Of The Seminary And Of Transplanting
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
1. Qui vineam, vel arbustum constituere volet, seminaria prius facere debebit, was the precept of Columella, I. 3. C. 5. speaking of vineyards and fruit-trees : and doubtless, we cannot pursue a better course for the propagation of timber-trees : For though it seem but a trivial design that one should make a nursery of foresters ; yet it is not to be imagin'd, without the experience of it, what prodigious numbers a very small spot of ground well cultivated, and destin'd for this purpose, would be able to furnish towards the sending forth of yearly colonies into all the naked quarters of a lordship, or demesnes ; being with a pleasant industry liberally distributed amongst the tenants, and dispos'd of about the hedg-rows, and other waste, and uncultivated places, for timber, shelter, fuel, and ornament, to an incredible advantage. This being a cheap, and laudable work, of so much pleasure in the execution, and so certain a profit in the event ; to be but once well done (for, as I affirm'd, a very small plantarium or nursery will in a few years people a vast extent of ground) hath made me sometimes in admiration at the universal negligence, as well as rais'd my admiration, that seeds and plants of such different kinds, should like so many tender babes and infants suck and thrive at the same breast : Though there are some indeed will not so well prosper in company ; requiring peculiar juices : But this niceness is more conspicuous in flowers and the herbacious offspring, than in foresters, which require only diligent weeding and frequent cleansing, till they are able to shift for themselves ; and as their vessels enlarge and introsume more copious nourishment, often starve their neighbours. Thus much for the nursery and Conseminea Silva,
2. Having therefore made choice of such seeds as you would sow, by taking, and gathering them in their just season ; that is, when dropping ripe ; and (as has been said) from fair thriving trees ; and found out some fit place of ground, well fenced, respecting the south-east, rather than the full south, and well protected from the north and west ;
He that for wood his field would sow,
Must clear it of the shrubs that grow;
Cut brambles up, and the fern mow.
This done, let it be broken up the winter before you sow, to mellow it ; especially if it be a clay, and then the furrow would be made deeper ; or so, at least, as you would prepare it for wheat : Or you may trench it with the spade, by which means it will the easier be cleansed of whatsoever may obstruct the putting forth, and insinuating of the tender roots : Then, having given it a second stirring, immediately before you sow ; cast, and dispose it into rills, or small narrow trenches, of four or five inches deep, and in even lines, at two foot interval, for the more commodious runcation, hawing, and dressing the trees : Into these furrows (about the new or increasing moon) throw your oak, beach, ash, nuts, all the glandiferous seeds, mast, and key-bearing kinds, so as they lie not too thick, and then cover them very well with a rake, or fine-tooth'd harrow, as they do for pease : Or, to be more accurate, you may set them as they do beans (especially, the nuts and acorns) and that every species by themselves, for the Roboraria, Glandaria, Ulmaria, &c., which is the better way : This is to be done at the latter end of October, for the autumnal sowing ; and in the lighter ground about February for the vernal : For other seminations in general ; some divide the spring in three parts ; the beginning, middle, and end ; and the like of the autumn both for sowing and planting, and accordingly prepare for the work such nursery furniture, as seems most agreeable to the season.
Then see your hopeful grove with acorns sown, But e're your seed into the field be thrown, With crooked plough first let the lusty swain Break-up, and stubborn clods with harrow plain. Then, when the stemm appears, to make it bare And lighten the hard earth with hough, prepare. Hough in the spring : nor frequent culture fail, Lest noxious weeds o're the young wood prevail : To barren ground with toyl large manure add, Good-husbandry will force a ground that's bad.
Note that 6 bushels of acorns will sow or plant an acre, at one foot's distance. And if you mingle among the acorns the seeds of Genista spinosa, or furs, they will come up without any damage, and for a while needs no other fence, and will be kill'd by the shade of the young oaklings before they become able to do them any prejudice.
One rule I must not omit, that you cast no seeds into the earth whilst it either actually rains, or that it be over sobb'd, till moderately dry.
