Parlington Hall, Aberford, West Riding, Yorkshire, England

Gardens House, Parlington, John Kennedy's Treatise

The Gardens House, and John Kennedy

The house was constructed for Sir Thomas Gascoigne to provide a base for his kitchen garden, surrounded by a hollow double skin brick wall, which was used to heat certain areas, notably the long greenhouses which faced roughly south on the walls on each side of the property and also along the inside of the northern face of the boundary garden wall.

I believe the house was built to look like one property, but in fact was divided into two, although not equally. The first occupant was probably John Kennedy who was gardner to Sir Thomas. He is remembered for a heavyweight tome he produced titled A Treatise upon Planting, Gardening, and the Management of the Hot-House, held in the Bodleian Library, since 1934.

Here is an extract from the book

A Treatise Upon Planting, Gardening, and the Management of the Hot-House


  • I. The Method of Planting Forest Trees in gravelly, poor, mountainous, and heath lands; with particular directions for raising the plants in the Seed-Bed, previous to their being planted out.
  • II. The Method of Pruning Forest Trees; with directions how how to improve plantations and Woods that have been neglected.
  • III. On the Soils of most proper for the different kinds of Forest Trees.
  • IV. The Management of Vines, Comprehending their Cultivation upon Fire-Walls and in Hot-House; together with a new Method of dressing, planting and preparing the Ground.
  • V. A new and easy Method of propagating Pine Plants, so as to gain half a Year in their Growth; together with a certain method of destroying the insect so destructive to Pines.
  • VI. A certain and easy Method of raising Mushrooms without Spawn, by which the Table may be plentifully supplied every week in the Year.
  • VII. A new Method of cultivating Asparagus.
  • VIII. The best Method of cultivating Field-Cabbages and Carrots for the Purpose of feeding Cattle.

By John Kennedy

Gardener to Sir THOMAS GASCOIGNE, Baronet

Printed by A. Ward for theAUTHOR.
M.DCC.LXXVI. [1776]

To Sir Thomas Gascoigne, Bart.

The fruits of my labours, whatever they may be, belong to you: your goodness and generosity have already greatly overpaid them; yet I never durst have petitioned for your patronage and protection of these Sheets, which I presume to offer to the public, but from a perfect conviction of their utility: being sufficiently acquainted with your knowledge in my profession, and more so with the rigour with which you would treat the errors in your own servant, when they regarded the public.
I have the honour to be, with the utmost respect and gratitude,
Your dutiful Servant,

The many publications on Gardening and Planting, which have been offered of late years to the public, might have discouraged the Author of this Treatise from the present attempt; but as most of those that have fallen in his way, treat the subject in too general and speculative a method to be of service to practitioners, his intention in the following sheets is not to deliver himself systematically, but, in the most explicit manner, to lay before the public facts that have been successfully reduced to practice by himself.
Each particular subject he means to treat of, he will give the most minute directions as to the method of culture, labour, and management; together with the seasons that each particular work is to be performed in.
The planting of poor wastes, moorlands, and apparent barren mountains, has been but-seldom treated of and in very few places attempted.
The success the Author has had in planting such grounds, even in the north of Scotland, has induced him to treat that subject rather largely; and he flatters himself that, if his directions are followed, extensive tracts of land which are now useless may become ornamental and profitable.
A general system of gardening not being the intention of this treats, the Author will confine himself to the management of Vines, Ananas, Asparagus, and a new method of raising Mushrooms without spawn.
The directions given on those heads being very different from the general practice, may perhaps make some rather diffident in following them; but the Author avers that they are what he has followed with the greatest success for many years.
Agriculture being now the object of so general attention, the Author has added to this treatise the cultivation of Field-Cabbages and Carrots, induced thereto by the great crops he has himself raised, and there great advantage they are in feeding of horses, cattle, &c.
The instructions given in this treatise upon planting, Gardening, and rural economy, are the result of many years experience; should they meet with the approbation of the public, the Author will consider himself as well rewarded.


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I.The Method of raising Wood on Rocky, Hilly, Waste, and Heath Lands1
II. On Sowing Tree-Seeds with Corn31
III. On planting Moors and Commons covered with long Heath39
IV. On Pruning90
V. On thick Planting, and the Management of Woods that haste been neglected104
VI. On the Soils proper for the different Kinds of Forest-Trees124
VII. On american Forest-Trees130
VIII. On the Management of grown Woods160
IX. On Fences, and their Management173
X. On the Nursery190
XI. On Vines210
XII. On the Ananas281
XIII. On Mushrooms 343
XIV.On Asparagus360
XV. On Cabbages386
XVI.On Carrots400

Notes about the Book

I would like to transcribe the whole book, but I fear that may be too great an undertaking. Mr. John Kennedy was clearly a talented gardener, and that he took the time to set down his expertise in a book, which must surely have been prepared in his own time; evenings perhaps, by the light of a solitary candle or oil lamp! Tells us something about him, even the first few opening sentences of chapter one indicate a man of vision, for he stated: The extensive tracts of rocky waste, and heath lands in this kingdom, if converted into plantations of thriving trees, would prove a certain benefit to posterity, as well as a pleasing reflection to those who are at the expence of performing so great and good work. To assist the generous planter in his patriotic design is the intention of this chapter. The book features the subscribers list, and I thought it worth while ensuring I had got all the names down, as it gives a clear indication of the wide readership Kennedy enjoyed. I suspect that the subscibers and the copies they received were the only books produced, so it is fortunate that one found its way to the Bodleian Library.

Sadly the current forestor and motley crew have clearly not read Kennedy's work, or contemplated his methods in any way at all. Along with the over planting of a few species for commercial gain, rather than the notion of planting for a future landscape, has delivered a rather sour looking forest, in many areas.