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THE AMERICAN GARDENER;


OR,
A TREATISE

ON THE SITUATION, SOIL, AND LAYING OUT OF GARDENS, ON THE MAKING AND MANAGING OF HOT-BEDS AND GREEN-HOUSES; AND ON THE PROPAGATION AND CULTIVATION OF THE SEVERAL SORTS OF VEGETABLES, HERBS, FRUITS, AND FLOWERS.


BY WILLIAM COBBETT.


"I went by the field of the Slothful and by the vineyard of the
"man void of understanding; and lo! It was all grown over with
"thorns, and nettles covered the face thereof, and the stone-wall
"thereof was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well.
"I looked upon it and received instruction."

Proverbs: Chap. XXIV. Ver. 30.



STEREOTYPE EDITION.

LONDON:
PUBLISHED BY C. CLEMENT, 3, CLEMENT'S INN.

1821.




DEDICATION


TO
MRS. TREDWELL,
Of Salisbury Place, Long Island.


London, 20th of June, 1821.

DEAR MADAM,

BE pleased to receive the following little work as a mark of the highest respect, which it is in the power of the author to show to any human being. The work was, for the greater part, written while I lived in your neighbourhood, and while I had the happiness to enjoy the numerous advantages of an intercourse with your family. Real pleasures, when once possessed, are always enjoyed until memory quits the mind. Those who have once seen a bed of beautiful tulips, carnations or auriculas, enjoy, during life, the delightful sight, in recollection; and, in defiance of time and of local distance, I shall, as long as memory remain, still enjoy the pleasure arising from that politeness untainted by affectation, that unostentatious hospitality, that kindness coming from the bottom of the heart, which will, in my mind, always be associated with the name of Tredwell.

That part of this work which relates to flowers, owes its being written to the great delight which I observed you to take in the cultivation of this beautiful class of productions of the garden; and, in the smallest degree, to your pleasures in that healthful, innocent, rational and instructive pursuit, that circumstance will afford a singular gratification to,


Dear Madam,

                                                                Your most obedient,
                                                                                                                               And most humble Servant,
WM. COBBETT.

[CONTENTS]

[CHAPTER I.]
[On the Situation, Soil, Fencing, and, Laying-out of Gardens.]

[CHAPTER II.]
[On the Making and Managing of Hot Beds and Green-houses.]


[CHAPTER III.]
[On Propagation and Cultivation in general.]


[CHAPTER IV.]
[Vegetables and Herbs.]


[CHAPTER V.]
[FRUITS.]


[CHAPTER VI.]
[FLOWERS.]


[CHAPTER VI.]
[FLOWERS.]




PREFACE.

1. THE proper uses of a Preface appear to be, to give the reader information, which may be useful, during the perusal of the work to which it is prefixed; to explain the nature and object of the work to point out the method of the arrangement of its several parts; and, in short, to afford the means of due preparation for the task the reader is entering upon; which preparation is always a great advantage to the author as well as to the reader.

2. As to the nature of the work, it is, I hope, pretty clearly stated in the Title Page. The object evidently is to cause the art of gardening to be better understood and practised than it now is in America and, very few persons will deny, that there is, in this case, plenty of room for improvement. America has soil and climate far surpassing those of England; and yet she is surprizingly deficient in variety as well as quality of garden products. I am not alluding to things of ornament, or appertaining to luxurious enjoyments; but, to things that are really useful, and that tend to profit and to the preservation of health, without which latter, life is not worth having. It is incredible to those, who have not had occasion to observe the fact, how large a part of the sustenance of a country-labourer's family, in England, comes out of his little garden. The labourers of England are distinguished from those of other countries by several striking peculiarities; but, by no one are they so strongly distinguished as by their fondness of their gardens, and by the diligence, care and taste, which they show in the management of them. The reproach which Solomon, in the words of my motto, affixes on the slothful and ignorant husbandman, they seem to have constantly in their minds; and to be constantly on the watch to prevent it from applying to themselves. Poverty may apologize for a dirty dress or an unshaven face; men may be negligent of their persons; but the sentence of the whole nation is, that he, who is a sloven in his garden, is a sloven indeed. The inside of a labourer's house, his habits, his qualities as a workman, and almost his morality, may be judged of from the appearance of his garden. If that be neglected, he is, nine times out of ten, a sluggard or a drunkard, or both.

3. It seems, at first sight, very odd that this taste for gardening should not have been preserved in America; but, it is accounted for by reflecting, that where land is abundant, attachment and even attention to small spots wear away. To desire to possess land is a universal desire; and vanity makes us prefer quantity to quality. You may prove as clearly as daylight, that it is better, in certain cases, to possess one acre than a hundred; but where do you find the man that prefers the one acre? When large parcels of kind are undertaken to be cultivated, small ones are held in contempt; and, though a good garden supplies so large a part of what is consumed by a family, and keeps supplying it all the year round too, there are many farmers even in England, who grudge even a wheelbarrow full of manure that is bestowed on the garden. To remove this neglect as to gardening in America is one of tho objects of this work; and, I think, I shall, in the progress of the work, show, that the garden may, besides its intrinsic utility, be made to be a most valuable helpmate to the Farm.

