This section is from the book "A History Of Gardening In England", by Alicia Amherst. Also available from Amazon: A History Of Gardening In England.
" Bring hether the Pinke and purple Cullambine.
With gelliflowers, Bring Coronations, and Sops in wine,
Worne of Paramoures Strowe me the ground with Daffadowndillies And Cowslips and Kingcups and loved Lillies, The pretty Pawnee And the Chevisaunce.
Shall match with the fayre flowre Delice".
WHILE Henry VIII. was reigning in England, great advances were being made on the Continent in the science of Botany. The Botanic Garden at Padua was founded in 1545, and was quickly followed by one at Pisa. But it was nearly a century later before we could boast of one in England. The rest of Europe was before us too, in Botanical literature. The Aggregator Practicus di Simplicibus was probably printed by Schceffer between 1475-80. The Ortus Sanitatus was printed in 1485, and was the basis of all the botanical works that immediately followed it. It was also the foundation of the English Grete Herball. This book was printed by Peter Treveris, and several editions of it appeared. The first of these is said to have been printed in 1516, but the existence of a copy of this issue seems somewhat doubtful, the earliest edition, of which many copies are extant, being that of 1526. A translation of Macer's Herbal was printed about 1530, but it is to William Turner that we owe the first really English Herbal. Herbal literature has perhaps more in common with botanical researches than gardening, but by studying the early Herbals, we gain much knowledge from the side lights they throw on garden history. Turner especially deserves a place in this history, as he did a great work not only for botany, but for gardening. He had a garden of his own at Kew, and mentions some of the gardens of the day in his works. He was born at Morpeth, in Northumberland, between 1510-15. He studied in Cambridge, where he was the friend of Latimer and Ridley. Turner was a Reformer, and twice his books were prohibited and condemned to destruction. He travelled in Italy, Germany, and Holland, and received the degree of Doctor of Medicine in Italy. On his return to England, he held several church preferments. He was Dean of Wells, but he was deprived of his Deanery, and exiled, in Mary's reign, though he was reinstated, for a time, on the accession of Elizabeth, and he died on July 7th, 1568. His Libellus di Re Herbaria was printed in 1538, and dedicated to the king. The " Names of Herbes," in 1548, was dedicated to his patron, the Protector Somerset, from whose house at Syon the preface is dated. Syon had been granted to Somerset on the suppression of the Bridgittines in 1539. Throughout the work there are frequent references to the garden there. Turner's Herbal was printed in 1551, and the " seconde parte " of the Herbal in 1562.
Thomas Tusser was the author of a well-known work on husbandry. He was born about 1523-5, at Rivenhall, in Essex. In his early years he was trained as a singer, and sang in the choir at St. Paul's. He was afterwards under Nicholas Udall, at Eton, and in 1543 went to Cambridge, and remained there until he came to Court as a retainer of Lord Paget. After ten years of Court life, he retired to a farm in Cattiwade, in the parish of Brantham, Suffolk, on the borders of Essex. It was there that he composed his poem, One hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie, which appeared in 1557. He soon after left that farm, and was moving about for some years—going to Ipswich, West Dereham in Norfolk, Norwich, Fairstead in Essex, London and Cambridge; and died in London in 1580. He enlarged on the first book, and in 1573 the first edition of Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie was published. Tusser was good, practical, and simple-minded. In the poem he gives useful hints for the cultivation of a garden, as he touches on gardening among the pointes of husbandrie for each month. The other " pointes " include all departments of farming; besides advice about housekeeping; how to keep Christmas, and how to treat wife, children, servants, and friends; and his counsel on this last point should hold good at the present day, though few would wish to follow all his injunctions on husbandry :—
" Good friend and good neighbour that fellowlie gest With hartilie welcome, should have of the best".
William Bulleyn, a learned physician, wrote a book entitled The Government of Healthe (1558). Although devoted to the herbs used in medicine, some curious information on gardening can be gleaned from it.
The history of the Herbals of this period is rather involved, as they were so much copied one from another, and the same plates were used in several works. The authors of every country borrowed freely from ancient writers, especially Dioscorides and Columella. The former was translated into Italian, and published with many additions in 1544, by Mattioli, the learned Italian botanist and physician. Dodoens, another of the great botanists of the sixteenth century, who copied much from Dioscorides, was born at Mechlin in 1517. He published at Antwerp in 1554, A History of Plants, written in Dutch, which was translated into French by Clusius (Charles de l'Excluse), and printed at Antwerp in 1557. Henry Lyte translated the work into English from the French of Clusius, and Lyte's version was printed at Antwerp in 1578, the same woodcuts being used for the work in all the three languages. Each of these books went through several editions. Meanwhile, Dodoens greatly enlarged his original, and embodied it in a new work, Stirpium Historiae, Pemptades sex : in thirty books. This great Herbal was translated into English by Dr. Priest, who died before he could publish his translation.
Gerard's Herbal, 1597, is founded entirely on that of Dodoens, parts of it being exact translations. Gerard professes to have "perused divers Herbals set foorth in other languages," but does not own to having copied so largely as he did. In the second edition of Gerard's Herbal, corrected and enlarged by Johnson in 1633, in the Preface to the Reader, this fact is pointed out, and, moreover, Johnson maintains that the translation made by Dr. Priest, which Gerard states to have perished, really came into Gerard's hands, and was largely used by him, Gerard himself not being sufficiently proficient in his knowledge of Latin. " I cannot," wrote Johnson, " commend my author for endeavouring to hide this thing from us." L'Obel and Garret both helped to amend some mistakes in the Latin in the Herbal, while it was going through the press. L'Obel himself was the author of a work on plants, Stirpium Adversaria (1570). In this he was assisted by Peter Pena, whose acquaintance he had made while studying at Montpelier. Mathias de Lobel, or L'Obel, was born at Lille, in 1538, and travelled about Europe, and practised medicine both in Antwerp and Delft, before he came to England. For many years he took charge of the garden belonging to Lord Zouche in Hackney, and was made "Botanist to the King" (James I.). The familiar " lobelia" was so named in his honour, by Plumier. The first rudiments of a scientific classification are to be found in his works ; which are therefore considered superior to those of Dodoens, who never attempted anything of the kind. He had studied Mattioli, and frequently refers to him, but his work, although esteemed by the learned, being in Latin and never translated, could not become popular, as did the work of his contemporary, Gerard, which was written in English. Gerard's Herbal has always maintained a conspicuous position in the literature of flowers, and the second issue, so ably edited by Thomas Johnson, tended greatly to increase the popularity and the value of the work.
L'obel. from an engraving in the tyssen library, hackney.