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I entirely disclaim any interference with the practice of gardeners by profession. These able men—the pupils of experience—are in a safe and honourable path; let them proceed in it. Yet I may be permitted to hope that, by stimulating them to investigate the science of their art, and to seek the light of philosophy, I may add to their pleasure, and dignify their profession.
To those Noblemen and scientific gentlemen who have honoured me with unequivocal proofs of their approbation, I beg to offer my sincere and respectful thanks.
To Dr. Faraday, of the Royal Institution, I am particularly indebted. To his gratuitous kindness, I owe the possession of the series of his New Researches in Electricity, a compendium of luminous facts that, to me, are invaluable; the more so, as they bear forcibly upon the universal agency and distribution of the ethereal essence, which appears to connect all the great natural phenomena of the creation.
ABSTRACT OF THE PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
So many books on horticultural subjects—some of them of the highest order of merit—being, as it were, in the hands of every one, it may appear superfluous, if not wholly useless, to introduce another to the notice of the public. In order, therefore, to justify this attempt, it will be proper, in the first place, to state some of the reasons which have induced me to produce this work, and then to give an account of the nature of the work itself.
Most of the works on gardening which have come under my observation, are not only expensive, but appear to have been written almost exclusively for the affluent; —for those who possess, or can afford to possess, all the luxuries of the garden. We read of the management of hot-houses, green-houses, forcing-houses; of nurserygrounds, shrubberies, and other concomitants of ornamental gardening. Now, although it is acknowledged that many useful ideas may be gathered from these works, still it is obvious that they are chiefly written for those whose station in life enables them to employ a chief gardener and assistants, qualified for the performance of the many operations required in the various departments of large gardens. As I profess to have a very different object in view, I address this book to those, who, without aiming to become professional gardeners, wish, nevertheless, to acquire so much of the art of gardening as shall enable them to conduct its more common and essential operations with facility and precision, and to produce those results which have hitherto been considered as attainable only by high professional skill and experience.
There are many, doubtless, who are desirous of cultivating their own gardens as a means of obtaining and establishing health; and others, heads of families, who feel it a duty to economize in everything; who wish to employ their own hours of leisure, and to educate, or, in the literal and proper sense of the word, to bring up, one or more of their children in the innocent and useful pursuits of domestic horticulture. To such, a cheap publication, containing plain and intelligible instructions, upon scientific principles, for every month of the year, must, it is presumed, be found a valuable acquisition, by enabling them to obtain, at a moderate expense, practical directions on the means best calculated to make the most of a piece of garden-ground, and to render it as productive as possible.
The work consists of twelve principal divisions, devoted respectively to the twelve months of the year, and subdivided into three sections for each month. The First Section embraces subjects connected with the science or philosophy of gardening;—such as the nature and agency of earths and soils; of electricity, water, the atmosphere, light, heat, &c; of the structure and vascular system of plants, the motion of the sap, and the laboration of the proper juice.
The Second Section contains an account of the natural history, generic and specific characters, and cultivation of one or more of the chief esculent vegetables; to which succeed directions for the operations in the kitchengarden during the current month.
The Third Section treats of the natural history, &c, of the most esteemed fruit-trees; and contains directions for the management of the fruiting department during the month; to these are added miscellaneous observations on the treatment of flowering shrubs, evergreens, flowerborders, &CC.
As it is presumed that many readers are curious in searching for facts connected with natural philosophy, and that others are attached to botanical pursuits, I have added a concise Naturalist's Calendar for each month in the year. A Botanical Catalogue of British indigenous plants is also added. In this the species are arranged not only in their respective classes and orders of the Linnaean system, as enlarged and improved in the last edition of Sir James Edward Smith's English Flora, but in the monthly order in which they severally flower. Thus the English botanist will find a vade mecum, calculated to assist him in his endeavours to identify every plant which he may find in flower at any period of the year.
Such, then, is the general plan of the work; but to enable the reader to understand its particular objects, something further remains to be said. It is my earnest desire to enlarge the circle of science, to disseminate it in quarters where, till lately, it has been comparatively unknown; and, above all, to excite an inquiry after truth. Conceiving that I shall most readily attain my object, by enabling the reader to examine and compare the various opinions and hypotheses advanced by scientific men, I have given throughout the work concise selections and extracts from the writings of some of the most eminent chemists and philosophers; to which, I have occasionally added such remarks as the nature of the subjects, and the result of my own reflection and experience appeared to require and authorize. The work, therefore, may be considered as a compendium, or book of reference, from which the reader may draw his own conclusion on the present state of science, particularly that termed electro-chemical; and on its probable applicability to the practice of horticulture.
The selections have been chiefly made from the writings of Lavoisier, Henry, Thompson, and Parkes. I have derived much assistance from those of Sir James Edward Smith; from the Mathematical Dictionary of Dr. Hutton; the Calendar and Dictionary of Abercrombie; the Gardener's Remembrancer of M'Phael; and from that elaborate and interesting work, The Encychmedia of Gardening, by Mr. Loudon: a volume, which is in itself a magazine of scientific research, and practical information.
At a time when knowledge is spreading in every direction, when our operatives and mechanics give promise of adding to the number of our enlightened characters, and when many of the sciences, both physical and mechanical, are laid open to their research, can there exist any just cause why such men should not be instructed in the true principles of agriculture and gardening?
I am not aware that any cheap publication has hitherto appeared, which pretends to treat of gardening as a science of induction. Believing it to be such, and that to attain any perfection in the practice, it is indispensably necessary to acquire some knowledge of the philosophy of the art, I have felt it my duty to call the reader's attention to the operations of those natural agents by which all the phenomena of vegetation are induced. Peculiar stress has been laid upon the agency of Electricity, with the view to excite close investigation into that branch of the philosophy of nature, which appears to have been the most neglected, although there is little reason to doubt that it contains the germ or embryo of that true science, which, if it ever fully develope itself, will scarcely fail to make