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Flowers and Flower-Gardens by David Lester Richardson

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[086] _Histie_, dry

[087] _Stibble field_, a field covered with stubble--the stalks of corn
left by the reaper.

[088] _The origin of the Daisy_--When Christ was three years old his
mother wished to twine him a birthday wreath. But as no flower was
growing out of doors on Christmas eve, not in all the promised land, and
as no made up flowers were to be bought, Mary resolved to prepare a
flower herself. To this end she took a piece of bright yellow silk which
had come down to her from David, and ran into the same, thick threads of
white silk, thread by thread, and while thus engaged, she pricked her
finger with the needle, and the pure blood stained some of the threads
with crimson, whereat the little child was much affected. But when the
winter was past and the rains were come and gone, and when spring came
to strew the earth with flowers, and the fig tree began to put forth her
green figs and the vine her buds, and when the voice or the turtle was
heard in the land, then came Christ and took the tender plant with its
single stem and egg shaped leaves and the flower with its golden centre
and rays of white and red, and planted it in the vale of Nazareth. Then,
taking up the cup of gold which had been presented to him by the wise
men of the East, he filled it at a neighbouring fountain, and watered
the flower and breathed upon it. And the plant grew and became the most
perfect of plants, and it flowers in every meadow, when the snow
disappears, and is itself the snow of spring, delighting the young heart
and enticing the old men from the village to the fields. From then until
now this flower has continued to bloom and although it may be plucked a
hundred times, again it blossoms--_Colshorn's Deutsche Mythologie furs
Deutsche Volk_.

[089] The Gorse is a low bush with prickly leaves growing like a
juniper. The contrast of its very brilliant yellow pea shaped blossoms
with the dark green of its leaves is very beautiful. It grows in hedges
and on commons and is thought rather a plebeian affair. I think it would
make quite an addition to our garden shrubbery. Possibly it might make
as much sensation with us (Americans) as our mullein does in foreign
green-houses,--_Mrs. Stowe_.

[090] George Town.

[091] The hill trumpeter.

[092] Nutmeg and Clove plantations.

[093] Leigh Hunt, in the dedication of his _Stories in Verse_ to the
Duke of Devonshire speaks of his Grace as "the adorner of the country
with beautiful gardens, and with the far-fetched botany of other
climates; one of whom it may be said without exaggeration and even
without a metaphor, that his footsteps may be traced in flowers."

[094] The following account of a newly discovered flower may be
interesting to my readers. "It is about the size of a walnut, perfectly
white, with fine leaves, resembling very much the wax plant. Upon the
blooming of the flower, in the cup formed by the leaves, is the exact
image of a dove lying on its back with its wings extended. The peak of
the bill and the eyes are plainly to be seen and a small leaf before the
flower arrives at maturity forms the outspread tail. The leaf can be
raised or shut down with the finger without breaking or apparently
injuring it until the flower reaches its bloom, when it drops,"--_Panama

[095] Signifying the _dew of the sea_. The rosemary grows best near the
sea-shore, and when the wind is off the land it delights the
home-returning voyager with its familiar fragrance.

[096] Perhaps it is not known to _all_ my readers that some flowers not
only brighten the earth by day with their lovely faces, but emit light
at dusk. In a note to Darwin's _Loves of the Plants_ it is stated that
the daughter of Linnaeus first observed the Nasturtium to throw out
flashes of light in the morning before sunrise, and also during the
evening twilight, but not after total darkness came on. The philosophers
considered these flashes to be electric. Mr. Haggren, Professor of
Natural History, perceived one evening a faint flash of light repeatedly
darted from a marigold. The flash was afterwards often seen by him on
the same flower two or three times, in quick succession, but more
commonly at intervals of some minutes. The light has been observed also
on the orange, the lily, the monks hood, the yellow goats beard and the
sun flower. This effect has sometimes been so striking that the flowers
have looked as if they were illuminated for a holiday.

Lady Blessington has a fanciful allusion to this flower light. "Some
flowers," she says, "absorb the rays of the sun so strongly that in the
evening they yield slight phosphoric flashes, may we not compare the
minds of poets to those flowers which imbibing light emit it again in a
different form and aspect?"

