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length, and 2 in. in diameter at the lower end. Such shoots make excellent hoops, or rods for cratework, hurdles, and different other wickerworks, and also rods for tying plants, and for fencing. In good soil, a coppice of this species, will produce the greatest return in poles, hoops, and rods, every five, six, seven, or eight years; and in middling soil, where it is grown chiefly for faggot-wood, it will produce the greatest return every three, four, or five years. In bad soil (and on such soil only should it be grown for the leaves), the plants should be cut over every year, or every two years, in the month of August, and the leaves dried in the same manner as hay, and afterwards stacked. We are aware that there is a great prejudice in Britain against feeding cattle with the shoots of any description of ligneous plant, either in a green or dried state : but let it be recollected that there is one exception in the case of the furze ; and, if that is found so well worth culture as a herbage plant, why may not the willow be found equally advantageous for a similar purpose, under particular circumstances of soil, situation, and climate ?
For the coarser description of basketwork, the plants in a coppice-wood may be cut over every year in the beginning of November. To preserve the vigour of the stools, the shoots should not be cut over when in a green state, in August, for two years in succession ; but a crop of the twigs with the leaves on, cut at the end of August, should alternate with a crop of the twigs without the leaves, cut in the following year in November. (See Bosc Nouv. Cours, d'Agri., tom xiii. p. 440.) These rules are founded on a principle laid down by Varrennes de Fenille, that the poorer the soil is, the oftener the wood that grows on it ought to be cut over.
The Culture of the Willow for Hoops. The best sorts for this purpose are S. viminalis and S. càprea. It is observed by Dr. Walker, that the S. viminàlis was cultivated for hoops, in Holland, from the first establishment of the herring fishery in that country, which, according to M'Culloch, was in 1164 ; or, rather, from the epoch of the Dutch learning to pickle their herrings, and pack them in barrels, which they were taught to do by Beukelson, who died in 1397, and to whose memory Charles V. erected a magnificent tomb at Biervliet, near Sluys. The Dutch boors, Dr. Walker informs us, without knowing any thing of the sexes of willows, selected those plants of S. viminàlis that appeared to them to be of the most vigorous growth, and thus unintentionally propagated only the female. As all the plants of S. viminàlis grown in Scotland were originally obtained from Holland, they are, consequently, almost all females; and we suppose the same thing is the case in England. We mention this circumstance here, because it shows the practical use that may be made of a botanical knowledge of willows; since, by ordering the fernale only of any given species, the planter may be sure of having all strong and vigorous-growing plants. The soil, for a plantation of hoop willows, ought to be good and deep, well trenched, and even manured, before planting the sets. It should be in a situation naturally moist, but so thoroughly drained as at no time to be stagnated by water. The drains should be at regular distances, so as to throw the surface between them into beds, or compartments; and they may be made open, or built up on the sides, and covered with flagstone. If they can be so arranged as to be filled with water at pleasure, in the early part of summer, that circumstance will contribute materially to the rapid growth of the plants. Hoop willows may be grown along the high banks of rivers or ditches where the extremities of the roots will reach the water, but where the great body of them are in the soil above its level, with perfect success; but it is in vain to plant them upon poor or dry soil, or upon soil, whether rich or poor, which is continually saturated with water to within a foot or two of the surface. The cuttings may be planted in rows 2 ft. apart, and at 18 in. distance in the rows. The shoots produced should not be cut off till the second year after planting; as by this time, as Sang observes, “they will generally have formed one strong shoot, with, probably, some inferior twigs. At the first cutting, care must be had not to allow any part of the small twigs or side shoots to be left, but to cut them clean off: were a part of these small shoots allowed to remain, they might produce a crop of twigs fit for wickerwork, but by no means adapted for hoops. It is better to have a few good growths for that purpose, than a profusion of inferior ones. At no period should any one stool be allowed to bear many shoots, otherwise they will