Of Fences, Quick-sets, &c.
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
1. Our main plantation is now finish'd, and our forest adorned with a just variety : But what is yet all this labour, but loss of time, and irreparable ex-pence, unless our young, and (as yet) tender plants be sufficiently guarded with munitions from all external injuries ? For, as old Tusser,
IF CATTEL, OR TONY MAY ENTER TO CROP, YOUNG OAK IS IN DANGER OF LOSING HIS TOP.
But with something a more polish'd stile, though to the same purpose, the best of poets,
'Plash fences thy plantation round about,
2. For the reason that so many complain of the improsperous condition of their wood-lands, and plantations of this kind, proceeds from this neglect; though (sheep excepted) there is no employment whatsoever incident to the farmer, which requires less expence to gratifie their expectations : One diligent and skilful man, will govern five hundred acres : But if through any accident a beast shall break into his master's field; or the wicked hunter make a cap for his dogs and horses, what a clamour is there made for the disturbance of a years crop at most in a little corn ! whilst abandoning his young woods all this time, and perhaps many years, to the venomous bitings and treading of cattel, and other like injuries (for want of due care) the detriment is many times irreparable ; young trees once cropp'd, hardly ever recovering : It is the bane of all our most hopeful timber.
3. But shall I provoke you by an instance ? A kinsman of mine has a wood of more than 60 years standing ; it was, before he purchas'd it, expos'd and abandon'd to the cattel for divers years : Some of the outward skirts were nothing save shrubs and miserable starvlings ; yet still the place was dispos'd to grow woody ; but by this neglect continually suppress'd. The industrious gentleman has fenced in some acres of this, and cut all close to the ground ; it is come in eight or nine years, to be better worth than the wood of sixty ; and will (in time) prove most incomparable timber, whilst the other part (so many years advanc'd) shall never recover ; and all this from no other cause, than preserving it fenc'd : Judge then by this, how our woods come to be so decryed : Are five hundred sheep worthy the care of a shepherd ? and are not five thousand oaks worth the fencing, and the inspection of a Hayward ?
4. The haw-thorn, (oxyacantha vulgaris) and indeed the very best of common hedges, is either rais'd of seeds or plants ; but then it must not be with despair, because sometimes you do not see them peep the first year ; for the haw, and many other seeds, being invested with a very hard integument, will now and then suffer imprisonment two whole years under the earth ; and our impatience at this, does often fustrate the resurrection of divers seeds of this nature; so that we frequently dig up, and disturb the beds where they have been sown, in despair, before they have gone their full time ; which is also the reason of a very popular mistake in other seeds ; especially, that of the holly, concerning which there goes a tradition, that they will not sprout till they be pass'd through the maw of a thrush ; whence the saying, turdus exitium suum cacat (alluding to the viscus made thereof, not the misselto of oak) but this is an error, as I am able to testifie on experience ; they come up very well of the Berries, treated as I have shew'd in chap. 26. and with patience ; for (as I affirm'd) they will sleep sometimes two entire years in their graves ; as will also the seeds of yew, sloes, phillyrea angustifolia, and sundry others, whose shells are very hard about the small kernels ; but which is wonderfully facilitated, by being (as we directed) prepar'd in beds, and magazines of earth, or sand for a competent time, and then committed to the ground before the full in March, by which season they will be chitting, and speedily take root : Others bury them deep in the ground all Winter, and sow them in February : And thus I have been told of a gentleman who has considerably improv'd his revenue, by sowing haws only, and raising nurseries of quick-sets, which he sells by the hundred far and near : This is a commendable industry ; any neglected corners of ground will fit this plantation. Or were such places plow'd in furrow about the ground, you would fence, and sow'd with the mark of the cyder-press, crab-kernels, &c. kept secure from cattel till able to defend it self ; it would yield excellent stocks to graff and transplant : And thus any larger plot, by plowing and cross-plowing the ground, and sowing it with all sorts of forest-seeds ; breaking and harrowing the clods, and cleansing it from weeds with the haugh, (till the plants over-top them) a very profitable grove may be rais'd, and yield magazin of singular advantage, to furnish the industrious planter.