To this might something be expected concerning the watring of our seminaries and new plantations ; which indeed require some useful directions (especially in that you do by hand) that you pour it not with too great a stream on the stem of the plant, which washes and drives away the mould from the roots and fibers) but at such distance as it may percolate into the earth, and carry its vertue to them, with a shallow excavation, or circular basin about the stalk ; and which may be defended from being too suddenly exhausted and drunk up by the sun, and taken away before it grow mouldy. The tender stems and branches should yet be more gently refreshed, lest the too intense rays of the sun darting on them, cause them to wither, as we see in our fibrous flower-roots newly set : In the mean time, for the more ample young plantations of forest and other trees, I should think the hydrantick engine (call'd the quench-fire) (described in the Phil. Transaction, Num. 128) might be made very useful, rightly manag'd, and not too violently pointed against any single trees, but so exalted and directed, as the stream being spread, the water might fall on the ground like drops of rain ; which I should much prefer before the barrels and tumbral way. Rain, river or pond-waters reserved in tubs or cisterns simple, or inrich'd, and abroad in the sun, should be frequently stirred, and kept from stagnation.
4. Your plants beginning now to peep, should be earthed up, and comforted a little ; especially, after breaking of the greater frosts, and when the swelling mould is apt to spue them forth ; but when they are about an inch above ground, you may in a moist season, draw them up where they are too thick, and set them immediately in other lines, or beds prepar'd for them ; or you may plant them in double fosses, where they may abide for good and all, and to remain till they are of a competent stature to be transplanted ; where they should be set at such distances as their several kinds require ; but if you draw them only for the thinning of your seminary, prick them into some empty beds (or a Plantarium purposely design'd) at one foot interval, leaving the rest at two or three.
5. When your seedlings have stood thus till June, bestow a slight digging upon them, and scatter a little mungy, half-rotten litter, fern, bean-hame, or old leaves among them, to preserve the roots from scorching, and to entertain the moisture; and then in March following (by which time it will be quite consum'd, and very mellow) you shall chop it all into the earth, and mingle it together : Continue this process for two or three years successively ; for till then, the substance of the kernel will hardly be spent in the plant, which is of main import ; but then (and that the stature of your young imps invite) you may plant them forth, carefully taking up their roots, and cutting the stem within an inch of the ground (if the kind, of which hereafter, suffer the knife) set them where they are to continue: If thus you reduce them to the distance of forty foot, the intervals may be planted with ash, which may be fell'd either for poles, or timber, without the least prejudice of the oak : Some repeat the cutting we spake of the second year, and after March (the moon decreasing) re-cut them at half a foot from the surface ; and then meddle with them no more : But this (if the process be not more severe than needs) must be done with a very sharp instrument, and with care, lest you violate, and unsettle the root ; which is likewise to be practis'd upon all those which you did not transplant, unless you find them very thriving trees ; and then it shall suffice to prune off the branches, and spare the tops ; for this does not only greatly establish your plants by diverting the sap to the roots ; but likewise frees them from the injury and concussions of the winds, and makes them to produce handsome, streight shoots, infinitely preferable to such as are abandon'd to nature, and accident, without this discipline: By this means the oak will become excellent timber, shooting into streight and single stems : The chess-nut, ash, &c. multiply into poles, which you may reduce to standards at pleasure : To this I add, that as oft as you make your annual transplanting, out of the nursery, by drawing forth the choicest stocks, the remainder will be improved by a due stirring, and turning of the mould about their roots.
But that none be discouraged, who may upon some accident, be desirous, or forced to transplant trees, where the partial, or unequal ground does not afford sufficient room, or soil to make the pits equally capacious, (and so apt to nourish and entertain the roots, as where are no impediments), the worthy Mr. Brotherton (whom we shall have occasion to mention more than once in this treatise) speaking of the increase and improvement of roots, tells us of a large pinaster, 2 foot and 1/2 diameter, and about 6o foot in height, the lowest boughs being 30 foot above the ground, which did spread and flourish on all sides alike, though it had no root at all towards three quarters of its situation, and but one quarter only, into which it expanded its roots so far as to 70 and 8o foot from the body of the tree : The reason was, its being planted just within the square-angle of the corner of a deep, thick and strong stone-wall, which was a kind wharfing against a river running by it, and so could have nourishment but from one quarter. And this I likewise might confirm of two elms, planted by me about 35 years since ; which being little bigger than walking-staves, and set on the very brink of a ditch or narrow channel (not always full of water) wharfed with a wall of a brick and half in thickness, (to keep the bank from falling in) are since grown to goodly and equally spreading trees of near two foot diameter, solid timber, and of stature proportionable. The difference between this, and that of the pine, being their having one quarter more of mould for the roots to spread in ; but which is not at all discover'd by the exuberence of the branches in either part. But to return to planting, where are no such obstacles.
