The Landscape Guide

 Life of John Claudius Loudon his wife

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Gardener's Magazine

In 1826 he established The Gardener's Magazine, the first periodical devoted exclusively to horticultural subjects. This work was always Mr. Loudon's favourite, and the organ through which he communicated his own thoughts and feelings to the public. It was originally undertaken principally for the benefit of gardeners in the country, in order to put them "on a footing with those about the metropolis;" but it soon became the universal means of communication among gardeners, and was of incalculable benefit to them. It also became a source of great pleasure to amateurs of gardening, and was no doubt the means of inspiring a taste for the pursuit in many who had before been indifferent to it. "In an art so universally practised as gardening, and one daily undergoing so much improvement," Mr. Loudon observes, "a great many occurrences must take place worthy of being recorded, not only for the entertainment of gardening readers, but for the instruction of practitioners in the art." (Gardeners Magazine. vol. i. p. 1.) That this work met the wants of a large class of readers is evident from four thousand copies of the first number having been sold in a few days; and from the work having continued popular for nineteen years, and, in fact, till its close at the death of its conductor.

The Gardener's Magazine first appeared quarterly, afterwards it was published every two months, and finally every month. The second number of this work contained an attack on tile London horticultural Society, the affairs of which were then notoriously ill managed, though before the publication of The Gardener's Magazine no one had ventured to complain of them publicly. In the same number appeared an article on the " Self-education of Gardeners;" in which Mr. Loudon began those earnest exhortations to gardeners to improve themselves, and those efforts to put them in the way of self-improvement, which be continued almost to the last hour of his life. He also, in this second number, gave a plan for the improvement of Kensington Gardens, and suggested the erection of "small stone lodges with fireplaces at the principal garden gates, for the comfort of the door-keepers in winters" as before that time the door-keepers had no shelter but the alcoves; and he proposed that at least once a week a band should play in the Gardens, and that the public should be able to obtain the convenience of seats, as in the public gardens on the Continent. In the third number of the Magazine he began a series of articles on " Cottage Economy;" and invited young architects to turn their thoughts to the erection . of cottages, as well for labourers as for gardeners, which should be not only ornamental enough to please the gentlemen on whose grounds they were to be erected, but comfortable to those who were to live in them. These hints were followed up by many gentlemen: and I think I never saw Mr. Loudon more pleased than when a highly respectable gardener once told him that he was living in a new and most comfortable cottage, which his master had built for him; a noble marques, who said that he should never have thought of it, but for the observations in Mr. Loudon's Gardener's Magazine, as they made him consider whether the cottage was comfortable or not, and that, as soon as he did so, he perceived its deficiencies. The fact is, that the greater part of the nobility and landed proprietors are, I believe, most anxious to make those around them as comfortable as possible, and only require their attention to be properly directed to the subject. In the fourth number of the Gardener's Magazine the subject of the reform of the Horticultural Society was resumed; and it was continued in the succeeding numbers till 1830, when the desired result was at length effected.

Both in the early volumes of The Gardener's Magazine, and in the Encyclopedia of Gardening, Mr. Loudon had strongly advocated the necessity of having garden libraries; and in the second volume of The Gardener's Magazine he gave a list of books he considered suitable for a garden library, in which he included the Encyclopedia of Plants and the Hortus Britannicus; works then written, though they took so long in printing that they were not published till two or three years afterwards. It is very gratifying to find that numerous garden libraries were established in different parts of the country, in the course of two or three months after they were first suggested in The Gardener's Magazine; and that several letters appeared, from working gardeners, on the advantages and improvement which they had received from the books they thus obtained access to.

In the year 1827 Mr. London suggested the idea of planting some public walk according to the natural system, and naming the trees in the way that has lately been done in Kensington Gardens. The same year the first notices were inserted of Horticultural Societies offering premiums for the production of certain vegetables, flowers, and fruits; a plan which has since been carried to a very great extent.


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