5. But Columella has another expedient for the raising of our spinetum, by rubbing the now mature hips and haws, ashen-keys, &c. into the crevices of bass-ropes, or wisps of straw, and then burying them in a trench : Whether way you attempt it, they must (so soon as they peep, and as long as they require it) be sedulously cleans'd of the weeds ; which, if in beds for transplantation, had need be at the least three or four years ; by which time even your seedlings will be of stature fit to remove ; for I do by no means approve of the vulgar praemature planting of sets, as is generally us'd throughout England ; which is to take such only as are the very smallest, and so to crowd them into three or four files, which are both egregious mistakes.
6. Whereas it is found by constant experience, that plants as big as ones thumb, set in the posture, and at the distance which we spake of in the horn-beam ; that is, almost perpendicular (not altogether, because the rain should not get in 'twixt the rind and wood) and single, or at most, not exceeding a double row, do prosper infinitely, and much out-strip the densest and closest ranges of our trifling sets, which make but weak shoots, and whose roots do but hinder each other, and for being couch'd in that posture, on the sides of banks, and fences (especially where the earth is not very tenacious) are bared of the mould which should entertain them, by that time the rains and storms of one Winter have passed over them_ In Holland and Flanders, (where they have the goodliest hedges of this kind about the counterscarps of their invincible fortifications, to the great security of their musketiers upon occasion) they plant them according to my description, and raise fences so speedily, and so impenetrable, that our best are not to enter into the comparison. Yet, that I may not be wanting to direct such as either affect the other way, or whose grounds may require some bank of earth, as ordinarily the verges of copp'ces, and other inclosures do ; you shall by line, cast up your foss of about three foot broad, and about the same depth, provided your mould hold it; beginning first to turn the turf, upon which, be careful to lay some of the best earth to bed your quick in, and there lay, or set the plants; two in a foot space is sufficient; being diligent to procure such as are fresh gathered, streight, smooth, and well rooted; adding now and then, at equal spaces of twenty or thirty foot, a young oakling or elm-sucker, ash, or the like, which will come in time (especially in plain countries) to be ornamental standards, and good timber: If you will needs multiply your rowes, a foot or somewhat less : Above that, upon more congested mould, plant another rank of sets, so as to point just in the middle of the vacuities of the first, which I conceive enough : This is but for the single foss ; but if you would fortifie it to the purpose, do as much on the other side, of the same depth, height, and planting; and then last of all, cap the top in pyramis with the worst, or bottom of the ditch: Some, if the mould be good, plant a row or two on the edge, or very crest of the mound, which ought to be a little flatned: Here also may they set their dry-hedges, for hedges must be hedg'd till they are able to defend and shade their under-plantation, and I cannot reprove it: But great care is to be had in this work, that the main bank be well footed, and not made with too sudden a declivity, which is subject to fall-in after frosts and wet weather; and this is good husbandry for moist grounds ; but where the land lies high, and is hot and gravelly, I prefer the lower fencing; which, though even with the area it self, may be protected with stakes and a dry hedge, on the fosse side, the distance competent, and to very good purposes of educating more frequent timber amongst the rows.
7. Your hedge being yet young, should be constantly weeded two or three years, especially before Midsummer (of brambles especially, the great dock, and thistle, &c.) though some admit not of this work till after Michaelmas, for reasons that I approve not : It has been the practice of Herefordshire, in the plantation of quick-set-hedges, to plant a crab-stock at every twenty foot distance; and this they observe so religiously, as if they had been under some rigorous statute requiring it : But by this means they were provided in a short time with all advantages for the graffing of fruit amongst them, which does highly recompence their industry. Some cut their sets at three years growth even to the very ground, and find that in a year or two it will have shot as much as in seven, had it been let alone.
8. When your hedge is now of near six years stature, plash it about February or October; but this is the work of a very dextrous and skilful husband-man ; and for which our honest countrey-man Mr. Markam gives excellent directions ; only I approve not so well of his deep cutting, if it be possible to bend it, having suffered in something of that kind: It is almost -incredible to what perfection some have laid these hedges, by the rural way of plashing, better than by clipping; yet may both be used for ornament, as where they are planted about our garden-fences, and fields near the mansion. In Scotland, by tying the young shoots with bands of hay, they make the stems grow so very close together, as that it encloseth rabbets in warrens instead of pales: And for this robust use we shall prefer the black-thorn; the extravagant suckers which are apt to rise at distance from the hedge-line, being sedulously extirpated, that the rest may grow the stronger and thicker.
