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in that time; and a great deal of it twice cropped with celery in the same season, which is of rare occurrence except in a London market-garden. Of course the plants must be well prepared and strong; and done justice to in planting with a good preparation: but a London market-garden is the place to see all things well prepared for.
Cauliflowers, as I have before told you, I make a point never to sow sooner than from the 18th to the 25th of September; sowing the seed in boxes, frames, or pans, close to the glass. The last of my late cauliflowers I sow about the 15th October, in pans in a little bottom heat, and always make it a rule to prick at this season of the year in thumb pots first, having at this time plenty of spare pots that flower-garden plants have been turned out of. I keep them shifted on in some old melon mould until February, when the plants are become very strong; making it a rule to trench, ridge, and manure my firstcleared celery ground, for the purpose of placing hand-glasses for the first crop. When prepared, if the ground should be wet and cold, I take care to throw out a sort of trench the width of the hand-glasses ; mark out a place for each glass; throw out a little of the earth where each glass is to stand, and put in a small quantity of dry dusty mould, old dry mushroom bed, or such like; which I always take care to have ready prepared in the corner of some shed, or covered up with straw mats, which are made by the men in rough weather. I always find in winter plenty of dry dusty rubbish handy and useful for saving many things from cankering, as well as for saving cauliflowers from getting black legs; which every grower is acquainted with, and by which disease many crops are lost. When the handglasses are prepared as above, I turn out about four of these large plants under each glass, keeping them well aired at all suitable times. They grow remarkably free, let the weather be what it may. If the weather proves dry in March, I get manure water prepared, put into it a quarter of a pound of nitrate of soda to one hogshead of tolerably strong cow-dung water; taking care to add to it a few gallons of hot water to make it a little warm, which well repays the trouble, for they will grow through the cold March winds like as in May, and fine cauliflowers I always get early in April. This season I find I did not have any account kept of cutting them until April 15th; but, by growing and shifting some along until I get them into No. 8. pots, and placing them for a few weeks in a vinery that is just put to work, or a peach house, I have had cauliflowers early in March. They are found very useful at that season of the year in every family; as they come before the spring vegetation begins to do much, and the winter stock is getting exhausted. I continue to sow just a pinch of cauliflower seed about every 20 days through the season, from the first week in January until the 15th of October; and I have never been without cauliflowers one day since the 15th of April last. I have at this very time cauliflowers as close, fine, and white as they were in May last, with every appearance of having them as good until January next; having 200 fine plants of different ages potted in the large pots in which I grew my balsams, cockscombs, globe amaranthus, &c., and placed in the melon pits, &c., and other sheltered corners. These pots would be doing nothing at this time of the year, if I did not use them for this purpose. It is only to get up an hour earlier in the morning to get these extra jobs done, which is good for the health and I think nothing of the trouble ; it is a pleasure, and where there is a will there is a way. So, if you have no melon pits nor frames, it is always easy to throw out a 4 ft. trench right and left, and form a home-made pit; getting some of your kidneybean sticks to put over it; and covering with mats, straw mats, heath, or fern.
Bicton Gardens, Nov. 21. 1842.
In the course of my practice, I have seen in some seasons great destruction caused by the gooseberry caterpillar. When a boy, I would sooner do any job than pick caterpillars, on account of their strong disagreeable smell, and the tediousness of the job. In the year 1817, in the garden where I was then employed, the gooseberry bushes were attacked by such multitudes of caterpillars, that some were very soon stripped entirely of their leaves. All hands were put to picking them off, and other remedies were tried. At the time, I saw a heap of soot in a back yard, which the sweeps had that morning cleaned out of the house chimneys, and, knowing of a quantity of fresh wood ashes under a large copper furnace used for brewing, I took a quantity of each and mixed them together, and gave the bushes a good dredging with it when damp, and in two or three applications had the pleasure of seeing the whole of the caterpillars expelled.
The gooseberry bushes, and all the fruit trees in that garden, were covered with lichens and moss. The following autumn, it was observed, every tree that had been dressed for the caterpillar was quite clear of the moss and lichens; the remedy was therefore in damp weather in winter applied to all the fruit trees about the garden, which were completely cleansed by it. A quantity of both soot and wood ashes was collected and laid
in separate heaps in a back shed on the floor, to be in readiness in case of another attack of the caterpillar the following spring.
The gooseberry bushes were attacked again the following spring, and the above remedy applied with but very indifferent success; and as they were not very numerous, and were soon picked off, no farther notice was taken of them.
I never forgot the successful application of the soot and wood ashes, and, as seasons have passed on, I have continued using it; sometimes with tolerable success, at others without any. I have often noticed the great improvement it made in the luxuriance and growth of the trees afterwards, if it happened to be showery weather. In 1841, the gooseberry bushes in Bicton gardens were attacked by multitudes of the caterpillar; and making it a rule at all times to keep soot and wood ashes by me, and having a quantity at the time in a shed, I tried it without success, and was obliged to put all hands day after day handpicking them. They got so numerous that they attacked currants as well. In 1842 they came more numerous than ever ; every thing was tried that could be thought of; all other work getting behind by attending to them. A host of boys was employed to pick by task, and some men and a woman. One batch was no sooner cleared than another was attacked: with all the exertion we could make, a great quantity of trees were com: pletely stripped of their leaves, exposing the fruit to be shriveled by the sun.