[097] The Shan and other Poems

[098] My Hindu friend is not answerable for the following notes.

And infants winged, who mirthful throw
Shafts rose-tipped from nectareous bow.

Kam Deva, the Cupid of the Hindu Mythology, is thus represented. His bow
is of the sugar cane, his string is formed of wild bees, and his arrows
are tipped with the rose.--_Tales of the Forest_.

[100] In 1811 this plant was subjected to a regular set of experiments
by Dr. G. Playfair, who, with many of his brethren, bears ample
testimony of its efficacy in leprosy, lues, tenia, herpes, dropsy,
rheumatism, hectic and intermittent fever. The powdered bark is given in
doses of 5-6 grains twice a day.--_Dr. Voight's Hortus Suburbanus

[101] It is perhaps of the Flax tribe. Mr. Piddington gives it the
Sanscrit name of _Atasi_ and the Botanical name _Linum usitatissimum_.

[102] Roxburgh calls it "intensely fragrant."

[103] Sometimes employed by robbers to deprive their victims of the
power of resistance. In a strong dose it is poison.

[104] It is said to be used by the Chinese to blacken their eyebrows and
their shoes.

[105] _Mirabilis jalapa_, or Marvel of Peru, is called by the country
people in England _the four o'clock flower_, from its opening regularly
at that time. There is a species of broom in America which is called the
American clock, because it exhibits its golden flowers every morning at
eleven, is fully open by one and closes again at two.

[106] Marvell died in 1678; Linnaeus died just a hundred years later.

[107] This poem (_The Sugar Cane_) when read in manuscript at Sir Joshua
Reynolds's, had made all the assembled wits burst into a laugh, when
after much blank-verse pomp the poet began a paragraph thus.--

"Now, Muse, let's sing of rats."

And what increased the ridicule was, that one of the company who slyly
overlooked the reader, perceived that the word had been originally
_mice_ and had been altered to _rats_ as more dignified.--_Boswell's
Life of Johnson_.

[108] Hazlitt has a pleasant essay on a garden _Sun-dial_, from which I
take the following passage:--

_Horas non numero nisi serenas_--is the motto of a sun dial near Venice.
There is a softness and a harmony in the words and in the thought
unparalleled. Of all conceits it is surely the most classical. "I count
only the hours that are serene." What a bland and care-dispelling
feeling! How the shadows seem to fade on the dial plate as the sky
looms, and time presents only a blank unless as its progress is marked
by what is joyous, and all that is not happy sinks into oblivion! What a
fine lesson is conveyed to the mind--to take no note of time but by its
benefits, to watch only for the smiles and neglect the frowns of fate,
to compose our lives of bright and gentle moments, turning always to the
sunny side of things, and letting the rest slip from our imaginations,
unheeded or forgotten! How different from the common art of self
tormenting! For myself, as I rode along the Brenta, while the sun shone
hot upon its sluggish, slimy waves, my sensations were far from
comfortable, but the reading this inscription on the side of a glaring
wall in an instant restored me to myself, and still, whenever I think of
or repeat it, it has the power of wafting me into the region of pure and
blissful abstraction.

[109] These are the initial letters of the Latin names of the plants,
they will be found at length on the lower column.

[110] Hampton Court was laid out by Cardinal Wolsey. The labyrinth, one
of the best which remains in England, occupies only a quarter of an
acre, and contains nearly a mile of winding walks. There is an adjacent
stand, on which the gardener places himself, to extricate the
adventuring stranger by his directions. Switzer condemns this plan for
having only four stops and gives a plan for one with twenty.--_Loudon_.

[111] The lower part of Bengal, not far from Calcutta, is here described

[112] Sir William Jones states that the Brahmins believe that the _blue_
champac flowers only in Paradise, it being yellow every where else.

[113] The wild dog of Bengal

[114] The elephant.

[115] Even Jeremy Bentham, the great Utilitarian Philosopher, who
pronounced the composition and perusal of poetry a mere amusement of no
higher rank than the game of Pushpin, had still something of the common
feeling of the poetry of nature in his soul. He says of himself--"_I was
passionately fond of flowers from my youth, and the passion has never
left me._" In praise of botany he would sometimes observe, "_We cannot
propagate stones_:" meaning that the mineralogist cannot circulate his
treasures without injuring himself, but the botanist can multiply his
specimens at will and add to the pleasures of others without lessening
his own.