6. Theophrastus in his Third Book de Causis, c. 7. gives us great caution in planting, to preserve the roots, and especially the earth adhering to the smallest fibrills, which should by no means be shaken off, as most of our gardeners do to trim and quicken them, as they pretend, which is to cut them shorter ; though I forbid not a very small toping of the stragling threds, which may else hinder the spreading of the rest, &c. Not at all considering, that those tender hairs are the very mouths, and vehicles which suck in the nutriment, and transfuse it into all the parts of the tree, and that these once perishing, the thicker and larger roots, hard, and less spungy, signifie little but to establish the stem ; as I have frequently experimented in orange-trees, whose fibers are so very obnoxious to rot, if they take in the least excess of wet : And therefore Cato advises us to take care that we bind the mould about them, or transfer the roots in baskets, to preserve it from forsaking them ; as now our nursery-men frequently do; by which they of late are able to furnish our grounds, avenues and gardens in a moment with trees and other plants, which would else require many years to appear in such perfection : For this earth being already applied, and fitted to the overtures and mouths of the fibers, it will require some time to bring them in appetite again to a new mould, by which to repair their loss, furnish their stock, and proceed in their wonted ceconomy without manifest danger and interruption: nor less ought our care to be in the making, and dressing of the pits and fosses, into which we design our transplantation, which should be prepar'd and left some time open to macerating rains, frosts and sun, that may resolve the compacted salt, (as some will have it) render the earth friable, mix and qualifie it for aliment, and to be more easily drawn in, and digested by the roots and analogous stomach of the trees : This, to some degree may be artificially done, by burning of straw in the newly opened pits, and drenching the mould with water ; especially in over-dry seasons, and by meliorating barren-ground with sweet and comminuted loetations : Let therefore this be received as a maxim, never to plant a fruit or forest-tree where there has lately been an old decay'd one taken up ; till the pit be well ventilated, and furnish'd with fresh mould.
7. The author of the Natural History, Pliny, tells us it was a vulgar tradition, in his time, that no tree should be removed under two years old, or above three : Cato would have none transplanted less than five fingers in diameter ; but I have shew'd why we are not to attend so long for such as we raise of seedlings. In the interim, if these directions appear too busie, or operose, or that the plantation you intend be very ample, a more compendious method will be the confused sowing of acorns, &c. in furrows, two foot asunder, covered at three fingers depth, and so for three years cleansed, and the first winter cover'd with fern, without any farther culture, unless you transplant them ; but, as I shewed before, in nurseries, they would be cut an inch from the ground, and then let stand till March the second year, when it shall be sufficient to disbranch them to one only shoot, whether you suffer them to stand, or remove them elsewhere. But to make an essay what seed is most agreeable to the soil, you may by the thriving of a promiscuous semination make a judgment of, what each soil bears, and what it does refuse, transplanting those which you find least agreeing with the place ; or else, by copsing the starvelings in the places where they are newly sown, cause them sometimes to overtake even their untouch'd contemporaries.
Something may here be expected about the fittest season for this work of transplanting ; of which having spoken in another 1 treatise, annext to this, (as well as in divers other places throughout this of Forest-trees) I shall need add little ; after I have recommended the earliest removals, not only of all the sturdy sort in our woods, but even of some less tender trees in our orchards ; pears, apples, vulgar cherries, &c. whilst we favour the delicate and tender murals, and such as are pithy ; as the wall-nut, and some others. But after all, what says the plain wood-man, speaking of oaks, beech, elms, haw-thorns, and even what we call wild and hedge-fruit ? Set them, says he, at All-hallowtide, and command them to prosper ; set them at Candlemass, and intreat them to grow. Nor needs it explanation.
