The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Bavarian horticulture

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3. German Gardening, in respect to Horticultural Productions 389. In Bavaria, horticulture has been practised from a very early period. Beans, peas, lentils, and turnips were cultivated by the ancients chiefly in enclosed places (hortis), which were denominated fabaria, pisaria, lenticularia, and napina, according to the things cultivated. Whoever committed theft in these places, or in any other garden, was punished with a fine of fifteen schillings, which was, however, diminished to three under Charles the Great. Garlic, the cucumber, and the chick pea were also known. The rearing of fruit trees was much encouraged, and laws were enacted against damaging trees. Whoever is so malicious, says the ancient Bavarian law, as to injure another person's garden, is fined the sum of forty schillings, twenty of which go to the possessor of the garden, and the other twenty are taken as a public forfeiture of the violated law: the offender shall, moreover, replant there the same number of trees, of the same varieties, and shall every year pay down a schilling for each tree, until they bear fruit (i. 20.). Of fruit trees there were the apple, the pear, and the cherry (chirsiboum, Cerasus): these were improved by grafting; and whoever maliciously broke off a scion was fined the sum of three schillings, which, if the tree stood in a garden, was increased to fifteen schillings. The preparation of cider seems also not to have been unknown at that time, for Tacian, an ancient German author, says, 'Inti uvin noh cidiri trinkit' (c. 2.); that is, 'They drink both wine and cider. ' That Bavaria was indebted to the Romans for the cherry, plum, and pear, may be considered probable, from the circumstance of these trees bearing Roman names. The apple, on the contrary, is from the native woods. Charlemagne, A. D. 800, considerably advanced gardening and the rearing of fruit trees. In every century of the history of this country are found notices respecting horticulture and the cultivation of fruits. Two sorts of leeks (poree) were known in the beginning of the fourteenth century, Porrus porritus and P. major. Sage, rue, yffen, pennyroyal, kaps, cappus, the poppy, and the horseradish, were called oleres, to distinguish them from legumes. In 1209 culinary plants and tree fruits were not subject to tithes; and, in Augsburg, thieving in gardens was severely punished. From this time forward gardening in Bavaria has gradually advanced from its degraded state, till now there is not a village or parish can be found which does not possess fruit trees, sometimes even of the rarest kinds. Wurtzburg, Bamburg, and Nuremberg have long been famous for the high degree of civilisation which they have attained. Munich and Nymphenburg possess good forcing establishments, and excellent fruit and legumes. The preservation of ornamental plants and culinary vegetables through the winter is effected with wonderful success in the higher parts of the country, and particularly about Munich. The principal means made use of are, cellars deeply sunk in the ground, for the preservation of culinary vegetables, which are there planted on shelves of earth; coverings of straw mats, and of thick boards, for pits and frames; and opaque roofs with coverings of straw mats for the front glass of hothouses of every description. It is astonishing in how few minutes a range of hothouses of 200 or 300 feet in length may be covered with straw mats, or uncovered. The royal kitchen-garden at Munich contains extensive hothouses and pits for forcing; and on the walls are vines for the purpose of laying down the shoots to root into pots, and afterwards to ripen their fruit under glass frames, as in Holland and Denmark. Asparagus is here grown in the open air in double rows, with a space between, which is dug out and filled with hot dung, while the plants are covered with a wooden frame. All the varieties of the cabbage tribe are here taken up on the first approach of winter, and planted close together, in sheds with glass fronts, the air within being kept at a moderate temperature by stoves. One of the vegetables forced during the winter is kohl-rabi: it is sown in October, transplanted in November, and begun to be gathered at Christmas, continuing from that time till March, when the bulbosities are about the size of turnip radishes. Kidneybeans and mushrooms are produced here during the whole winter, and also alpine strawberries. The latter are grown in pots in a house, the glass of which in front is nearly perpendicular: the pots are placed on shelves close to the glass, those having the fruit ripe being always on the upper shelves, where the air is necessarily warmest; and those last brought in being placed on the lower shelves, where the air is colder. As the fruit on the upper shelves is ripened off, and the pots removed, those on the lower shelves are brought up to supply their places, and pots from the frames in the open garden are sub-stituted in their stead. This succession is carried on from October to June, when strawberries ripen in pits in the garden, and, in the first week in July, in the open ground. It thus appears that the hor-ticultural luxuries of the kings of Bavaria are greater than those of the kings of either France or Britain. The kitchen-garden at Nymphenburg contains a number of hothouses, in which pines are kept in the winter time, and pits, in which they are fruited during the summer season. In one pit they are grown in a bed of earth in the natural manner, and there they remain for four or five years, producing numerous suckers from the stems, and a perpetual succession of fruit, which, though small, is high-flavoured. (See Gard. Mag., vol. v. p. 427.) In October, 1828, we found ripe alpine strawberries in pits, and were informed that this fruit was produced, either in the open air or under glass, every day in the year. Mushrooms are also produced throughout the year, and abundance of salading of every description. including succory, grown from the old roots in cellars, and mustard and cress from the seeds in stoves. Cabbages, celery, leeks, parsley, and a number of similar vegetables, are planted in autumn in pits or beds, surrounded by frames or walls, and covered every night by wooden shutters, over which are placed straw mats. In the most severe weather these coverings are only taken off when some of the vegetables are wanted for use. In cellars and large rooms shelves containing layers of earth are formed one above another; and in these, cauliflowers, broccoli, lettuce, and other vegetables are kept through great part of the winter. Endive is taken up, dried in a hothouse, the leaves tied close together with rye-straw, and the plants afterwards buried in the soil with the roots upwards, and protruding a few inches above the surface, and the whole covered with thatch, to keep out the rain and the frost. In this state it will keep till spring. Cabbages are also kept in the same manner, both in Germany and in the highlands of Scotland. In short, the exertions made by the German gardeners, in so severe a climate as that of Bavaria, are such as the British gardener can form little idea of; and, with the clear, dry air of the country, their great success is alike incredible. Pine-apples are cultivated at Nymphenburg, in imitation of the practice in the West Indies. Two years' old plants are turned out of the pots in a bed of earth with a stratum of rotten dung below, in a flued pit; and there they remain between three and four years, giving a perpetual succession of fruit. The first crop is produced the second year, from the centre of what may be called the mother plants; the second crop the third year, from the suckers of the third year still on the plants; and the third crop from suckers produced by the suckers of the first year, and by other suckers direct from the mother plants. The pit of plants was, in November, 1828, covered with several hundreds of fruit, in every stage, from its first appearance to ripeness. The pines were small, but one stool had from three to six or more; so that the total weight produced on a given surface of ground, in a given time, is perhaps more than by the ordinary mode of culture. (Gard. Mag., vol. iv. p. 497.) At Ulm, asparagus attains a larger size than any where else in Bavaria, owing to some peculiarity in the soil, as, at two miles' distance, it is found impossible to bring it to the same degree of perfection. Different gardeners with whom we conversed on the subject, attribute its excellence to the deep dry sand, which is trenched between four and five feet, and made up with strata of manure. Two years' seedling plants are transplanted in rows, one foot in width between, and the plants two feet apart in the row; the plants in one row alternating with those in the other. By this method there is a space of two feet between plant and plant; though, on a given number of square feet, there is a greater number of plants than one to each foot. The object of the space is to admit of stirring the soil in spring; and, in order that this may be done without injuring the crowns of the roots, a strong stake, standing a foot above the soil, is fixed at each plant. Very little covering is put on the plants in the winter season. The stalks produced are said to be near an inch in diameter, and the beds last from twelve to fifteen years. (Gard. Mag., vol. iv. p. 493.)