[116] A man of a polite imagination is let into a great many pleasures
that the vulgar are not capable of receiving. He can converse with a
picture and find an agreeable companion in a statue. He meets with a
secret refreshment in a description, _and often feels a greater
satisfaction in the prospect of fields and meadows, than another does in
the possession_.--_Spectator_.

[117] Kent died in 1748 in the 64th year of his age. As a painter he had
no great merit, but many men of genius amongst his contemporaries had
the highest opinion of his skill as a Landscape-gardener. He sometimes,
however, carried his love of the purely natural to a fantastic excess,
as when in Kensington-garden he planted dead trees to give an air of
wild truth to the landscape.

In Esher's peaceful grove,
Where Kent and nature strove for Pelham's love,

this landscape-gardener is said to have exhibited a very remarkable
degree of taste and judgment. I cannot resist the temptation to quote
here Horace Walpole's eloquent account of Kent: "At that moment appeared
Kent, painter and poet enough to taste the charms of landscape, bold and
opinionative enough to dare and to dictate, and born with a genius to
strike out a great system from the twilight of imperfect essays. He
leaped the fence and saw that all nature was a garden[143]. He felt the
delicious contrast of hill and valley changing imperceptibly into each
other, tasted the beauty of the gentle swell, or concave swoop, and
remarked how loose groves crowned an easy eminence with happy ornament,
and while they called in the distant view between their graceful stems,
removed and extended the perspective by delusive comparison."--_On
Modern Gardening_.

[118] When the rage for a wild irregularity in the laying out of gardens
was carried to its extreme, the garden paths were so ridiculously
tortuous or zig-zag, that, as Brown remarked, a man might put one foot
upon _zig_ and the other upon _zag_.

[119] The natives are much too fond of having tanks within a few feet of
their windows, so that the vapours from the water go directly into the
house. These vapours are often seen hanging or rolling over the surface
of the tank like thick wreaths of smoke.

[120] Broken brick is called _kunkur_, but I believe the real kunkur is
real gravel, and if I am not mistaken a pretty good sort of gravel,
formed of particles of red granite, is obtainable from the Rajmahal

[121] Pope in his well known paper in the _Guardian_ complains that a
citizen is no sooner proprietor of a couple of yews but he entertains
thoughts of erecting them into giants, like those of Guildhall. "I know
an eminent cook," continues the writer, "who beautified his country seat
with a coronation dinner in greens, where you see the Champion
flourishing on horseback at one end of the table and the Queen in
perpetual youth at the other."

When the desire to subject nature to art had been carried to the
ludicrous extravagances so well satirized by Pope, men rushed into an
opposite extreme. Uvedale Price in his first rage for nature and horror
of art, destroyed a venerable old garden that should have been respected
for its antiquity, if for nothing else. He lived to repent his rashness
and honestly to record that repentance. Coleridge, observed to John
Sterling, that "we have gone too far in destroying the old style of
gardens and parks." "The great thing in landscape gardening" he
continued "is to discover whether the scenery is such that the country
seems to belong to man or man to the country."

[122] In England it costs upon the average about 12 shillings or six
rupees to have a tree of 30 feet high transplanted.

[123] I believe the largest leaf in the world is that of the Fan Palm or
Talipot tree in Ceylon. "The branch of the tree," observes the author of
_Sylvan Sketches_, "is not remarkably large, but it bears a leaf large
enough to cover twenty men. It will fold into a fan and is then no
bigger than a man's arm."

[124] Southey's Common-Place Book.

[125] The height of a full grown banyan may be from sixty to eighty
feet; and many of them, I am fully confident, cover at least two
acres.--_Oriental Field Sports_.

There is a banyan tree about five and twenty miles from Berhampore,
remarkable for the height of the lower branches from the ground. A man
standing up on the houdah of an elephant may pass under it without
touching the foliage.

