網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

gorgeous appearance. I could not help exclaiming, it was worth a journey to Angers, if only to see this splendid plant. A large quarter, about an acre in extent, of Magnòlia grandiflòra (Exmouth variety), the plants from 6 ft. to 12 ft. in height, trained to single stems for avenues, was admirable for their fine health and vigour. The price of the larger plants was thirty francs ; certainly very cheap. We were next attracted by a specimen of Paulownia imperialis, about 12 ft. high. This tree, with its large cordate leaves, had exactly the appearance of a gigantic sunflower, lacking its terminal flower ; in fact, when I returned, on observing a giant sunflower, about 8 ft. high, growing in my nursery, I could not help exclaiming, “ Voilà Paulownia!”

This plant was an object of great interest in the nursery of M. Leroy. Its leaves were 2 ft. in length, the same in breadth; petioles 1į ft. in length. It was growing, as I was assured by the foreman, at the rate of 2 in. per diem. In this most favourable climate it will doubtless soon form a magnificent tree : still I doubt if it will bear sharp frost ; for, in spite of the very hot weather, its stem was exceedingly soft and herbaceous; as much so as Fuchsia corymbiflòra turned out in a wet border in England. We saw here fine standards of Acàcia Julibríssin in full bloom. They were propagating nearly all the hard-wooded greenhouse plants by layering in small pots in the open air; the surface of the pots covered with moss. They appeared to succeed admirably; but the climate of Angers seems almost to be perfection, as far as regards plant culture. The rose “Noisette Lamarque bears seed freely, and from it have been raised some splendid yellow Noisette roses. All sorts of moss roses were covered with heps. Melons were growing and ripening in the open borders. M. Vibert, the eminent rose cultivator, has now turned his attention to the improvement of grapes, on which he has published a small treatise. He purposes, by crossing, to obtain high-flavoured muscat grapes as early as the sweetwater and other precocious varieties. I observed a seedling black muscat, which had apparently resulted from a cross with the black sweetwater, nearly ripe on the open wall; but it seemed to inherit the badly setting qualities of the sweetwater, as many berries were small and imperfect. Its flavour was rich and musky. As M. Vibert is very persevering and scientific, he will doubtless make great improvements in this branch of horticulture. I did not observe at Angers any thing remarkable in their culture of pears: it sounded rather oddly in this country of pears, to hear Williams's Bon Chrétien, or “ Poire Guillaume," as they call it, extolled as the finest pear known; it is “magnifique, délicieuse, Monsieur Rivers,” exclaimed the foreman of M. Leroy.

I noticed in the rose nurseries here the effect of increased light and heat on the petals of some China roses. In this family are some varieties originating in a semidouble rose, well known to amateurs as chameleon, or Rósa índica mutabilis : Archduke Charles, Etna, and Rubens are the finest of these changeable roses. In England these are, on their first opening, a pale rose, then deep rose, and the second day, if the weather is dry, crimson, more or less deep. At Angers, the weather warm and dry, their flowers in the third stage were nearly black. I was much interested with the mélange of black, red, and blush roses on the same bush ; this peculiarity in those few varieties is the more remarkable, as it is quite the reverse of what takes place in the generality of roses; the brilliancy of their colouring, in almost all cases, fading under bright sunshine.

Camellias are cultivated very extensively here. I visited the nursery of M. Cachot, most delightfully situated on the “Promenades du Champ de Mars," a spacious parallelogram with fine avenues on each side. His culture is confined to cameHias: the stock was in the best condition. I should calculate that I saw fifty thousand plants of various sizes, all in the finest possible health. Here again was the beautiful Bignònia grandiflora, enlivening the walls and borders with its splendour: it seems a general favourite at Angers.

Le Mans, July 27.-We arrived here from Angers, travelling on one of the routes royales, macadamised, broad, and admirably kept. I observed it was divided into sections by tin or iron plates, fixed on posts and numbered; the labourers had their hats with corresponding numbers fixed on plates of tin to them : each labourer had the portion of road between each post under his care; they were even sweeping the dust from the road, so careful did they seem of it. The country was in fine cultivation, the wheat all harvested. We passed through La Flèche, a large market town, the hedges in the vicinity of which were lined with Quércus Taúzin. I observed also a few of the common oak amongst them. The former were absolutely laden with acorns.

If these are more nutritive than those of the common oak, they must form abundant food for pigs and other stock. Numerous walnut trees were also by the road side ; the fruit equalling in abundance that of the Quércus Taúzin. This part of the country seemed indeed highly fruitful. Le Mans is a spacious and ancient city, with a population of 25,000. The cathedral is well worthy a visit. I visited the garden of M. Foulard, a first-rate amateur of horticulture, and was much interested by his collection. Apricots were here growing in the open quarters on dwarf bushes; the large early, or gros précoce, M. Foulard informed me, was ripe on the 6th; and the “abricot pêche," a large variety of the Moor Park, was just now in fine perfection. The cherries, “ royale tardive” and “ cerise d’Octobre,” were just ripening; the former is our late duke, the latter I had not seen before. Some fine melons were also ripe in the open borders. I here heard of the famous poire épiscopal, raised from seed by M. Bougère. It is reputed to be juicy and high-flavoured, keeping sound till June and July. The soldat laboureur is also a new pear of high reputation, as is the colmar d’Aremberg; these ripen in November and December.

