The object of this volume is the diffusion of general knowledge and practical information in relation to the floral kingdom, particularly for hardy trees, shrubs and plants, desirable for the embellishment of the flower-garden and pleasure-ground. It is not designed as a scientific treatise for those far advanced in the knowledge of plants, but for new beginners, who are just entering the temple of Flora; or, as a book of reference to those who have but little time for research, and who desire some simple instructions as to the mode of culture, or description of the habits, of plants or seeds which they may wish to grow. That it may be more acceptable to the great majority, technical descriptions have been avoided as much as possible. I consider it important that plants should be generally known by their scientific name, as this is universal, while the common name is only local; and have, therefore, given precedence to the botanical name, and followed with the common name, where any has been known. Some work of this kind, it has often appeared to me, was much needed. It has often been called for, in my business as seedsman. Customers will purchase a quantity of seeds, not knowing, perhaps, anything about their habits, cultivation, or treatment, or that there should be any difference in their management. Having had long experience in the cultivation, as well as the sale, of seeds and plants, it is expected that every inquiry should be promptly and correctly answered, in good humor, and as part of the trade. This it is always pleasant to do when there is not a press of business; but sometimes it is rather trying. This book, therefore, may be said to have been partly written in self-defence, or, more properly speaking, to give all needed instructions deliberately and correctly, instead of doing it in a hurry. The low price of the book will bring it within the reach of almost every person.
It was thought desirable to bring to notice many of our beautiful indigenous plants and shrubs, as worthy of cultivation. A handsome flower-garden may be made of these alone;many of them are within the reach of every one, and may be obtained without money and without price. The care and trouble is all the outlay, and this may be offset by the pleasure derived in collecting them from the fields, woods, or meadows.
The time of flowering and directions for sowing seeds, hardiness, etc., correspond to the meridian of Boston; but those in different latitudes will find no difficulty in making the proper allowance for the difference in location.
The plan of this work was devised twenty years ago, and more than three hundred pages of closely written letter-paper prepared for it; but it was found, in the diffuse manner in which it was commenced, that it would require a thousand pages to complete it, and, as other business interfered, it was abandoned. In looking over this old manuscript, I found that so many new plants had been introduced, and such improvements had been made in numerous species, that it would be of but little use in this work. It was, however, to some small extent, incorporated into it. Many articles on various subjects have appeared, from time to time, in the Horticultural Register, New England Farmer, and the Horticulturist, either with my own signature or initials, or under some fictitious one. These communications have been revised, discarding what did not agree with present experience, or opinion, and making such alterations and additions as the progress in floriculture demanded; and these have afforded material for this book. With few exceptions, I have been as familiar with the plants described as with household friends, and believe the directions given will not lead any one astray. I do not claim all as original, having culled from a great variety of books and periodicals, English and American. To Loudon's Encyclopedia of Plants, and other works, I am indebted for the history of many plants, and the origin of their generic or specific names. Mr. Emerson's excellent work on the "Trees of Massachusetts" has assisted me in the description of many shrubs and trees; to whom credit has been given in the body of the work. Dr. T. W. Harris's treatise, on the "Insects of Massachusetts Injurious to Vegetation," has furnished me with the history and habits of the Rose-Bug and other insects. Extracts have been made from Downing's "Horticulturist," from Parsons," On the Rose," and hints from "Hovey's Magazine," and from various other books and periodicals.
For the poetry interspersed throughout this volume, I have drawn largely on "Flora Domestica," a. pleasant English work.
In the directions for making walks, laying box edgings. etc., I am indebted to an experienced gardener, and to Mr. Mc-Mahon's old work on gardening, in connection with my own experience and observation.
Boston, Feb. 14, 1851.