This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The public attention called to the filthy public squares in the city of Philadelphia, by the Gardeners' Monthly, led to an attempt to " improve " them, instead of keeping them clean. They have been so "improved " as to be almost useless for any purpose but that of the rapid pedestrian. It is the same tale all over the world. There was a clamor to improve the public ground containing the famous Burnham Beeches of Shakespeare. A London paper thus comically tells the story of the improvement:
"The sub-committee of the city corporation specially charged with the management of 'Turn'em Beeches' met yesterday, and the chief custodian being in attendance, was called on to read his report of the recent improvements. It ran as follows: Since my last report the work of improvement has been vigorously carried on, and only one of the old paths now remained covered with clumps of moss, fern roots, flowering weeds, and other such litter. But the necessary gravel, of the same rich, bright yellow color used with such effect in gravelling the other paths, had been ordered, and the moss, etc, would be 'spudded' up forthwith. [Hear, hear.] Fifteen decayed old stumps, nearly covered with ivy and other weeds, had been 'grubbed-up,' and their place supplied with some fine potted shrubs, neatly enclosed in a box border. All the hedges had been trimmed, and most of the trees lopped into something like regular order. Since the last meeting nine more of the regulation direction boards, with the name of the drive or path painted in bright red letters on a beautiful yellow ground, had been nailed up to the trees, the trunks of which had been all cleared of ivy, he might say, and whitewashed.
He begged also to report that there was a part of the property only used at present by painter fellows and their friends, and much overrun with wild Bluebells and other such weeds, which might be turned, at a small outlay, into a potato patch, and he recommended that this course be taken with it. [ Cheers. ] The chairman, Alderman Boosey, said that the report they had just heard was a most encouraging one, and told of remarkable progress. Nothing had yet been done, however, in the way of ornamentation, and he thought the time was come for the committee to provide a few stucco vases - he could get them wholesale from his friend, Mr. Potts - and a selection of plaster of Paris statues; he had some in his garden at Tooting. Mr. Sloper thought a nice ornamental fountain, with gold fish and painted tin water lilies, was a great improvement to a dull place like that they had to deal with. [Applause.] Deputy Bunks liked the notion of the fountain; and he'd seen some very pretty effects got out of virgin cork and artificial ivy, he added. He also thought a few stuffed beasts and birds dotted about - say a fox or two, and some squirrels, and a pair of storks, and such like - would have a very tasty effect.
Mr. Rutts thought they had worked a great change, and he had himself heard artists say they didn't know the old place again. So much the better. That showed what plenty of gravel and bordering tiles and a free use of the spud and shears could effect on the wildest looking property. He hoped before they'd done with it that Turn'em Beeches would be as neat and spick and span as Alderman Boosey's own back garden at Tooting. [Loud cheers.]"