The Garden Guide

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

Practical gardening in Italy

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5. Italian Gardening, as empirically practiced 141.Gardens in Italy are common to the rural class of citizens. It is a general remark of travellers, and of acknowledged truth, that the state of cottage gardens indicates the state of the cottagers; and those of Italy confirm the justness of the observation. Almost the only plants grown in them are gourds and Indian corn. In Tuscany and Lombardy some of the cabbage tribe, the kidney-bean, and occasionally the potato, are to be seen, but rarely any thing else. The gardens of the farmers are somewhat better, especially in the northern districts, where they often contain patches of hemp, potatoes, parsneps, and lettuce, with some flowers, and fruit trees. The gardens of the small proprietors are still better stocked; those of wealthy bankers and merchants are generally the best in Italy. The gardens of the more wealthy nobles are distinguished as such, by having more or less of an accompanying park; but generally are only superior by their extent. The gardens of the convents are, in general, well cultivated, and rich in fruits and culinary vegetables, with some flowers and evergreens for church decorations. The priests assist in their cultivation, and some of them are much attached to gardening.