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.
ThE cultivation of flowers is an employment adapted to every grade, the high, the low, the rich, and the poor; but especially to those who have retired from the busy scenes of active life. Man was never made to rust out in idleness. A degree of exercise is as necessary for the preservation of health, both of body and mind, as food. And what exercise is more fit for him who is in the decline of life, than that of superintending a well-ordered garden? What more enlivens the sinking mind? What more invigorates the feeble frame? What is more conducive to a long life?
Floriculture is one of the most innocent, the most healthy, and, to some, the most pleasant, employments in life. The rural scenes which it affords are instructive lessons, tending to moral and social virtue, teaching us to "look through nature up to nature's God".
The cultivation of flowers is an appropriate amusement for young ladies. It teaches neatness, cultivates a correct taste, and furnishes the mind with many correct ideas. The delicate form and features, the mildness and sympathy of disposition, render them fit subjects to raise those transcendent beauties of nature, which declare the perfections of the "Creator's power." The splendid lustre and variegated hues (which bid defiance to the pencil) of the rose, the lily, the tulip, and a thousand others, harmonize with the fair fostering hand that tends them - with the heart susceptible to the noblest impressions - and with spotless innocence.
We know of no association more constantly present to the mind, or one more fitting, than that which connects woman with flowers; and rarely, indeed, does the first appear more charming, or engaged in an occupation more suited to her taste, than when she is surrounded by the latter, by blossoms that have been trained and cherished by her own fair hand. We have always admired flowers as the most beautiful productions of nature. True, they arc fleeting, but what is there of the beautiful and lovely which is not? It may be sympathy, it may be mere imagination, but to us the thought has the force of truth, that we have never known a woman truly pure-hearted and angel-minded that did not love flowers. The things by which we are surrounded have their influence on our minds; they give the tone and coloring in a measure to our character, and perhaps our destiny.
A taste for the pleasures and comforts of horticulture in a country has been justly considered as an indication of refinement in the people, and its excellent moral effect has been acknowledged in every instance where it has taken place.
Who does not love flowers? They are such pure and beautiful things, such sweet gifts from our Heavenly Father, scattered with lavish hand to gladden the hearts of his creatures 1 Not for the wealthy alone do they bloom, but the lowliest cottager may claim them as his own, to beautify his humble home. We never passed a cottage overhung with vines, where roses and honeysuckles mingled, and morning-glories peeped in at the windows, without thinking that there must be, in that lovely abode, hearts full of love - love for the beautiful, and love for God.
Why is it that the home of the English cottager exhibits a degree of neatness and comfort so seldom seen in this country? It is because honeysuckles and jasmines are trained around the doors and windows; because flowers of many kinds and beautiful hues are mingled with shrubbery in the limited yard. Would that such a taste were more prevalent in this country! Where so much real pleasure can be purchased at so cheap a rate, so many senses be gratified at once, it is truly a pity so few are found to make the effort. Flowers around a door or clustered in a window, give an air of happy quiet and peace, of conscious security, and are a more correct indication of good taste, gentle feelings, and an unsullied heart, than silver plate or marble walls.
We claim it the duty of every man who is a farmer, to beautify and adorn his grounds and garden with flowers, plants, and shrubbery, and so arrange his yards and grounds as to give his habitation as Eden-like an appearance as possible. Should our farmers be thus true to themselves and dutiful to nature, then with truth of our country it might be said, in the language of the poet, 'tis uThe land of the myrtle, the cypress, and vine, Where all but the spirit of man is divine".
Nothing is so attractive to the traveller as a fine country residence. It is I something for the eye to feast upon. It pleases the imagination, cheers the heart, and brings with it all the associations of happiness.
One blessing follows another. Sociality, refinement, and, learning, follow in the train of rural improvement. The mind keeps pace with the outer man, and the love of the beautiful in nature inspires the mind with the love of the useful and the good.