8. But here some may enquire what distances I would generally assign to transplanted trees ? To this somewhat is said in the ensuing periods, and as occasion offers ; though the promiscuous rising of them in forest-work, wild and natural, is to us, I acknowledge, more pleasing than all the studied accuracy in ranging of them ; unless it be where they conduct and lead us to avenues, and are planted for vistas (as the Italians term is) in which case, the proportion of the breadth and length of the walks, &c. should govern, as well as the nature of the tree ; with this only note ; that such trees as are rather apt to spread, than mount (as the oak, beech, wall-nut, &c.) be dispos'd at wider intervals, than the other, and such as grow best in consort, as the elm, ash, limetree, sycamore, firr, pine, &c. Regard is likewise to be had to the quality of the soil, for this work : v. g. If trees that affect cold and moist grounds, be planted in hot and dry places, then set them at closer order ; but trees which love dry and thirsty grounds, at farther distance : The like rule may also guide in situations expos'd to impetuous winds and other accidents, which may serve for general rules in this piece of tactics. In the mean time, if you plant for regular walks, or any single trees, a competent elevation of the earth in circle, and made a little hollow like a shallow bason (as I already mention'd)
for the reception of water, and refreshing the roots ; sticking thorns about the edges to protect them from cattel, were not amiss. Fruit-trees thus planted, if beans be set about them, produces a little crop, and will shade the surface, perhaps, without any detriment : But this more properly belongs to Pomona. Most shrubs of ever-green and some trees may be planted very near one another ; myrtles, laurel, bays, cyprus, yew, ivy, pomegranates, and others, also need little distance, and indeed whatever is proper to make hedges : But for the oak, elm, wall-nut, firs, and the taller timber-trees, let the dismal effects of the late hurricane (never to be forgotten) caution you never to plant them too near the mansion, (or indeed any other house) that so if such accident happen, their fall and ruin may not reach them.
9. To leave nothing omitted which may contribute to the stability of our transplanted trees, something is to be premis'd concerning their staking, and securing from external injuries, especially from winds and cattel ; against both which, such as are planted in copses, and for ample woods, are sufficiently defended by the mounds and their closer order ; especially, if they rise of seeds : But where they are expos'd in single rows, as in walks and avenues, the most effectual course is to empale them with three good quartet-stakes of competent length, set in triangle, and made fast to one another by short pieces above and beneath ; in which a few brambles being stuck, secure it abundantly without that choaking or fretting, to which trees are obnoxious that are only single staked and hushed, as the vulgar manner is : Nor is the charge of this so considerable as the great advantage, accounting for the frequent reparations which the other will require. Where cattel do not come, I find a good piece of rope, tyed fast about the neck of trees upon a wisp of straw to preserve it from galling, and the other end tightly strein'd to a hook or peg in the ground (as the shrouds in ships are fastened to the masts) sufficiently stablishes my trees against the western blasts without more trouble ; for the winds of other quarters seldom infest us. But these cords had need be well pitch'd to preserve them from wet, and so they will last many years. I cannot in the mean time conceal what a noble person has affur'd me, that in his goodly plantations of trees in Scotland, where they are continually expos'd to much greater, and more impetuous winds than we were usually acquainted with, he never stakes any of his trees ; but upon all disasters of this kind, causes only his servants to redress, and, set them up again as often as they happen to be overthrown ; which he has affirm'd to me, thrives better with them, than with those which he has staked ; and that at last they strike root so fast, as nothing but the axe is able to prostrate them. And there is good reason for it in my opinion, whilst these concussions of the roots loosning the mould, not only make room for their more easie insinuations, but likewise open and prepare it to receive and impart the better nourishment. It is in another place I suggest that transplanted pines and firrs, for want of their penetrating taproots, are hardly consistent against these gusts after they are grown high ; especially, where they are set close, and in tufts, which betrays them to the greater disadvantage : And therefore such trees do best in walks, and at competent distances where they escape tolerably well : Such therefore as we design for woods of them, should be sow'd, and never remov'd. In the mean time, many trees are also propagated by cuttings and layers ; the ever-greens about Bartholomewtide ; other trees within two or three months after, when they will have all the sap to assist them; every body knows the way to do it is by slitting the branch a little way, when it is a little cut directly in, and then to plunge it half a foot under good mould, and leaving as much of its extremity above it, and if it comply not well, to peg it down with an hook or two, and so when you find it competently rooted, to cut it off beneath, and plant it forth : Other expedients there are by twisting the part, or baring it of the rind ; and if it be out of reach of the ground, to fasten