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ART. X. On the white Oak of the United States (Quercus álba L.).
In answer to your enquiries respecting the white oak, I have to state that it grows in all the middle States in America ; it grows some distance south of Pennsylvania, but I do not know how far. I know it does not grow in the extreme southern States. It grows north of Boston, but it ceases to grow in Maine; therefore the oak that comes from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, &c., is but of little value. White oak is good for building, purposes; and the timbers of the old houses, barns, mills, &c., built with it, which is the case with most of them, are as sound, after standing 150 years, as those in this country that are built of English oak. White oak is the principal timber used in shipbuilding: all the line-packets are built with it, timbers, planks, and knees ; and all the government ships of war are pretty much built of live oak, but planked with white oak. White oak is excellent for machinery, far surpassing any wood that we have in this country, being so much stronger and so much tougher than our ash. All the naves and sides of their light waggons and other vehicles are made with it, also the hoops or bows that go over the tops, whether covered with leather or canvass ; also the spokes of the wheels, and being so much tougher than our oak they are made much less ; the rims, or felloes, also, are sawed out of white oak plank, and being so much stronger than our ash or elm they are not near the size we have them, and will last as long again, as the wood is so much more durable. Shafts of all waggons, carts, &c., are made of it, let them be ever so heavy or ever so light. For coachpoles it is better than lance-wood, because it is lighter, and will not fly; it is better than our ash, because you can make it less, and it will not snap off like ash. All the frames of their railroad cars and steam-engines are made of white oak, and they make them lighter than we do with English oak, because it is tougher ; also staves for casks, vats, &c. The white oak is the wood generally used there, more than oak and ash both put together are here, as it has the qualities of both, and is much superior. This wood enables the Americans so much to surpass us in carriage and steam-boat building. We are a quarter of a century behind them, at least. A gentleman's carriage here will weigh more than two of theirs; and there is as much difference between a steam-boat at New York and one at London, as there is between a gentleman's carriage and a common cart. When the white oak is small, it is fit for hoops for barrels, &c. ; when it is as big as your arm, it is fit for all purposes that our ash is; and, as it gets larger, it is fit for all purposes that I have enumerated, and many others. I should say a nice warm sandy loam will suit the growth in this country. I do not think it would do in the deep clays, like our oak. I think a soil adapted for elms would suit it better.
Southampton, Dec. 2. 1842.
The American White Oak (Quércus alba L., Encyc. of Trees and Shrubs, p. 862.).—“ A laudable anxiety to introduce this species on a large scale has existed in England from the days of Elizabeth to the present time; and, during this period, hundreds, nay thousands, of pounds have been expended in the importation of acorns. Bartram, Michaux, Cobbett, and a host of nurserymen, besides private gentlemen, have all signally failed. Cobbett, alone, expended many hundred pounds in his efforts to accomplish this object; and every plant he raised, I have no doubt, cost him a crown. Nurserymen do sometimes succeed in obtaining a few plants from a large importation of acorns; but at so great an expense, that no gentleman can afford to plant them: and this I call failing, failing to introduce this invaluable tree, for the purpose of forming plantations on that scale necessary to render it worthy of consideration in a national point of view. Acorns cannot be gathered from the tree on account of the expense, though even this might be submitted to, if the acorns would retain their vitality during their transit to England. The acorns generally germinate in a slight degree before dropping from the tree; consequently, if they are dried, they are, in effect, malted, if packed in a moist state they heat, or they germinate and the radicle perishes for want of soil and moisture. Young plants cannot be got from under the trees, because the acorns, as they drop, are eaten by wild turkeys, squirrels, pigeons, and other animals, or by swine. Some of the American oaks have thick and hard shells, and do not naturally germinate until the spring. With these sorts there is no difficulty, after they are once collected. They can be packed in moss, dry sand, or simply thrown into a barrel by themselves.” The writer goes on to state that he is packing plants of the white oak to be sent to England, in perforated flour barrels, the plants being mixed with fresh moss; and that he has no doubt that they will arrive safe. The letter from which the above is an extract is dated New York, Nov. 21. 1841. Thirty thousand plants arrived safe in 1841, packed in the manner described, and they are now (1843) in a thriving state, in a favourable soil and situation in Surrey.
