Tag Archive: literature

“Birds began twittering beneath the window and in the tree tops, the mist in the garden cleared away, and now everything was gilded by the spring sunlight, everything seemed to be smiling. In a short time the whole garden, warmed by the caresses of the sun, had sprung to life, and drops of dew gleamed like diamonds on the leaves of the trees. And the old, neglected garden was young and gay for that one morning.”
The Betrothed  by Anton Chekhov


Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Of Gardens

God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man; without which, buildings and palaces are but gross handiworks; and a man shall ever see, that when ages grow to civility and elegancy, men come to build stately sooner than to garden finely; as if gardening were the greater perfection. I do hold it, in the royal ordering of gardens, there ought to be gardens, for all the months in the year; in which severally things of beauty may be then in season. For December, and January, and the latter part of November, you must take such things as are green all winter: holly; ivy; bays; juniper; cypress-trees; yew; pine-apple-trees; fir-trees; rosemary; lavender; periwinkle, the white, the purple, and the blue; germander; flags; orangetrees; lemon-trees; and myrtles, if they be stoved; and sweet marjoram, warm set. There followeth, for the latter part of January and February, the mezereon-tree, which then blossoms; crocus vernus, both the yellow and the grey; primroses, anemones; the early tulippa; hyacinthus orientalis; chamairis; fritellaria. For March, there come violets, specially the single blue, which are the earliest; the yellow daffodil; the daisy; the almond-tree in blossom; the peach-tree in blossom; the cornelian-tree in blossom; sweet-briar. In April follow the double white violet; the wallflower; the stock-gilliflower; the cowslip; flowerdelices, and lilies of all natures; rosemary-flowers; the tulippa; the double peony; the pale daffodil; the French honeysuckle; the cherry-tree in blossom; the damson and plum-trees in blossom; the white thorn in leaf; the lilac-tree. In May and June come pinks of all sorts, specially the blushpink; roses of all kinds, except the musk, which comes later; honeysuckles; strawberries; bugloss; columbine; the French marigold, flos Africanus; cherry-tree in fruit; ribes; figs in fruit; rasps; vineflowers; lavender in flowers; the sweet satyrian, with the white flower; herba muscaria; lilium convallium; the apple-tree in blossom. In July come gilliflowers of all varieties; musk-roses; the lime-tree in blossom; early pears and plums in fruit; jennetings, codlins. In August come plums of all sorts in fruit; pears; apricocks; berberries; filberds; musk-melons; monks-hoods, of all colors. In September come grapes; apples; poppies of all colors; peaches; melocotones; nectarines; cornelians; wardens; quinces. In October and the beginning of November come services; medlars; bullaces; roses cut or removed to come late; hollyhocks; and such like. These particulars are for the climate of London; but my meaning is perceived, that you may have ver perpetuum, as the place affords.

And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air (where it comes and goes like the warbling of music) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for that delight, than to know what be the flowers and plants that do best perfume the air. Roses, damask and red, are fast flowers of their smells; so that you may walk by a whole row of them, and find nothing of their sweetness; yea though it be in a morning’s dew. Bays likewise yield no smell as they grow. Rosemary little; nor sweet marjoram. That which above all others yields the sweetest smell in the air is the violet, specially the white double violet, which comes twice a year; about the middle of April, and about Bartholomew-tide. Next to that is the musk-rose. Then the strawberry-leaves dying, which yield a most excellent cordial smell. Then the flower of vines; it is a little dust, like the dust of a bent, which grows upon the cluster in the first coming forth. Then sweet-briar. Then wall-flowers, which are very delightful to be set under a parlor or lower chamber window. Then pinks and gilliflowers, especially the matted pink and clove gilliflower. Then the flowers of the lime-tree. Then the honeysuckles, so they be somewhat afar off. Of beanflowers I speak not, because they are field flowers. But those which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed by as the rest, but being trodden upon and crushed, are three; that is, burnet, wildthyme, and watermints. Therefore you are to set whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you walk or tread.

