Country-mans recreation illustrates the difficulty of establishing
the identity of an early modern book. The general title page announces
three "books"—and delivers four, if one counts Barker's
Art of Angling, which according to the title page is "likewise
added." Three of the components—A Perfect Platform
of a Hop-Garden, The Expert Gardener, and the Art
of Angling have individual title pages and were separately issued.
The last two are independently paginated with their own runs of "signatures"
(or gatherings of leaves). But the Perfect Platform shares
its signature run and pagination with The Country-mans recreation.
According to the title pages, those two also share a printer and publisher,
though not the date of publication. The Art of Angling was
the first published of Barker's works, and is mentioned in Izaak Walton's
Complete Angler (first published for Richard Marriott in
1653). Marriott published an edition of Barker's Art of Angling
in 1657. A third publisher, Humphrey Moseley—who was associated
with Royalist literature—also published an edition of the Art
of Angling in 1659.
In Shears's 1654 edition,
the Art of Angling is placed in a larger set of practical
treatises for the husbandman, not all of which were actually authored
by Thomas Barker. Though the title pages are not elaborated with
woodcut illustrations, the works are fully illustrated, including
twenty-two pages (or two and one-half signatures) at
the end of The Expert Gardener featuring grids and designs
for elaborate knot gardens based upon geometrical balance and order.
The text is largely devoted to "graffing" or "imping,"
that is, grafting branches cut from one tree onto others in order
to achieve the desired depth and fullness. Trees and shrubs would
be planted along precise directional lines and eventually the garden
would grow and be trimmed into precise "knot" designs.
Barker described eight different grafting techniques. The twelve
tools depicted in this woodcut open the sequence as essential for
the "expert gardener." In addition to various forms of
sickles and blades—necessary for clearing land in preparation
of the garden—a mallet for driving stakes into the ground,
trowels for digging and weeding, and a long saw are displayed.
In addition to grafting
techniques, Barker wrote of fruit yields from apple and pear trees
and schedules for planting vegetables. He also devoted a great deal
of space to pest control. On this subject, as with others, he appears
to have drawn largely from experience; however, he cited a few textual
authorities on this matter. Barker noted that Pliny the Elder wrote
in his Natural History that unsalted olive oil would keep
worms away (p. 26), and that Palladius Rutilius said that dry seeds
from tortoise skin would keep out "noisome vermine or creeping
things" (pp. 26-7). He cited "Albertus," presumably
Albertus Magnus, who wrote that stuffing garlic or leeks down molehills
would either kill or drive them away (p. 31). A potential reader
of Barker's treatise may not have had the means or desire to plant
a knot garden but could have still profited from his treatise.
North Central College
Hunt, John Dixon. Garden and Grove:
The Italian Renaissance Garden in the English Imagination: 1600-1750.
London: J.J. Dent, 1986.
McRrae, Andrew. God Speed the Plough:
The Representation of Agrarian England, 1500-1660. New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Mukerji, Chandra. Territorial Ambitions
and the Gardens of Versailles. New York: Cambridge University
Strong, Roy. The Renaissance Garden
in England. London: Thames and Hudson, 1979.
Thirsk, Joan. The Rural Economy
of England. London: Hambledon Press, 1984.