Imagens da página


Spilenum bunliatum



This very curious species of Epidendrum, which we believed flowered for the first time in this country * in the bark stove of Edward Woodford, Esq., Vauxhall, rises with a single stem, clothed with two or three alternate ash-coloured scale-like spathes, so closely adpressed as to be scarcely discernible. From the top of the stem issues one leaf (perhaps, as in the figure of Plumier, sometimes more) fleshy, linear, acute, convex at the back, and slightly grooved in front. From the bosom of this leaf rises a round scape, at first swelling, then attenuated upwards, bearing a solitary flower, perfectly white when newly opened, but becoming tinged with a yellowish green, consisting of three external and two internal petals, of similar length and shape, linear, somewhat undulated, the two inner ones exactly opposite, and a nectary surrounding the parts of fructification shaped like a friar's cowl, far-acuminate, fringed, continuing of a snow-white after the petals have changed their tint. Nearly scentless.

Being a native of the West Indies, and naturally a parasitical plant, its culture is difficult, and it is of necessity a constant inliabitant of the bark stove in our climate.

GARDENS.—The word suggests a summer theme, but, like gardening, it has a portion for all seasons, and an interest for almost every mind; few there are who cannot find pleasure in the exercise of that primitive art; and those few, generally speaking, will be found themselves uncultivated within. The love of gardens is a feeling at once the most universal in its extent and the most salutary in its operation, of any that has been retained by modern society; it belongs to the primeval times, and keeps the freshness of old rustic nature about human hearts and homes through ages of dusty toil and mechanical civilisation. We cannot conceal from ourselves that much of life as it now appears has the artificial stamp upon it; our daily business, our habits of action and even of thought, our social arrangements, and our domestic manners, all bear the impress of machinery and making up: they were made up for us, in fact, before we knew them, or so much as entered this living world. But the roses that summer flushes so brightly in the rich parterre, the woodbine that blooms on the cottager's garden wall, or the bed of snowdrops that delights the cottage child, when the days are lengthening and the robin begins to sing—these are the forms renewed that come and go with the seasons, and are nursed beyond human comprehension or control.

The fields are far off to the inhabitants of cities, and those of the country know them to be the meadows or harvest ground that must be reaped and sown, the domains of utility tilled by laborious strength : beautiful are they in the first green of the corn, and rich when it waves wide and yellow in the autumn's sun and breeze. The trust, the life of the world are there; but the garden is the cultivator's own demesne, to which his leisure is given where his taste finds scope, and over whose wealth he rejoices as that which comes without either risk or misgiving; hence from the earliest date of history and civilisation men have delighted in gardening the sage and the simple have found it equally attractive. It has been the amusement of princes, poets, and philosophers; minds of the highest order, in both ancient and modern times, have made it their chosen study, and unlettered hard-working men, in the rough by-ways of life, have selected it for their only relaxation. He was a curious, though not unphilosophic observer, who remarked, that wherever taste and care were exhibited in the garden, whether pertaining to cottage or castle, the traveller might fairly reckon on civility and refinement in the household. Gardens are entirely unthought of by savage tribes. Those of them who plant roots or sow grain have no idea of the small enclosure for mingled ornament and use which is generally understood by that term among us. The garden occupies a large space in most people's home recollections : all whose childhood has been passed in the country will remember some little spot in which their earliest attempts at planting were made-how often the first roots were pulled up to see if they were growing; and when at length sounder principles of horticulture were acquired by the expanding mind, with what cheerful and earnest industry were the weeds removed, the flowers trimmed, and, more than all, the requisite duties done to that first estate—better kept perhaps than the patrimony or the acquisitions of after life; and when it grew to prosperity and bloom, under shower and shine, and hopeful labour, oh how great was the triumph, and how rich seemed the reward.

The fathers of the church were in the habit of comparing the soul to a garden; probably the monastic custom made the simile familiar to their minds. Cultivate thy soul,' says one, 'as thou wouldst thy garden ground; root out the weeds year after year, for the seasons will renew them; cherish the flowers, and see that thou bestow most care on that which is most likely to fail. Gardens figure conspicuously in the mythology of all nations living under a warm or temperate climate. The Mohammedan paradise is represented under that symbol. The Chinese speak of the gardens of the immortals, which are said to be situated among the mountains of Thibet, and blest with perpetual summer: nothing within their

* It was in the royal collection at Kew in 1794. Mart. Mil. Dict.

