The Victorian Way of Gardening

The following two articles are taken from Beeton's 'All About Gardening' published in 1871, which cost a princely 2/6d at the time. The first is about 'Laying out a Garden' and is obviously aimed at families with a reasonable degree of income - the plans rather assuming the 'villa residence' household would have a coach-house and stables. But there was also a degree of adventure in the plan too; there being vineries and forcing houses wthin the grounds.

The second article is simply about constructing a 'Cottage Garden'. At the time convenience food was unheard of [it would be another 5 years before Edison introduced the world to electric light, and Bell his telephone], so self-sufficiency was more the order of the day. What is fascinating about this second piece is the sheer variety of fruit-tres and vegetables that the cottage gardener of the time might be expected to plant, including fruits such as peaches, apricots and nectarines.


"This subject being far too extensive to be fully discussed in these pages, our observations had better be confined to a moderate-sized garden, such as is generally attached to villa residences. We will therefore treat of a garden of a single acre. Here about two-thirds should be devoted to lawn, flower-garden, and shrubberies, and one-third to kitchen-garden, exclusive, we will suppose, of the melon-ground.

The melon-ground ought to be about twenty yards square, walled or fenced round to the height of six feet, with a gateway leading into it large enough to admit a horse and cart. The drainage of the melon-ground should be perfect, the water from the pits and houses falling into a tank placed sufficiently deep in the ground to receive all the drainage from the dung-beds and compost-heaps. If this tank is within the kitchen-garden, it will be invaluable in the cultivation of flowers and vegetables. Here also are placed the potting-sheds, and sheds for the preparation of composts, which should always be prepared under cover; and as the yard is by no means ornamental, it should be placed as far as possible from the house.

Victorian garden plan 1 - 27k
In the plan, 1 is the house; 2, the conservatory; 3, clump of American plants, consisting of some rhododendrons, ledums, and heaths; 4, roses; 5, flower-beds, with coniferae in the centre; 6, flower-beds; 7, jardinette, with fountain; 8, borders planted with Alpine plants; 9, vines or ornamental climbers; 10, pears, cherries, &c., trained against the wall; 11, verandah with climbers; 12, carriage-drive; 13, arches over path for climbing roses and other ornamental climbers ; 14, fernery; 15, turf lawn; 16, shrubberies; 17, summer-house; 18, flower-beds, with deodars in the centre, surrounded by turf; 19, shady walk; 20, flower-border fronting conservatory; 21, flower-border fronting shrubberies; 22, melon-ground and compost-yard; 23, back entrance, wide enough for carts to enter; 24, range of three forcing-pits; 25, vinery and forcing-house; 26, tool-house; 27, frames; 28, manure-bed; 29, garden entrance.

The kitchen-garden being thoroughly drained, trenched, and manured, and the walls in order, the following will be its first order of cropping:- a, Jerusalem artichokes; b, gooseberies; r, raspberries; d, red, white, and black currants in rows; c, strawberries, seakale, rhubarb, and globe artichokes; f, a row of plum-trees, asparagus, horseradish, and more strawberries; g, pot-herbs, potatoes, and peas; h, a row of pyramid apple-trees, parsnips, carrots, and turnips;
i, cabbages, celery, broad beans, scarlet runners; k, pyramid pear-trees, scarlet runners, broad beans, cauliflower, and early brocoli. On the south border, plums and cherries.

  In all theoretical gardening it is forbidden to crop the border on which wall fruit is planted; but this is rare in practice the crops indicated here generally occupy such borders; but probably a line might be drawn beyond which such crops should not approach the wall. Supposing such a border be 16 feet, 12 feet might be devoted to such crops in the kitchen- garden as require a warm sunny border.

The following is another illustration of a convenient villa garden.
Victorian garden plan 2 - 22k
Where it can be so arranged, the garden should be an oblong square; 100 yards from east to west, and 70 yards from north to south, about the proportions laid down in the accompanying plan. This allows the vegetables to range from north to south, which is always to be preferred, otherwise they get drawn to one side by the side-light of the sun. - 1, The site of the house; 2, the conservatory; 3, a clump of trees and shrubs fronting the main entrance; 4, coach-house and stables; 5, tool-house; 6, manure- and frame-yard; 7, flower- borders and shrubberies; 8, ferns and American plants; 9, rose clumps; 10, circular beds of hollyhocks, dahlias, and other free- blooming plants in summer, and thinly planted with evergreens to take off the nakedness in water; 11, arbour; 12, flower-beds; 13, lawn; 14, paths; 15, beds for placing out flowers in pots; 16, kitchen-gardens; 17, peach wall; 18, east wall for plums, cherries and pears.

It is sometimes advantageous to have buildings and even groups of large trees contiguous to gardens. Where these are situated to the north, they not only break and turn aside the cold winds, but concentrate the heat of sun; they also preserve the crops during winter. Buildings have this advantage over trees, that they afford the shelter without robbing the soil of the food necessary for its legitimate crop. In the accompanying plan it will be observed that the whole frontage north of the house is laid out as lawn, and to the south, that the breadth of the house and offices is disposed in the same way; a single winding path running through it. East of the house lie the conservatory and offices, sheltered by a belt of shrubbery, which runs round the whole lawn. The kitchen-gardens occupy the north-west side of the ground, and adjoining, at the southern extremity, are vineries, forcing-houses, and orchard- houses. The northern boundary is a dwarf wall with green iron railings."



