The gardener's friend

The first edition of Horticulture Week forerunner The Gardeners' Chronicle was published on 2 January 1841. Here we reproduce the leading article from that edition, setting out the "principal subjects" the journal was intended to embrace.

"The general plan upon which the Newspaper now offered to the public will be conducted is so fully explained in our Prospectus that it is scarcely necessary on the present occasion to do more than advert in the briefest possible manner to the principal subjects which our Journal is intended to embrace.

Gardening in all its numerous branches forms the general subject of elucidation. Market Gardens, Kitchen Gardens, Orchards, Forcing Houses, Shrubberies, Flower Gardens, Conservatories, Lawns Nurseries, Plantations, Forests, Rural and Garden Architecture, Landscape Gardening, Walks, Roads and the multifarious matters connected with these branches of rural economy are the points towards which our attention will be more particularly directed.

With regard to what are called Florists' Flowers, we are prepared to give them all the attention such beautiful productions really deserve; but we shall not allow them to become the subject of wrangling and abuse, as is too often the case, to the destruction of their value in the eyes of the public, to the disgrace of those concerned in such proceedings.

The humblest branch of Gardening is essentially founded upon physiological principles, and the whole art advances in exact proportion to our knowledge of the laws that regulate the general economy of vegetable life. The embellishment of gardens is partly in proportion to the number of new flowers that are introduced from foreign climates; the successful cultivation of these exotics depends upon the skill with which the soil and climate that are natural to them are understood and imitated; the imitation of climate depends upon the arts of heating, ventilating, glazing, and other processes of the like nature; and the latter involve the necessity of some acquaintance with the laws of heat, and of the motions of fluids.

Hence it is evident that many more subjects than the mere art of Gardening must find a place in a Newspaper intended either for the general improvement of the profession, or for the information of those who consider Gardening merely as amateurs: and indeed, it is with reference to the last-mentioned topics that a Weekly Paper is more particularly necessary, for the art of Gardening would soon be deprived of all novelty and interest if it were not for the daily discoveries of science and the application of them as they arise to the practice of cultivation. For these reasons Vegetable Physiology, Systematic Botany as far as handsome or useful plants are concerned, and Vegetable Chemistry are more especially matters upon which information may be constantly expected.

Let not our readers, however, fear lest we oppress them with too much learning. We perfectly understand that our general duty is to write for those who have little acquaintance with science, and to instruct the uninformed rather than to gather information for men of science, who can always collect it for themselves from its original sources.

The actual condition of Gardeners, and the nature of the education they ought to receive to fit them for fulfilling the duties of their station, will constantly occupy our attention. We certainly do not think with an ingenious writer on gardening affairs, that "dancing, boxing and fiddling" are necessary accomplishments, or that it is even desirable for a Gardener to consume his leisure time in studying Greek, Dutch and Italian. But we do think that there is room for very great improvement in a Gardener's education, and that such improvement would tend essentially to increase both his personal comfort and his value to his employer, and consequently to raise him in the scale of society.

With regard to the rights of Gardeners as a peculiar class, it must never be forgotten that their employers have also rights which require to be considered, and we shall not be found disposed to overlook either. Our columns will always be open to temperate discussion upon these points, and we shall ourselves take frequent occasion of adverting to them.

The Gardening and Agriculture of the British Colonies will constantly receive our serious attention. The improvement of their natural resources is becoming every year of more importance to the colonists; and we trust to render them good service by calling their attention either to the best means of cultivating the plants they already possess, or to the sources from which they may derive new and valuable species.

An unpleasant but necessary part of our duty is to expose fraud wherever we can ascertain that it is practiced. The misrepresentations that exist about inventions of all sorts, new flowers, new fruits and many other things professing to be new, produce great loss to individuals, disgust them with Gardening and effect an injury to fair dealers.

Our great object will be to make our Paper, in the truest sense of the work, the gardener's friend; collecting what is useful to him, opposing wrong, defending right and maintaining by every proper means the legitimate interests of all branches of knowledge connected with the subjects to which our Journal is devoted.

One word in conclusion with respect to Political matters. There are no politics in Gardening, and we hold ourselves independent of all parties. Whenever public measures which we approve of relating to Botanical or Horticultural affairs are proposed, they will have our earnest support; and whenever we think them wrong, we shall oppose them by every means in our power."

- Taken from The Gardeners' Chronicle, Saturday 2 January, 1841.


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