28 descriptids also ; but say that he hato have been

description, the most successors experight, and given when consu

bounds can die or grow old, and several ancient sages are believed to have retired to dwell among their bowers; but for centuries mankind have lost the way, and no traveller has ever succeeded in finding it, though the Chinese poets celebrate many who made the attempt; but few of them returned to their homes, and those who did so, could rest no more. There is a wild tradition among the Arabs concerning the gardens of the desert, which are believed to have been formed by an ancient tyrannical king at enormous expense and labour. They say that he had conquered all the nations of the East, and boasted he would conquer the sands also; but having at length completed his design, of which the Arabic legend retains a dazzling description, the gardens suddenly became invisible in the pomp of their richest bloom, and neither the monarch nor any of his successors ever again beheld them; but bewildered travellers have caught glimpses of them at times through the falling twilight, and given splendid though vague accounts of their gorgeous, trees and flowers. The Hindoos believe that the widow who consumes herself with the corpse of her husband will expiate the sins committed by him and all her relations, and dwell with them in a magnificent garden for ten thousand lacs of years. In the legends of the north gardens have no place; the Scandinavian and Icelandic traditions speak only of halls and forests; and the old superstitions of Russia bear the same character. In those lands of pines and snow, gardens must have been unknown in earlier times, but civilization has brought them in its train. The Norwegian cottager now cultivates a garden of his own, fenced round with firs, furnished with peas and turnips; and if the owner be tasteful, perhaps a bed of daffodils, or yellow crowsfoot, varied with the foxglove and a rose bush or two; for it is remarkable that some variety of the rose is to be found in almost every climate south of Greenland. The Royal Garden at Stockholm contains one of the best collections of plants now in Europe; and it is well known that more pine-apples are produced in the neighbourhood of Petersburg, in spite of its nine months' winter, than in that of any other capital in Christendom.

About the close of the seventeenth century, a mode of gardening was invented by Le Notre in:France, which was soon adopted over all Europe, and of which the gardens of Versailles present the best specimen. The chief characteristic of Le Notre's style was excessive regularity-trees were cut into fantastic shapes, beds were squared, walks and hedges were made straight by rule and line : if water was introduced, it was as a formal jet d'eau, or a pond resembling a canal; where the ground sloped, it was laid out in a succession of terraces; and at every available point there was stuck the figure of a heathen god or goddess. While this stiff style ran its course on the continent, it was ridiculed by Addison in England, and gave place to a modified system of gardening, in which artificial wildernesses were interspersed with all sorts of oddities. A writer on gardens of this new style of art thus describes their appearance:-“What in nature is dispersed over thousands of miles, was huddled together on a small spot of a few acres square; urns, tombs; Chinese, Turkish, and Hindoo temples; bridges which could not be passed without risk; damp grottos, moist walks, noisome pools which were meant to represent lakes; houses, huts, castles, convents, hermitages, ruins, decaying trees, heaps of stones—a pattern-card of everything strange, from all nations under heaven, was exhibited in such a garden. Stables took the place of palaces, kennels of Gothic temples, and this was called natural. Pope, at Twickenham, had a garden of this character, which was adopted as a model.

Perhaps the natural taste for gardening was never more strikingly exemplified than in the case of Saabye, a Danish missionary, who, with his wife, resided many years on the coast of Greenland. The missionary's house was surrounded by high rocks, which partially sheltered it from the fury of the northern storms and sea; but the mould on the stony soil in its vicinity was not deep enough for any root, and Saabye and his wife were obliged to transport the requisite additions from a considerable distance in a tub, having no other utensil suitable for the service. Thus the first garden in Greenland was formed; and the missionary planted it after the manner of cottage gardens in Denmark, with seeds sent him by the ship that came annually at midsummer. The results of his gardening experience in the polar regions are curious. It was not till the beginning of July that the frost of the long winter was sufficiently thawed to commence operations; there was then a summer of two months' duration and continual day, the vegetation being proportionally rapid; cabbages flourished remarkably well, turnips grew to the size of a teacup, lost their bitter taste, and acquired an agreeable sweetness; but Saabye's carrots were never larger than the stalk of a tobacco pipe. Celery and broad beans would not grow at all; peas ran into bloom but did not set: and the missionary seems to have regarded these as the only flowers of his garden. Yet in that dreary and remote solitude, surrounded by the natives of the north, whose language they were years in acquiring, the devoted exiles found pleasant occupation and familiar memories of their far old home in the spot so hardly redeemed from sterility, and yielding at the best such scanty returns for their labour. Nor can the subject be wound up without recalling the observations of Lord Bacon in his essay on gardening:--God Almighty first planted a garden; and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures; it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man, without which buildings and palaces are but gross handiwork; and a man shall ever see that when ages grow to civility and elegancy, men come to build stately, sooner than to garden finely, as if gardening were the greater perfection. Yes, gardens are clearly significant of elegancy. He cannot be a bad man who loves either flowers or gardens.

« AnteriorContinuar »