The Garden Guide

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

Practical gardening in Ireland

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716. The use of gardens in Ireland is of a very limited description; and the gardens there, of all the classes, are greatly inferior to the corresponding classes in Britain. A few exceptions may be made in favour of the Dublin botanic gardens, and those of one or two wealthy citizens and extensive proprietors; but the cottage-gardens, in many districts, contain nothing besides potatoes; and potatoes are the chief ingredients in the gardens of private gentlemen. Parnel, Wakefield, and Curwen have ably shown that, till wheaten bread and meat take the place of potatoes, no great improvement can be expected among the lower classes of Ireland. 'Where the habitation itself is so wretched,' observes Bicheno, 'the ornament of a garden is not to be expected. No rose or woodbine twines around the door, with some warbling bird suspended near; nor is there the least plot appropriated to flowers. The houses of the more wealthy are remarkably deficient in this respect, although they have a milder climate than England, and might easily preserve the choicest plants. The lady even does not indulge in a few pots of rarities at her window. The disinclination of farmers to become gardeners admits of explanation,- they are gardeners on a larger scale; but, that persons otherwise occupied should not be cultivators, is less easy of solution.' (Ireland and its Economy, &c.)