Last autumn I was much perplexed every time I passed the trees in so deplorable a condition. It struck me all at once, one evening, that the properties of the soot and ashes were lost to some extent by lying on the floor, or possibly by getting a little damp in some way. I so well recollected, as if had happened only the day previous, that in the year 1817 I had seen it destroy and expel the whole. I recollected too that the soot was fresh cleaned out of chimneys where coal was burnt, that the wood ashes were fresh and dry from under the furnace where different kinds of wood were burnt, such as oak, elm, Scotch fir
, larch, some birch, and Spanish chestnut; for I saw the brewing-men sawing and taking it from a large stack under a row of large high yew trees. This last winter, in collecting soot and wood ashes, I had it put into old dry boxes and cement casks, keeping the bottoms clear from the floor by bricks or logs of wood, and covering it down so that no dampness could get to it; and on the bushes being attacked this spring again by thousands of the black army, as my men call them, as they do also the turnip caterpillar, we set to dredging the bushes early of a morning when they were damp, or after a shower, and by perseverance we soon completely cleared them of the whole in their infant state, without their doing any mischief whatever. At the same time, through its being showery, and the rain washing it down to the roots, the bushes are so astonishingly improved that no one could
suppose them the same naked starved trees. I have been perfectly convinced now, in many instances, that if either soot or wood ashes get any way damp, part of their properties or virtues is lost; for instance, if smelled to when fresh, the mixture will make the nose twinge, which it will not do after being kept in a damp place, although to all appearance it is not damp.
It is a curious fact that in the course of years I should not have given it a more serious consideration, and discovered the cause before the lapse of a quarter of a century. No doubt but many things get lost sight of, particularly different manures, through their not happening to be properly applied. Now I have discovered the cause, I can judge quite as easily by the feel of soot and ashes, as I could by the
smell. Soot alone will destroy the caterpillars; but, by mixing wood ashes with it, the mixture does not fly about so much and get wasted, and it adheres much better to the trees. Wood ashes, when of their full strength, and used in damp weather, when they can adhere to the tree, will kill and clean any kind of moss or of lichen, and is the only article I ever use now for that purpose.
Bicton Gardens, June 1, 1843.
Art. IX. List of Species and Varieties of Rhododendron cultivated
at Dysart House, with Remarks on their Management. By John
BLAIR, Gardener there. As suggested by you, I now forward you a list of the different varieties of rhododendrons grown here, with their times of flowering ; and, in order to make the list as useful as possible, I beg leave to make a few observations explanatory of the climate, locality, and soil, in which these varieties are grown.
The flower-garden here, the property of the Earl of Rosslyn, is situated close by the sea, standing about 53 ft. above its ordinary level, and sloping towards the south-east. From its proximity to the sea, the frost is not so severe as it would be further inland; the thermometer being seldom or never below 10° in the most severe winters (1837–8), from its southerly exposure, and ranging from 80° in the shade to 120° (in 1842) out of it. However, the south-east winds need to be guarded against, not only from the intensity of their cold, but also from their violence.
Portugal laurels on the exposed side, and common hurdles interwoven with spruce fir branches on the other sides, form an excellent protection. The finest of these varieties grow about 212 ft
. from high-water mark; while some of the more common kinds grow within 12 ft., and not 3 ft. above its level, with little or no shelter. The soil used in the garden is a mixture of peat earth and sand, not broken very small; the depth varying from 2 ft. to 4 ft., according to the size of the plant. However, I have been in the custom of planting them, after they have grown to a considerable size, in the woods, where they thrive uncommonly well. They form an excellent underwood, more particularly the R. catawbiense var., which is very hardy, and is more able to stand the drip of trees than the other varieties. The natural soil in
these woods is a black light loam ; but, in some places, the rhododendrons are planted in strong soil, where they also do well.
They all require to be well watered, more particularly when in flower, which continues their bloom much longer, and causes them to push out strong healthy shoots.
The best way of propagating them is from seed, which being sown in a gently heated frame, the plants soon make their appearance, and, if properly attended to, will flower in four or five years.
I have remarked, also, that the warmer the season is, the better they blossom the following one; the flower buds being more numerous, and brought to a greater degree of maturity.
List of the Rhododendrons in the Collection at Dysart House. Rhododendron arboreum.
Rh. Knight's hybrid varieties, Nos. álbum.
1. to 12. ròseum,
Lord Caernarvon's seedling.
longifòrum. álbum fimbriatum.
Murray's hybrid. Azalea, a hybrid.
multinaculatum. Rhododendron máximum, hybrid.
máximum. campanulatum var.
odoratum. Blair's hybrid, varieties Nos. 1. pulcherrimum. to 7.
foliis argenteis. grandiflorum.
flòre pleno. chrysanthum.
ovatum. Cunningham's hybrids, C, E, H,
macrophyllum I, K, L, M, N, O, P.
píctum. europæ'um hybridum.
Azalea, hybrid. foliis variegatis. Rhododendron, Blair's seedling. grandiflorum.
Russelliànum, two varieties. guttatum.
spléndidum. imbricatum. Knight's favourite of 1838.
venustum. And about fifty others, hybrids, without names. In all, 109 species, varieties, and hybrids ; 28 of which are not named, and 81 named.