Thursday, April 2, 2009

John Evelyn's Gardening Calendar

I have a copy of the English horticulturist John Evelyn's month by month gardening advice Kalendarium Hortense, published in 1706. It was wildly popular then, with twenty or more editions published. As time permits I will transcribe and post Evelyn's gardening advice, annotated to explain some of the obscure words.

The Evelyn family estate, Wotten House, was a wealthy gentleman's estate. When Evelyn wrote what needs to be done in the garden, he meant that the gardening staff should do it. The book was to advise the gentleman gardener on what should be done, not a do-it-yourself guide.

It's fascinating to read about the way gardeners worked in the 18th century and what has changed or stayed the same. We no longer gather and destroy worms after a rain, but poultry are still destroying new plantings with their scratching and dust baths. Evelyn's solution is to lay thorny branches across the area until the plants are larger - it still works today.

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