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to be able to carry their fine heads after getting them. Yet I could turn them out into a draught, in a cold windy place, and allow it to cut their fine heads all to pieces, and then say it was not my fault, for I could not help the wind; but I should have too much regard for the poor plants to punish them that way.
Now, as you particularly wished me to give you a little idea of my System of potting Camellias, I will do so: it will no doubt be thought a rough method by some. Do you imagine that they have the mould sifted, and all the stones picked out of the soil in their native country? I always fancied they had not, and for this reason, I never saw any man in the woods or hedge-rows in this country sifting the soil for our native trees to grow in; nor do I believe those noble trees in Bicton Park (of which I bave promised you a description some day) would ever have attained the wonderful size they have done, if men had been employed all their lives sifting the soil about them and picking out the stones. I get loam and heath soil in equal quantities, stones, and river sand, one barrow of rotten dung to eight of the above mixture, well mixed up together as roughly as possible.
Now, as I wish to be better understood than a certain author was when he recommended nitrate of soda as a manure for the Pinus, and was told afterwards, by those who had tried it, that they had killed all their plants, although they had done exactly as the author alluded to had prescribed, I shall try to explain my system clearly; but I do not ask any body else to follow it. In the first place all the soil should be sweet; the dung must be rotten and sweet (some persons would call dung rotten that came from a pigsty; I do not). No one should attempt this kind of work, who did not know something about it. The right season for potting camellias is when they require it; not because you observed your neighbour doing so yesterday, nor because you read in some man's noted calendar last evening when to pot those plants. You must judge by the constitution of what is under your care; and, till you know something about it, you will be apt to burn your fingers. Now, I give my camellias a good soaking of manured water, two or three times in the season, which would frighten many growers of them; therefore I only recommend it to those who understand both the properties of the soil they have already used, and of the liquid they intend using, or it will affect the plants in the same way as a pot of porter would a weak sickly person, if taken of a morning before breakfast.
I will now give you, as you wished, the names, &c., of some of the plants in this house.
Height. Circumf. Name.
Ft. In. Ft. In. Caméllia japonica. double white, se
veral large ones, some being 6 6 18 0 Chándleri
5 0 1 0 rosea
6 0 96 Warátah
6 6 18 6 Beáli
8 0 10 6 eclipsis
6 0 9 0 exímia
9 0 12 6 Donckelàeri fine Cardinal do. péndula do. Vandèsia superba
fine. Schotiana do. myrtifolia do. Fórdü
do. anemoniflòra álba
do. Rósa sinensis do. celestina do. Sweetiana fine
large plants. nobilíssima fine spléndens do. Dallas
Height. Circumf. Name.
Ft. In. Ft. In. C. j. pulcherrima do.
worked on it 10 0 12 6 quadrangulàris 5 5 11 6 Jenkinsonü
6 6 12 0 hýbrida
6 0 12 6 Ackermánnä fine
truncata - do. Witsènia corymbosa
fine. Rhododendron arbòreun
4 6 9 6 altaclerense 7 6
campanulátum do. Azalea indica álba - | 3 0 13 6 phænicea grandi
álbo, a very fine
very rare one. Danielsiana, fine,
and several others. Agapètes setigera,
very rare and
9 8 glàbra, very rare 4 0 5 0 Enkianthus reticu. làta
4 0 96 quinqueflòra, both
of these rare 6 0 8 4 Canavàlia bonariensis
covering a large
The Back Sheds. - As you expressed a wish to have some particulars respecting the sheds, store-rooms, &c., here, and I have at present half an hour to spare, I will just give you a few lines on the subject, as far as we have gone. There is a shed the whole length of the back of the palm-house, where you observed a store of large flower-pots, and green string stretched out going through the process of painting, &c. At the back of the heath-house there is a mushroom bed ; likewise at the back of the New Holland house. I told you that I would some day tell you of a sure and easy method of growing mushrooms; but I must delay it until I have made a little more progress with the houses. You likewise saw a store-room, where baskets, bampers, flower-pots, wire, trellis, new tools of different kinds not yet in use, and many other little things are kept. You next saw another little store-room, where I keep charcoal dust, bone dust, and soot. You next saw another long open shed at the back of the two vineries, with a loft over to keep flower-pots in; the bottom part filled with old sugar hogsheads, packing tubs, and cement casks, with stores of loam of different sorts, heath-mould, rotten dung, leaf-mould, cow-dung, sheep-dung, different kinds of sand, &c.; and at the open side you observed a quantity of rough shelves I had fixed for drying and sweetening different soils on in the winter; as it faces the north it answers two purposes, first by sweetening the soil, then by keeping the snow from blowing all over the shed.
Vineries are rather scarce in Bicton gardens. Considering what noble gardens they are, you would expect to see vineries from which grapes could be had every day in the year. If there is one plant in the world that I am more fond of than another, it is the beautiful vine, for the kinder you treat it, the more it will do for you. You saw the grapes and tasted them, therefore I leave you to say what you thought of them. I have a great deal to say some day on the culture of the vine, if it pleases God to spare me.