Lisieux (Calvados), July 28.- At Le Mans we left the route royale, and after a tedious journey, in a small and inconvenient diligence, of fifteen hours, through a pretty undulated country, the corn fields all planted with apple trees, we arrived at this ancient-looking market town. It was a busy day for the townspeople, as a grand mass was performed at the cathedral for the death of the Duke of Orleans. The national guard attended the mass, and grounded their firelocks on the stone pavement, making a tremendous uproar, in but ill accordance with religious worship. Objects of interest in horticulture diminished as we left the banks of the Loire. We visited a nursery here, but saw no specimens of new plants worthy of mention, and nothing, as at Angers, to show the effects of a fine climate. M. Oudin treated us with brandy made from cider, which he informed us can scarcely be bought pure. It was a most powerful and agreeable spirit.

As we approached Normandy we were reminded of England, except that in England (unless in Worcestershire and Herefordshire) but few fruit trees are to be found in the corn fields ; whereas in Normandy, through many many miles of country, the apple trees are planted, often irregularly and at a considerable distance apart, all over the face of the soil, and the land is mostly arable, which attracts the notice of the English traveller, as it has not the appearance of an orchard. I looked very closely into the wheat and barley crops directly under the shade of the trees, and could not perceive the least difference either in the bulk of straw or quality of the grain. An Englishman at first sight thinks the practice bad, as shade in his country is so injurious to corn crops ; but the superior dryness of this climate, and greater abundance of sunshine, will account for the noninjurious effect of planting fruit trees in corn fields. I was surprised to find the crop of apples a total failure: the trees looked full of healthy foliage, but scarcely an apple could be perceived. I believe this failure was chiefly in cider apples, as I afterwards saw trees full of fruit in some gardens. The farmers of Normandy seem a superior race of men to those of Brittany; in short, more like English farmers. I remember seeing at a fair, between Dinan and Rennes, many hundreds of Breton farmers: they seemed all of one grade, neither rich nor poor. I observed many returning from the fair with their purchases of stock. A Suffolk farmer would have turned up his nose with contempt at the smallness of their ventures. Some had one cow and a calf; these were great men: for the majority had some two, some three, others four, sheep of the goatish breed beforementioned ; these they were leading by a line round their necks. The whole affair looked, by contrast with our own farmers, poor and miserable enough. Still these people are happy. They have small farms, which in most cases are their own freeholds; they have few wants, and these are all supplied. In that part of Brittany the country seemed peopled by these small farmers ; no common labourers were to be seen. Undoubtedly this contributes to the happiness of the people, and offers a striking contrast to the wealthy farmers, large farms, and numerous and ill-paid labourers in our agricultural districts. Whether the general welfare of the country is promoted by this system is another question, and one requiring much consideration to answer.

Honfleur, July 29.- At Lisieux we found that no diligence could be taken to carry us to this little town; we, therefore, bargained for a “cabriolet” for the journey of twenty miles, for which we paid twenty francs. Let it not be supposed that by this name was designated a roomy chaise on springs. Oh, no; our cabriolet was a large market-cart on springs, in which were double seats. In this my three friends, myself, and the driver, were amply accommodated, and our “bonne jument,” as our driver affectionately called his old mare, jogged along at the rate of four miles an hour to Pont l'Evêque, about half-way, where we rested and partook of " café noir ; thence, after walking up a tremendous hill, a three miles' ascent, we arrived here, descending to the town through a magnificent avenue of elms. The famous Honfleur melons, we ascertained, were grown to the south of the town, at some distance from it: our time did not permit us to view the melon gardens, and we found no other matter of any horticultural interest, so that we crossed the Seine to Havre as soon as possible by the steamer, thence by steam to Southampton; thus terminating a rapid, agreeable, and mentally profitable tour of twelve days.

Sawbridgeworth Nursery, April 4. 1843.

Art. V. Bicton Gardens, their Culture and Management, in a Series

of Letters to the Conductor. By James BARNES, Gardener to the Right Honourable Lady Rolle.

(Continued from p. 166.)

LETTER XIII. Growing Mushrooms. I SHALL now fulfil the promise I made you when here, to give you a description of my method of growing mushrooms ; which is a very easy, simple, but sure method to get them of a good quality, and in great abundance, at all times of the year, if you only manage to get good spawn. There is no vegetable cultivated that is so sought after in a nobleman's or gentleman's kitchen as the mushroom; as I once heard a French man-cook say, “ de mushroom is de very life and soul of de kitchen.”

The prettiest and most interesting of all vegetable-growing is the mushroom culture. I was always devotedly fond of it, and bave been in the practice of cultivating them for the last 25 years. I have seen many different systems tried, but have decided on one settled one of my own for many years; yet I do not say it is superior to any other, neither am I recommend. ing it, or asking any one to follow my advice. I have heard of treatises being written on mushrooms, but I never met with one of them; neither did I ever read a book of any kind on gardening, nor take any interest in reading them, until the Gardener's Gazette made its appearance, as I always fancied it was loss of time;. but now I am resolved to get every book I can possibly procure, as from time to time I can buy them. Out of the many hundreds of mushrooms, there are but three varieties that I would venture to eat myself. I do not know the specific name for any of them, but I will send you a specimen of each as they come in season; and, if you will be so kind as to try and find out the proper names of them, you will greatly oblige me, as, in my humble opinion, the public ought to be particularly cautioned against purchasing and eating any of those of a dangerous quality, which are sometimes offered for sale.

I will tell you how I discovered the dangerous qualities of mushrooms. When I was about eight years old I was sent to a dairy for a can of milk, and I took care to go early before the dairy-maid was up, that I might go foraging about, as I have since seen all boys will do, after apples, crabs, nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, or any other fruit I could lay hands on. That very morning I was on one of those excursions, and fell in with two fine-looking mushrooms under some chestnut trees. I took them home and got my mother to cook them for my breakfast, ate them, and went about my business; but it was not long before I was taken so dreadfully ill that I can never forget it.

« 上一頁繼續 »