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The Book of the Garden
By Charles M'Intosh

By Charles M'Intosh corresponding member of the London Horticultural Society, the Massachusetts Horticulture Society, and the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, etc. Late curator of the Royal Gardens of his Majesty the King of the Belgians at Claremont and Brussels, and now of those of his Grace, the Duke of Buccleuch at Dalkeith Palace, in two volumes (1853) (pdf)


In presenting to the public the first part of the Practical or Cultural volume of The Book of the Garden, we have only a few remarks to premise as to the general plan of arrangement we have employed, and the reasons which have induced us to adopt an arrangement which is, to a great extent, a departure from that hitherto followed in similar books.

Works on Practical Gardening have, for the most part, been arranged in the calender form, no doubt with a view to render them, in the estimation of their authors, more convenient for reference. There are, however, objections to this mode of arrangement, which we think may be avoided by adopting the sectional or separate garden division, as the operations in any of these departments may be carried on irrespective of the others—a mode of culture which is, in fact, practised in our largest and best-managed establishments, in all of which the subdivision of labour is found to be admirably adapted for facilitating the multifarious operations of the whole. Besides, some people have a predilection for one of these departments more than for another, and many are content with one of them only.

We had hoped that a seasonal arrangement might have been adopted, and that it would have combined all the advantages of the calender form, and have avoided its principal defects. The attempt to carry out this scheme has, however, shown us that it inevitably involved a want of connection and a degree of confusion, which could not be otherwise than most embarrassing to the reader, while it necessitated an amount of repetition which would have made it impossible to comprise the cultural department of the garden in a single volume, without sacrificing that minuteness of detail which is essential to the highest value of such a work.

By the mode of arrangement we have finally resolved on, the reader will more readily find the information he seeks; each subject assumes a more connected form when treated on as a whole, than if it were referred to in different places; and the necessity for frequent reference and much repetition is wholly done away. On these grounds we think the advantage will be sufficiently apparent of treating on the operations of the Kitchen or Culinary Garden, the Hardy Fruit Garden, the Forcing Garden, and the Flower Garden, including Plant-Houses and Pleasure Grounds, &c., as distinct in themselves.

In discussing the various subjects which collectively constitute any of these general divisions, we have adopted a mode of arrangement which we believe to be as complete as is attainable; — our great object being to systematise the whole, by bringing together, in our accounts of their culture, such productions as have a natural affinity to each other.

As regards the descriptive lists of the most approved Fruits, Vegetables, Flowering Plants, and Ornamental Trees, Shrubs, &c., we avail ourselves of the present as a fit opportunity for correcting former lists, and adding those of recent introduction or origin, when of sufficient merit, to the lists of a similar nature which have appeared in practical works such as “The Book of the Garden” professes to be. This is the more important, because, with the exception of Mr Hogg's excellent work, “British Pomology” which treats on the apple exclusively, there has been no book of a similar description to the present published in Britain since our “Practical Gardener” and “The Orchard,” both of which, in this respect, are now very far behind the requirements of the present age. The excellent descriptive “Fruit Catalogue of the London Horticultural Society,” and the no less valuable “Orchard,” by the late Mr G. Lindley, and “The Fruit Cultivator,” by the late Mr Rogers, stand in a similar position to the works already named. The only channels through which the new and improved varieties of Fruits, Vegetables, and Plants of general interest have reached the public, (since the “Practical Gardener” was last revised by us, more than twelve years ago,) have been the horticultural periodicals, and the nurserymen’s and seedsmen's trade catalogues; although, during this period, more important additions have been made to all of these classes than during any former period of the same extent. These lists, valuable as they certainly have been in making us acquainted with every novelty as it appeared, have, from their nature, scattered the information sought for over a wide extent of volumes and tracts, which renders the task of referring to them expensive and often exceedingly difficult. To these additions we may add the many fine fruits of American origin, and the vast number of new ornamental plants which, at the date of the works referred to, were wholly unknown in this country..

