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CALIFORNIA

OF

GENERAL INTRODUCTORY

OBSERVATIONS AND COMMENTS.

THE

He study of the Physiology of Plants, by dissection, microscopical examination, and chemical analysis, has of late much occupied the attention of our Horticultural Philosophers; particularly Mr. Knight and Mrs. Ibbetson (a lady who has studied the Organism of Plants, aided by a powerful Solar Microscope, and whose observations are published in a series of papers in Nicholson's Vida Philosophical Journal); but in their attempts to apply their theories to practice, they do not appear to have been successful; they have overlooked those . simple habits or laws, which lead to the grand object of horticulture; and, consequently, their

; labours have not been productive of any great improvement to the practical gardener.

Hitt appears to have had a clearer conception of ... the course or flowing of the Sap in Trees, than any other author, and grounding his practice on this, he has commenced his instructions for training them, on correct principles ; but his Plates exhibit such figures as are not conformable to the laws of

B

Miller says,

nature, and to such precise forms as are depicted by his sketches, it has been found impossible to train Trees, so as to produce the effect, and in the time, described by him.

Forsyth, by giving Trees their full extent of growth, succeeded, no doubt, in furnishing handsome-looking Trees, and to produce in them an early fructiferous state ; but after four or five years, Trees trained in his manner must be found to grow extremely unequal, and out of bounds; and I am inclined to think, that those who have followed Mr. Knight's plan, will have experienced no advantages superior to those suggested by either Hitt or Forsyth.

“ And there is no surer guide to a curious artist than Nature, from whence a gardener should always be directed in every part of his profession, since his business is to aid and assist Nature, where she is not capable of bringing her productions to maturity, or where there is room to make considerable improvements by art, which cannot be otherwise effected than by gently assisting her in her own way.”

In those ideas I perfectly agree with Miller, and by strictly conforming to such principles, I shall endeavour to establish a system free from those errors and defects, which have occasioned thie failure of other authors, and at the same time explain in a manner sufficiently clear and perspicuous, the mode of obtaining the utmost advantages that are held out by any or all of them.

As to compiling a Catalogue of Fruits, I think it would be extending a work, and adding to its expense for a trifling purpose.

On this subject I cannot but agree with Bradley, who, speaking of Apples, says, “ To set down the

“ several and various names of Apples would be a work almost impossible, seeing how many various kinds are yearly produced from kernels, in almost every county of England, and where they happen to prove good, either for making of cyder

of cyder or table use, they have names given to them, according to the mind of the person that raised them.” And if such was the case in Bradley's time, what must it be now? Any person referring to Forsyth's Treatise will find that, although he gives a catalogue of upwards of two hundred sorts of Apples, occupying, by his description, thirty-nine pages of his book, there are still a great many unnoticed, and his description is not sufficient to direct any person in the choice of fruit.

Although the variety of other fruits may not have increased in the same proportion as Apples, yet, a considerable number are to be found, not described, or they are given under such names as they are not known by; the public, therefore, after all, must depend upon their own selection, or that of the nurseryman.

The System of Vegetation is most harmoniously and uniformly arranged by the Great Author of Nature, and its various processes regulated and determined by unerring and immutable laws. In

her general progress of reproduction, Nature is ever inclined to make an exuberant return for an exuberant supply; thus giving to man the opportunity, by availing himself of this propensity, to increase and forward the most valuable qualities of those productions, which are more peculiarly adapted to his use and enjoyment.

But although we may, by occasionally exercising our controul over the sexual intercourse of

vegetables, and by increasing, withholding, or diminishing a supply of food, induce them more readily to contribute to variety; and by confining a Tree within a convenient space, or generally by encouraging or obstructing particular habits, make it more conformable to our wants and pleasures ; we are not permitted to overstep the bounds prescribed by the laws of Nature with impunity; for whenever this is attempted, privation and disappointment must be the consequence; therefore, before we proceed to the arrangement of a system of management, it will be necessary to take a distinct view of the material parts of Plants, or at least in their most important divisions, and to consider their separate use and offices, and the laws by which they are governed.

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ON THE ROOTS OF PLANTS.

The Root is the commencement and foundation of trees : by what particular power it is impelled forward into the earth, is of trifling importance to the practical gardener; and whether it may be accounted for on the principles of gravitation or attraction, it is not necessary for my present pur- · pose to determine : it is progressive in its growth, similar to the branches, but in an inverted direction. As the branches of a tree are formed by a very tender and succulent point pushing upwards into the air, so the root penetrates downwards into the earth; but as it has to make its way through the pores, or between the particles composing the soil it is planted in, which is often close and tenacious, its first projecting points are wisely adapted to the purpose, by being much more minute and compliable, which enables it to advance almost as readily as water. After a Root has effected a passage, it is endowed with considerable expansive and repulsive powers, and thereby enabled to make its way, by pushing off

, on all sides, the encumbering soil ; when the soil is but partially submissive, the Root accommodates itself to the cavity admitting its increase, however rugged and irregular.

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