Case III: Calendars and Periodicals

Calendars

One of the earliest genres of horticultural writing is the calendar, giving advice on which tasks to undertake throughout the course of the year. One of the first of these was published in 1664 by John Evelyn under the title Kalendarium hortense, and issued in many editions during Evelyn’s lifetime. In his preface Evelyn justifies the calendar arrangement as being useful and simple, presenting the gardener ‘with a compleat cycle of what is requisite to be done throughout every moneth of the year’. He believes that careful planning and organization is the key to success. With so many tasks needing attention, it is imperative that each be done at the proper time and in the proper sequence, otherwise ‘how intolerable a confusion will succeed the smallest neglect’. Many later influential writers on gardening, including Philip Miller, also produced calendars. Since local weather conditions are variable and the advice in calendars is intended to be very specific, it was necessary to publish versions adapted to different regions of the country.

Eden, or, A Compleat Body of Gardening

John Hill (1716?-1775).  Eden, or, A Compleat Body of Gardening. London: T. Osborne, 1757.

John Hill trained originally as an apothecary but also had experience as a gardener and was a prodigious writer on many subjects including botany and horticulture. Despite his talents he was an extremely unpopular figure for his vocal criticism of all matters scientific and horticultural which included attacks on such respected targets as Linnaeus, the Royal Society and Philip Miller. This work was published as weekly numbers from 28 August 1756 to 8 November 1757. The advice given in each part was therefore very timely, providing information on plants and fruits in season that week, along with descriptions and cultural details. Each part is illustrated with plates depicting a number of plants together, many of which were both drawn and engraved by the author.

Periodicals

Magazines and periodical publications are an important genre in gardening literature because they are both more specific in focus, more timely and less expensive than books. Generally issued quarterly or monthly, they can be targeted geographically to a particular region, limited in scope to particular types of plants (e.g. roses) and tailored to the time of year, thus delivering information at precisely the point in the gardening season when it is needed.

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine

Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. London: Edward Couchman, 1827-1829.

Following the original editor William Curtis (1746-1799), the magazine was edited for almost eighty years by distinguished botanists William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865) the first Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and then by his son Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911), who succeeded his father at Kew. The 1829 volume includes profiles on three different species of pentstemon, all new introductions from North America: ‘The recent travels of Mr. Douglas and Mr. Drummond among the Rocky Mountains, and in the North-west part of America, have been the means of enriching our gardens with many highly beautiful species of the genus Pentstemon’. Pentstemon gracilis was grown from seed found near the Red River sent back to England by the naturalists accompanying Franklin’s second expedition to North America.

Paxton’s Magazine of Botany, and Register of Flowering Plants

Paxton’s Magazine of Botany, and Register of Flowering Plants. London: Orr and Smith, 1834-1848.

In addition to his many other activities Joseph Paxton (1803-1865) somehow found time to establish a number of periodicals. Modestly priced and intended for ordinary gardeners, each monthly part included four engravings, a calendar, and articles on ‘operations’, tools, insects, garden plans and other practical matters. Paxton was a proponent of colourful bedding schemes which produce ‘a splendid show once or twice in the year, spring and autumn’. One of the plants discussed is the ‘Petunia violacea’ (P. integrifolia), recently introduced from South America, which Paxton praises for ‘brilliancy of blossoms and general beauty’. He recommends it for bedding, a use which continues to this day: ‘the flowers show to the greatest advantage if a whole bed be devoted to them’. In the second volume he illustrates two more petunias, including ‘Petunia nyctaginiflora violacea’ a hybrid readily propagated from cuttings which he had raised himself at Chatsworth.

Flora and Sylva : A Monthly Review for Lovers of Garden, Woodland, Tree or Flower.

Paxton’s Magazine of Botany, and Register of Flowering Plants. London: Orr and Smith, 1834-1848.

In addition to his many other activities Joseph Paxton (1803-1865) somehow found time to establish a number of periodicals. Modestly priced and intended for ordinary gardeners, each monthly part included four engravings, a calendar, and articles on ‘operations’, tools, insects, garden plans and other practical matters. Paxton was a proponent of colourful bedding schemes which produce ‘a splendid show once or twice in the year, spring and autumn’. One of the plants discussed is the ‘Petunia violacea’ (P. integrifolia), recently introduced from South America, which Paxton praises for ‘brilliancy of blossoms and general beauty’. He recommends it for bedding, a use which continues to this day: ‘the flowers show to the greatest advantage if a whole bed be devoted to them’. In the second volume he illustrates two more petunias, including ‘Petunia nyctaginiflora violacea’ a hybrid readily propagated from cuttings which he had raised himself at Chatsworth.

The Canadian Horticulturist

The Canadian Horticulturist. St. Catharines: Fruit Growers' Association of Ontario, 1878-[1914]

The magazine was published as a monthly from 1878 to 1914, with Linus Woolverton (1846-1914), another Niagara area nurseryman, succeeding as editor in 1886 when Delos Beadle (1823-1905) retired. Although the focus was on fruit, in the early years the magazine covered all aspects of horticulture and gardening and was aimed at the ordinary farmer and home gardener. The first volume includes entries for sixty different varieties of apple, including the ‘McIntosh red’, introduced ‘some seventy years ago’ from a tree originating in Dundas, Ontario. The volume for 1880 is the only early volume with colour plates. It has two plates supplied by the Rochester nursery firm of Ellwanger and Barry, printed by one of the lithography firms in Rochester specializing in coloured printing for nursery catalogues, George Frauenberger. The plate depicts the ‘Sharpless strawberry’, first raised from seed by a Mr. J.K. Sharpless in Pennsylvania and highly recommended by the Pennsylvania Fruit Growers Society.

Journal of the Horticultural Society of London

Journal of the Horticultural Society of London. London: The Society, 1846 and ongoing.

The Horticultural Society sponsored its own plant collectors and frequently included reports from the field in their Journal. Robert Fortune’s 1843-1846 trip to China resulted in the introduction of many beautiful flowering plants and shrubs including azaleas and viburnums. In this article in the volume of the Journal published immediately following his return Fortune describes encountering ‘weigela rosea’ (Weigela  florida) in a garden on the Island of Chusan, where he ‘immediately marked it as one of the finest plants of Northern China’. He describes it as being easy to cultivate from cuttings, and anticipates that it will prove hardy in the British climate. In the twentieth century many attractive hybrids have been developed and there are now close to two hundred named cultivars.

Section I: The Written Word
Case III: Calendars and Periodicals