For gardens (speaking of those which are indeed princelike, as we have done of buildings), the contents ought not well to be under thirty acres of ground; and to be divided into three parts; a green in the entrance; a heath or desert in the going forth; and the main garden in the midst; besides alleys on both sides. And I like well that four acres of ground be assigned to the green; six to the heath; four and four to either side; and twelve to the main garden. The green hath two pleasures: the one, because nothing is more pleasant to the eye than green grass kept finely shorn; the other, because it will give you a fair alley in the midst, by which you may go in front upon a stately hedge, which is to enclose the garden. But because the alley will be long, and, in great heat of the year or day, you ought not to buy the shade in the garden, by going in the sun through the green, therefore you are, of either side the green, to plant a covert alley upon carpenter’s work, about twelve foot in height, by which you may go in shade into the garden. As for the making of knots or figures, with divers colored earths, that they may lie under the windows of the house on that side which the garden stands, they be but toys; you may see as good sights, many times, in tarts. The garden is best to be square, encompassed on all the four sides with a stately arched hedge. The arches to be upon pillars of carpenter’s work, of some ten foot high, and six foot broad; and the spaces between of the same dimension with the breadth of the arch. Over the arches let there be an entire hedge of some four foot high, framed also upon carpenter’s work; and upon the upper hedge, over every arch, a little turret, with a belly, enough to receive a cage of birds: and over every space between the arches some other little figure, with broad plates of round colored glass gilt, for the sun to play upon. But this hedge I intend to be raised upon a bank, not steep, but gently slope, of some six foot, set all with flowers. Also I understand, that this square of the garden, should not be the whole breadth of the ground, but to leave on either side, ground enough for diversity of side alleys; unto which the two covert alleys of the green, may deliver you. But there must be no alleys with hedges, at either end of this great enclosure; not at the hither end, for letting your prospect upon this fair hedge from the green; nor at the further end, for letting your prospect from the hedge, through the arches upon the heath.

For the ordering of the ground, within the great hedge, I leave it to variety of device; advising nevertheless, that whatsoever form you cast it into, first, it be not too busy, or full of work. Wherein I, for my part, do not like images cut out in juniper or other garden stuff; they be for children. Little low hedges, round, like welts, with some pretty pyramids, I like well; and in some places, fair columns upon frames of carpenter’s work. I would also have the alleys, spacious and fair. You may have closer alleys, upon the side grounds, but none in the main garden. I wish also, in the very middle, a fair mount, with three ascents, and alleys, enough for four to walk abreast; which I would have to be perfect circles, without any bulwarks or embossments; and the whole mount to be thirty foot high; and some fine banqueting-house, with some chimneys neatly cast, and without too much glass.

For fountains, they are a great beauty and refreshment; but pools mar all, and make the garden unwholesome, and full of flies and frogs. Fountains I intend to be of two natures: the one that sprinkleth or spouteth water; the other a fair receipt of water, of some thirty or forty foot square, but without fish, or slime, or mud. For the first, the ornaments of images gilt, or of marble, which are in use, do well: but the main matter is so to convey the water, as it never stay, either in the bowls or in the cistern; that the water be never by rest discolored, green or red or the like; or gather any mossiness or putrefaction. Besides that, it is to be cleansed every day by the hand. Also some steps up to it, and some fine pavement about it, doth well. As for the other kind of fountain, which we may call a bathing pool, it may admit much curiosity and beauty; wherewith we will not trouble ourselves: as, that the bottom be finely paved, and with images; the sides likewise; and withal embellished with colored glass, and such things of lustre; encompassed also with fine rails of low statuas. But the main point is the same which we mentioned in the former kind of fountain; which is, that the water be in perpetual motion, fed by a water higher than the pool, and delivered into it by fair spouts, and then discharged away under ground, by some equality of bores, that it stay little. And for fine devices, of arching water without spilling, and making it rise in several forms (of feathers, drinking glasses, canopies, and the like), they be pretty things to look on, but nothing to health and sweetness.

For the heath, which was the third part of our plot, I wish it to be framed, as much as may be, to a natural wildness. Trees I would have none in it, but some thickets made only of sweet-briar and honeysuckle, and some wild vine amongst; and the ground set with violets, strawberries, and primroses. For these are sweet, and prosper in the shade. And these to be in the heath, here and there, not in any order. I like also little heaps, in the nature of mole-hills (such as are in wild heaths), to be set, some with wild thyme; some with pinks; some with germander, that gives a good flower to the eye; some with periwinkle; some with violets; some with strawberries; some with cowslips; some with daisies; some with red roses; some with lilium convallium; some with sweet-williams red; some with bear’s-foot: and the like low flowers, being withal sweet and sightly. Part of which heaps, are to be with standards of little bushes pricked upon their top, and part without. The standards to be roses; juniper; holly; berberries (but here and there, because of the smell of their blossoms); red currants; gooseberries; rosemary; bays; sweetbriar; and such like. But these standards to be kept with cutting, that they grow not out of course.

