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Farms and Orchards

Advances in Fruit & Vegetable Cultivation

William Lawson. A new orchard and garden. London, 1623

Improvements in the care of plants, animals, and soil meant more varieties of produce and more efficient use of lands. Planting new vegetable crops (such as cabbage and carrots) introduced into England by Dutch farmers, cultivating fruit and nut orchards, and using improved plows were a few of the techniques that farmers employed to increase their yield. Revived interest in classical as well as contemporary works on farming was strong among rural gentry who sought not only to improve their lands but also to maintain the social order: "Whosoever does not maintain the Plough destroys this Kingdom," proclaimed Robert Cecil before the House of Commons in 1601.

In the early seventeenth century, serious gentlemen farmers turned to fruit orchards to improve their lands and took great pride in what they produced. Following strategies established by classical authors and herbalists, William Lawson wrote guides for effective fruit, garden, and bee cultivation. Numerous varieties of apples, pears, cherries, as well as strawberries, cucumbers, and melons were among the fruitage planted in the gardens of country estates. Whether conserved or candied, eaten as table fruit, or distilled into medicinal waters, these fruits became a larger part of the English diet after mid-century.

Gallen, 1666. A new almanack. London, 1666. With manuscript notes

Additional Information

The owner of this 1666 almanac must have adopted the advice of the herbalist John Gerard, who wrote that apples vary "infinitely according to the soil and climate."


The almanac is interleaved with notes about the orchard at Tixall Hall, Staffordshire. The orchard was laid out in four groups of ten trees of each variety: Holland pippin, Great Bury pear, Flanders cherry.

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