This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Gardening, our profession, is moving steadily step by step on its onward course; daily are the productions of the garden becoming, as it were, a necessity rather than as was wont a luxury of life. New inventions in connection therewith are brought to bear on nearly every point. Who on erecting a house would omit laying out a garden 1 The house itself would look odd without a finishing horticultural touch on its surroundings. What lady or person whatever does not admire flowers, or like to walk through the well-kept flower-garden? Winter and summer alike, there is always something pleasing and enticing in the garden of the diligent. The duties of the gardener are of the most pleasing and instructive character: how lovely it is to watch a simple dry seed inserted in soil and develop itself into a large individual plant! Still, his eyes must be keenly rested on everything under his charge; one hour's neglect of a tender plant would probably result in its entire destruction, after, perhaps, it has occupied months of his time to bring it to a state of perfection.
The amount of experience a man requires previous to taking a responsibility on his own account is no way small; he must spend years in the way of education, and that under good masters. But nevertheless there are persons at present holding high situations who, as it were, have crept into the profession without a clear understanding of all the various operations appertaining to their calling; they, on taking a charge on their own account, lack that amount of confidence which characterises a true and practical gardener. They must first learn to turn the sod. Many young men think that if they possess a good knowledge of indoor work that is all that is needed; and if they were ordered to edge a path, draw a drill, or make a Celerytrench would be at a loss how to commence; so a knowledge of all the operations is not only invaluable but indispensable. Then, my young brethren, take the advice of one who, like yourselves, is striving in the art: commence at the bottom of the ladder, working steadily step by step to the top. Many have endeavoured to do so at once, but have signally failed.
Certainly when a person thinks of the many items he must become acquainted with it is enough to dishearten him: I know it has been the case with me, but I will strive to gain the well-honoured profession, and by way of encouragement advise my young brethren to do likewise.
Much has been written in this and other gardening periodicals relating to gardeners, the chief topics touched being their instruction, wages, and accommodation in the way of living. With regard to the former I cannot say more than I have, save that all young men who contemplate being gardeners should be bound apprentice for a term not less than two years and pay a premium; and head-gardeners requiring a journeyman should only take into their service those who can show they have passed their apprenticeship. By that way we would, I think, get rid of those who, when they cannot succeed at anything else, turn their hands to gardening, thereby injuring the true class.
The recent rise of wages of journeymen and foremen, which was sadly wanted, has been very encouraging, and, as far as I know, they are in that respect pretty well cared for.
Next comes accommodation, which is, in my opinion, the most neglected thing in gardening. Really it is a disgrace to the profession to see the hovels some young men are provided with. There are some bothies I know where the men have to do everything themselves, and that in their own time. Some are well cared for in that respect, and have persons to attend to their bothy, and papers and books provided for their use, which is a great encouragement; but my opinion is that bothies only tend to lead young men into idle and filthy habits.
In conclusion let me advise my young brethren to spend their evenings and spare time in some way towards improving their stock of knowledge, reading and studying (there is a wide field for improvement), and not, as is too common in the bothy, sit down to a game of cards or dominoes. Charles Bennett.