Cottage gardens and allotments vary in size and shape: some are square, some oblong, others angular; they also range in size from half a rod to a quarter of an acre. Taking a medium course, let us describe one of about thirty yards each way. Here, as in other cases, economy recommends simplicity of design. Supposing the frontage (3) to be laid out as a flower-garden; let the walks present a curve rather than sharp angles; let the silver birch, copper beech, or some sort of conifer, a pine, cypress - some of the araucarias, now easily pro-curable, or a deodara.
Cottage garden plan - 25k

Let the edgings be of box, if obtainable - nothing is so handsome; otherwise thrift, white alyssum, or some of the ornamental grasses. Ornamental tiles are both cheap and elegant. The path should be of gravel, if possible; if paved, let let it be with pebbles, or of coarse sand - road-sand is capital for kitchen-garden walks, so also is burnt clay.

Let the main parts of the ground be devoted to kitchen crops. If drainage is necessary, ascertain where the water can be carried to. Open a trench along the whole breadth of the plat, either into the intended outlet or into a well sunk in the ground, and into this trench lead the several drains from the higher part of the ground from one end of the garden to the outlet, gradually sloping towards the lower trench. If this be left open and kept clear, it will carry off all superfluous water; but if some brushwood be laid along the bottom, it may be covered and cropped over. Brickbats or stones will do, but pipes or tiles are to be preferred. This done, let one main walk pass through the centre, of about five feet wide, or more if it is to be made a drying-ground. At the end of this main walk an arbour (6) may be formed of Clematis Vitalba, of the white jasmine, or yellow winter-flowering jasmine: all these are suitable for the purpose, being of dense growth and habit, and very cheap. On each side of the arbour flowers or herbs may be grown. On the sunny sides of the house let a vine, apricot, peach, or nectarine be planted in a proper station prepared for them. There is a wall having a southern aspect; let it be devoted to some of these also; if the fruit be not required for home use, it is saleable.

  The main part of the ground should lie devoted to kitchen crops, following out a system of rotation-cropping, and using also a little caution in the application of manures: green, unprepared, or rank-smelling dung, breeds no end of insects, which become ruinous to crops. In preparing manures - which, however, are essential for maintaining the fertility of the soil - let it be remembered that all animal and vegetable refuse will be useful, when properly mixed. The droppings of cattle, sheep, pigs, and all house-sewage, should be collected and saved, and mixed with rather more than the same quantity of garden soil: the application of a little quicklime will remove any offensive smell. Let the offal, dung, &c., be laid in layers, about nine inches thick, mixed with similar layers of garden soil and quicklime, remaining so till a good heap has accumulated, when it should be turned over and mixed thoroughly before dressing the ground with it. Applied in this way, it is not so likely to breed insects, and is more efficacious. The following is a list of fruit-trees and vegetables suitable for a cottage garden.

APPLES. Early: White Juneating, Red Juneating, Red Quarrenden, Keswick Codlin, Manks Codlin. Medium: Hawthornden, Kerry Pippin. Late: Blenheim Orange, Fearn's Pippin, Lemon Pippin, Cockle Pippin, Ribston Pippin, King of Pippins, London Pippin, Scarlet Nonpareil, Old Nonpareil.
PEARS. Early: Ambrosia, or early Buerre, Buerre Gifford, Jargonel. Medium: Buerre Diel, Duchess of Orleans, Marie Louise, Williams's Bon-Chretien. Late: Napoleon, Passe Colmar, Crassane d'Hiver and Catillac - baking.
PLUMS. Early: Goliath, Victoria, Greengage, Rivers's Prolific. Late: Purple-gage, Magnum Bonum, Coe's Golden Drop, Damson.
VINES FOR OUT-DOORS. Royal Muscadine, White Sweetwater, Black Cluster.
CHRRIES. Early: May Duke, Archduke. Medium: Bigarreau, Kentish, Morello. Late: Duke.
APRICOTS. Moor Park.
PEACHES. Mignonne, Noblesse, Malta, Royal George.
NECTARINES. Pitmaston Orange, Roman (for well-drained soil), Scarlet.
GOOSEBERRIES. Green: Cocks's late Green, Greengage, Favourite. Red: Champagne, Warrington, Lancashire Hero. Yellow: Amber, Golden Drop, Early Yellow.
CURRANTS. Large Grape - red, Grape - white. Black Naples.
STRAWBERRIES. Keen's Seedling, Sir Harry, Oscar.

Vegetables suitable for the Cottage Garden

PEAS. Early: Emperor, Ringwood, Tom Thumb and Bishop's Long-pod - dwarf. Medium: Auvergne, Blue Imperial, Scimitar. Late: Knight's Dwarf Marrow, Knight's Tall Marrow.
BEANS. Mazagan - early, Sword Longpod -main crop.
CABBAGE. Enfleld Market - main crop, Early York, East Ham, Colewort.
BROCOLI. Early Cape, Purple Sprouting, Walcheren, or Cauliflower.
SAVOY. Brussels Sprouts.
KALE. Green Curled, Brown, or Ragged Jack.
LETTUCE. Hammersmith - for winter, Black-seeded Brown Cos - all the year.
CARROT. Early Horn, Intermediate.
TURNIP. Early Dutch, Late Stone.
ONION. Brown Spanish, Silver Globe.
SPINACH. Round - for summer, Flanders - for winter.
POTATOES. Improved Ash-leaved Kidney, Kirk's Kidney.
CUCUMBER. Southgate - for out-doors.
RADISHES. Scarlet Short-top, Turnip, red ard white.
CELERY. Coles's Crystal - white. Coles's Crystal -red.
ENDIVE. Green Curled.
PARSLEY. Best Curled.
CORN SALAD. - for winter use.