This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Referring to the articles in May and August numbers of the Gardener's Monthly - I for one would heartily endorse your editorial remarks. The Scriptures teach us to do good to all men, especially the household of faith. Now we, as gardeners, should do good to those of our own occupation. It is our duty to help each other, either by advice or in other ways suggested by our mutual needs. It is evident that the supply of gardeners far exceeds the demand, both here and in Europe, especially England. Ten years ago a private gentleman advertised in the Gardener's Chronicle and had fifty applicants. The advertiser generally gets the worst man in the lot. Men are like merchandise in this respect, when the supply is an over stock of either it makes the article cheap and a drug in the market.
I have served some twenty years in commercial and private places; have often being condemned by young men for spending too much time in what we term "the trade." My present remarks are more especially intended for young men and for their good. Having saved a few pounds about home, I started to improve myself in larger cities than my native place, and in due time I arrived in the city of London. I found my way to Laing's Nursery, Twickenham, near Kew. From there to Lord John Chichester, Cambridge House; thence to Kinghorn's Nursery,Richmond; thence successively to Walford's, Reeves & Bros., Acton and Notting Hill, and Carter & Co.'s nurseries, staying a year or two in each place, as it suited me; my employers understood that my aim was to improve myself. Being offered a free passage to Fredericton, N. B., with a situation for one or more years, I accepted it, wishing for a change. At the end of my first year, I desired to see Boston, and made my way to the largest floricultural establishment. I sought an interview with C. M. Hovey, Esq., whom I shall ever respect for the kindness he showed me, a stranger and foreigner. He often gave employment to such when he did not need them. I was in their employ some two years, which I think I may say proved satisfactory on both sides.
Desiring again a change, I spent a year in the employ of W. C. Strong, florist and nurseryman, Brighton, Mass. Having a good private place offered me at Fredericton, N. B., I accepted and returned to that town, and held it nearly three years. Seeing an opening here for business, a gentleman of means offered me a loan of five hundred dollars at reasonable interest, for buying land, building house, and putting up a little glass. He also wished me to pay some attention to his garden and greenhouses. His place was not large enough to keep a gardener the year round. The plan proved very satisfac tory to both; and now I am in a position either to work or not when not busy, or reserve it for something to fall back upon.
Now I do not wish to be understood as boasting. I am not in New York, Philadelphia or Boston, but in poor, cold, long-wintered New Brunswick; and I have reason to believe I could do far better in more stirring places. Service is but service after all. Some employers are very unreasonable; or worse still, their wives, - when they come and snatch the plant out of your hand to show you how to plant it. Such con duct ill becomes a lady. I do not mean to say the employers are always in fault and the gardener right. The contrary is no doubt often as true. Many gardeners, in my own experience, are far better at talking and writing than working, yet make woful mistakes in practice. Such as I have reference to had better keep employed by rich men. Don't start for yourself or woe be to you. But those who can make a bouquet wreath or cross quickly and tastefully, grow plants of any country or clime, or propagate them, lay out a garden, or make a croquet ground, or show an attractive example in the laying out and planting of the ground under their own special care; these are the men who have served so well that they may start for themselves, if a promising opening presents itself.
Don't tell the people what wonders you have done or are going to do. Example goes a long way, and is the best means of educating the people up to a higher standard of horticultural taste. When people come some distance to look over your fence at your well laid out plot and well arranged flower beds in harmonious variation of colors, or in winter, at your Roses, etc.; under glass, you will have the best class of people seek for your society and advice, and copy your ideas. They will rely upon you; pay you well to build them rockeries, arrange their greenhouses and make them lists of trees, plants, shrubs, etc. They will build up your trade.
Your remarks, Mr. Editor, as to some gardeners and gardening, are too true. Their slatternly plants, flowers, and their greenhouses scarcely fit for a pig sty, are not congenial to the principles and qualities they are supposed to represent - love, joy, faith, innocence and purity.
There is another important matter about commencing business. Many begin in too large a way, and go in debt to start too largely. Creep before you walk. Keep down expenses until you see what you can do, and what demand there is. Aim at having just what the people want. Always keep a lookout at what others do successfully. Utilize every moment of your time-to advantage. It does not pay to do without horticultural papers any more than moral instruction. Let theory and practice go together. Be thoroughly industrious in your own place. Act square with all you deal with. Don't be mean in any way or your business will die a natural death. A bouquet or plant occasionally thrown in does not lose anything. If you possess most of these characteristics be courageous; I will risk you making a living.