The Garden Guide

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

Parkinson Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris

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625. In the beginning of the seventeenth century, flowers and curious plants appear to have been very generally cultivated. William Coys, of Slubbers in Essex, had a garden, which, L'Obel and Gerard inform us, was well stored with exotics. Under his care the Yucca first flowered in England, in 1604; but it was cultivated by Gerard as early as 1596, though it did not flower with him. Platt's Flora's Paradise beautified, which is the first book that treats expressly on flowers, appeared in 1608. Parkinson published his Paradisus in 1629. 'A modem florist,' observes Dr. Pulteney, 'wholly unacquainted with the state of the art at the time Parkinson wrote, would perhaps be surprised to find that his predecessor could enumerate, besides 16 described as distinct species, 120 varieties of the tulip, 60 anemones, more than 90 of the narcissus tribe, 50 hyacinths, 50 carnations, 20 pinks, 30 crocuses, and above 40 of the I'ris genus.' (Sketches, &c. vol. ii. p. 123.) The laurel, or bay-cherry, was then very rare, and considered as a tender plant, being defended 'from the bitterness of the winter by casting a blanket over the top thereof;' and the larch tree was only reared up as a curiosity. Greenhouse plants were placed in cellars, where they lost their leaves, but those of such as survived shot out again in spring when removed to the open air.