A tree has been described as growing in China of a size so prodigious
that one branch of it only will so completely cover two hundred sheep
that they cannot be perceived by those who approach the tree, and
another so enormous that eighty persons can scarcely embrace the
trunk.--_Sylvan Sketches_.

[126] This praise is a little extravagant, but the garden is really very
tastefully laid out, and ought to furnish a useful model to such of the
people of this city as have spacious grounds. The area of the garden is
about two hundred and fifty nine acres. This garden was commenced in
1768 by Colonel Kyd. It then passed to the care of Dr. Roxburgh, who
remained in charge of it from 1793 to the date of his death 1813.

[127] Alphonse Karr, bitterly ridicules the Botanical _Savants_ with
their barbarous nomenclature. He speaks of their mesocarps and
quinqueloculars infundibuliform, squammiflora, guttiferas monocotyledous
&c. &c. with supreme disgust. Our English poet, Wordsworth, also used to
complain that some of our familiar English names of flowers, names so
full of delightful associations, were beginning to be exchanged even in
common conversation for the coldest and harshest scientific terms.

[128] _The Hand of Eve_--the handiwork of Eve.

[129] _Without thorn the rose_: Dr. Bentley calls this a puerile fancy.
But it should be remembered, that it was part of the curse denounced
upon the Earth for Adam's transgression, that it should bring forth
thorns and thistles. _Gen._ iii. 18. Hence the general opinion has
prevailed, that there were _no thorns_ before; which is enough to
justify a poet, in saying "_the rose was without thorn_."--NEWTON.

[130] See page 188. My Hindu friend is not responsible for the selection
of the following notes.

[131] Birdlime is prepared from the tenacious milky juice of the Peepul
and the Banyan. The leaves of the Banyan are used by the Bramins to eat
off, for which purpose they are joined together by inkles. Birds are
very fond of the fruit of the Peepul, and often drop the seeds in the
cracks of buildings, where they vegetate, occasioning great damage if
not removed in time.--_Voight_.

[132] The ancient Greeks and Romans also married trees together in a
similar manner.--_R._

[133] The root of this plant, (_Euphorbia ligularia_,) mixed up with
black pepper, is used by the Natives against snake bites.--_Roxburgh_.

[134] Coccos nucifera, the _root_ is sometimes masticated instead of the
Betle-nut. In Brazil, baskets are made of the _small fibres_. The _hard
case of the stem_ is converted into drums, and used in the construction
of huts. The lower part is so hard as to take a beautiful polish, when
it resembles agate. The reticulated substance at base of the leaf is
formed into cradles, and, as some say, into a coarse kind of cloth. The
_unexpanded terminal bud_ is a delicate article of food. The _leaves_
furnish thatch for dwellings, and materials for fences, buckets, and
baskets; they are used for writing on, and make excellent torches;
potash in abundance is yielded by their ashes. The _midrib of the_ leaf
serves for oars. The _juice of the flower and stems_ is replete with
sugar, and is fermented into excellent wine, or distilled into arrack,
or the sugary part is separated as Jagary. The tree is cultivated in
many parts of the Indian islands, for the sake not only of the sap and
_milk_ it yields, but for the _kernel_ of its fruit, used both as food
and for culinary purposes, and as affording a large proportion of _oil_
which is burned in lamps throughout India, and forms also a large
article of export to Europe. The fibrous and uneatable rind of the fruit
is not only used to polish furniture and to scour the floors of rooms,
but is manufactured into a kind of cordage, (_Koir_) which is nearly
equal in strength to hemp, and which Roxburgh designates as the very best
of all materials for cables, on account of its great elasticity and
strength. The sap of this as well as of other palms is found to be the
simplest and easiest remedy that can be employed for removing
constipation in persons of delicate habit, especially European
females.--_Voigt's Suburbanus Calcuttensis_.

[135] The root is bitter, nauseous, and used in North America as
anthelmintic. _A. Richard_.

[136] Of one species of tulsi (_Babooi-tulsi_) the seeds, if steeped in
water, swell into a pleasant jelly, which is used by the Natives in
cases of catarrh, dysentry, chronic diarrhoea &c. and is very nourishing
and demulcent--_Voigt_.