9. And now since I did mention it, and that most I find do greatly affect the vulgar way of quicking (that this our discourse be in nothing deficient) we will in brief give it you again after George Markham's description, because it is the best, and most accurate, although much resembling our former direction, of which it seems but a repetition, 'till he comes to the plashing. In a ground which is more dry than wet (for watry places it abhors) plant your quick thus: Let the first row of sets be placed in a trench of about half a foot deep, even with the top of your ditch, in somewhat a sloping, or inclining posture; then, having rais'd your bank near a foot upon them, plant another row, so as their tops may just peep out over the middle of the spaces of your first row: These cover'd again to the height or thickness of the other, place a third rank opposite to the first, and then finish your bank to its intended height. The distances of the plants would not be above one foot; and the season to do the work in, may be from the entry of February, till the end of March; or else in September to the beginning of December. When this is finish'd, you must guard both the top of your bank, and outmost verge of your ditch, with a sufficient dry-hedge, interwoven from stake to stake into the earth (which commonly they do on the bank) to secure your quick from the spoil of cattle. And then being careful to repair such as decay, or do not spring, by supplying the dead, and trimming the rest; you shall after three years growth sprinkle some timber-trees amongst them ; such as oak, beech, ash, maple, fruit, or the like ; which being drawn young out of your nurseries, may be very easily inserted.
I am not in the mean time ignorant of what is said against the scattering these masts and keys among our fences ; which grown to over-top the subnascent hedge, may prejudice it with their shade and drip: But this might be prevented by planting hollies (proof against these impediments) in the line or trench, where you would raise standards, as far as they usually spread in many years, and which, if placed at good distances, how close soever to the stem, would (besides their stout defence) prove a wondrous decoration, to large and ample enclosures: But to resume our former work ; that which we affirm'd to require the greatest dexterity, is, the artificial plashing of our hedge, when it is now arrived to a six, or seven years head ; though some stay till the tenth, or longer. In February therefore, or October, with a very sharp hand-bill, cut away all superfluous sprays and straglers, which may hinder your progress, and are useless. Then, searching out the principal stems, with a keen and light hatchet, cut them slant-wise close to the ground, hardly three quarters through, or rather, so far only, as till you can make them comply handsomely, which is your best direction, (lest you rift the stem) and so lay it from your sloping as you go, folding in the lesser branches which spring from them; and ever within a five or six foot distance, where you find an upright set (cutting off only the top to the height of your intended hedge) let it stand as a stake, to fortifie your work, and to receive the twinings of those branches about it. Lastly, at the top (which would be about five foot above ground) take the longest, most slender, and flexible twigs which you reserved (and being cut as the former, where need requires) bind-in the extremities of all the rest, and thus your work is finished: This being done very close and thick, makes an impregnable hedge, in few years; for it may be repeated as you see occasion ; and what you so cut-away, will help to make your dry-hedges for your young plantations, or be profitable for the oven, and make good bavin.
Namely, the extravagant side branches springing the more upright, 'till the newly wounded are healed.
There are some yet who would have no stakes cut from the trees, save here and there one; so as to leave half the head naked, and the other standing; since the over-hanging bows will kill what is under them, and ruin the tree ; so pernicious is this half-toping.
But let this be a total amputation for a new and lusty spring: There is nothing more prejudicial to subnascent young trees, than when newly trim'd and prun'd, to have their (as yet raw) wounds poyson'd with continual dripping ; as is well observed by Mr. Nourse : But this is meant of repairing decay'd hedges. For stakes in this work, oak is to be preferr'd, tho' some will use elder, but it is not good; or the blackthorn, crab-tree, in moorish ground withy, ash, maple, hasel, not lasting, (which some make hedges of; but it being apt to the browsing of cattle, when the young shoots appeared, it does better in copp'ces) the rest not lasting, should yet be driven well in at every yard of interval both before, and after they are bound, till they have taken the hard earth, and are very fast; and even your plash'd-hedges, need some small thorns to be laid over, to protect the spring from cattle and sheep, 'till they are somewhat fortified; and the doubler the winding is lodg'd, the better; which should be beaten, and forced down together with the stakes, as equally as may be. Note, that in sloping your windings, if it be too low done (as very usually) it frequently mortifies the tops, therefore it ought to be so bent, as it may not impede the mounting of the sap : If the plash be of a great, and extraordinary age, wind it at the neather boughs all together, and cutting the sets as directed, permit it rather to hang downwards a little, than rise too forwards ; and then twist the branches into the work, leaving a set free, and unconstrain'd at every yard space, besides such as will serve for stakes, abated to about five foot length (which is a competent stature for an hedge) and so let it stand. One shall often find in this work, especially in old neglected hedges, some great trees, or stubs, that commonly make gaps for cattle : Such should be cut so near the earth, as till you can lay them thwart, that the top of one may rest on the root or stub of the other, as far as they extend, stopping the cavities with its boughs and branches ; and thus hedges which seem to consist but only of scrubby-trees and stumps, may be reduced to a tolerable fence : But in case it be superannuated, and very old, 'tis advisable to stub all up, being quite renewed, and well guarded. We have been the longer on these descriptions, because it is of main importance, and that so few husband-men are so perfectly skill'd in it : But he that would be more fully satisfied, I would have to consult Mr. Cook, chap. 32. or rather instar omnium (and after all which has been said of this useful art of fencing) what I cannot without injury to the publick, and ingratitude to the persons, (who do me the honour of imparting to me their experiences) but as freely communicate.