a tub or basket of earth near the branch, fill'd with a succulent mould, and kept as fresh as may be. For cuttings, about the same season, take such as are about the bigness of your thumb, setting them a foot in the earth, and near as much out. If it be of soft wood, as willows, poplar, alders, &c. you may take much Iarger trunchions, and so tall as cattel may not reach them ; if harder, those which are young, small and more tender ; and if such as produce a knur, or burry swelling, set that part into the ground, and be sure to make the hole so wide, and point the end of your cutting so smooth, as that in setting, it violate and strip none of the bark ; the other extream may be slanted, and so treading the earth close, and keeping it moist, you will seldom fail of success : By the roots also of a thriving, lusty and sappy tree, more may be propagated ; to effect which, early in spring, dig about its foot, and finding such as you may with a little cutting bend upwards, raise them above ground three or four inches, and they will in a short time make shoots, and be fit for transplantation ; or in this work you may quite separate them from the mother-roots, and cut them off : By baring likewise the bigger roots discreetly, and hacking them a little, and then covering with fresh Mould matres, and mother-roots ; nepotes, succors ; traduces, and rooted setts, may be raised in abundance ; which drawing competent roots will soon furnish store of plants ; and this is practicable in elms especially, and all such trees as are apt of themselves to put forth suckers ; but of this more upon occasion 1 hereafter. And now to prevent censure on this tedious and prolix Introduction, I cannot but look on it as the basis and foundation of all the structure, rising from this work and endeavour of mine ; since from station, sowing, continual culture and care, proceed all we really enjoy in the world : Every thing must have birth and beginning, and afterwards by diligence and prudent care, form'd and brought to shape and perfection : Nor is it enough to cast seeds into the ground, and leave them there, as the Ostrich does her eggs in the Lybian sands, without minding them more, (because Nature has depriv'd her of understanding) ; but great diligence is to be us'd in governing them ; not only till they spring up, but till they are arriv'd to some stature fit for transplantation, and to be sent broad ; after the same method that our children should be educated, and taken care of from their birth and cradle ; and afterwards, whilst they are under Padagogues and discipline, (for the forming of their manners and persons) that they contract no ill habits, and take such plys as are so difficult to rectifie and smooth again without the greatest industry. For prevention of this in our seminary, the like care is requisite ; whilst the young imps and seedlings are yet tender and flexible, and require not only different nourishment and protection from too much cold, heat, and other injuries ; but due and skilful management, in dressing, redressing and pruning, as they grow capable of being brought into shape, and of hopeful expectation, when time has rendered them fit for the use and service requir'd, according to their kinds. He therefore that undertakes the nursery, should be knowing not only in the choice of the seeds, where, when, and how to sow them; but to know what time of gestation they require in the womb of their mother-earth, before parturition ; that so he may not be surprized with her delivering some of them sooner, or later than he expects them ; for some will lye two, nay, three year, e'er they peep ; most others one, and some a quarter, or a month or two ; whilst the tardy and less forward so tire the hopes of the husbandman, that he many times digs up the platts and beds in which they were sown, despairing of a crop, sometimes ready to spring and come up, as I have found by experience to my loss : Those of hard shell and integument will lie longer buried than others ; for so the libanus cedar, and most of the coniferous firs, pines, &c. shed their seeds late, and sometimes remain two winters and as many summers, to open their scales glued so fast together, without some external application of fire or warm water, which is yet not so natural as when they open of themselves. The same may be observed of some minuter seeds, even among the olitories ; as that of parsley, which will hardly spring in less than a year ; so beet-seed, part in the second and third, &c. which upon inspecting the skins and membranes involving them, would be hard to give a reason for. To accelerate this, they use imbibitions of piercing spirits, salts, emollients, &c. not only to the seeds, but to the soil, which we seldom find much signify, but either to produce abortion or monsters ; and being forc'd to hasty birth, become nothing so hardy, healthful and lasting, as the conception and birth they receive from nature. These observations premis'd in general, after I have recommended to our industrious planters the appendix or table of the several sorts of soil and places that are proper, or at least may seem so ; or that are unfit for certain kinds of trees, (as well foresters and others, annexed to this work) I should proceed to particulars, and boldly advance into the thickest of the forest, did not method seem to require something briefly to be spoken of trees in general, as they are under the name of plants and vegetables, especially such as we shall have occasion to discourse of in the following work ; tho' we also take in some less vulgarly known and familiar, of late indenizon'd among us, and some of them very useful.
