The illustrations are reduced from those delightful drawings by Mr. Moon admired throughout the world in the pages of “Reichenbachia.” The licence to use them is one of many favours for which I am indebted to the proprietors of that stately work.
I do not give detailed instructions for culture. No one could be more firmly convinced that a treatise on that subject is needed, for no one assuredly has learned, by more varied and disastrous experience, to see the omissions of the text-books. They are written for the initiated, though designed for the amateur. Naturally it is so. A man who has been brought up to business can hardly resume the utter ignorance of the neophyte. Unconsciously he will take a certain degree of knowledge for granted, and he will neglect to enforce those elementary principles which are most important of all. Nor is the writer of a gardening book accustomed, as a rule, to marshal his facts in due order, to keep proportion, to assure himself that his directions will be exactly understood by those who know nothing.
The brief hints in “Reichenbachia” are admirable, but one does not cheerfully refer to an authority in folio. Messrs. Veitch’s “Manual of Orchidaceous Plants” is a model of lucidity and a mine of information. Repeated editions of Messrs. B.S. Williams’ “Orchid Growers’ Manual” have proved its merit, and, upon the whole, I have no hesitation in declaring that this is the most useful work which has come under my notice. But they are all adapted for those who have passed the elementary stage.
Thus, if I have introduced few remarks on culture, it is not because I think them needless. The reason may be frankly confessed. I am not sure that my time would be duly paid. If this little book should reach a second edition, I will resume once more the ignorance that was mine eight years ago, and as a fellow-novice tell the unskilled amateur how to grow orchids.
North Lodge, Addiscombe, 1893.
The contents of my Bungalow gave material for some “Legends” which perhaps are not yet universally forgotten. I have added few curiosities to the list since that work was published. My days of travel seem to be over; but in quitting that happiest way of life—not willingly—I have had the luck to find another occupation not less interesting, and better suited to grey hairs and stiffened limbs. This volume deals with the appurtenances of my Bungalow, as one may say—the orchid-houses. But a man who has almost forgotten what little knowledge he gathered in youth about English plants does not readily turn to that higher branch of horticulture. More ignorant even than others, he will cherish all the superstitions and illusions which environ the orchid family. Enlightenment is a slow process, and he will make many experiences before perceiving his true bent. How I came to grow orchids will be told in this first article.