It is then from the Reverend Mr. Walker of Great-Billing near Northampton, that (with several other particulars relating to our rural subject) I likewise receive from that worthy gentleman Tho. Franklin of Ecton, Esq ; the following method of planting, and fencing with quick-sets ; which we give you in his own words.
10. About 10 or 12 years since, I made some essays to set some little clumps of hedges and trees, of about two pole in breadth, and three in length :
The out-fences ditch'd on the outside, but the quick-sets in the inside of the bank, that the dead-hedges might stand on the outside thereof ; so that a small hedge of 18 or 20 inches high, made of small wood, the stakes not much bigger than a man's thumb, which (the banks being high) sufficiently defended them for four years time, and were hedg'd with less than one load of shreadings of willow-sets, which, (as my workmen told me) would have requir'd 6 load of copp'ce-wood : But the next year after their being planted, finding wast ground on the top of the bank of the outer fence, between the dead-hedge and the quick, I put a foot-set in the same space between the quick and the dead-` hedge, which prosper'd better than those planted in ' the side of the bank, after the vulgar way, and hold ' it still. This put me upon thinking, that a set ' cheaper and better of quick-fence, might possibly be found out ; and accordingly I made some tryals, ' with good success, (at least better than the old way) tho' not to my full satisfaction, till I had perus'd ' Mr. Evelyn's Silva, &c. The method I us'd, was ' this : First I set out the ground for ditches and ' quick, in breadth ten foot ; then subdivided that by ' marking out 2 foot i on each side (more or less, at pleasure) for the ditches, leaving 5 in the middle ' between them : Then digging up two foot in the midst of that 5 foot, plant the sets in ; tho' it `require more labour and charge, I found it soon repay'd the cost. This done, I began to dig the ' fosses, and to set up one row of turfs on the outside of the said five foot ; namely, one row on each side ' thereof; the green side outmost, a little reclining, so ' as the grass might grow : After this, returning to ' the place begun at, I ordered one of the men to dig a spit of the under-turfmould, and lay it between ' the turfs, plac'd edge-wise, as before describ'd, upon the 2 foot which was purposely dug in the middle, and prepar'd for the sets, which the planter sets with two quicks upon the surface of the earth, ' almost upright, whilst another workman lays the ` mould forward, about 12 inches, and then sets two ' more, and so continues. Some there are who plant three rows of sets about 8 inches interval ; but I do not approve it ; for they choak one another. This finished, I order another row of turfs to be plac'd on each side upon the top of the former, and fill the vacuity between the sets and the turfs, as high as their tops, always leaving the middle where the sets are planted, hollow, and somewhat lower than the sides of the banks, by 8 or 10 inches, that the rain may descend to their roots, which is of great advantage to their growth, and far better than by the old way ; where the banks too much sloping, the roots of the sets are seldom wetted in an ordinary season, the Summer following ; but which if it prove dry, many of the sets perish, especially the late planted : Whereas those which I planted in the latter end of April, tho' the Summer hapned to be somewhat dry, generally scap'd, very few of them miscarrying. Now the planting thus advanc'd, the next care is fencing ; by setting an hedge of about 20 inches high upon the top of the bank, on each side thereof, leaning a little outward from the sets, which will protect them as well (if not better) than a hedge of 3 foot, or four inches more, standing upon the surface of the ground, which being rais'd with the turfs and sods about 20 inches, and the hedge about 20 inches more, will make 3 foot 4 inches ; so as no cattle can approach the dead-hedge to prejudice it, unless they set their feet in the ditch it self ; which will be at least a foot deep, and from the bottom of the fosse to the top of the hedge, about 4 foot and i, which they can hardly reach over to crop the