" Who that has reason and a smell Would not among Roses and Jesamine dwell Rather then all his spirits choak With exhalations of dust and smoak, And all the uncleanness which does drown In pestilential clouds a populous town".
Leeds, though then but a village in comparison with the Leeds of to-day, is thus described by Celia Fiennes :—-" A large town, severall large streetes, cleane and well pitch'd, and good houses all built of stone. Some have good gardens and steps up to their houses, and walls before them." Of Bedford she writes :—" It is an old building washed by the river Ouse ... its stored with very good ffish, and those which have gardens on its brinke keepes sort of . . . Baskets which keeps the ffish by chaines to the sides of the Banks in each man's garden. It (the river) runs by a ground which is made into a fine bowling green . . . well kept with seates and summer houses in it." At Newcastle, she finds—"This country all about is full of this Coale ye sulphur of it taints ye aire and it smells strongly to strangers ... its a noble town . . . and most resembles London of any place in England.
. . . There is a pleasant bowling-green, a Little walk out of the town wth a Large gravel walk round it, wth two Rows of trees on each side. . . . There is a pretty Garden, by ye side a shady walk, its a sort of spring garden where the Gentlemen and Ladyes walke in the evening;—there is a green house in the garden".
Spring Gardens, which she here refers to, were the favourite resort of fashion in London. They had been in existence since the first quarter of the century, and originally were part of the royal park of St. James', as appears from entries in the Exchequer rolls :—
1617. "digging planting etc: of roses in the Spring garden in (St. James') Park . . . Gardeners, women weeders: in the spring garden . . . Pheasants and wild fowl in the spring garden".
By the middle of the century, however, it was a public garden, of which the street now bearing its name marks the site.
In London many old gardens were already disappearing, for Celia Fiennes writes thus in her Diary:—"There was formerly in ye Citty severall houses of ye Noblemens wth Large gardens and out houses and great attendances, but of Late are pulled down, and built into streetes and squares and called by ye names of ye noblemen ;—and this practise by almost all even just to ye Court, excepting one or two. Northumberland and Bedford House, Lord Montagues, . . . and Whitehall with its privy garden and famous fountain." A description of the gardens near London in 1691, by Gibson, has been preserved.* He enumerates twenty-eight gardens, five of those being nursery-gardens—the Brompton Nursery, one "Clements" at Mile End, and Ricketts, Pearson and Darby, all three at Hoxton. Some of the gardens are more distant from London, as Hampton Court, Sir Henry Capel's at Kew, and Sir William Temple's at Sheen. At Beddington where the first orange trees in England had been planted by the Carew family, they had been so well taken care of that it still held the foremost place among the orangeries in the country. This orangery was two hundred feet long, and the trees were about thirteen feet high, and in one year yielded ten thousand oranges. Gibson also tells us that the Queen Dowager, at Hammersmith, had a good greenhouse, but was not "for curious plants or flowers" ; however, her gardener, Monsieur Hermon Van Guine, raised orange and lemon trees, which he had "to dispose of." Arlington garden was "a fair plat." Sir Thomas Cooke's, at Hackney, though very large was still being added to; † Lord Ranelagh's "elegantly-designed," though "but newly-made." The Archbishop, at Lambeth, was then improving the garden there, and putting up a greenhouse, "of three rooms, the middle having a stove under it;—the foresides of the rooms are almost all glass, the roof covered with lead." Gibson only mentions those gardens which he visited in December, 1691 : others equally well known he passes over. He does not notice the large nursery between Spitalfields and Whitechapel, the owner of which Meager refers to as " my very Loving friend Captain Qarrle," and gives a long list of fruit trees, any one of which this friend can "furnish," besides "divers other rare and choice plants." * He omits, also, Essex House in the Strand, and Somerset House; also Southampton House, Blooms-bury, where the gardens were designed by Lord William Russell, who was beheaded in 1683. The garden at Fulham, which had been made famous by Bishop Grindal, who introduced the tamarisk in Elizabeth's reign, was further improved by Bishop Compton at this date, and there are splendid hickory and other trees of his planting still to be seen there :—" He had a thousand species of exotick plants in his stoves and gardens, in which last place he had endenizoned a great many that have been formerly thought too tender for this cold climate. There were few days in the year, till towards the latter part of his life, but he was actually in his garden, ordering and directing the Removal and Replacing of his Trees and plants." †
* Printed in the Archeologia, 1794, and lately reprinted in Hazlitt : Gleanings in Old Garden Literature.
† Hams Chapel was built in 1723 on part of the site of this garden. In a deed, dated July 20th, 1704, in the possession of the chapel authorities, two summer-houses are mentioned, one of which is used as the vestry.
Besides the private gardens, there were the parks, which even then added beauty to the country round London, St. James's Park, and "another much Larger, Hide paike, weh is for Riding on horseback, but mostly for coaches, there being a ring railed in, round wch a gravel way, .... the rest of the park is green, and full of deer, there are Large ponds wth fish and fowle." ‡ Beyond Hyde Park was Kensington, a favourite palace of King William, and there, again, was a good garden, begun by him, and completed under Queen Anne. The gardeners employed there were the famous London and Wise, who owned the large nursery at Brompton, hard by. This was the finest nursery of the day, and they kept an immense collection of plants. The tender greens from the gardens at Kensington were housed during the winter at Brompton, where, although a fine collection in themselves, they took " but little room in comparison with "* those belonging to the nursery.
* Leonard Meager, The English Gardener, 1688, p. 60.
† Switzer, Ichnographia, 1718. Bishop Compton, born 1632, died 1713.
‡ Celia Fiennes' Diary.