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 following story in connection with the painter Meissonier, reminds one of the joke of Congressman Walsh, in planting a real rat for a specimen of the rat-tail Cactus, now many years ago. In his employ, not many years back, he retained a middle-aged gardener, who was a remarkable botanist, but also an incorrigible wag. He piqued himself on his knowledge of seeds, and Meissonier was always trying and always failing to puzzle him. "I have got him now!" said Meissonier to some friends at a dinner party; and he showed them a package of the roe of dried herrings. He sent for the gardener. All the guests smiled. The gardener arrived. " Do you know these seeds? "
Meissonier asked. The gardener examined them with great attention. " Oh! yes! " said he; at last. "That is the seed of the polypus fluximus, a very rare tropical plant." "How long will it take the seed to come up?" "Fifteen days," said the gardener. At the end of the fifteen days the guests were once more at table. After dinner Jean was announced. "M. Meissonier," he said, "the plants are above the ground." Fully anticipating the success of his joke, but a little bewildered, the great painter and his guests went into the garden to behold the botanical wonder. The gardener lifted up a glass bell, under which was a little bed, carefully made, and in which three rows of red herrings were sticking up their heads. The laugh was against Meissonier. He discharged the gardener, but took him back the next day.