To delight a bee

Today’s snippets are taken from The Arte of Gardening by Thomas Hill, originally published in 1563. Hill’s useful book covers everything from secret fencing of a garden to the worthyness of dungs. At the end of his book, he includes  a treaty entitled A Profitable Instruction Of The Perfect Ordering Of Bees, With The Marvellous Nature, property, and gouvernement of them: and the necessary uses, both of their Hony and Waxe.

What follows are several of Hill’s more unusual gardening tips & bits of advice.

On the Care of Bees:

Certain Bees stand in the day tyme at the mouthes of the hives, diligently looking to their business, like warders placed at the gates of a Castle, that they may so defend in safeguard whom they will within. In the night tyme they settle themselves to rest unto morning, untill one of them by humming twice or thrice about, doth so stirre them forward to flie out after the other. Being a cleare and faire morning, then do they flie forthe, and returne again to their hives, laden with the substance of the flowers on their legs for their business.

A Keeper of Bees must:

refraine [from] the Veneriall Act, not be a person fearfull, nor comming to the hive with unwashed handes and face: and one that ought to refraine in a manner from all smelling meats, Onions, Garlicke, and such like, which the Bees greatlie abhore: besides, to be then sweete of bodie, cleanlie in apparell, minding to come unto their hives, for in all cleanliness and sweetness the bees are much delighted.

To grow an entire Italian salad from one stalk:

Lettice, Parsely, Rocket & Basil may grow altogether out of one stem or stalke: take 2 or 3 small balles of the Goat or sheepes dung, and those breake, and mingle the seedes together in them,after, role altogether into a round ball, which after set into new Cow dung, and covering the same with well dressed and fine earth, then gently water.

To protect a garden from hail, he advises a Greek method:

compass your allies (alleys) about with the skin of a Sea-Calfe, or else the best Hiena or the Crocadile, and to hang any of these skinnes also at the entrance or comming in of the garden. He also suggests that the garden ‘shall not be harmed by lightnings’ if it is similarly covered with the hide of a Hippapotamus.

Hill notes that:

hearbes and young plantes after they bee come up, be diverslie in danger to certaine small Beastes and creeping thinges, living as well under the earth as above, and advises that by all meanes possible that can bee devised either with fire, smoake or Iron, they be bitterly expelled and driven out of the Garden.

He recommends the following methods for removing some of the more aggravating’creeping things’:

As touching the Caterpillars that greatly annoy and spoyle the hearbes of the Garden, sprinckle the Plants or trees with bloudy twigs, as a speciall remedy to drive them so away.

You may take all the Moles in your garden by an easie manner: If that you get a quick Mole, put the same into a deepe earthen pot, setting the edge to the earth: which Mole, after a while feeling himselfe thus inclosed, will crye out, and after the other Moles in that ground doe thus heare him cry, they will hastily draw neere unto him, and minding to helpe him forth, will so fall into the pot. And now by this safe means, if you will, you may take and destroy all the Moles in your garden.

If you take the maw [stomach] of a weather sheepe new killed, not washed, but having all the filth hanging theron, which lightlie cover with earth in that place, where they most swarme in the garden, and after two dayes, you shall finde a marvellous companie of Moths and other flies heaped thereupon, which either carry away, or bury very deepe in that place.

If wormes hang to the rootes of the plants or hearbes through the naughtinesse of the dunge, then weede the Beds and plants verie diligently.

Garden Mice may bee driven away, if you sprinckle the beds with the Ashes of the Weesel, or with that water sprinckled on the beds in which a Catte hath been walked.

One comment

  • February 13, 2010 - 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely love the “whole salad” approach, and may indeed try it next summer. However, I can vouch for the mole-in-a-pot ruse not being very effective. Needed a mole remover here.

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