The Gardener January 1871 The Gardener 5001

There is reason to suspect that they who are appointed to, and undertake a share in, the direction and guidance of the public mind, do not estimate their position aright if they do not feel that there is attached to it a considerable amount of responsibility; and, if its duties be conscientiously discharged, it must be a position of labour and anxiety. In coming before our readers as the conductor of the 'Gardener,' such feelings are frankly confessed, more especially as new tributaries are now more than ever augmenting the current of horticulture, which thus, as it advances, is becoming deeper and stronger.

To inspire confidence by a variety of promises does not form any part of our intention. Promises are often made and not fulfilled, and have rightly ceased to be regarded by those who wish to form an estimate. Journalism will ever stand or fall - fulfil its mission or come short of it - by its success or failure in providing interesting and sound instruction for those who read with the intent to learn. It ought thus to be, and more or less than this we do not hope for.

In the history of this country there never were so many interested in gardening pursuits as there are now. The owners of large landed estates have ceased to be the almost only owners of gardens, with all that is implied in that term of the necessities, the pleasures, and the luxuries of life. Gardens can now be counted by thousands instead of hundreds; and in some, if not all of their departments, individual expansion has kept pace with augmented numbers, calling for more gardeners of superior skill and intelligence, and rendering it a sphere of labour of increased interest to employers and employed. We wish it could be further said that the social position and emoluments of horticulturists have bounded upwards at a similar pace.

Looking in another direction, we see a great part of our population pent up as "sons of toil" in our great centres of commerce and wealth, and apparently dissociated from any interest or dependence on horticulture. Still they have, or ought to have, an especial interest in it. To them a good supply of wholesome garden produce, especially vegetables and fruit, is a matter of much moment, - a necessity of health and life. And greater regard is being wisely paid to the pleasures of public gardens and squares with their plants and flowers as counteractors of the evils of the physical position of this class, and as incentives to lift their minds above practices which are debasing and destroying in their effects. In this direction there is a wide and momentous field open to horticultural enterprise and usefulness. Besides this, the collateral influence of horticulture has tended in no insignificant degree to the advancement of agricultural practice, which has taken from the horticulturist its highest lessons in deep drainage, deep tillage, thin seeding, and wide planting. Is it, then, arrogant to claim for horticulture a position of national importance? It is bound up, not only with the pleasures and luxuries of a community, but also with its healthy and prosperous existence.

The avocations of the horticulturist, whether he grows a Cabbage or a Leek, or applies with an exactitude, which cursory lookers-on are not aware of, all those artificial circumstances which long patient practice and study have taught him to be necessary in rearing the Pine-Apple and the Grape to the perfection now attained, are worthy of being accredited with more importance and substantial remuneration than they generally realise.

To try to do credit to such an interest as this, and to justify the title of this magazine, we have attempted to direct our arrangements. We beg to thank those who have so willingly rendered their esteemed assistance. We invite correspondence and interchange of thought and practice on all matters directly bearing on horticulture; while we will, to the best of our ability, provide sound advice and direction to those who ask for such through the medium of the 'Gardener,' knowing that, as a Gardening Monthly, it can hold its position and well serve its own interest, only by continuing to be the dispenser of reliable information and instruction relating to the various branches of the profession. Much of the usefulness of a periodical depends on its promiscuous correspondence; and all of that nature that reaches us will meet with conscientious consideration and treatment - for it is gratifying to think that gardeners are the only class of servants who, almost entirely, support a literature of their own.

This consideration alone prevents us from endorsing much that has been bandied about the ignorance of gardeners as a class; and, taking it as one criterion among many, it may fairly be asked if they are not the most intelligent and not the least moral of any class of servants in receipt of the same amount of remuneration. Perhaps it may be said that this is not saying much for gardeners. It is at all events something said, if not much. They certainly deserve this credit - that as a class of servants they do more to improve themselves and their brethren than any other that we know of. The exigencies of our position render it absurd to think that we can entice into our ranks the youth of superior education, at least until a national system of compulsory education has left us none other.

Our counsel to those who have been smitten with the poetry of the garden is to do all in their power to improve their education, just because they are men and gardeners, and to lend others a helping hand in some way or other. Search the universe, and it will be found that the most stunted objects of nature are among those that dispense the least to others; and the human mind is affected by the same law of being. The more you dispense your own stores of knowledge, the greater do they become. Just as the mountain-tops, instead of bottling up the rains, send them down in cheering and sparkling streams to refresh and water the plains betwixt them and the sea, receive all back again; or as the earth receives the flashing streams of light and heat into her bosom, not to selfishly store them, but to gratefully yield them up in fragrance, beauty, and nourishment to man and beast, ultimately receiving herself the fullest benefit of all that she dispenses. Let us thus act during the year 1871, that we may the more consistently and hopefully anticipate "a happy new year".