The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: London to Manchester in the Spring of 1831

Birmingham town gardens

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The detached town gardens are situated in the suburbs of towns, generally collected together, and separated by hedges. There are upwards of two thousand of such gardens in the neighbourhood of Birmingham, a considerable number at Wolverhampton, some at Dudley and at Manchester, and a few even in the neighbourhood of that stationary town Buckingham. There are also potato gardens near many of the towns through which we have passed, in which are cultivated only the commoner culinary vegetables, and not either fruits or flowers. The rent paid for the enclosed gardens is generally about 2s. 6d. a rod; and the extent of ground in each garden is from 7 rods to the fourth of an acre. When a party possessing such a garden is about to leave it, the plants and trees, and the right of possession, are bought by the successor for a price which, at Birmingham and Wolverhampton, sometimes amounts to as high a sum as 60 guineas. Twenty guineas is the usual price given for a garden paying from a guinea to 30s. annual rental. It is not uncommon for single men, amateurs, clerks, journeymen, &c., to possess such gardens, and to pass a part of their evenings in their culture. In one of these gardens, occupied by Mr. Clarke, chemist and druggist, Birmingham (the inventor of Clarke's Marking Ink), we found a selection of hardy shrubs and plants, which quite astonished us; we shall give a list in a future Number. It were much to be wished that such gardens were general near all towns; as they afford a rational recreation to the sedentary, and a useful and agreeable manner of passing the leisure time of mechanics and workmen of every description. There ought to be no such thing, in our opinion, as a dwelling without a garden, either attached or detached; and, when self-government comes to be applied to towns in a more perfect manner than it now is, arrangements will be made accordingly. In the mean time, it appears to us to be the duty, as it would be for the advantage, of townsmen of wealth, to encourage the laying out of fields in small gardens at moderate rents, for those persons in their vicinity who live in houses or lodgings without gardens. A great drawback from improvements of this kind, as well as from many others, is occasioned by the tenure of landed property, and especially by entails, and church, charity, and corporation lands. No great general improvement can take place in the country, till these tenures are greatly simplified.