quick, as they might in the old way ; and besides, such an hedge will endure a year longer. I have at this present, an hedge which has stood these 5 years ; and tho' 9 or 10 foot be sufficient for both ditches and bank, yet where the ground is but indifferent, 'tis better husbandry to` take 12 foot, which will allow of a bank at least 6 foot broad, and gives more scope to place the `dead hedges farther from the sets ; and the ditches ` being shallow, will in two years time, graze ; tho' `I confine my self for the most part to 9 or 10 ; because I would take off the only objection of wasting ground by this way, should others follow it. In reply to this, I affirm, that if you take 12 foot in ' breadth, for ditch and bank, you wast more ground, than by the common way : For in that a quick is rarely set, but there is 9 foot between the dead ` hedges, which is entirely lost all the time of fencing :
When as with double ditches, there remains at least 18 inches on each side where the turfs were set on ` edge, that bear more grass than when it lay on the ' flat. But admitting it did totally lay wast 3 ` foot of ground, the damage were very inconsiderable, ince forty pearch, in lengh 220 yards, which makes pearches, 7, 25", 9', or 7 pole 1/4, which at 13 shil. ' 4 pence the acre, amounts not to 7d. t per ann. Now hat this is not only the best and cheapest way of ` quick-setting, will appear by comparing the charge ` of both : In the usual way, the charge of a 3 foot ` ditch is 4d. per pole, the owner providing sets ; if he workman finds them, he will have for making ` the said ditch, and setting them, 8d. the pole, and ` for hedging, two pence ; that is, for both sides 4d. the pole, which renders the charge of hedging, pitching, and sets, i ad. the pole ; that is, for forty rod in length, forty shillings : Then one load of wood out of the copp'ce costs us, with the carriage, (tho' but two or 3 miles distance) ten shillings ; ` which will seldom hedge above 8 pole (single hedge.) ` But allowing it to do ten, to fence 40 pole, there ` must be at least 8 load of wood, which costs 41.
11. To other uses : The Root of an old thorn is excellent both for boxes and combs, and is curiously and naturally wrought : I have read, that they made ribs to some small boats or vessels with the white-thorn, and it is certain, that if they would plant them single, and in standards, where they might be safe, they would rise into large body'd trees in time, and be of excellent use for the turner, not inferior to box, and accounted among the fortunate trees, and therefore us'd in fasces nuptiarum, since the jolly shepherds carryed the white-thorn at the rapine of the Sabines; and ever since counted' propitious.
The distill'd water, and stone, or kernels of the haw reduc'd to powder, is generally agreed to be sovereign against the stone. The black-crab rightly season'd and treated, is famous for walking-staves, and if over-grown, us'd in mill-work ; yea, and for rafters of great ships. Here we owe due eulogy to the industry of the late Lord Shaftsbury, who has taught us to make such enclosures of crab-stocks only, (planted close to one another) as there is nothing more impregnable and becoming ; or you may sow cyder-kernels in a rill, and fence it for a while, with a double dry hedge, not only for a sudden and beautiful, but a very profitable inclosure ; because, amongst other benefits, they will yield you cyderfruit in abundance: But in Devonshire, they build two walls with their stones, setting them edge-ways, two, and then one between ; and so as it rises, fill the interval, or cofer with earth (the breadth and height as you please) and continuing the stone-work, and filling, and as you work, beating in the stones flat to the sides, they are made to stick everlastingly : This is absolutely the neatest, most saving, and profitable fencing imaginable, where slaty stones are in any abundance ; and it becomes not only the most secure to the lands, but the best for cattle, to lye warm under the walls; whilst other hedges, (be they never so thick) admit of some cold winds in Winter-time when the leaves are off. Upon these banks they plant not only quick-sets, but even timber-trees, which exceedingly thrive, being out of all danger.
