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.
By Maximilian G. Kern. Columbia, Missouri.
The object of this work has our cordial sympathy. Mr. Kern believes that the elements of rural taste should be a part of an intelligent education, and so do we. It is, to use a common expression, frightful to see how the grounds around our educational institutions are designed, and contemplate for a few moments the cultural taste of the designers. Indeed, there is no design nor any idea of design, from an intellectual point of view. A nurseryman recently showed us a postal card he had received from the trustee of a large educational institution, the building for which was just about finished. It read just this, and nothing more: "We want from 2,000 to 4,000 trees for our college grounds. What would be your lowest cash price for the same?" A large lot of soft maples, poplars and similar rubbish "cheap for cash," were offered, and promptly accepted. A contract was made with the village sexton to plant the trees by the hundred "cheap for cash;" and this is rural taste in a collegiate institution! In many of our colleges we have Professors of Horticulture. One would suppose that here, at least, we should see some expressions of rural taste.
On the contrary, in a number of them that we have visited, there are far less evidences of horticultural taste than where no such a Professor is one of the Faculty. Indeed, the horticulture of these institutions extends little beyond the growth of cabbages or potatoes; the management of an apple orchard, or, possibly, the doubtful oversight of a miserable lot of half-starved pot plants in a most surprisingly-designed conservatory. It is no wonder that in our public squares and general efforts at public gardening, we spend money like water on accomplishing nearly nothing at all. A healthy education in horticultural art and rural taste is about the one great thing needed to make American civilization the proudest boast of the whole world.
Mr. Kern would have the principles taught "in the schools of the land." If we could have the practical examples around the schools, we would dispense with the oral teaching. To use a Latin phrase, Mr. Kern quotes; "prczcepta docent, exein-pla cogunt." That is, precepts do but teach, while example urges. We would do the urging first, and let the teaching follow as it may. Still, some such a work as this undertaken by Mr. Kern is necessary to show the importance of the subject. We trust it will receive the careful attention of educators everywhere.
A curious part of the work is the preface, written by a gentleman who tells us he is a Professor of Greek. He says that the author of the book, Mr. Kern, is not a native of this country, and so the manuscript was placed in his hands for "emendations necessary to the composition," and, singularly enough, the preface is the worst specimen of English in the book. Mr. Kern's style will seem diffuse to an American reader accustomed to rapid thought, and throughout the numerous chapters similar ideas are repeated again and again, in various forms, unnecessarily, as we think, and to the fatigue of many of the readers. A good editor who would really "emendate the composition," would do valuable service to Mr. Kern's excellent ideas.