4. It is impossible to write a book that shall exclusively apply to every particular case. Some persons have need of large, while others want only small gardens; but, as to Situation, Soil, and Fencing, the rules will apply to all cases. Those who want neither Hot-Beds nor Green-Houses, may read the part treating of them, or leave it unread, just as they please; but, I think, that it will not require much to be said to convince every American Farmer, North of Carolina, at least, that he ought to have a Hot-Bed in the Spring.

5. I have divided the matters, treated of, thus: The first Chapter treats of the Situation, Soil, Fencing, and Laying-out of Gardens; the second, of the making and managing of Hot-Beds and Green-Houses; the third, of Propagation and Cultivation generally; the three remaining Chapters treat of the raising and managing of the several plants, each under its particular name, classed under the heads, Vegetables and Herbs; Fruits; Flowers. In each of these last three Chapters, I have, in arranging my matter, followed the Alphabetical Order of the names of the several plants, which mode of arrangement must naturally tend to make the work of reference easy. But, as very frequent reference must be necessary, and, as the utility of the work must, in some degree, depend on the facility with which the several parts of it can be referred to, there are two Indexes at the end, one of the names of the several plants, and, the other, of the matters generally. For the same reason, I have numbered the paragraphs throughout the work. A more proper term might have been found than that of Vegetables, seeing, that, strictly speaking, that word applies to all things that grow from the earth. But, as we call those products of the garden, which we use, in their natural shape, as human food; as we generally call these only by the name of vegetables, I have chosen that word in preference to one, which, though more strictly proper, would be less generally understood. Nearly the same may be said of the word Herbs.

6. Some persons may think, that Flowers are things of no use; that they are nonsensical things. The same may be, and, perhaps, with more reason, said of pictures. An Italian, while he gives his fortune for a picture, will laugh to scorn a Hollander, who leaves a tulip-root as a fortune to his son. For my part, as a thing to keep and not to sell; as a thing, the possession of which is to give me pleasure, I hesitate not a moment to prefer the plant of a fine carnation to a gold watch set with diamonds.

7. The territory of the United States includes such a variety of climates; degrees of heat and cold so different at the same period of the year; that it is impossible to give instructions, as relating to time, for sowing, planting, and so forth, that shall be applicable to every part of the country. I, therefore, for the most part, make my directions applicable to seasons, or states of the weather, rather than to dates. When I make no particular mention as to limes of the year, or month, it is to be understood, that I am supposing myself at, or near, the City of New York, and that I am speaking of what ought to be done there. With this clearly borne in mind, the reader, who will know the difference in the degrees of heat and cold in the different parts of the country, will know how to apply the instructions accordingly.

8. Those persons, who perform their garden work themselves, will need no caution with respect to men that they employ as Gardeners; but, those who employ Gardeners ought by no means to leave them to do as they please. Their practical experience is worth something; but, if they are generally found very deficient in knowledge of their business in England, what must those of them be who come to America? Every man, who can dig and hoe and rake, calls himself a Gardener as soon as he lands here from England. This description of persons are generally handy men, and, having been used to spade-work, they, from habit, do things well and neatly. But as to the art of gardening, they generally know nothing of it. I wished to carry the nicer parts of gardening to perfection, at Botley. I succeeded. But I took care to employ no man who called himself a gardener. I selected handy and clear-headed farm-labourers. They did what I ordered them to do; and offered me none of their advice or opinions.

9. There is a foible of human nature, which greatly contributes to establish and perpetuate the power and the mischief of pretended gardeners. Tell a gentleman, that this is wrong, or that is wrong, in the management of his garden, and he instantly and half-angrily replies, that his gardener is a very skilful man. "That may be," said I once to a friend, who, at an enormous expense, had got two or three poor little melons, while I, at hardly any expense it all, had large quantities of very line ones: "That may be," said I, "for skill may consist in getting you to expend your money without getting you any fruit." The truth is, however, that it is not a desire to be deceived, that produces this species of perverseness: it is a desire not to be thought foolish. The gentleman has chosen the gardener; and, the reason why he stickles for him is, that, if he allow the gardener to be a bad one, he himself has made a bad choice; and that would be an imputation on his understanding, rather than allow which to be just, he will cheerfully bleed from his purse pretty freely.

10. The best security against the effects of this foible of human nature, is, for the owner of the garden to be head gardener himself; and, I hope that this work may assist in rendering this office easy and pleasant. But, to perform the office well, the owner must be diligent as well as skilful. He must look forward. It is a very good way to look attentively at every part of the garden every Saturday, and to write down some, at least, of the things to be done during the next week. This tends to prevent those omissions, which, when they have once taken place, are not easily compensated for. Seasons wait for no man. Nature makes us her offers freely; but she will be taken at her word.

11. I cannot help, in conclusion of this preface, expressing my hope, that this work may tend to the increasing, in some degree, of a taste for gardening in America. It is a source of much greater profit than is generally imagined; and, merely as an amusement, or recreation, it is one of the most rational and most conducive to health. It is a pursuit, not only compatible with, but favourable to, the study of any art or science. It tends to turn the minds of youth from amusements and attachments of a frivolous or vicious nature. It is indulged at home. It tends to make home pleasant; and to endear to us the spot on which it is our lot to live.

WM. COBBETT.

North Hampstead, Long Island, 1819.