12. The pyracantha paliurus, and like preciouser sorts of thorn and robust evergreens, adorn'd with caralin-berries, might easily be propagated by seeds, layers, or cutting, into plenty sufficient to store even these vulgar uses, were men industrious ; and then, how beautiful and sweet would the environs of our fields be ! for there are none of the spinous shrubs more hardy, none that make a more glorious shew, nor fitter for our defence, competently arm'd ; especially the rhannrus, which I therefore joyn to the oxyacantha, for its terrible and almost irresistible spines, able almost to pierce a coat of mail ; and for this made use of by the malicious Jews, to crown the sacred tempels of our Blessed Saviour, and is yet preferred among the most venerable reliques in St. Chapel at Paris, as is pretended, by the devotees, &c. and hence has the tree (for it sometimes exceeds a shrub) the name of Christ's Thorn. Thus might berberies now and then be also inserted among our hedges, which, with the hips, haws, and cornel-berries, do well in light lands, and would rather be planted to the South, than North or West, as usually we observe them.
13. Some (as we noted) mingle their very hedges with oaklings, ash, and fruit-trees, sown or planted, and 'tis a laudable improvement ; though others do rather recommend to us sets of all one sort, and will not so much as admit of the black-thorn to be mingled with the white, because of their unequal progress ; and indeed, timber-trees set in the hedge (though contemporaries with it) do frequently wear it out ; and therefore I should rather encourage such plantations to be at some yards distance, near the verges, than perpendicularly in them. Lastly, if in planting any the most robust forest-trees, (especially oak, elm,
Chesnut) at competent spaces, and in rows ; you open a ring of ground, at about four foot distance from the stem, and prick in quick-set plants ; you may after a while, keep them clipp'd, at what height you please : They will appear exceedingly beautiful to the eye, prove a good fence, and yield useful bush, bavin, and (if you maintain them unshorn) hips and haws in abundance : This would therefore especially be practis'd, where one would invite the birds.
14. In Cornwal they secure their lands and woods, with high mounds, and on them they plant acorns, whose roots bind in the looser mould, and so form a coronet of trees. They do likewise (and that with great commendation) make hedges of our genista spinosa, prickly furzes, of which they have a taller sort, such as the French imploy for the same purpose in Bretaigne, where they are incomparable husbands.
It is to be sown (which is best) or planted of the roots in a furrow : If sown, weeded till it be strong ; both tonsile, and to be diligently clip'd, which will render it very thick, an excellent and beautiful hedge : Otherwise, permitted to grow at large, 'twill yield very good faggot : It is likewise admirable covert for wildfowl, and will be made to grow even in moist, as well as dry places : The young and tender tops of furzes, being a little bruis'd and given to a lean sickly horse, will strangely recover and plump him. Thus, in some places, they sow in barren grounds (when they lay them down) the last crop with this seed, and so let them remain till they break them up again, and during that interim, reap considerable advantage : Would you believe (writes a worthy correspondent of mine) that in Herefordshire (famous for plenty of wood) their thickets of furzes (viz. the vulgar) should yield them more profit than a like quantity of the best wheat-land of England ? for such is theirs : If this be question'd, the scene is within a mile of Hereford, and proved by anniversary experience, in the lands, as I take it, of a gentleman who is now one of the burgesses for that city. And in Devonshire (the seat of the best husbands in the world) they sow on their worst land (well plow'd) the seeds of the rankest furzes, which in four or five years becomes a rich wood : No provender (as we say) makes horses so hardy as the young tops of these furzes; no other wood so thick, nor more excellent fuel ; and for some purposes also, yielding them a kind of timber to their more humble buildings, and a great refuge for fowl and other game : I am assur'd, in Bretaigne 'fis sometimes sown no less than twelve yards thick, for a speedy, profitable, and impenetrable mound : If we imitated this husbandry in the dry and hot barren places of Surrey, and other parts of this nation, we might exceedingly spare our woods ; and I have bought the best sort of French-seed at the shops in London. It seems that in the more eastern parts of Germany, and especially in Poland, this vulgar trifle, and even our common Broom is so rare, that they have desired the seeds of them out of England, and preserve them with extraordinary care in their best gardens ; this I learn out of our Johnson's Herbal ; by which we may consider, that what is reputed a curse, and a cumber in some places, is esteem'd the ornament and blessing of another : But we shall not need go so far for this, since both beech and birch are almost as great strangers in many parts of this nation, particularly Northampton and Oxfordshire. Mr. Cook is much in praise of juniper for hedges, especially for the more elegant inclosures, and we daily see how it's improved of late.
