This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
We go up a high mountain, and here the grand view bursts upon us, storming the gates of our soul and letting the vast* sight flood into it and saturate it. Now that we have quaffed the drink, we turn to such details as strike us most, and try to make them out fully; or we follow the course of a chain of hills, or of a river, or of the roads, letting our eyes walk along these threads as though with spider's feet. That is to say. from a moment of sublime feeling we have quickly turned into our natural channel of part curiosity and part the desire for smaller objects more digestible to our nature. The panorama has first elevated us a very brief while, then interested us a longer while, and now weary of the vast-ness, we turn and descend the mountain. By-and-by the foreground, which got lost more and more as we went up, comes to meet us. There, at the bend of the road, where it emerges from between the woods, we see, like unto a picture in aframe,the village that we are bound for; there is the church and the steeple, a load of hay going into a barn, ducks - yes, we can actually discern ducks on the village pond - boys and girls coming home from school - oh, how pleased we are! Once more we feel comfortable, enjoying the small measure of our human capacities; once more our human soul is played upon by human sights.
The vast panoramic view of our globe on the mountain top, bow small a place has it taken up on our inner shelves! But this narrow picture and the likes of it, how they fill and how they feed our eyes and our mind!
So we may conclude that grandeur and sublimity on this, our parent planet, can be but rare moments, and that the true nourishment of our soul admits only objects of comparatively small dimensions, such as will develop feelings of goodness, of taste, of pleasure, of enjoyment, of comfort, running down the scale of our harp from the divine to the human.
Happy the man whose lot is cast in a spot with a pretty view, no larger than his eyes can digest - not so small as to dwarf the capacity of his eyes. His craving for the beautiful will be daily satisfied-, the pitch of his soul will be strengthened and maintained, and the demon of meanness is less likely to find a hold on him there.
Unfortunately, the spots with pretty views are comparatively rare. We cannot, all of us, live in a rolling, undulating country, drained by numerous streams and brooks,pleasantly wooded. On the contrary we, most of us, live on spots, stale and flat, but profitable. Not to satisfy the angel in us do we settle on the interminable prairie, but to satisfy the inner and the outer animal; to make a living; to earn plenty of food and of warm clothing for self and family; and, these obtained, to get for self and family as much of mental food as circumstances will permit - and sometimes there is but scant measure of that article. In proportion, however, that the animal gets appeased, the angel - heaven be thanked - will strive to get the upper hand. And so the well-to-do man will try to improve the looks of his fruitful, but otherwise uninteresting home. He will seize on whatever little aid nature will lend him; he will plant trees on a bare hillock; will cut a vista through a cane-brake; clear symmetrically a piece in the woods, teach a wayward spring to run its fantastic ripple through his meadow; or, if he does nothing-better, he will plant a living screen before his manure-heap. His eyes, the windows of his soul, demand it; to them he ministers.
But what is the unfortunate individual to do, who has of God's own earth only as little as to"farm a pig" or to"swing a cat" in ? or who is cramped up in a city lot in the city ?
Nature will out. That unfortunate individual, unable to reproduce on his ground even the smallest features of nature, one fine Spring morning, standing in the full light of the glorious sun on his small and bare patch, was overheard to say:"There is not the space for a landscape here, nor the elements for it, sufficient for the aesthetic wants of a field mouse. But there is enough of it to have with me a good many of the flowers of the moderate zone of this or any other country, with here and there a bush and here and there an evergreen".
This, patient reader, I believe was the origin of the garden, and this is the aim and end of a garden. In default of living in a delightful spot, where nature spreads her beauties, both in the landscape and in the vegetation, we try to make ourselves that landscape and that vegetation; or where landscape is impossible, at least to raise that vegetation as far as it can be coaxed into - a garden. How far man has succeeded may, perhaps, form the subject of another and a later paper.