Acorns of the white oak, or of any other, may be brought over with perfect safety, if bedded in moist live moss, and planted as soon as they arrive, with. out pinching off the extremity of such of the radicles as may have pushed above an inch in length. (See Arb. Brit., vol. iii. p. 1867.)
Plants of the white oak may be obtained by the thousand from several nurserymen in the South of England, who have procured them from the gentleman who introduced the 30,000 plants above mentioned. — Cond.
“ In the Descriptive Catalogue of the Derby Arborelum,” M. Vilmorin observes, " you have stated that the leaves of Quercus álba, when they die off, neither take the colour of yellow nor red, like the other American oaks. In my plantations at Barres, in which there are above fifty plants of this species, more than a half of them in the autumn take the colour of a beautiful purple violet.” (This we have stated in the Arb. Brit., vol. iii. p. 1865., and the Encyc. of Trees and Shrubs, p. 863.] “ Neither do I admit the truth of what Cobbett says, that the leaf of the white oak is among the least curious and beautiful of the American oaks; on the contrary, I consider it one of the most beautiful, and, I should say, one of the most remarkable (le plus distingué) among those of the oaks of America. Its general form, the graceful outline of its lobes, profoundly sinuated and rounded; their consistence at once thin and firm ; their upper surface smooth and of a clear green, which contrasts agreeably with the beautiful glaucous hue of the under side ; their petioles sometimes of a bright red ; in short, all these features have always appeared to me to give this leaf a charm, and a positive beauty, distinct from those of every other. I speak, it is true, of the leaves such as they show themselves on young and vigorous plants ; perhaps on large trees they lose a good deal of their beauty. I acknowledge, also, that in matters which are judged of merely by the eye, every one judges according to the impression which he has received ; and what I wish to say is, that my impressions are in favour of the leaves of Quércus álba. It is this partiality which has induced me to break a lance in its favour, as the chevaliers of other times did for the lady afflicted and molested, whom they took under their protection." - Vilmorin. Paris, Feb. 6. 1843.
The acorns of the white oak, in America, are preferred before all others for fattening swine ; and the swine are so fond of them, that they will not eat any other acorns as long as those of the white oak last. A good white acorn year is always a good year for pork. - J. D. Feb. 15. 1843. [A young gardener who spent six months travelling in America, and who is now very anxious to go to China as a natural history collector.)
ART. XI. Dimensions of large Trees and Shrubs, collected with a
view to a Supplement to the Arboretum Britannicum. It is our intention, in the course of the present year, to publish a Supplement to the Arboretum Britannicum, chiefly for the sake of introducing descriptions and figures of the new species of pines and firs introduced from Mexico by the Horticultural Society, and of certain trees and shrubs recently raised from Himalayan seeds (all given in our abridged Arboretum); but partly, also, to record the dimensions of remarkable specimens of trees and shrubs now growing in Britain, which have been sent us since the Arboretum was composed, or which may be sent in the course of the next three months.
We shall therefore be greatly obliged to our readers and correspondents, if they will cooperate with us in this matter, and send us dimensions of large specimens with as little delay as possible. Large Trees at Stratfieldsaye, the Seat of His Grace the Duke of
Wellington. A Norway Spruce (Abies excelsa), 110 ft. high. This is the highest tree in the grounds ; its girt at 4 ft. from the ground is 10 ft., and at ž0 ft. high 8 ft., gradually tapering upwards.
A Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus Libàni), 100 ft. Apparently in its prime.
A Scarlet Oak (Quércus coccinea), 96 ft. Girt at 7 ft. high 9 ft., with a very fine head.