16. This puts me in mind of the genista scoparia, broom ; another improvement for barren grounds, and saver of more substantial fuel : It may be sown English, or (what is more sweet and beautiful) the Spanish, with equal success. In the western parts of France, and Cornwal, it grows with us to an incredible height (however our poet gives it the epithet of humilis) and so it seems they had it of old, as appears by Gratius his genistae affiliates, with which (as he affirms) they us'd to make staves for their spears, and hunting darts. The seeds of broom, vomit, and purge, whilst the buds, and flowers being pickled, are very grateful.
17. Lastly, (sambucus) a considerable fence may be made of the elder, set of reasonable lusty trunchions ; much like the willow, and (as I have seen them maintain'd) laid with great curiosity, and far excelling those extravagant plantations of them about London, where the lops are permitted to grow without due and skilful laying. There is a sort of elder which has hardly any pith ; this makes exceeding stout fences, and the timber very useful for cogs of mills, butchers skewers, and such tough employments. Old trees do in time become firm, and close up the hollowness to an almost invisible pith. But if the medicinal properties of the leaves, bark, berries, &c. were throughly known, I cannot tell what our countreyman could ail, for which he might not fetch a remedy from every hedge, either for sickness or wound : The inner bark of elder, apply'd to any burning, takes out the fire immediately ; that, or, in season, the buds, boil'd in water-grewel for a break-fast, has effected wonders in a fever ; and the decoction is admirable to asswage inflammations and tetrous humours, and especially the scorbut : But an extract, or theriaca may be compos'd of the berries, which is not only efficacious to eradicate this epidemical inconvenience, and greatly to assist longaevity ; (so famous is the story of Neander) but is a kind of catholicon against all infirmities whatever ; and of the same berries is made an incomparable spirit, which drunk by it self, or mingled with wine, is not only an excellent drink, but admirable in the dropsie : In a word, the water of the leaves and berries is approved in the dropsie, every part of the tree being useful, as may be seen at large in Blockwitzius's anatomy thereof. The ointment made with the young buds, and leaves in May with butter, is most sovereign for aches, shrunk sinews, haemorrhoids, &c. and the flowers macerated in vine-gar, not only are of a grateful relish, but good to attenuate and cut raw and gross humours. Lastly, the fungus (which we call Jews-ears) decocted in milk, or macerated in vinegar, is of known effect in the angina and sores of the throat And less than this could I not say (with the leave of the charitable physician) to gratifie our poor wood-man ; and yet when I have said all this, I do by no means commend the scent of it, which is very noxious to the air, and therefore, though I do not undertake that all things which sweeten the air, are salubrious, nor all ill savours pernicious ; yet, as not for its beauty, so neither for its smell, would I plant elder, near my habitation ; since we learn from Biesius,1 that a certain house in Spain, seated amongst many elder-trees, diseas'd and kill'd almost all the inhabitants, which when at last they were grubb'd up, became a very wholsome and healthy place. The elder does likewise produce a certain green fly, almost invisible, which is exceedingly troublesome, and gathers a fiery redness where it attaques.
18. There is a shrub called the spindle-tree, (euonymus, or fusanum) commonly growing in our hedges, which bears a very hard wood, of which they some-times made bows for viols, and the inlayer us'd it for its colour, and instrument-makers for toothing of organs, and virginal-keys, tooth-pickers, &c. What we else do with it, I know not, save that (according with its name, abroad) they make spindles with it. I also learn, that three, or four of the berries, purge both by vomit, and siege, and the powder made of the berry, being bak'd, kills nits, and cures scurfy heads. Matthiolus says, the poor people about Trent, press oyl out of the berries, wherewith to feed their lamps : But why they were wont to scourge parricides with rods made of this shrub, before they put them into the sack, see Modestinus 1. penult ss. ad legal; Pomp. de parried. cited by Mr. Ray. Here might come in (or be nam'd at least) wild-cornel, or dog-wood, good to make mill-cogs, pestles, bobins for bone-lace, spokes for wheels, &c. the best skewers for butchers, because it does not taint the flesh, and is of so very hard a substance, as to make wedges to cleave and rive other wood with, instead of iron. (But of this, see chap. 11 . book II.) And lastly, the viburnum, or way-faring-tree, growing also plentifully in every corner, makes pins for the yoaks of oxen ; and superstitious people think, that it protects their cattel from being bewitch'd and us'd to plant the shrub about their stalls ; 'tis certainly the most plyant and best bands to fagot with. The leaves and berries are astringent, and make an excellent gargle for loose teeth, sore throats, and to stop fluxes : The leaves decocted to a lie, not only colour the hairs black, but fasten their roots ; and the bark of the root, macerated under ground, well beaten, and often boil'd, serves for birdlime.
