This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Desirous of making our work a register of any thing out of the common affecting our gardens, plants, etc, we requested the Editor of the Gardeners' Chronicle to oblige us with the loan of the accompanying woodcut, representing some pieces of ice which fell in a thunder-storm in the neighbourhood of London, between two and three p.m., June 5th, 1849, and which did considerable damage in many places. These particular pieces, as described, fell in the Horticultural Society's gardens at Chiswick; but we saw abundance in our own garden quite as large, and in many instances much more angular.
"a to b = 1 3/10- inch: 1 and 2 flat; surfaces uneven, with fragments of a thin frozen pellicle, which had formed a partially hollow casing: 3, lens-shaped; compact, uniformly transparent ice, surrounding a nucleus of frozen snow. Resembled in appearance the glass eyes made for some birds".
Even the Sedentary Man must have his rambles; and within an easy-distance of my abode is a small and remarkably pretty village, with a mill, of which your woodcut this month gives a faithful representation. This has been for years a most flowery spot, where even the experienced gardener may derive some hints from the natural taste and simple contrivances of our friend the Miller. By the side of a broad and deep mill-pond, always filled to the brim with the clearest water, is a gravel-walk, with a verge of turf between it and the stream. On this grassy border are placed at intervals the heads of some picturesque old pollard trees, whose hollows, filled with mould, contain throughout the season a constant succession of gay flowering plants. In early spring the yellow Alyssum and purple Aubrietia, with good bunches of common Heath (E. earned), on sunny days attract the bees (for our Miller is a great apiarian; and let me tell those who are in that line, that no situation can vie with the Miller's garden). As the season advances, Wallflowers, beautiful Cistuses, the sweet Daphne Cneorum, and the white and purple Candytuft succeed; and after these, the showy varieties of Verbena, Anagallis, Lobelia, and other half-hardy annuals, amongst which the common Moneywort trails its golden flowers, with here and there a handsome Fuchsia, and tufts of the different stone-crops in every little nook, keep up a blaze of splendour, till November's gloomy curtain drops upon the scene.
I am a great admirer of these old pollard heads, either alone on lawns, or mixed up in rock-work; and think nothing in the way of rustic baskets or stands for holding flowers can come up to them. On the inland side of the Miller's walk, a good selection of Dwarf Roses, magnificent White Lilies, and the common cottage garden-flowers, make a showy border. But the Miller prides himself most on his beds of White Rockets; and I believe several London florists are supplied from this secluded spot with these sweet old-fashioned flowers. Looking up the stream, there are various small islands and peninsulas overgrown with reeds, marsh-flowers, and old willows; and in the distance the soft, rounded range of chalk hills, partially clothed with luxuriant wood, complete the landscape. Here, through the goodnature of the owner, is the favourite resort of the mammas and nursemaids of respectable families in the neighbourhood; and nothing can surpass the pleasure of the young urchins when the moor-hen or wild duck, with her tiny brood, sails out from the edge of the rushes, or the swan, accustomed to be fed, "with arched neck Between her white wings mantling, proudly rows Her state with oary feet "
At this present time the female bird is attended by a family of nine cygnets; and as she comes out with them on the smooth surface of the water, she reminds one of a certain graceful Duchess with her train of lovely daughters moving over the lawn at the Regent's Park or Chiswick fetes.
The recollections of my infancy lead me always to associate mills with flower-gardens, and many sweet spots could I name: English florists must have heard of George Garratt of Codicote, Herts, in whose garden, gently sloping towards the south to his mill-head, and sheltered from the north by a fine larch plantation, Auriculas, Pan-sies, Pinks, Picotees, and Carnations may be seen in unrivalled excellence, testifying to his skill in growing these well-known flowers. But in rural and picturesque beauty, all must yield to the old mill which adorns this Number of The Florist, with its mossy roofs and lichen-covered walls, its masses of rude rock-work, and its well-stocked bee-house, built quite in character with the scene. The inside of the house is as curious as its exterior: old carved oak furniture, dainty pieces of antique china in corner cupboards, a few nice cases of stuffed birds, venerable old high-backed chairs, and a deep chimney-corner, are real specimens of the olden time. But to enter fully into the harmony of the piece, you must see the Miller himself, - a most rotund little man, his pepper-and-salt coat nicely softened in tone by the floury particles of his mill, his clear ruddy complexion, the merry twinkle of his eye, his shrill chirruping voice, and his easy unembarrassed manner in the presence of rich or poor: he is a favourite with all the fine ladies near, for he is a bit of a gossip, and, at the proper season, calls with nice little glasses of pure virgin honey, taken from the tops of his hives, which serve to sweeten his visits; and I must not omit to add, he is very kind to his poorer neighbours.
But, alas, I fear our little rural mills are doomed to fall before the huge square slated buildings with their tall blackened chimneys, and with them the old race of millers will also soon become extinct - our friend is a confirmed, and I fear irreclaimable, old bachelor.
June 13th. A Sedentary Man.