A common White Oak (Quercus pedunculàta), 80 ft. Girt at 4 ft. high 15 ft. 9 in., and at 15 ft. high 14 ft.
A Lombardy Poplar (Populus fastigiata), 101 ft. The Elms (U'lmus campestris var.) in the avenue average from 70 ft. to 80 ft. high, and girt at 6 ft. from the ground from 12 ft. to 15 ft.
The above are the highest trees at Strathfieldsaye, but there are a great many of each variety nearly as high.—John Johnson.
Stratfieldsaye Gardens, Feb. 11. 1843.
Art. XII. Notice of Two new American Roses lately introduced.
By J. W.B. Ro'sa rubifolia élegans, the Prairie Rose. – A fine climbing rose of very robust. habit, often making shoots of from 10 ft. to 12 st. in the season. Flowers semi-double, in clusters of from eighteen to twenty-five in each, and of a deep pink colour. Found by R. Buist of Philadelphia, in the state of Ohio. R. Buist.
Ròsa rubifolia var. Prairie Queen. – A seedling of Ròsa rubifòlia élegans, which was raised by Mr. S. Feast of Baltimore. Of a stronger habit than R. 1. élegans ; flowers quite double, and imbricated, in clusters. Similar, but superior, to the strong-growing varieties of Noisettes. Colour bright pink. R. Buist.
Mr. J. W. Brown, who brought over a plant of each of the above roses from Mr. Buist, saw both in flower in Mr. Buist's nursery in the summer of 1842, and bears testimony to the truth of the above descriptions by Mr. Buist.- London, Dec. 1842.
3d Ser. - 1843. III.
Art. XIII. On the Culture of the Chinese Primrose. By JOHN
GULLETT. Having for several years succeeded in growing my Prímula sinensis in great perfection, I submit the following system of cultivation. I endeavour to get my seeds ripe, but sometimes I sow them when just turned brown, in the last week in July, or first week in August, placing them on a little heat, to get them up as soon as possible. When the second leaf gets the size of a sixpence, I pot them off in thumb-pots in the following compost : one third well decomposed leaf mould, one third sandy peat, and one third two-years-old cowdung. In five or six weeks, I shift them into 60-sized pots ; and when they bave filled those pots with their roots, which will be in about two months, I shift them again into 48-sized pots, and in these I blow them, keeping them in a cold frame till February, when I take them into the greenhouse, and have them in bloom in March, at the time all the treatises on the Chinese primrose which I have seen recommend to sow the seed.
You see I gain a season; and my flowers are much larger and finer than those I see any where else.
Woodbine Cottage Gardens, Oct. 23. 1842.
REVIEWS. Art. I. New Zealand and the New Zealanders. By Ernest Dieffen
bach, M.D., Naturalist to the New Zealand Company, Honorary Member of the Aborigines Protection Society. Pamph. 8vo, pp. 30. London, 1841.
Travels in New Zealand ; with Contributions to the Geography, Geology, Botany, and Natural History of that Country. By Ernest Dieffenbach, M.D., late Naturalist to the New Zealand Company.
In two volumes 8vo, pp. 827. London, 1843. The first of these works is a pamphlet chiefly occupied with an account of the native population. The second is a very interesting relation of what the author saw during several journeys into various parts of New Zealand, in the years 1839, 1840, and 1841 ; including a grammar, dictionary, and specimens of the New Zealand language.
In pointing out the superiority of New Zealand to other British colonies, Dr. Dieffenbach observes “ that the climate is not only similar to that of England, but even milder than that of our most southern counties, whilst, at the same time, it is healthy and invigorating! The children of Europeans, born in this country, show no deterioration from the beauty of the original stock, as they do in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. A great part of the country possesses a soil which yields all those articles of food which are necessary for the support of Europeans, especially grain, potatoes, fruit, and every variety of garden vegetables ; it
possesses materials for ship-building and domestic architecture in its timber, marble, and freestone; the coal which has been found will probably prove sufficient in quantity for steam-engines and manufactories; its coasts are studded with harbours and inlets of the sea; it is intersected by rivers and rivulets; its position between two large continents is extremely favourable; in short, it unites in itself everything requisite for the support of a large population in addition to the native inhabitants. No other country possesses such facilities for the establishment of a middle class, and especially of a prosperous small peasantry, insuring greatness to the colony in times to come.