19. The American yucca is a hardier plant than we take it to be, for it will suffer our sharpest Winter, (as I have seen by experience) without that trouble and care of setting it in cases, in our conservatories for hyemation ; such as have beheld it in flower (which is not indeed till it be of some age) must needs admire the beauty of it ; and it being easily multiplied, why should it not make one of the best and most ornament-al fences in the world for our gardens, with its natural palisadoes, as well as the more tender, and impatient of moisture, the aloes, does for their vineyards in Languedoc, &c. but we believe nothing improvable, save what our grand-fathers taught us. Finally, let tryal likewise be made of that thorn, mentioned by Capt. Liggon in his History of Barbadoes ; whether it would not be made grow amongst us, and prove as convenient for fences as there ; the seeds, or sets transported to us with due care. And thus, having accomplished what (by your commands) I had to offer concerning the propagation of the more solid, material, and useful trees, as well the dry, as aquatical ; and to the best of my talent fenc'd our plantation in : I should here conclude, and set a bound likewise to my discourse, by making an apology for the many errors and impertinencies of it, did not the zeal and ambition of this illustrious Society to promote and improve all attempts which may concern publick utility or ornament, perswade me, that what I am adding for the farther encouragement to the planting of some other useful (though less vulgar) trees, will at least obtain your pardon if it miss of your approbation.
20. To discourse in this stile of all such fruit-trees as would prove of greatest emolument to the whole nation, were to design a just volume ; and there are directions already so many, and so accurately deliver'd and publish'd (but which cannot be affirmed of any of the former classes of forest-trees, and other remarks, at the least to my poor knowledge and research) that it would be needless to repeat.
21. I do only wish (upon the prospect, and meditation of the universal benefit) that every person whatsoever, worth ten pounds per annum, within Her Majesty's dominions, were by some indispensible statute, obliged to plant his hedge-rows with the best and most useful kinds of them ; especially in such places of the nation, as being the more in-land counties, and remote from the seas and navigable rivers, might the better be excus'd from the planting of timber, to the proportion of those who are more happily and commodiously situated for the transportation of it.
22. Undoubtedly, if this course were taken effectually, a very considerable part both of the meat and drink which is spent to our prejudice, might be saved by the countrey-people, even out of the hedges and mounds, which would afford them not only the plea-sure and profit of their delicious fruit, but such abundance of cyder and perry, as should suffice them to drink of one of the most wholsome and excellent beverages in the world. Old Gerard did long since alledge us an example worthy to be pursu'd ; I have seen in the pastures and hedge-rows about the grounds of a worshipful gentleman dwelling two miles from Hereford, calI'd Mr. Roger Bodnome, so many trees of all sorts, that the servants drink for the most part no other drink but that which is made of apples.
The quantity is such, that by the report of the gentleman himself, the parson hath for tythe many hogs-heads of cyder : The hogs are fed with the fallings of them, which are so many, that they make choice of those apples they do eat, who will not tast of any but of the best. An example doubtless to be follow'd of gentlemen that have land and living ; but Envy saith,
The poor will break down our hedges, and we shall have the least part of the fruit : But forward, in the name of God, graff, set, plant, and nourish up trees in every corner of your ground ; the labour is small, the cost is nothing, the commodity is great ; yourselves shall have plenty, the poor shall have somewhat in time of want to relieve their necessity, and God shall reward your good minds and diligence. Thus far honest Gerard. And in truth, with how small a charge and infinite pleasure this were to be effected, every one that is patron of a little nursery, can easily calculate : But by this expedient many thousands of acres, sow'd now yearly with barley, might be cultivated for wheat, or converted into pasture, to the increase of corn and cattel : Besides, the timber which the pear-tree, black-cherry and many thorny plums (which are best for grain, colour, and gloss) afford, comparable (for divers curious uses) with any we have enumerated. The black-cherry-wood grows sometimes to that bulk, as is fit to make stools with, cabinets, tables, especially the redder sort, which will polish well ; also pipes, and musical instruments, the very bark employ'd for bee-hives : But of this I am to render a more ample account, in the appendix to this Discourse. I would farther recommend the more frequent planting and propagation of fir, pine-trees, and some other beneficial materials, both for ornament and profit ; especially, since we find by experience, they thrive so well, where they are cultivated for curiosity only.