Practical Guides and Contemporary Commentaries Voices from Gardens Past

While these garden guides date from the past, they are as relevant today as they were one – or five – hundred years ago. They invariably use inexpensive (or free) products close to hand, and are based on many years of practical experience, and thus are invaluable for people seeking to re-establish their links with the natural world.

Articles listed in chronological order.

Excerpts from Fitzherbert’s Husbandry, c. 1534

Thomas Tusser‘s list of ‘Husbandly Furniture’ – a sixteenth-century list of tools and equipment that every farmer needed, and his instructions on how to grow hops.

An Almanac of things to do in the Kitchen, Orchard and Fruit Gardens c. 1800

Duncan MacDonald (late eighteenth century):

The Situation of the Kitchen Garden

Watering and Sewering the Kitchen Garden

Hotbeds (how to make hot beds with horse manure or tanner’s bark)

Directions for Servants (not strictly a garden guide, but it gives hints on storage of vegetables etc.)

Charles McIntosh’s instructions on How to Build Garden Paths 1828

How to Build Heated Walls for Fruit Trees 1828

How to build an Ice House. Instructions from the early nineteenth century. Also, how to fill an Icehouse.

See the page on early nineteenth century fertilizers, composts and manures for a simple recipe for garden fertiliser.