"Never move soils or manures, or barrows or carts with any heavy load over the soft surface of a garden while you have an opportunity of doing it when the ground is frozen hard, as it may be done so much easier in the latter case."
"Avoid as far as possible digging when the soil is saturated with water."
"Never wait for the presence of more than half a dozen specimens of aphis to be assured that fumigation is required."
"Never waste valuable space on the stages, pits or benches of houses by keeping on them dormant fuchsias, bulbs, subtropical plants etc. which will be quite as well stowed under the said benches or stages, or in any dark place perfectly free from frost.
Never commence any forcing of fruits, or plants, or indeed any important stage of cultivation in a plant house of any kind without having previously thoroughly cleansed every surface."
|Jane Loudon (1807 - 1858)|
It all sounds very sensible and familiar and I particularly like the one about not digging! We have hundreds of books, magazines, TV programmes, websites and blogs all telling us what to do (or not do) in January, February, March .... It's difficult for us to imagine a time when such advice was not freely available. Jane Loudon changed all that.
Her husband, John C Loudon, was an eminent horticulturalist who had published numerous works on gardening. Before her marriage she knew nothing about botany but she worked with him and learnt how to plant and propagate in his meticulous manner. They were regarded as the leading horticulturalists of their day - the Victorian equivalents of Mony Don and Sarah Raven. Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackery were counted as friends.
Jane realised that the garden manuals of the day were not written with amateurs in mind: they were aimed at people with some experience and knowledge so didn't go back to basics. 'Instructions in Gardening for Ladies' was published in 1840 and went on to sell over 200,000 copies. It is still in print today.
She published a number of gardening books which are now collectors' items. One is up for sale in New York at $19500 (over £12,000). I've searched the attic but we must have thrown our copy away.
Alternatively, you can read them for free here!
The most expensive books contain her beautiful art.
You can see an exhibition of her work at the Victoria and Albert Museum or just read a little more about her life (she was a real Victorian heroine) by clicking here.
Using the word 'horticulture' made me think of another female I admire ... Dorothy Parker (1893 -1967).
As a panelist on a radio show she was asked to use the word 'horticultural' in a sentence. Quick as a flash she replied, "You can lead a whore to culture but you cannot make her think!"