“ It is, I conceive, no small praise to a country that in it labour and industry can procure independence, and even affluence; that in it no droughts destroy the fruits of the colonist's toil; no epidemic or pestilence endangers his family;
that, with a little exertion he may render himself independent of foreign supply for his food; and that, when he looks around him, he can almost fancy himself in England, instead of at the antipodes, were it not that in his adopted country an eternal verdure covers the groves and forests, and gives the land an aspect of unequalled freshness and fertility." (Vol. i. p. 4.)
The clinate is wet and windy. “New Zealand, being situated within the temperate zone, although nearer the equator than Great Britain, possesses, from its peculiar geographical position, especially from its being insular, and also from the nature of its surface, a climate so modified as to resemble that of England more nearly than that of any other country I am acquainted with. It is moderate in every respect, the range of its temperature throughout the year and during the day being very inconsiderable. This is principally owing to the immense expanse of ocean which surrounds these narrow islands on all sides, preserving a temperature little varying, and moderating alike the cold of the antarctic regions, and the heat of the tropics.” (Vol. i. p. 173.) " Without pronouncing a decided opinion from a single series of observations, and these taken at only one place, and during ten months, I may, I think, safely draw the conclusion that New Zealand has a rainy climate, and may be ranked, in this respect, with several places in England.' (Vol. ii. p. 176.)
Notwithstanding this flattering picture, many of the emigrants who have flocked to New Zealand during the last two years have been sadly disappointed ; because they did not intend to make their new colony their second home, but to export native produce, and, after having made a rapid fortune, to return to their native country. Our author, however, shows at length, “that there is at present in New Zealand no article of export which can be depended upon, to procure that balance of trade which is necessary for the success of all commercial communities. Exports must be created in the island by means of the agriculturist ; and it is the highest praise of the country that they can be created, and that they do not differ from the same articles produced at home. England, in former times, had scarcely more exports than New Zealand has now ; but the internal resources and geographical po. sition which secured to Great Britain its unequalled prosperity are, although much inferior, yet similar in New Zealand, and may give her, in the course of time, as high a position.
" It will readily be concluded from these observations that, in the first settlements of New Zealand, by far too much importance has been attached to commerce and to those natural products just mentioned, and that many incorrect and exaggerated statements on the present capabilities of the colony have been brought forward. In a country like New Zealand, favoured in so many respects by nature, but which cannot be regarded as an entrepôt or point of transit, the first question as to its future prosperity and success should be:- Can the settlement produce all that it may require for internal consumption, and will provisions be cheap as compared with the price of labour? This should, undoubtedly, be the case in New Zealand ; and, consequently, the supply of provisions to ships and to the Australian colonies, will be the principal source of export from the colony.
" To afford facilities to the first settlers of creating agricultural produce; to extend the utmost liberality to those who have purchased land and intend to become working colonists ; to permit them to have an extensive choice, that they may select the good land in preference to the bad; to give them legal titles accordingly, and not to allow them to consume their capital after their arrival in the colony by a delay of the surveys, are the only means of securing prosperity to New Zealand. Under such circumstances, the system of land sales in England at a fixed price, and the application of the purchasemoney to send out agricultural labourers and mechanics in a just ratio to the demand of labour, the price of provisions, the quantity of capital employed, and the actual produce of the land, accompanied by a sound discretion as to the number of emigrants sent out, cannot, it appears to me, be easily replaced by a better one.” (Vol. i. p. 9.)