THE PROFITABLE ARTE OF GARDENING: A most briefe and pleasaunte treatyse, teachynge how to dresse, sowe, and set a garden, by Thomas Hill
The first popular book in English about gardening was written by Thomas Hill (b. ca. 1528) an English astrologer, author and translator. His book, The profitable arte of gardening was first published in 1563 under the title A most briefe and pleasaunte treatyse, teachynge how to dresse, sowe, and set a garden.
Not surprisingly, Hill’s book will not tell you how to prevent fusarium wilt in your tomatoes, but you will find it a most fascinating document “whereunto is added much necessarie matter, with a number of secrets: and the phisicke helps belonging to each hearb, which are easily prepared. Heer-vnto is annexed two proper treatises, the first intituled The meruailous gouerment, propertie, & benefite of bees, with the rare secrets of the honie and waxe: the other, The yearly coniectures, verie necessary for husband-men. To these is likewise joyned a Treatise of the arte of graffing and planting of trees.”
If you are so inclined, you can view The Profitable Arte of Gardening online here: http://www.archive.org/stream/arteofgardeningw00hill#page/n7/mode/2up
In 1594, Hill wrote a second book called The Gardener’s Labyrinth. It was the May 2001 Book of the Month of the Special Collections of the University of Glasgow. Its illustrations are perhaps its central attraction, but it also offers ‘instructions for the choice of seedes, apt times for sowing, setting, planting, and watering, and the vessels and instrumentes serving to that use and purpose' and sets forth ‘diuers herbers, knots and mazes, cunningly handled for the beautifying of gardens'.
There is an online article with illustrations at the University of Glasgow’s Special Collections site: http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/exhibns/month/may2001.html
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