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.
" ' Twas when the world was in its prime, When the fresh stars had just begun
Their race of glory, and young Time Told his first birthdays by the sun;"
And The Book informs us that soon after creation's early dawn, Beneficent Providence gave to the man the care of a garden, and lovingly enjoined him "to dress and keep it." Assuredly, then the charge was of grave importance. It was designed as a labor of love, conducive to happiness of the purest kind. Although " summer and winter, spring-time and harvest " have come and gone many thousands of times since then, we naturally opine, it is so, even now. Thus, it is recorded of the first created of our race, that to fully enjoy the blessings of life, he was to dress, and keep a garden. And his first pursuit was Horticulture.
The good gardener, of those days, was not only the first of men, but the most honored of mortals. And while he faithfully followed that* ancient occupation, manifested the highest state of civilization the world has ever seen. Alas! poor man, his circumstances changed; and like many of his unfortunate successors, now-a-days, was wearied with labor, and saddened with toil, while earning his bread by the sweat of his brow. Notwithstanding the old Gardener's misfortunes in after life, it is to his credit recorded that he began well, and no doubt did much good work in'his better days. He not only conducted the first operations in that model of a goodly garden, but when he ceased from his labors therein, happily bequeathed to posterity an enduring and appreciative taste for the gentle art he loved so well. The legacy he left us has found claimants in all civilized communities and countries, from that remote age until now.
Richard Hooker, good soul! was a "fine old English gentleman:" one of the Elizabethan worthies, who, with a delicacy of feeling, penned many a prosy and pleasant line. He was, moreover, a philosopher of the highest attainments. In the quaint language of those days, be sagely remarks, "that the goodliness of trees, when we behold them, delighteth the eye." The happy aphorism, so well expressed, unmistakably proves that the "one touch of nature" had left an impression on his kindly heart, such as we can feel.
The good folks who peruse the 'Monthly, will unanimously admit that trees, viewed either as ornamental or useful, whether " pleasant to the sight or good for food," are always objects of much interest, and are valued accordingly. I have ever cherished a love for them, and during an extensive practice, have planted many thousands; numbers of which are vigorous and hale green trees, most beautiful to behold. I will venture to say, no man living has passed happier hours than the writer, beneath the sylvan shades of the primeval forest, - the cultivated copses,- and park lands, - or, where more thinly scattered over the plains.
If circumstances permitted, how pleasantly time would pass while picturing woodland Ely-siums, and referring the reader to arboreal scenes in other lands, - delightful spots,
" Studded with old sturdy trees, That bent not to the roughest breeze."
How marvellous their structure, and dissimilarity of habit, and contrast in form. For example, see the slender light Bamboo, the massive Oak, the mighty Sequoia, peculiar Kauri, magnificent Palm, sombre Cypress, beautiful Arau-caria, wonderful Banyan, grand Magnolia, ponderous Eucalyptus, graceful Willow, strange Sterculia, elegant Cedrus, dapper little Spruce, Abies pygmsea, mammoth Baobab, and curious Mangrove. Without further allusions to them at present, I will endeavor to. draw the reader's attention to matters at home; and as it is presumed they intend to plant something, let us enter the garden together, and see what can be done.
Let us hope when planting trees, cultivating fruits and flowers, or otherwise adorning the landscape, no one does so for mere ostentation, or outward show, but simply for the love of doing a good and proper thing. It is well for us, "the pomp and vanities of this wicked world," do not often, if ever, appear in the guise of gardening. Its purpose is to refine and elevate society; and as that is its aim and end, there can be nothing meretricious, sordid, or spurious about it. Then by all means plant and sow. Improve the surroundings, and make home attractive, without and within; and then it will, in every sense, be the happiest spot on this side "the land o' the leal." And when the heart enjoys the scenes so charming, Hooker's truism will be fully realized, and we shall then feel that " the goodliness of trees, when we behold them, delighteth the eye."