I had once the care of a house of grapes for a large grape-grower in the neighbourhood of London, who had many other large houses equally good. I heard a man offer my master 175 guineas for the crop in this house, and would cut them himself within a given time; but my master wanted 200 guineas, took them to market himself, and made more than 240 guineas. Now the house they grew in was not worth more than 701.
Pineries.—You saw and made some notes on the large pinepit, nearly the length of the orange-house, likewise on the halfhardy pit the same length; you also seemed to observe the pines and pine plants. I hope you will not flatter anything under my charge, but point out all the faults you saw; for I am perfectly satisfied that nothing is perfect, and mean to persevere and endeavour to improve every thing under my care. It you say that you saw queen pines here weighing more than 2 or 3 lb., people will not believe you, when they recollect the grand exhibition at Chiswick, where queen pines were shown of what was considered an enormous weight, 3 lb., and one fruit of that weight got stolen, and found its way to Bow Street.
The two peach-houses I leave you to describe, as you took some notes of them. I can only say the trees are too far from the glass to get early fruit. The tool-shed, I think, you
also noted down ; likewise the shed at the back of the stove, where you noticed tubs, boxes, &c., filled with pebbles of different sizes, broken stones, and broken potsherds of all sizes.
Bicton Gardens, Sept. 29. 1842.
LETTER VI. Chrysanthemums. Manured Water. Properties of Charcoal, fc. Since I have taken in all the plants to the various houses, I have arranged my Chrysanthemums. I believe you made some observations on them, and took notes, and asked me to describe my manner of treating them, which I will now do. In the first place, I make it a rule at this season of the year to take off two or more suckers of each variety; I pot them in small 60-sized pots, let them stand in these pots until the March following, when I remove them into 48-sized pots, to grow them in. I take the tops off in the beginning of May, and strike them ; then in August lay a quantity from the plants that are turned out for the purpose, to pot (as now) in the beginning of October. This gives me four successions of plants; so that they are in flower from this time until February next. I have also winter-flowering pelargoniums, Prímula sinensis, cinerarias, Guernsey lilies, and camellias, always ready at this time, as it makes the houses look cheerful all the winter. The collection of chrysanthemums at Bicton consists of about 100 varieties. I pot in the whole about 1000 plants or rather more. I grow them in charcoal and loam, occasionally giving them a little manured liquid. Do you remember my observation on manured liquid, when I espied a blunder that had been made on a row of the largest and most forward of my chrysanthemums, and which blunder, I was told on enquiry, had been committed by the boy, viz. “ It is well to have a boy sometimes to throw the blame upon ?” However, when manured water is properly understood it will be a great thing, not only for gardeners, but farmers, and indeed for all mankind, I hope.
I think you wrote something respecting the Properties of Charcoal eighteen or twenty months since, and I believe it was translated from the German. Now, you did not expect to meet with so humble an individual as myself, who had not only used it for years before, but even before he rightly understood the wonderful and astonishing properties of it. No doubt but many have tried it in various ways, for I have been
closely observing the different questions asked in the Gardener's Chronicle at times during this last year.
I think the first question which I saw answered by Dr. Lindley was to this effect : that it had no other good qualities but to serve as a substitute for other things to keep the soil porous. I have lately seen another answer : that the chemists have not yet come to a decision respecting the properties of charcoal. Now I am neither chemist nor scholar, but I think I can one day soon explain the different properties of charcoal and of manured water, and, I flatter myself, to the satisfaction and benefit of many; and I hope too to live to explain some more things which will not only be startling to many, but, I trust, a lasting benefit. But I'must hasten to a conclusion, and caution any one from using these manures before he understands the properties of them. I give all my plants manured water at times. Did you smell any thing, in either house or pits, unpleasant ? did you see anything unsightly or disagreeable ? did you see one plant out of ten thousand unhealthy ? did you see one plant that could not breathe, if they stood ever so thick? How is all this large collection kept free from disease and vermin? I will tell you some day, if it pleases God to spare my life. You know there are diseases of many kinds, and vermin of all sorts, to which every plant is subject in its natural state. You also hear of blights, and all kinds of cures are recommended for these things; but I think that the best cure is a preventive. I do not use blue vitriol in manured liquid to keep the smell away, nor any kind of poisonous drugs to kill vermin and cure diseases. the rain, the snow, and the hail descend, but it is all pure: we hear the wind blow, and it is healthy: why should we act in opposition to nature ? I hope to live to see things and persons better understood; not so much deception and jealousy, but more brotherly love, and readiness to assist one another,
Bicton Gardens, Oct. 1. 1842.
LETTER VII. The Conservatories, and List of Plants in them. The Orchideous
Houses and Stoves. Lists of Orchidea and of other Stove Plants. I shall this evening give you a short description, according to your wish, of the two Conservatories, one on each side of the temple which you so much admired, as you did also the beautiful fountain of water, and an obelisk at a short distance, both in a line with the centre of the temple. The obelisk was built by Henry, first Lord Rolle, in the year 1743, and serves as a landmark for vessels at sea.
You desired me to give you some particulars of a very large Escallònia montevidensis that is now in full bloom with its beautiful racemes of flowers, the