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PRACTICAL HORTICULTURE AND GARDENING

Paradisi In Sole Paradisus Terrestris The history of printed gardening literature spans nearly half a millennium. Although many advances have changed horticultural practice over the past 500 years, the practical advice offered by books on how to plant and care for the fruits, flowers, herbs, and vegetables in one's garden has had a relatively constant goal. Gardening manuals then as now were intended to serve as guides and instructors in practical horticulture, as one sixteenth-century title page proclaims, "for all those that delight in gardening." The fact that many early works on gardening were printed in the vernacular, rather than in Latin, indicates that they were intended as practical manuals for a non-scholarly audience. Indeed, in the dedication of Thomas Hill's posthumously published work, The Gardeners Labyrinth, the editor, Henry Dethick, writes almost apologetically of the book's "vulgar stile," but explains that he does not wish to "be deemed undutifull, and altogether ungratefull, if that I should omit any opportunitie, whereby I might encrease so rare a commoditie to my countrey."
Although the earliest works on gardening were generally broad in scope, encompassing all aspects of cultivation for a variety of plants, much discussion was given over to orchards and the planting and grafting of tress. This emphasis continued to dominate gardening literature throughout the eighteenth century. The eighteenth century also saw the increased use of the calendar format, particularly in England, in which gardening practices were discussed month by month in almanac fashion. This became the style followed by early American gardening manuals until William Prince's A Short Treatise on Horticulture, published in 1828, broke from this format. Although ornamental gardening was always a strong interest in Europe, American gardeners concentrated first on the cultivation of food plants. This is reflected in early American gardening literature, with its emphasis on fruit culture and kitchen gardening. The second half of the nineteenth century, however, saw a gradual shift toward pleasure gardening and flower cultivation.

General gardening literature in the University of Delaware Library's Special Collections is represented by over 300 titles, many in multiple editions, spanning the mid-sixteenth to the late nineteenth centuries. British and American imprints are present in roughly equal proportions, providing an opportunity to study the evolution of Anglo-American horticultural practices over a four-hundred-year period. British gardening works in Special Collections range from the late sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries, with the greatest concentration of titles from the eighteenth century. American gardening literature is very well represented for the entire nineteenth century. In addition to American monographs on general gardening and practical horticulture, gardening magazines such as the Magazine of Horticulture, American Journal of Horticulture, Gardener's Monthly, and Meehan's Monthly played an important role in guiding and instructing a large American audience in the pleasures and profits of garden cultivation.

Thomas Hill (ca. 1528-1575).
The Arte of Gardening. . . . London: Imprinted by Edward Allde, 1608. Bound with: The Gardeners Labyrinth. London: Henry Ballard, 1608; and A Profitable Instruction of the Perfect Ordering of Bees. . . . London: H. B., 1608.

The Arte of Gardening, widely regarded as the first general gardening book to be published in England, first appeared ca. 1558. The Gardeners Labyrinth was originally published in 1577. A Profitable Instruction of the Perfect Ordering of Bees includes a section entitled "The Booke of the Art or Craft of Planting and Graffing," which is an altered version of a treatise published ca. 1518 by Wynkyn de Worde considered to be the first work printed in England on a gardening subject.


William Lawson (fl. 1618).
A New Orchard and Garden. . . . With the Country Housewifes Garden for Herbes of Common Use. . . . London: Printed by I.H. for R. Jackson, 1623.


John Parkinson (1567-1650).
Paradisi In Sole Paradisus Terrestris. [London: Humphrey Lownes & Robert Young, 1629]

Illustrated with nearly 800 woodcuts, Paradisus Terrestris is considered the most important treatise on horticulture published in England at the time.


Jean de La Quintinie (1626-1688) and John Evelyn (1620-1706).
The Compleat Gard'ner. London: Matthew Gillyflower and James Partridge, 1693.

John Evelyn appears to have been only partly responsible for this English translation of Jean de La Quintinie's Instruction pour les Jardins Fruitiers et Potagers. The work consists mainly of directions for fruit and kitchen gardens, with shorter essays on orange trees, melons, and agriculture. Evelyn is also noted for several other horticultural works, including the Kalendarium Hortense: or The Gard'ners Almanac, the first gardener's calendar published in England, and Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees, originally published together in 1664, and represented in Special Collections by first and later editions.


