Page:The Wild Garden William Robinson.djvu/19

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To understand the aim of this little book, it is desirable to take a broad glance at the past and present state of our flower-gardens. From about twenty years ago, back to the time of Shakespeare, the flowers of an English garden were nearly all hardy ones : they came from northern or temperate regions, in most cases from climates very like our own ; they were as hardy as our weeds ; they bloomed early in the keen spring air, and late in the wet autumn gusts, as well as in the favoured summer’s day.

The daughters of the year,
One after one, thro’ that still garden passed.

Passages from our greatest poets and writers — Shakespeare, Milton, Bacon, and others — embody the names of the principal classes of flowers used in this ancient style of gardening, and show us what infinite delight it was capable of aflbrding ; and its