The punningly-titled ‘Park-in-sun’s park on earth’ was first issued in 1629, and consists of three sections, on flower-gardens, kitchen-gardens, and orchards. Under these headings, it discusses over a thousand plants (of which 780 are illustrated in full-page plates) and their cultivation. John Parkinson (1567–1650) was well-acquainted with English and Continental botanical and horticultural literature and also drew on the discoveries of a wide circle of fellow botanists and nurserymen in the compilation of his books. An apothecary of Ludgate Hill, Parkinson kept a large and splendid garden at Long Acre where, among other triumphs, he was the first in England to grow the great double yellow Spanish daffodil (in 1618). He was appointed apothecary to James I, and ‘Botanicus Regius Primarius’ by Charles I. After 1629, he worked extensively on his herbal, Theatrum botanicum, published in 1640.
The frontispiece of Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris bears a portrait of Parkinson executed in 1629 (illustrated above). The engraved title-page (see figure 12, p.42) depicts Adam and Eve dressing the Garden of Eden, and gathering, respectively, fruits and herbs for their food. It shows the Garden bringing forth plenty under God’s gaze. In the background, one can make out the mythical Scythian or ‘vegetable’ lamb, an animal which grew and propagated itself like a plant, and which ate the grass surrounding the single root which anchored it to the earth. This creature was felt by some botanists to provide a link between animals and plants, and was described by Parkinson in his Theatrum botanicum. Despite such flights of fancy, which reflected an already out-dated taxonomy, Parkinson’s work was considered valuable because of the wide variety of plants which he described and because of his practical experience with them. It is notable for its treatment of salad vegetables, a crop which Evelyn discussed at length in the Elysium (catalogue no. 16) and in his Acetaria of 1699, where he argued that it had been ‘the original, and genuine food of all mankind from the Creation’ (Acetaria, p.16). Others regarded fruits as the true first food, and Parkinson’s discussion of orchards might be said to look forward also to the work of Austen and Beale (see catalogue nos. 14 and 17 ).
Simon Manningham, an early owner of this copy, has transcribed Psalm 148:5 (on creation) and some verses from John Milton’s Paradise Lost (book IV, lines 623–7, catalogue no. 68 ):
To-morrow ere fresh morning streak the east
With first approach of light, we must be ris’n,
And at our pleasant labor, to reform
Yon flow’ry arbors, yonder alleys green,
Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown.
In these lines, Adam speaks to Eve in their bower, at the time of their evening worship, and tells her of their duty to God to dress the Garden of Eden. In the pre-lapsarian world, labour is sweet and easy, since plants grow spontaneously in Eden, and ‘mock our scant manuring’. This was the happy state to which many diligent seventeenth-century improvers wished to return the earth, through harder labour and enthusiastic planting and fertilizing.