The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 4: British Gardens (1100-1830)

Magic in gardening

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VI. British Gardening, as a Science, and as to the Authors it has produced 718. Those superstitious observances attendant on a rude state of society retained their ground in British gardening till the end of the seventeeth century. Meager, Mascal, Worlidge, and the authors who preceded them, regulate the performance of horticultural operations by the age of the moon. Turnips or onions, according to these authors, sown when the moon is full, will not bulb, but send up flower-stalks; and fruit trees planted or grafted at that season will have their period of bearing greatly retarded. We heard in Scotland, about 1795, the same doctrine as to turnips and onions mentioned by an old market-gardener. A weak tree is to be pruned in the increase, and a strong tree in the wane of the moon. Quintinye seems to have been the first to oppose this doctrine in France, and through Evelyn's translations of his Complete Gardener, he seems to have overturned it also in England. 'I solemnly declare,' he says, 'that, after a diligent observation of the moon's changes for thirty years together, and an enquiry whether they had any influence in gardening, the affirmative of which has been so long established among us, I perceived that it was no weightier than old wives' tales, and that it had been advanced by inexperienced gardeners. I have therefore, followed what appeared most reasonable, and rejected what was otherwise: in short, graft in what time of the moon you please, if your graft be good, and grafted on a proper stock, provided you do it like an artist, you will be sure to succeed. In the same manner, sow what sorts of grain you please, and plant as you please, in any quarter of the moon, I'll answer for your success, the first and last day of the moon being equally favourable.'