By trees then is meant, a lignous woody-plant, whose property is for the most part, to grow up and erect itself with a single stem or trunk, of a thick and more compacted substance and bulk, branching forth large and spreading boughs; the whole body and external part, cover'd and invested with a thick rind or cortex, more hard and durable than that of other parts ; which, with expanding roots, penetrate and fixes them in the earth for stability, (and according to their nature) receive and convey nourishment to the whole : And these terroe-filii, are what we call timber-trees, the chief subject of our following Discourse.
Trees are likewise distinguish'd into other subordinate species ; fruticis, frutages and shrubs ; which are also lignous trees, tho' of a lower and humbler growth, less spreading, and rising up in several stems, emerging from the same root, yielding plenty of suckers ; which being separated from it, and often carrying with them some small fiber, are easily propagated and planted out for a numerous store : And this, (being clad with a more tender bark or fiber) seems to differ the frutex from other arborious kinds; since as to the shaft and stems of such as we account dwarf and pumilo with us, they rise often to tall and stately trees, in the more genial and benign climes.
Suffrutrices are shrubs lower than the former, lignescent and more approaching to the stalky herbs, lavender, rue, &c. but not apt to decay so soon, after they have seeded ; whilst both these kinds seem also little more to differ from one another, than do trees from them ; all of them consisting of the same variety of parts, according to their kinds and structure, cover'd with some woody, hard membraneous, or tender rind, suitable to their constitution, and to protect them from outward injuries ; producing likewise buds, leaves, blossoms and flowers, pregnant with fruit, and yielding saps, liquors and juices, lachrymae, gums, and other exsudations, tho' diversifying in shape and substance, tast, odour, and other qualities and operations, according to the nature of the species ; the various structure and contexture of their several vessels and organs, whose office it is to supply the whole plant with all that is necessary to its being and perfection, after a stupendious, tho' natural process; which minutely to describe, and analogically compare, as they perform their functions, (not altogether so different from creatures of animal life) would require an anatomical lecture ; which is so learnedly and accurately done to our hands, by Dr. Grew, Malphigius, and other ingenious naturalists.
But besides this general definition, as to what is meant by trees, frutexes, &c. they are likewise specifically distinguish'd by other characters, leaves, buds, blossoms, &c. but especially by what they produce of more importance, by their fruit ye shall know them: v. g.
The glandiferce, oaks and ilex's yield acorns, and other useful excrescencies: The mast-bearers are the beech, and such as include their seeds and fruit in rougher husks; as the chessnut-tree, &c. the wallnut, hazle, avelans, &c. are the nucifercoe, &c. to the coniferoe, resiniferce, squammiferae, &c. belong the whole tribe of cedars, firs, pines, &c. apples, pears, quinces, and several other eduloe fruits; peaches, abricots, plums, &c. are reduc'd to the pomiferoe : The bacciferce, are such as produce kernels, sorbs, cherries, holley, bays, laurell, yew, juniper, elder, &c. and all the berry-bearers. The genistoe in general, and such as bear their seeds in cods, come under the tribe of siliquosoe: The lanuginoe are such at bed their seeds in a cottony-down.
The ash, elm, tilia, poplar, hornbeam, willow, salices, &c. are distinguish'd by their keys, tongues, samera, pericurpia, and theca, small, flat and husky skins, including the seeds, as in so many foliol's, bags and purses, fine membranous cases, catkins, palmes, julus's, &c. needless to be farther mention'd here, being so particularly describ'd in the chapters following ; as are also the various ever-greens and exoticks.