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The forcing department has been considered foreign to the purpose of this work, and is therefore entirely omitted. In recommending particular modes of cultivation, it has been wished to present the reader with one or two methods of operation, that experience has shown to be simple and effectual, rather than to introduce a great number of different plans, among which the unskilful reader can never know which to select in preference, and where the chances are, perhaps, in favour of his making choice of that which is least adapted to practice.
While thus much may be said of the Author and his work, it is at the same time necessary to explain why no mention is made of some sorts which are common in particular districts. In such cases it is to be understood, that the variety omitted is considered either so like some kind already described as to be undeserving of particular notice, or so little valuable as to be unworthy of cultivation.
In all other respects the work speaks for itself. Under that impression, the Editor would only add, that nothing in the following pages is to be ascribed to himself, except the introductory matter, and such typographical errors as may have remained uncorrected during the progress of the work through the press.
London, July 1. 1831.
In all books upon Gardening a great variety of modes of operating are comprehended, each of which has, it may be supposed, its own peculiar merit under particular circumstances. In several the very same mode is repeatedly recommended, with slight variations of phraseology, in speaking of many different subjects; and it has at last become a common complaint, among those who seek for information from books upon horticultural subjects, that they can find plenty of rules of action, but very few reasons.
No greater boon could be bestowed upon the gardening world than to reduce all horticultural operations to their first principles, and to lay bare the naked causes why in one case one mode of procedure is advisable, and another in another. But there are few persons who are competent to undertake this task; it requires a combination of great physiological knowledge, with a perfect acquaintance with the common manipulation of the gardener's art, and much experience in all the little accidents which are scarcely appreciable by the most observing cultivator, with which the mere man of science can necessarily have no acquaintance, but upon which the success of a gardener's operations often mainly depends; which are to the cultivator signs as certain of the issue of his experiments, as to the mariner are the almost invisible changes in the appearance of the heavens by which the weather is prognosticated. Deeply impressed with a persuasion of the justice of the foregoing observations, and sincerely regretting that there should be no present expectation of such a task being undertaken by any one fully competent to it, the Editor of this work ventures to throw himself upon the indulgence of the public in attempting, not to carry into effect such a plan himself, but to sketch out, in regard to the Fruit Garden, what he thinks the method should be upon which a more competent person would do well to proceed.
All our fruits, without exception, have been so much ameliorated by one circumstance or another, that they no longer bear any resemblance in respect of quality to their original. Who, for instance, would recognise the wild parent of the Coe's or Green Gage Plum in the savage Sloe, or that of the Ribston and Golden Pippin Apples in the worthless acid Crab ? Or what resemblance can now be traced between the delicious Beurré Pears, whose flesh is so succulent, rich, and melting, and that hard, stony, astringent fruit, which even birds and animals refuse to eat? Yet these are undoubted cases of improvement resulting from time and skill patiently and constantly in action. The constant dropping of water will not more surely wear away the hardest stone, than will the reason of man in time compel all nature to become subservient to his wants or wishes. But it would be of little service to mankind that the quality of any fruit should be improved, unless we found some efficient and certain mode of multiplying the individuals when obtained. Hence there are two great considerations to which it is, above all things, necessary that the attention of the cultivator should be directed, viz. AMELIORATION and PROPAGATION.
Amelioration consists either in acquiring new and improved varieties of fruit, or in increasing their good qualities when acquired. It will be as well to consider these two subjects separately.
By what means the first tendency to change their nature was given to domesticated plants, we are entirely ignorant. It is probable that it was originally due to accident, and also that it was still mere chance which continued to operate down to very modern times. Philosophers are unacquainted with the reason why there should be any tendency to variation from the characters first stamped on any species by Nature; but all know that this tendency does exist, and in a most remarkable degree in many species. There is in all beings a disposition to deviate from their original nature when cultivated, or even in a wild state ; but this disposition is so strong in some as to render them particularly well adapted to become subject to domestication : for instance, the dog, the pigeon, and the barn-yard fowl, are cases in which this tendency is most strongly marked in animals; and domesticated fruits are a parallel case in the vegetable world.
Without, then, vainly endeavouring to discover the first cause of this disposition to form varieties, let us take it as a naked fact that the disposition exists. Cultivators increase this disposition chiefly in two ways; either by constantly selecting the finest existing varieties for seed, or by intermixing the pollen and stigma of two varieties for the purpose of procuring something of an intermediate nature. The ancients were unacquainted with either of these practices, and consequently their gardens contained few things which would now be deemed worthy of cultivation. The power of obtaining cross-bred varieties at pleasure has only existed since the discovery of sexes in plants; but as it exerts a most extensive influence over alterations in the vegetable kingdom, it may be considered the most important controlling power that we possess.
In sowing seeds for the purpose of procuring improved varieties, care should be had, not only that the seeds be
taken from the finest existing kinds; but also that the most handsome, the largest and the most perfectly ripened specimens should be those that supply the seed. A seedling plant will always partake more or less of the character of its parent, the qualities of which are concentrated in the embryo when it has arrived at full maturity. How this concentration takes place, we are as ignorant as why certain constitutional peculiarities are in men transferred from father to son, and from generation to generation ; but we know that it does take place. Now if the general qualities of a given variety are concentrated in the embryo under any circumstances, it is reasonable to suppose that they will be most especially concentrated in a seed taken from that part of a tree in which its peculiar good qualities reside in the highest degree. For instance, in the fruit of an apple growing upon a north wall there is a smaller formation of sugar than in the same variety growing on a south wall; and it can be easily understood that the seed of that fruit which is itself least capable of forming saccharine secretions, will acquire from its parent a less power of the same nature than if it had been formed within a fruit in which the saccharine principle was abundant. It should therefore be always an object with a gardener, in selecting a variety to become the parent of a new sort, to stimulate that variety by every means in his power to produce the largest and the most fully ripened fruit that it is capable of bearing. The importance of doing this is well known in regard to Melons and Cucumbers, and also in preserving fugitive varieties of flowers; but it is not generally practised in raising fruit trees.
The power of procuring intermediate varieties by the intermixture of the pollen and stigma of two different parents is, however, that which most deserves consideration. We all know that hybrid plants are constantly