John Laurence (1668-1732).
The Clergy-Man's Recreation: Shewing the Pleasure and Profit of the Art of Gardening. London: Bernard Lintott, 1717. Bound with: The Gentleman's Recreation: Or the Second Part of the Art of Gardening Improved. London: Bernard Lintott, 1717; Charles Evelyn. The Lady's Recreation: Or, the Art of Gardening Farther Improv'd. London: E. Curll, 1719; and John Laurence. The Fruit-Garden Kalendar: Or, a Summary of the Art of Managing the Fruit-Garden. London: Bernard Lintott, 1718.


Philip Miller (1691-1771).
The Gardeners Dictionary: Containing the Methods of Cultivating and Improving the Kitchen, Fruit and Flower Garden. London: C. Rivington, 1737. Author's presentation copy to Peter Collinson, with Collinson's manuscript notes throughout.

Of Philip Miller's several publications, his most important and respected work was The Gardeners Dictionary, first published in 1731. It remained a definitive work on gardening practice for over a century, and substantially influenced American horticulture. Peter Collinson was a prominent British horticulturalist who was a close correspondent of John Bartram and Benjamin Franklin, with both of whom he traded seeds and plants, and he was the chief English sponsor of Bartram. It was through his American acquaintances that Collinson was able to introduce hundreds of North American plants to England, which he grew at his gardens in Peckham and Mill Hill. Both Bartram and Franklin owned and used Miller's Dictionary, which went through many editions. The progression of editions reveals the advances made in gardening over the eighteenth century and the number of new plants introduced to British gardens, including many of Bartram's imported by Collinson. Special Collections holds several editions of The Gardeners Dictionary published from 1731 to 1764.


John Abercrombie (1726-1806).
Every Man His Own Gardener: Being a New, and Much More Complete Gardeners Kalendar. London: W. Griffin, 1769.

Every Man His Own Gardener, first published in 1767, was an extremely popular work, going through many editions well into the nineteenth century.


John Ralph Gardiner and David Hepburn.
The American Gardener. . . . Washington, D. C.: S. H. Smith, 1804.

One of the first books on general gardening written and published in America.


Bernard M'Mahon (1775?-1816).
American Gardener's Calendar. Philadelphia: B. Graves, 1806.

The standard authority for general gardening in America for fifty years, going through eleven editions. Devoting eighteen pages to "Ornamental Designs and Planting," it is also the first American work to give advice on landscape gardening. Special Collections holds all but the fifth and sixth editions.


William Prince (1766-1842).
A Short Treatise on Horticulture. New York: T. & J. Swords, 1828. Author's presentation copy to James Boyle.

The first American gardening book to break from the English calendar format, A Short Treatise on Horticulture described and gave directions for the cultivation of numerous fruits, ornamental trees and shrubs, flowers, and greenhouse plants. The book was an immediate success, but was never reprinted.

Gift in memory of Samuel Moyerman


The American Gardener's Magazine. . . Boston: Hovey & Co., 1835-1836.

The first American magazine relating to general gardening and practical horticulture. The title changed in 1837 to The Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and all Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs, and continued under this title until 1868.


William N. White (1819-1867).
Gardening for the South. New York: A. O. Moore, 1858.

William Nathaniel White's work influenced gardening practices in the South, and he is regarded as the first American to use the practice of slow-burning fires to protect fruit trees from frost.


Gardener's Monthly and Horticultural Advertiser. Philadelphia: Thomas Meehan, 1859-1888.

Thomas Meehan, an Englishman who established a well-known nursery near Philadelphia, founded this gardening magazine and Meehan's Monthly, A Magazine of Horticulture, Botany and Kindred Subjects, published in Philadelphia from 1891 to 1902.


Peter Henderson (1822-1890).
Gardening for Pleasure, A Guide to the Amateur in the Fruit, Vegetable, and Flower Garden. New York: Orange Judd Co., 1875.

A very popular gardening manual that went through many editions. New York seedsman and horticulturalist Peter Henderson wrote a number of popular manuals on general, vegetable, and flower gardening. Orange Judd Publishing Company was a successful publisher of popular horticultural and agricultural works from 1836, when it was founded as the firm of Charles M. Saxton, to 1972. The name was changed to Orange Judd in 1864.


Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954).
Cyclopedia of American Horticulture. New York: The MacMillan Co., 1900-1902. 4 volumes.

Liberty Hyde Bailey, Professor of Horticulture at Cornell University, was a prolific writer on horticultural and agricultural subjects, and author of several encyclopedic works, including this one "comprising suggestions for cultivation of horticultural crops, and descriptions of the trade species of fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants, together with geographical data and biographical sketches." This is the first edition of a work that went through numerous reprintings and editions to the 1960s.


Exhibit Home | Essay | Fruit | Flowers | Nursery Trade | Landscape | Agriculture | Botany

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Last modified: 12/21/10

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