In the suggestions I offer, it occurs to me that fruit trees might be more generally used on, or about the lawn or shrubberies. If judiciously done, the effect would be equal to, if not superior, to many things often seen there. Why not plant a clump of dwarf Pears, another of Quinces and Plums? With here, a group of Peach, Almond, Nectarine, or Apricots. And there, a grove of Apples, belt of Cherries, or border of Gooseberries, or Currants, red, white and black. The same of Figs, and Pomegranates, where the climate is favorable; as it is in California, and most of the Southern States. The Guava, Orange, Lemon, Loquat and Olive, also flourish there. In less favored spots they may be wintered safely in cellars; and when danger of frost is over, brought out and planted.
If there is sufficient space, the various kinds of nut trees will be found useful. Their form and foliage will materially assist in preserving the general characteristic features of landscape gardening. Omitting the Hickory, with the exception of the Pecan, I would propose the European Walnut, which is a handsome spreading tree, and bears excellent fruit. There are some dwarf kinds very prolific and of good quality. They are proper trees, either to group or isolate. The same may be said of the Chinquapin, or dwarf Chestnut, and the Hazle-nut, or, what is still better, the Filbert.
The Sweet Chestnut is a noble tree of rapid growth, both ornamental and fruitful, and should not be forgotten. Neither should the Mulberry be passed by. Than this handsome tree there is nothing better deserves a place on the lawn or elsewhere. The Persimmon must not be overlooked. When quite ripe, it is really a palatable and wholesome fruit. Some people may perhaps have a taste for Papaws, and Passion-vine fruit, and Prickly Pears. If so, set some out, by all means.
On neat trellises, verandas, stakes and arbors, Blackberries and Grape-vines may be trained. Or the latter may be left in suitable places to wander at will over large trees, and the rich ripe clusters of fruit will give additional charms to the leafy festoons.
Raspberries, Barberries, Huckleberries, Blueberries, Cranberries, and Bilberries, will be found very useful; in fact, indispensable, in the arrangement of an ornamental fruit garden. On account of their shrubby nature, some of which make beautiful bushes, they are well adapted for low clumps and clusters, or, to margin groups of larger growth.
The last, though not the least luscious in the list, is the Strawberry. Beds or borders of them may be planted on the lawn; and if alternated with Tigridias, Gladiolus, or Tuberoses, they will be quite as attractive, and much more useful than a bed of Potentillas.
Make the garden gay with flowers. Let the Rose, Heliotrope, Salvia, Ageratum, Mignonette, Verbena, Violet, Geranium, Petunia, Pink, Pyrethrum, and suchv like pretty things, have proper places; as they should in all good gardens grow.
Fancy the charm of spring bulbs, whose colors "blend like the rainbow that hangs in the skies," blooming at our feet, and sweet blossoms bursting above us; what an Eden it would be! While meandering among "trees loaded with beauty and promise," we should feel as happy as the old "Gardener Adam," and his good wife did, before they barely escaped being choked with bad fruit, the meanest trash of apple kind*
And as "the golden hours on angels' wings," go gently by, and bring on sunny summer days, unveiling fresh beauties, and diffusing exquisite perfumes, while unfolding fair flowers, how much like "Paradise Regained," it would seem! And as "Flora" gracefully surrenders her loving care of the glories of spring time and summer, in favor of " Pomona;" the foretaste of By consulting such Pomological guides as Downing, Barry, Elliott, Warder, or Thomas, the reader will run no risk of getting to the wrong tree, when he wants a good apple: such as befell the first tasting committee, at the Primal Pomological_ Society - long ago. They are all reliable gentlemen, and would not offer or recommend a worthless fruit to anybody, if they know it. That assertion I can vouch for bliss we enjoyed with the former, will be fully realized with the latter, in the rich profusion of mellow autumn's ripe offerings.
From the opening of the first blossom buds in early spring, to the ripening of the first fruit of the season, the enjoyment will augment with each coming day, until the last languishing flower sheds its fragrance and fades away. But the joys of the garden will not be all gone by, nor will they even cease, when wintery blasts draw us round the cheery fire, to discuss the merits of the remaining mellow apples or juicy pears; and crack the last nuts that are left us.