From them, selected lists of such varieties as are suitable to our climate, &c., will be made.

The arrangement of these lists will be as follows:—

The most approved and recently introduced Esculent Seeds and Roots will accompany the articles to which they respectively belong in the Culinary Garden.

The most approved and recently obtained Hardy Fruits will in like manner be found in the Hardy Fruit Garden.

The Tropical Fruits in the Forcing Garden. And

The more rare, choice, and interesting Trees of Ornament, &c., Flowering Plants, &c., will accompany the Flower Garden.

We have given some brief details of the practices of the London market-gardeners, who, it must be admitted, are the best culinary gardeners in the world. This is a subject scarcely hinted at by authors on gardening since the days of Abercrombie, the merits of whose excellent works (we mean the original editions) are mainly owing to the copious details he gave of the market-gardening of his day. As nearly a century has now elapsed since he wrote his first work, and as during that period a corresponding improvement has taken place in that department, as well as in that of private gardening, a work of this kind would be incomplete without a notice of these excellent modes of culture.

Little or nothing has been published concerning the London practice since that time, and private gardeners, in general, know little how things are there managed. There has been a reserve on the part of the former in affording information, and an unwillingness on the side of the latter to undergo the hard work to which they would be subjected, were they to spend a year in a market-garden, rather than two or three loitering about a nursery—too often a tax upon the proprietor, and losing much of their own valuable time. We here allude to young gardeners only, who would acquire a much greater amount of useful information in the general routine of their profession were they to spend a year in a first-rate London market-garden, than they could do in a dozen years, toiling nearly as hard, in very inferior places in the country. We are far from insinuating that a nursery is a bad school for a young gardener ; on the contrary, no man can have much pretension to a thorough knowledge of his business, unless he has spent a part of his career in a first-rate establishment of that kind. In it he learns what he could not do in a private garden; he learns the most approved methods of propagation, has many opportunities of studying the nomenclature of Fruits, of attaining a general knowledge of Plants, and the best modes of taking up and packing Trees, and of becoming acquainted with the new and rarer ornamental and useful Trees and Shrubs, upon which decorative gardening is destined in future so much to depend. In many of these establishments he may obtain some practice in laying out grounds, as nurserymen of high repute are often employed as landscape-gardeners. In fact, every gardener wishing to excel in his profession, should spend a couple of years in such establishments, and one at least in a London market-garden.

To one department of great importance, both to the practical gardener and the amateur, and which has hitherto hardly received the attention it merits in practical works—that of the diseases, insects, and other enemies, to the attacks of which the various products of the garden are liable—especial attention has been paid. Full descriptions have been given of these from the best authorities, supplemented by actual observation, and also full details of the most approved methods of prevention and cure; while the insects in particular have been much more extensively figured than has, it is believed, ever before been done in any single work, and this on a scale and with a minuteness which will make the identification of them easy even to a comparatively superficial observer.

We have thought it expedient to give the European names of culinary vegetables and fruits, more especially the former, on account of our increasing intercourse with the Continent, and the quantities of seeds which are yearly brought or sent into this country, and often put into the hands of those unacquainted with the language in which the names are given. Readers of such popular Continental works as the “Bon Jardinier,” the “Utrechtsche Hovinier,” “Garten Zietung,” “Verstandige Gartner,” and similar books on gardening, may be assisted by a reference to the paragraph General Remarks at the end of each section.

Throughout the whole of this department of our subject, it will be our special aim to enter into all necessary minuteness of detail; to avoid all technicalities of term, or, wherever we are compelled to employ these, to append full explanations of them; and, in short, to make the “Book of the Garden,” as to its cultural department, so precise and complete in all its directions, that it may suffice to the tyro as his guide, from the most rudimental operations of gardening onward, and render the amateur in a great degree independent of other assistance; while, to the experienced gardener, we trust it will be found the best and most practical work of reference extant.

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