and Mrs. Gaunt sends her gardener with a load of flowers in pots, which Betty helps to arrange in the window and on the outside.
Brother Leonard comes with his eyes down and does not see the flowers. But when he enters his room Betty hears a profound " Ah!" She bustles in and finds him standing in a rapture.
"Now, blessed be the heart that hath conceived this thing and the hand that hath done it. My poor room is a bower of roses - all beauty and fragrance."
One day he found two watering pots in his room marked with a cross. "That means nobody's to use them but you, I trow," said Betty, rather crossly. But our extract is already long enough.
The Gardener's Monthly is eminently practical, and we seldom find much on the sentiment of flower culture. Indeed this is perhaps too efflorescent a thing to be appreciably considered by our ordinary senses - it is a mere blossom of the blossoms, and yet it meets real spiritual needs and is relishable now and then, like nonsense - e'en by wisest men.
The following items may serve to illustrate this:
"A Flower Sermon" is preached every year at St. Katharine Cree Church, Leadenhall street, London, on Whit Tuesday evening. On the last occasion all parts of the edifice were crowded, chiefly with young people, most of whom brought nosegays according to request. The charity children in the front gallery had all been supplied with bouquets, and they presented a pretty sight. But for the high pews the parterres would have been as regular and conspicuous below.
It is now twenty-five years since Dr. Whitte-more preached the first of these annual flower sermons, thinking thus to interest the hearts of his youthful parishioners. There is always a bouquet in the pulpit, which the preacher never fails to smell before beginning his discourse. It was first presented by a little girl who is now a grown up woman with children. At the close of the service when the congregation were dispersing, it was interesting to see the gutter children clustering around the doors, begging eagerly for flowers, which were freely bestowed upon them by their little friends to whom Providence had been more kind.
The holiness of flowers. They are everywhere over the earth, evidently given to remind us that there is an Eden, and that we may regain it. During the cholera visitation of 1866 an unknown man walked from bed to bed in the London hospitals laying a flower on every pillow, with the words, " For Jesus' Sake." His gift, inspired by a thought, in the night had sublime effect. In 1874 a snowdrop, a primrose and two or three violets were sent in the early spring to a sewing circle of poor widows. They were passed around two hundred hands for their fragrance and freshness to be enjoyed, and then divided among three dying persons, one of whom passed away clasping them.
Still we hear - and often hear - the sneering question, "What's the use of flowers? you can neither eat them nor wear them.