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.
In a very readable pamphlet of twenty-two pages Mr M'Kenzie discusses this question. In common with Mr William Robinson and others, he deems the subject to be of great importance at the present moment, and he brings to the discussion of the question undoubted originality, keen intelligence, and a practical observation. He is very severe on some of the attempts at ornamental gardening in the London parks, and says, on p. 6: "Of the attempts at landscape and ornamental gardening lately made in Hyde Park it is impossible to speak in language too severe. The extravagant system of attempting to convert our parks into sub-tropical gardens, with luxuriant parterres of flowers, cannot be too strongly condemned. Neither the climate nor the soil are such as to do justice to the former, and a display of choice spring bulbs, succeeded by tender plants and expensive gardening, is a system which even a wealthy nobleman would not for a moment tolerate in his own park. In all public parks there should be some spots dedicated to flora; but, whilst these should be excellently kept, it is only necessary that they should be of moderate extent.
At present upwards of 100,000 plants are annually bedded out in Hyde Park. The most extraordinary attempt at improvement, so called, in Hyde Park, is that which was carried out last year on either side of Rotten Row, where money enough has been spent to have insured infinitely better results. To the man of taste few things can be more annoying, but for the amusement they excite, than the elaborate efforts of the suburban labourer or mechanic, who, naturally 'fond of gardening,' but utterly untaught and inexperienced, seeks to convert the few yards of ground adjoining his cottage into an innate and fantastic jumble of brick rock-work, pebbles, oyster-shells, and bits of glass, with miniature gravel-walks, and all kinds of tender and hardy plants and flowers mixed together without the slightest perception of their natural habits and requirements".
In this part of his pamphlet Mr M'Kenzie is emphatically destructive, and scarcely one of the features of " modern gardening " lately introduced into Hyde Park and elsewhere, finds favour in his eyes. He then goes on to make some capital suggestions as to the ornamentation and beautifying of the common spaces round London, which he would zealously preserve for public use; and there he would also provide opportunities for public recreations, such as gymnasiums, water, cricket-grounds, etc. He would also abolish the monopoly that now affects the gardens in the public squares in London, and throw them open to the poorer classes; and utilise the disused burial-grounds of the metropolis as places of public resort and recreation. He also suggests new thoroughfares that might be opened up, and advocates the embellishment of some of the great lines of communication with the suburbs by planting lines of trees on either side, with seats beneath them. The office of Chief Commissioner of Public Works should be no longer a political office, subject to changes of Government, but a permanent appointment - an opinion with which we think few horticulturists, at least, would be disposed to disagree.
Mr M'Kenzie advances his several positions clearly, boldly, and with much force, and his pamphlet will amply repay perusal.
The Gardener's Year-Book, Almanac, and Directory for 1870. By Robert Hogg, LL.D. Journal of Horticulture Office, 171 Fleet Street, London.
This very useful gardening manual has reached the eleventh year of publication, and still holds on its way as popular as ever. A closely-printed almanac of some 160 pages is surely cheap at a shilling for the fund of information it supplies to horticulturists alone, inclusive of carefully-prepared lists of new Fruits, Plants, and Flowers of the year; but, in addition, there is so much matter of general importance that its value is considerably enhanced. We don't compare it with other almanacs of a similar character; we simply speak of it on its own merits, and commend it as it deserves to be commended.
The Proprietors of the 'Journal of Horticulture' offer the following prize for competition at the Show of the Royal Horticultural Society at Oxford in July next - viz., Dessert of Fruits, unlimited as to quantity and kind, fit for the table, and combining excellence of quality with taste in arrangement, £10. Open to amateurs and gentlemen's gardeners only.
At the meeting of the Royal Horticultural Society, to be held on Tuesday the 21st December, the following prizes are offered - viz., By the Rev. George Kemp, F.R.H.S., and Member of Fruit Committee, for the best winter dessert of Apples and Pears, 3 dishes of each, £3 and £2.
"We are informed that the prize of £5, 5s., offered by Lieut.-Colonel Scott, R.E., Secretary, Royal Horticultural Society, for an Essay on the "Principles of Floral Criticism," will be awarded on Wednesday, May 4. 1870, and not January 19, as previously announced.