This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
It was asserted that employers already "knew enough," and that if "such things" were encouraged, "the gentry" would soon "know as much as themselves." A few gardeners, with more judgment, knew that the more intimately the "gentry" were acquainted with gardening, the more they would be acquainted with the worth of a gardener, and the more interest they were likely to take in its pursuits. The sequel showed the correctness of their judgment. For few men would now deny that the Gardener's Chronicle has done more in its estabage, than in the existence of any other circumstance, whatever. Where one patronised gardening before it started, ten did afterwards. Some evils, of course, attended the improvements; but every move in the course of progress, disturbs something settled.
Not only by means of horticultural societies and publications, ought a gardener to diffuse a knowledge of his profession, and its pleasures and profits, but by a thousand-and-one other means that will readily suggest themselves, according to the circumstances around him. I know a gardener who accidentally fell in with a military officer. This gardener was not one who thought it dangerous "to tell others for nothing, what it had cost him something to learn." The conversation turned upon grafting and budding. The gardener explained the whole process, and illustrated it by experiments. This gentleman was, of course, learned how to do without a man to bud roses or pear trees, which, I believe, he would never have thought of requiring; but if my memory serves me right, that gentlemen who had never owned a flower before, so pleased with the success of his experiments in budding, has been led to keep a garden, and employ a gardener.
Not only is it our interest to take every available means of spreading a knowledge of our profession, but it is also incumbent on us to study by what means to render that knowledge easy to be acquired by those who are willing to learn. With this view, I am proud to find Lindley and others, agitating for a reform in the names of plants. The fact is, that if botanists do not take this matter into their own hands, the people will for them. We have tried it already in Philadelphia, and a pretty mess! "Johnny Jump-up," Glory of the world, Elephant's Ear, Pig's Nose, Catsfoot and Lion's Tail, are specimens of the names some plants have got. One time, when a lady unacquainted with plants, yet anxious to learn, would ask me the name of some plant, I would feel ashamed to have to bring out such names as my Robalanus and my Robatindus. - Pleuroschis motypus, or Nowad Worskia; and I have rejoiced when I could get a Phaloenopsis into a "Moth Flower," or a Peristeria to the "Dove Plant." Every one knows how necessary it is that one universal science should have one universal language; but there can be no reason why the botanist who names his plant, should not also give it a common name. I so feel the necessity of this, that I cannot wait for them.
In naming my plants, I put the English name on one side, and the botanical on the other. Where the plant has no English name, but is named after some individual, as in Russelia, for instance, I make the English "Russel Flower." I tried to translate many of them literally, but such names as Melas-toma and Sterculia, frightened me, just as one would be who tried to get a French Catalogue of pears into English, when he met with such names as Pater Noster, La Cuisse Madame, or Ah Mon Dicu!
It seems to me, Mr. Editor, that the reform in the nomenclature of plants is a subject which does not concern the botanist, and one which he is not likely to meddle with. On the other hand, it is one which no one horticulturist is ever likely to try his hand at. The only chance that I see of an uniform standard of common and easy names ever being brought into use, is by a committee appointed by either the Pennsylvania or Massachusetts Horticultural Society, to ascertain and arrange the best common names the plants in the United States have obtained, and give names to those which have none. Nurserymen would adopt them, and their use would soon become general. Unless something of this occupy, and to the majority of whom Homer, or Horace, would be as intelligible as the language of Si-San, or Sadi the Persian. It is only by associating the names of plants with some name we have heard before, that any of us can make much progress in the commencement of our career. I can only answer for myself, that I should never have learned Anagallis, but for connecting it with "hang the gallows," nor Camellia without "Amelia." At any rate, it is a subject which would well repay the attention of horticultural societies, as, were the names of plants in the common language, the knowledge, and consequently the love and cultivation of plants, would much increase.
These, and kindred subjects, are well worthy the attention of gardeners. They tend to the advancement of their profession. - as does every thing which tends to increase their already extensive intelligence. The success of a Paxton - Joseph Paxton, gardener - in beating in the field of competition, the whole host of British architects engaged in designing the building for the "Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations," does more towards raising gardeners and gardening to their proper position, than all the talk about low wages would do in a century. Let not American gardeners despair. Their profession is yet destined to be held in higher estimation here, than it ever has been in any nation in the world. The time will assuredly come, when every large city in the Union will vie with each other in the splendor and magnificence of their public gardens, as compared to which, the majority of gardens in England will be children's play grounds. Thomas Meehan,
Gardener to A. A.M Eastwick, Bartram Bot. Garden, Philadephia.