[137] This list is framed from such as were actually grown by the author
between 1837 and the present year, from seed received chiefly through
the kindness of Captain Kirke.

[138] The native market gardens sell Madras roses at the rate of
thirteen young plants for the rupee. Mrs. Gore tells us that in London
the most esteemed kinds of old roses are usually sold by nurserymen at
fifty shillings a hundred the first French and other varieties seldom
exceed half a guinea a piece.

[139] I may add to Mr. Speede's list of Roses the _Banksian Rose_. The
flowers are yellow, in clusters, and scentless. Mrs. Gore says it was
imported into England from the Calcutta Botanical Garden, it is called
_Wong moue heong_. There is another rose also called the _Banksian Rose_
extremely small, very double, white, expanding from March till May,
highly scented with violets. The _Rosa Brownii_ was brought from Nepaul
by Dr. Wallich. A very sweet rose has been brought into Bengal from
England. It is called _Rosa Peeliana_ after the original importer Sir
Lawrence Peel. It is a hybrid. I believe it is a tea scented rose and is
probably a cross between one of that sort and a common China rose, but
this is mere conjecture. The varieties of the tea rose are now
cultivated by Indian malees with great success. They sell at the price
of from eight annas to a rupee each. A variety of the Bengal yellow
rose, is now comparatively common. It fetches from one to three rupees,
each root. It is known to the native gardeners by the English name of
"_Yellow Rose_". Amongst the flowers introduced here since Mr. Speede's
book appeared, is the beautiful blue heliotrope which the natives call
_kala heliotrope_.

He gains all points who pleasingly confounds,
Surprizes, varies, and conceals the bounds.

[141] The following is the passage alluded to by Todd

A pleasant grove
With chant of tuneful birds resounding loud,
Thither he bent his way, determined there
To rest at noon, and entered soon the shade,
High roofed, and walks beneath and alleys brown,
That opened in the midst a woody scene,
Nature's own work it seemed (nature taught art)
And to a superstitious eye the haunt
Of wood gods and wood nymphs.

_Paradise Regained, Book II_

[142] The following stanzas are almost as direct translations from Tasso
as the two last stanzas in the words of Fairfax on page 111:--

The whiles some one did chaunt this lovely lay;--
Ah! see, whoso fayre thing doest faine to see,
In springing flowre the image of thy day!
Ah! see the virgin rose, how sweetly shee
Doth first peepe forth with bashful modesty;
That fairer seems the less you see her may!
Lo! see soone after how more bold and free
Her bared bosome she doth broad display;
Lo! see soone after how she fades and falls away!

So passeth, in the passing of a day,
Of mortal life, the leaf, the bud, the flowre,
Ne more doth florish after first decay,
That erst was sought, to deck both bed and bowre
Of many a lady and many a paramoure!
Gather therefore the rose whilest yet is prime
For soone comes age that will her pride deflowre;
Gather the rose of love, whilest yet is time
Whilest loving thou mayst loved be with equal crime[144]

_Fairie Queene, Book II. Canto XII._

[143] I suppose in the remark that Kent leapt the fence, Horace Walpole
alludes to that artist's practice of throwing down walls and other
boundaries and sinking fosses called by the common people _Ha! Ha's!_
to express their astonishment when the edge of the fosse brought them to
an unexpected stop.

Horace Walpole's History of Modern Gardening is now so little read that
authors think they may steal from it with safety. In the _Encyclopaedia
Britannica_ the article on Gardening is taken almost verbatim from it,
with one or two deceptive allusions such as--"_As Mr. Walpole
observes_"--"_Says Mr. Walpole_," &c. but there is nothing to mark where
Walpole's observations and sayings end, and the Encyclopaedia thus gets
the credit of many pages of his eloquence and sagacity. The whole of
Walpole's _History of Modern Gardening_ is given piece-meal as an
original contribution to _Harrrison's Floricultural Cabinet_, each
portion being signed CLERICUS.

[144] Perhaps Robert Herrick had these stanzas in his mind's ear when he
wrote his song of

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old time is still a flying;
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

* * * * *

Then be not coy, but use your time;
And while ye may, so marry:
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.

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