Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose...

"The more things change, the more they stay the same".... and if it was ever true of anything, then surely gardening must fit this adage.

So whilst I might not currently have an allotment, I still have compost in my veins, and readers of these pages should not expect to get away without a "Greenmantle moment" every so often.

Imagine my delight then, to be given at Christmas (by my Mum, who well knows my fondness for old books) a very battered old copy of "Beetons New Dictionary of Every Day Gardening", a revised edition published in 1896.

This fascinating tome, describes itself as "A Popular Cyclopeadia Of The Theory And Practice Of Horticulture, Floriculture And Pomology, In All Their Various Branches" .

Not only is it exhaustive, but features 550 illustrations, including many watercolour plates.
Virtually all varieties of fruit, flowers and vegetables seem to be covered, so if you want the Victorian advice for your particular gardening problem just let me know. But the best bit is this.....A really devoted gardener of yesteryear has obviously used it as their bible. It is heavily annotated, and underlined throughout, and even has their notes about propagating various types of cuttings, and soil preparation, scribbled on the back of old envelopes and stuffed in between the pages.

As a bookmark, our student of horticulture was using a packet from "Browns Seed and Bulb Merchants of Bristol."

There is so much of interest I could quote for you, but I will confine myself here to the opening remarks about "Allotment Gardens", after which I think I might begin each new blog month with a snippet from the section entitled "Monthly calendar of gardening work throughout the year"

"It would be beyond the purpose of this work to point out the many and great benefits which result from the allotment of a small portion of land for a garden to every cottage. These are so obvious that they may be taken for granted here, and the only thing needful is to show how such allotments may be managed to the best advantage."

"The extent of each allotment should be not less than a quarter of an acre, nor more than half an acre. Little benefit can be derived from less than the former quantity, and if half an acre be exceeded, there is great danger that the cottager will become unsettled as a day-labourer or mechanic, while his occupation will not be large enough to make him either a farmer or a market gardener."

Wise words indeed................


Petunia's Gardener said...

Lucky you, and lucky us you're willing to share! This shall be entertaining I'm sure (and good tips to boot)!

Rebsie Fairholm said...

Ooooh, me jealous. I love old books and old seed packets.