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.
I have often been struck, Mr. Editor, by the accuracy and truthfulness with which the predictions of the late J. C. Loudon, with regard to the progress of horticulture in America, are daily becoming verified. In his time, he found that in "all the more difficult operations of the art, every man was his own gardener" - but he thought that "as a number of professional gardeners had of late emigrated from Britain, and horticultural societies were about to be established, the science of gardening would soon be disseminated every where." Mr. Loudon was also of opinion that horticulture would never be carried on by individuals in America, to the grand and magnificent extent that it is in England; but that it would have a greater number of patrons, a wider field for its operations, and be a means of greater enjoyment to its inhabitants, than to those of any country on the globe. We have only to look at gardening then, and merely glance at it now, in order to be convinced of the justice of this view.
Gardening is progressing, and gardeners are more prosperous; but both can be made more so by a little consideration.
A few days ago, one of our city papers, "The Public Ledger," in speaking of the commercial progress and prospects of Philadelphia, came down like a thunderbolt on a sect of philosophers which it calls "waiters on Providence," whose creed teaches that everything in this world must "bide its time;" and that nothing can be forced beyond the destiny of nature. Now I do not believe that such a sect exists among gardeners, for we all know too well that unless we put our crops in the ground at the proper season, or our fires on our forcing houses, not the firmest faith in the "wait on Providence" doctrine, will aid us. We are all practically acquainted with the truth of aesop'a fable of Hercules and the Wagoner, and know how the weight of all our results must bear on our own shoulders. Notwithstanding all this, we depend too much on the course of events for the advancement of the interests of our profession.
I am one of those men, Mr. Editor, who are somewhat selfish. It was my misfortune to be taught by the village schoolmaster, that "number one was the first law of nature." I strive, and have ever strove, to advance the interests of gardeners and of gardening; but I do not, nor have I ever done so, from any mere feeling of philanthropy, but from a firm faith in the belief that, by furthering the interests of gardening, I am contributing to my own. It was doubtless the same consideration which prompted the English government to adopt Rowland Hill's suggestion of penny postage on letters. It was not merely be-cause it was contributing to the convenience and consequent happiness of its subjects, but because, by increasing the circle of its postal patrons, it was evidently increasing its own revenue. It is not an incumbent duty - at any rate it is not general for the followers of any profession, to inquire whether their profession is to the increase of the pleasures or happiness of mankind, or not. - but gardeners have the advantage of knowing, whenever that question does arise, "that the garden is the purest of all human pleasures," and that no profession under heaven affords such abundant material for looking from "nature up to nature's God-" While, therefore, they aim at the increase of their patrons - while they strive by every means in their power, to diffuse a love of nature as displayed in gardening, and while, by their untiring endeavors, gardening is flourishing and prosperous, they have the advantage of knowing, in the language of Lindley, that they are contributing to "the augmentation of the luxuries and comforts, and the diminution of the wants and miseries of mankind," at the same time that they are administering to the interests of themselves.
"Gardeners are badly paid" - "there is no profession of whose members so much and so varied duties are required, at so small a remuneration."These have now become proverbs. To be "paid like a gardener," has become parallel to be "shod like a shoemaker's wife." But how can this be remedied? Not by repining or complaining, but by constant and untiring endeavors to show that we are worth more than we get - by leaving nothing undone that may let those who employ us know that our profession is a difficult one, and requires much cost and labor to arrive at any perfection in - and by leaving no opportunity to pass by which may lead us to the intelligence of how we may still be more useful to those who employ us.
It has been remarked by a correspondent in the July number of this Journal, that "a dozen gardeners, who live with some of the first merchants in New York city, do not receive more money than is paid their porters for the scientific purpose of nailing up a packing box." I have reason to believe that American employers are far more open to a sense of the justice of a fair remuneration to useful intelligence, than English gentlemen; and I would suggest the merchants in question are unacquainted with the labor and cost that it requires to make a first rate gardener; at any rate never have given it a thought. The gentlemen which Mr. Quinn alludes too, as giving fair wages to their gardeners, do know this fact, and hence arises the difference. I know a fine garden in Connecticut, that has some fine plant houses, in which some plants are grown that would not disgrace a Chiswick exhibition, and which has or had as clever a gardener as ever came to this country. This gardener was one of the "badly paid." Upon inquiring I found that none of the members of this family ever went into the garden or plant houses, from one month's end to another.
Can we expect gentlemen to pay for what they take no interest in? - or even if they do happen to take an interest. - for what they do not understand?
As I write these lines, I am strongly reminded of a maxim I learned while connected with commercial gardening: - "He who can raise enough stock to supply a large and varied market, is a 'smart' man; but he who can make a market for his stock, and bring in its full value where no market already exists, is a 'smarter.'" In another sense, this should be the aim of gardeners. If they find that they do not receive that remuneration which their services are worth, and that a main cause of that is a want of interest by employers in their profession, together with a want of knowledge as to its pleasures, and the cost and labor which the gardener has had to put himself to, to make himself capable of administering those pleasures - then it must be apparent that the removal of these obstacles alone, must be his object. One great means of effecting this, is to promote the extension and usefulness of horticultural societies and publications. They demand the enthusiastic support of the gardener. I have met with some gardeners who denounce them. I remember well that when the Gardener's Chronicle was first started in England, the majority of gardeners in our district denounced it.