The Garden Guide

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

Polish horticulture

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492. The horticulture of Poland is at a very low ebb: excepting in a few of the noblemen's gardens and those of the richest monasteries, there was till lately no vegetable but the kohl-rabi, and no fruits but the apple, pear, and cherry. Towards the sea-coast, and on the borders of Austria, there is greater variety. The potato is now in more general use in Poland than in Russia, though a slight prejudice still exists against it, from its having been introduced by the Germans, The cucumber is cultivated in many places for salting, or preserving by barrelling, and sinking the barrel in a well. In some places, the common carnation poppy is grown for the seed, which, taken when beginning to ripen, and strewed on a sort of milk-porridge or milk-paste, made from the meal of buckwheat, and from Polish millet (Digitaria sanguinalis), is reckoned a delicacy. Bees are kept by some of the freedmen or minor nobles. The Polish hives, and mode of taking the honey, to be afterwards described, are exceedingly simple; and, never requiring the death of the insects, seem preferable to any mode of bee-culture yet devised by the bee-masters of other countries. Hirschfeld mentions, that the gardens of Prince Casimir Poniatowski, elder brother of the last king, contained at one time 5000 ananas, in a range of hothouses 600 feet long. In 1813, the only pines grown in Poland were a few at Pulhawa, and some grown by a German, who rented the hothouses belonging to the late king's establishment at Warsaw. Only one or two instances then existed of vines and peaches being grown near the capital, but there was an abundance of these and other fruits at Pulhawa and Zamoyst, and some few at Villanov. The Polish noblemen have gained in every kind of knowledge from having been so long a period in the French service; and since the re-establishment of peace, they have set about agricultural and gardening improvements with a considerable degree of energy. In the culture of useful plants, and the dissemination of that kind of knowledge amongst the lower classes of society, the Count Wodzicki's patriotic and liberal endeavours are generally acknowledged by his countrymen. His large garden Neidze-wicdz, near Cracow, and the Gardener's Dictionary, published by him, bear witness to his merit in this department.