For the side grounds, you are to fill them with variety of alleys, private, to give a full shade, some of them, wheresoever the sun be. You are to frame some of them, likewise, for shelter, that when the wind blows sharp you may walk as in a gallery. And those alleys must be likewise hedged at both ends, to keep out the wind; and these closer alleys must be ever finely gravelled, and no grass, because of going wet. In many of these alleys, likewise, you are to set fruit-trees of all sorts; as well upon the walls, as in ranges. And this would be generally observed, that the borders wherein you plant your fruit-trees, be fair and large, and low, and not steep; and set with fine flowers, but thin and sparingly, lest they deceive the trees. At the end of both the side grounds, I would have a mount of some pretty height, leaving the wall of the enclosure breast high, to look abroad into the fields.

For the main garden, I do not deny, but there should be some fair alleys ranged on both sides, with fruit-trees; and some pretty tufts of fruittrees, and arbors with seats, set in some decent order; but these to be by no means set too thick; but to leave the main garden so as it be not close, but the air open and free. For as for shade, I would have you rest upon the alleys of the side grounds, there to walk, if you be disposed, in the heat of the year or day; but to make account, that the main garden is for the more temperate parts of the year; and in the heat of summer, for the morning and the evening, or overcast days.

For aviaries, I like them not, except they be of that largeness as they may be turfed, and have living plants and bushes set in them; that the birds may have more scope, and natural nesting, and that no foulness appear in the floor of the aviary. So I have made a platform of a princely garden, partly by precept, partly by drawing, not a model, but some general lines of it; and in this I have spared for no cost. But it is nothing for great princes, that for the most part taking advice with workmen, with no less cost set their things together; and sometimes add statuas and such things for state and magnificence, but nothing to the true pleasure of a garden.

About Gratitude

One day the Supreme Being took it into his head to give a great banquet in his palace of azure.

All the virtues were invited. Only the virtues… men he did not ask… only ladies.

There were a great many of them, great and small. The lesser virtues were more agreeable and genial than the great ones; but they all appeared in good humour, and chatted amiably together, as was only becoming for near
relations and friends.

But the Supreme Being noticed two charming ladies who seemed to be totally unacquainted.

The Host gave one of the ladies his arm and led her up to the other.

‘Beneficence!’ he said, indicating the first.

‘Gratitude!’ he added, indicating the second.

Both the virtues were amazed beyond expression; ever since the world had stood, and it had been standing a long time, this was the first time they had met.

The Banquet of the Supreme Being by Ivan Turgenev



“Whence can I then more properly begin, than from nature, the parent of all? For whatsoever she produces, not only of the animal sort, but even of the vegetable, she designed it to be perfect in its respective kind. So that among trees, and vines, and those lower plants and trees, which cannot advance themselves higher from the earth, some are ever green, others are stripped of their leaves in winter; and, warmed by the spring season, put them out afresh, and there are none of them but what are so quickened by a certain interior motion, and their own seeds inclosed in every one so as to yield flowers, fruit, or berries, that all may have every perfection that belongs to it, provided no violence prevents it. But the force of nature itself may be more easily discovered  in animals, as she has bestowed sense on them. For those animals that can swim she designed inhabitants of the water; those that fly to expatiate in the air; some creeping, some walking; of these very animals some are solitary, some herding together; some wild, others tame, some hidden and covered by the earth; and every one of these maintains the law of nature, confining itself to what bestowed on it, and unable to change its manner of life. And as every animal has from nature something that distinguishes it, which every one maintains and never quits: so man has something far more excellent, though every thing is said to excel by comparison. But the human mind, as derived from the divine reason, can be compared with nothing but with the Deity itself, if I may be allowed the expression. This then, when improved, and its perception so preserved, as not to be blinded by errors, becomes a perfect understanding, that is, absolute reason: which is the very same as virtue. And if every thing is happy, which wants nothing, and is complete and perfect in its kind, and that is the peculiar lot of virtue; certainly all who are possessed of virtue are happy.”
The Tusculan Disputations” by Marcus Tullius Cicero


Photo of Summer Garden

Purple Hull Peas

“(…) although it (field) may be naturally fruitful, cannot produce a crop without dressing, so neither can the mind without education; such is the weakness of either without the other. Whereas philosophy is the culture of the mind: this it is which plucks up vices by the roots; prepares the mind for the receiving of seeds; commits them to it, or, as I may say, sows them, in the hope that, when come to maturity, they may produce a plentiful harvest.”
The Tusculan Disputations” by Marcus Tullius Cicero

