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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, hampers, 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 then. 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 Jilies, 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. We 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 then. The Orchideous
Houses and Stoves. Lists of Orchideæ 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 circumference of which is 34 ft., and the height 6 ft., with 1520 heads of flowers now expanded. However, I shall treat on all these noble specimens when I come to them.
When you were here, the two above-mentioned conservatories were filled with pelargoniums, fuchsias, balsams, globe amaranthus, Prímula sinensis, Achimènes coccínea, and cockscombs of fourteen different varieties. All these plants are grown with charcoal mixed in the earth, or are drained with it, and every plant is fond of it. The houses are each of them about 40 ft. long, 18 ft. high, and 18 ft. wide. They are both of them now furnished with a row of large orange trees, banksias, many varieties of acacias, including large plants of A. alata, armàta, Brównii, longifolia, pulchella màjor, lophantha, díscolor, myrtifolia, affinis, &c. Likewise large plants of Ficus rubiginosa
Swammerdàmia antennána, very rare Datūra (Brugmansia) bícolor
Ozothamnus myrsöides cándida
Callistèmon semperflòrens Hàkea heterophylla
lanceolatus Myrica quercifolia
Cacàlia rèpens Dodonce a pinnata
Eutáxia taxifolia viscosa
myrtifolia Hibbértia volubilis
Limònia citrifolia Hibiscus spiralis
Càrya angustifolia Sparrmánnia africàna
Goodènia ovata, fine Eugènia ligústrina
Circumf. Height. Leonotis Leonurus Euriops pectinatus
Ft. In. Ft. In. O'lea europæa
Virgília capensis 12 Pròtea villosa
4 6 8 4 Nerium spléndens
multifòra Clèthra arborea
0 1 0 Ruéllia Sabiniàna Pachysandra procumbens
Laúrus Cámphora 14 0 20 8 A large plant of A'loe arboréscens. A pair of large American aloes in each house, and many others. Likewise many old and valuable Cape plants, and many that have been raised from foreign seeds; a large collection of fuchsias, cinerarias, and other plants too numerous to dwell upon at this moment.
I will now give you some account of the Orchideous and Stove House, which is a fine large one, but crowded with plants to overflowing. The Portland stone platform up the centre is so crowded and full, that there is hardly room for the plants to breathe. The Portland stone shelf all round the house is 2 ft. wide, and the plants are growing almost on the top of each other. The rafters are completely loaded with blocks and baskets of all sizes, covered with that beautiful and interesting tribe of plants, Orchidàceæ; but, in my simple judgement, it does not require a quarter of the care and attention to cultivate the orchideous plants that many persons use. I have not yet, it is true, bad them all drained and potted with charcoal, but those I
have done so by are in the most vigorous and healthy state, so that, as opportunities offer, I shall use charcoal with all of them, for I am convinced it has a very beneficial effect upon them; and you will remember I pointed out many plants to you here, that you might take the opportunity of observing them, and seeing the effect it had on them, which is truly astonishing. I will now give you a few of the names of the plants in this house : Vánda tères, fine large plant.
On carthaginense Roxbúrghü
Harrisoniànum multiflora, fine, large.
Lanceanum Aérides affine
papílio Phàius álbus several very large
species, fine. maculatus Woodfordä
Cebollèti These three plants of Phàius grandi- leucochilum
flòrus growing very strong in divaricatum charcoal.
pumilum Læʻlia grandifòra
pulchellum Schomburgkia críspa
Catasetum tridentàtum tibícina
maculatum Bifrenària aurantiaca
Hookeri Pholidota jamaicensis
Grammatophyllum multifòrum Cyrtochìlum maculatum
Skinneri Acropèra Loddigèsü
críspa Trichopília tortilis
Schomburgkü Megaclinium falcatum
Epidéndrum ciliàre Bolbophyllum barbígerum recúrvum
nocturnum Miltònia spectábilis
pygmæ'um Stanhopea devoniensis
aurantiacum Oncidium crispum