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Henderson's Hand-Book of the Grasses of Great Britain and America
By John Henderson (1875) (pdf)


The design or plan of this work is simply the illustration of an idea which I have long entertained of the requirements of a book on the grasses that would meet the wants and merit the approval of the practical farmer. With this object in view, I have made a selection of the most valuable of the true and artificial grasses, and brought them out, as it were, in bold relief, in the first and second parts of this work, thus bringing them in close proximity to each other for the purpose of a close and thorough examination of their respective merits. The analyses given are those made by Professor Way, of the Royal Agricultural Society, and are universally acknowledged to be the most reliable ones ever made of the grasses. By a careful comparison of the analysis the reader is made acquainted with the comparative nutritive values of the grasses analyzed. Following this is given the history of most of the valuable grasses from the different periods of their introduction until the present time, and the experience and directions for their successful cultivation by eminent practical agriculturists in both countries. In order to avoid confusion in the names of genera and species, and to assist in making the natural system the standard one of this country, also to make this work acceptable in part to the student of Botany. In the arrangement of genera and species. Part third of this work I have followed, as Mr. Flint has done in his valuable treatise, the natural order adopted by Professor Gray, to whose Manual of Botany I refer the student for a specific description of the grasses of no agricultural value. All grasses having an agricultural value have their generic and specific character given in this work. And lastly I have given suitable mixtures for various soils.

Although much has been said and written on the subject of grass culture, there still remains a great work to be accomplished in this important industry.

Perrennial grasses constituting rich, permanent meadows and pastures are generally acknowledged to be the true basis of the agricultural prosperity of a country, consequently the want of these must be a serious inconvenience and drawback to agricultural communities. What must then be thought of the practice, followed in many sections of the country of making a speciality of growing Timothy, which is a short-lived grass, and almost totally unfit for permanent pasture, to the exclusion' of other grasses, many of them equaling it for hay crops, but all surpassing it in permanency of meadow and pasturage.

If my humble efiorts will have the effect of inducing farmers to give mixtures of those valuable grasses a fair trial, which must result in individual wealth and general prosperity, clothing the fields with luxuriant verdure and giving the country an appearance which would betoken enlightened agricultural progress, I will not have labored in vain.


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