The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Montreal flower gardens

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894. In Montreal floriculture is very popular, as all the lower order of French Canadians, that is, natives of Canada descended from French parents, are very fond of flowers, particularly those residing in the town; and in winter they succeed remarkably well in blooming their plants, owing to the extreme heat kept up in their houses by means of the stoves in use in this country. 'It is by no moans an uncommon sight, in passing through the suburbs of this town in winter, to see a dozen or twenty Canadian houses, in fact almost every house that is inhabited by a French Canadian, with the front windows decorated with roses, carnations, and pelargoniums (particularly the countess seedling and pine-apple pelargoniums), in fall bloom, and flowering in a style that would not disgrace the most scientific gardener. Their gardens (each generally of a small plot of ground adjoining the house, in which they raise their culinary vegetables) are in summer generally graced with a few showy hollyhocks and roses, particularly the cabbage rose, together with the large crimson pï¾µony, and perhaps a few plants of bachelor's buttons, and a few annual flowers.' Two things are always found in these gardens; a lilac in one corner and flower beds full of mignonette. Some of them have also a few common fruit trees. (Hart, in Gard. Mag. for 1833, p. 162.) When Mr. James M'Nab and Mr. Robert Brown visited Canada in the autumn of 1834, at Montreal they were 'much surprised to see the great difference which the Canadian winter produces upon those species of ornamental trees which grace the lawns and cities of the United States. As examples, may be mentioned Ailantus glandulosa, the trees of which were quite small and stunted ; Maclura aurantiaca seemed barely alive; and the mulberries were small and unhealthy. The weeping willows here are almost always killed in winter, although in the neighbourhood of New York the stem of this tree is seen averaging from eight to fifteen and sometimes twenty feet in girt. None of the catalpas and magnolias, which prove so ornamental in the pleasure-grounds both of New York and Philadelphia, can be made to live here, with the exception of M. glauca, and it is in a very unhealthy condition. Taxodium distichum is also much dwarfed, and barely alive. Peaches, in this part of the country, do not succeed as standards; but several peach trees placed against garden walls possessed well-ripened wood, and had every appearance of affording plentiful crops. The principal ornamental tree cultivated in this part of the country, on account of its beauty, is the Robinia glutinosa, which, during the months of June, July, and August, bears a profusion of delicate pink flowers, and does not attain a large size.' (Quarterly Journal of Agriculture.)