The Garden Guide

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

Practical gardening in Netherlands

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5. Dutch Gardening as empirically practised 198. Happily the use of gardens is universal in the Netherlands; and of the Dutch and Flemings it may be truly said, in the words of Sir William Temple, �that gardening has been the common favourite of public and private men; a pleasure of the greatest and a care of the meanest, and indeed an employment and a profession, for which no man there is too high nor too low.� A modern tourist informs us that many of the artisans and poorer classes of Amsterdam reside constantly on the water, in comfortable apartments, built on the upper decks of their trading vessels, where they not only keep hogs, ducks, and other domestic animals, but have little gardens of tulips, hyacinths, anemones, and various other flowers. The gardens of the cottagers in these countries are undoubtedly better managed, and more productive, than those of any other country: no man who has a cottage is without a garden attached; often small, but rendered useful to a poor family by the high degree of culture given to it. Every available particle of matter capable of acting as manure is assiduously collected, and thrown into a neat ridge, cone, or bed, which is turned over frequently; and, when sufficiently fermented and ameliorated, applied to the soil. Liquid manure is put into tanks, and preserved there till it undergoes fermentation, in which state it is found far more efficacious than when new. The plants in general cultivation in the cottage-gardens are the cabbage tribe, including Brussels sprouts, the white beet for the leaves and leaf-stalks, the parsnep, carrot, yellow and white turnip, potato, the pea, bean, and kidney-bean; the apple, pear, and currant, and in some places, the vine trained over the cottage, are the fruits; and bulbs, double stocks, rockets, wall-flowers, pinks, violets, roses, and honeysuckles are the leading flowers and plants of ornament. It is almost unnecessary to add, that the gardens of the tradesmen, farmers, citizens, private gentlemen, and princes, rise in gradation, in extent, riches, and high keeping.