Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  11 (1885–86), 635–41.

The Home Acre. Part I  [1/8]

E P Roe


Essay, Serial


Transport, Horticulture, Health, Gender, Experiment, Skill, Meteorology, Botany, Botanical Gardens, Environmentalism, Nationalism, War, Amateurism, Charlatanry, Reading

People mentioned:

Andrew J Downing , Josiah Hoopes , Marshall P Wilder , Samuel B Parsons

Publications cited:

Hoopes [1868]

    Argues that now that the 'questions of rapid transit are solved' people can live in a 'suburban nook' and regain contact with 'Nature and all her varied and health-giving life', allowing the busy city worker to enjoy the 'air and space' of a 'country home' where 'his jangling nerves will be quieted in spite of all the bears and bulls on Wall Street' (635). Indeed, such a domestic situation 'makes even the weather interesting, and the rise and fall of the mercury is watched with scarcely less solicitude than the mutations of the market'. Aims to 'make some useful suggestions and give practical advice' regarding the horticulture of such suburban smallholdings 'which the reader can carry out and modify according to his judgement' (636), although acknowledging that the 'taste of the owner, or more probably that of his wife' will be the decisive factor in 'laying out the ground' (637). Announces that when 'we come to co-work with Nature, all we do has some of the characteristics of an experiment', horticulture being a 'game of skill, into which also enter the fascinating elements of apparent chance' (636). Notes that while 'preparing these papers I visited the grounds of Mr. A. S. Fuller, at Ridgewood, New Jersey', and urges that all those 'who love trees should possess his book, entitled Practical Forestry', especially for the 'wisdom of Mr. Fuller's appreciation of our native trees'. In fact, if the book 'could only be put into the hands of law-makers, and they compelled to learn much of its contents by heart, they would cease to be more or less conscious traitors to their country in allowing the destruction of forests'. Remarks that the persimmon tree is 'well remembered by old campaigners in Virginia', and recalls how 'its fruit in November caused much straggling from our line of march in the South'. (638) Advises that the 'amateur who would do a bit of landscape gardening' should 'make time to see occasionally a nursery like that of S. B. Parsons and Co., at Flushing, New York' (639), and also contends that an 'hour with a notebook spent in grounds like those of Mr. Fuller would do more in aiding a satisfactory selection than years of reading' (640). Warns against employing a 'local citizen' to plant the ground in the owner's absence, for in 'every rural neighborhood there are smart men' who 'lie in wait for new-comers, to take advantage of their inexperience', and these charlatans 'pay no more attention' to the requirements of trees 'than a baby-farmer would bestow on an infant's appetite' (639).


Roe 1889

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