Literary Description of Garden

“The garden on my grandmother’s estate was very old and large, and was
bounded on one side by a flowing pond, in which there were not only
plenty of carp and eels, but even loach were caught, those renowned
loach, that have nowadays disappeared almost everywhere. At the head
of this pond was a thick clump of willows; further and higher, on both
sides of a rising slope, were dense bushes of hazel, elder,
honeysuckle, and sloe-thorn, with an undergrowth of heather and clover
flowers. Here and there between the bushes were tiny clearings,
covered with emerald-green, silky, fine grass, in the midst of which
squat funguses peeped out with their comical, variegated pink, lilac,
and straw-coloured caps, and golden balls of ‘hen-dazzle’ blazed in
light patches. Here in spring-time the nightingales sang, the
blackbirds whistled, the cuckoos called; here in the heat of summer it
was always cool–and I loved to make my way into the wilderness and
thicket, where I had favourite secret spots, known–so, at least, I
imagined–only to me.”
Punin and Baburin by Ivan Turgenev

About Love

“(…) he (Sanin) could not rid himself of her (Madame Polozov) image, could not help hearing her voice, recalling her words, could not help being aware even of the special scent, delicate, fresh and penetrating, like the scent of yellow lilies, that was wafted from her garments.”
The Torrents of Spring by Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev

About Love


“And it (heart) fluttered as lightly as a butterfly flutters his wings, as he stoops over the flowers in the summer sunshine.”
The Torrents of Spring by Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev

Literary Description of Garden

“Reader, do you know those little homesteads of country gentlefolks,
which were plentiful in our Great Russian Oukraïne twenty-five or thirty
years ago? Now one rarely comes across them, and in another ten years
the last of them will, I suppose, have disappeared for ever. The running
pond overgrown with reeds and rushes, the favourite haunt of fussy
ducks, among whom one may now and then come across a wary ‘teal’; beyond
the pond a garden with avenues of lime-trees, the chief beauty and glory
of our black-earth plains, with smothered rows of ‘Spanish’
strawberries, with dense thickets of gooseberries, currants, and
raspberries, in the midst of which, in the languid hour of the stagnant
noonday heat, one would be sure to catch glimpses of a serf-girl’s
striped kerchief, and to hear the shrill ring of her voice.

Close by would be a summer-house standing on four legs, a conservatory, a
neglected kitchen garden, with flocks of sparrows hung on stakes, and a
cat curled up on the tumble-down well;

a little further, leafy apple-trees in the high grass, which is green below and grey above,
straggling cherry-trees, pear-trees, on which there is never any fruit;
then flower-beds, poppies, peonies, pansies, milkwort, ‘maids in green,’
bushes of Tartar honeysuckle, wild jasmine, lilac and acacia, with the
continual hum of bees and wasps among their thick, fragrant, sticky

At last comes the manor-house, a one-storied building on a
brick foundation, with greenish window-panes in narrow frames, a
sloping, once painted roof, a little balcony from which the vases of the
balustrade are always jutting out, a crooked gable, and a husky old dog
in the recess under the steps at the door. Behind the house a wide yard
with nettles, wormwood,

and burdocks in the corners, outbuildings with
doors that stick, doves and rooks on the thatched roofs, a little
storehouse with a rusty weathercock, two or three birch-trees with
rooks’ nests in their bare top branches, and beyond–the road with
cushions of soft dust in the ruts and a field and the long hurdles of
the hemp patches, and the grey little huts of the village, and the
cackle of geese in the far-away rich meadows….”
The Brigadier by Ivan Turgenev

(Quotation from The Literature Network)

Literary Description of Garden

“The garden (…) has become amazingly pretty: the modest little lilac, acacia and honey suckle bushes (you remember, it was you and I that planted them) have filled out into magnificent dense shrubs; the birches and maples – they’ve all shot up and spread wide; the lime-tree walks have become particularly attractive. I love those walks, I love the delicate grey-green colour and the subtle scent of the air beneath their vaults; I love the dappled network of bright little circles across the dark earth – as you know, I have no sand. My favourite oak sapling has already become a young oak tree. In the middle of the day yesterday I sat for more than an hour in its shade on a bench. I felt very happy. The grass was flourishing so cheerfully all around; a golden light, strong and soft, lay on everything; it even penetrated into the shade… and the birds that could be heard! I hope you haven’t forgotten that birds are my passion. Turtle doves cooed incessantly, every now and then an oriole would whistle, a chaffinch did its sweet little thing, the thrushes got angry and twittered away, a cuckoo responded in the distance; suddenly, like a maniac, a woodpecker would utter its piercing cry.”
Faust. A Story in Nine Letters by Ivan Turgenev (translated by Hugh Aplin)