be small and worthless. Every manager of willows has it in his power to increase or diminish the number of shoots on the plants under his care ; for, if he take off the shoots clean by the stem of the plant, in spring, the number of shoots will be proportionally diminished in the following season.” (Plant. Kal., p. 533.) Rods for hoops may be cut at the end of the second or third year's growth, according to the size of the hoops wanted. In poor soil, or in plantations nearly worn out, the rods will require three years' growth to enable them to attain their proper size. “ The proper season for cutting willow rods intended for hoops is any time during the month of November, immediately after the leaves have dropped. The cut should be made to within two or three buds of the place whence the shoot issued ; and it should be in a sloping direction, at the back of the uppermost bud left on the bottom of the shoot on the stool. In cutting hoop willows from the stools, the swell at the bottom of the shoot only should be left. This part is amply furnished with proper buds, to serve as outlets for the rising sap; so that it is unnecessary to leave so much at the bottom of those as is necessary in the case of basket willows, especially as fewer shoots are required in the present case.” (Ibid., p.534.) We agree with Sang in being “ decidedly hostile to the barbarous” manner in which coopers frequently cut hoops from the stools. Under the idea of preventing the hoops from being split, they hack the rods off by cutting downwards with a hand-bill;" and thus the under part left upon the stool is split into many pieces, to the manifest injury of the plant.” (Ibid.) The duration of willow plantations grown for the hoops is considerably longer than when they are grown for basket-making; because, in consequence of the stronger shoots, and of their remaining on the stools two or three years, greater strength is thrown into the root.
The Culture of Willows for Basket-Rods. Almost all the species of willows may be grown for this purpose; but some are greatly preferable to others. The most vigorous-growing basket willow is, unquestionably, S. viminalis ; and it is also the sort most generally cultivated for that purpose. It has no disadvantage that we are aware of, except that in cold wet seasons, and in a moist soil, it does not always ripen the points of its shoots. S. rùbra, S. Forbyàna, S. decipiens, and S. stipulàris are excellent species, of less vigorous growth than S. viminalis, which ripen the points of their shoots perfectly in most seasons. The best of these is, perhaps, S. Forbyàna. S. triándra is nearly as vigorous as S. viminàlis. S. Hèlix, S. vitellina, and S. purpùrea are very desirable species, where small tough rods are required. Various other sorts might be mentioned ; but these we consider by far the most valuable. The soil for basket willows ought to be deep, well drained, and thoroughly prepared ; and the situation ought to be low, level, and naturally moist; and, if there is a command of water for irrigation, so much the better. “There are few soils,” Sang observes, “ that will not bear willows; yet some situations are very unfit for them. Dry and exposed grounds, peat moss, and land covered with standing water, or a quagmire, are not at all suitable. Hollows, the soil of which is composed of rich, soft, earthy particles, and which can be laid dry, are the most eligible for converting into osieries; and, if such can be occasionally soaked with water during the dry months in summer, the situation may be considered perfect. Completely draining the site of a basket willow plantation is the first step towards its formation, and the foundation of its prosperity, and, consequently, of the profit to be derived from it. Drains, in any soil which is to be occupied with a permanent crop of trees, should be constructed upon principles of durability. If the drains be what are called rubble drains, the interstices will soon be filled up with the fibres of the willow roots, which will creep down to imbibe the oozing water. They ought, therefore, either to be open drains, or drains built on the sides, and covered over with flags, to prevent their being choked up with the roots. A variety of cases may, however, occur, where it will be impossible to form covered drains ; or where, perhaps, the expense might operate as a prohibition to doing so with the view of planting willows. In such cases, the ground may be formed into beds of a less or greater size, according to circumstances, by open cuts, or drains, of a sufficient width and depth to keep the soil dry. These open drains will require to be cleaned out every autumn and spring; and the cleanings may be scattered over the general surface of the beds. In preparing ground for an osier plantation, if the soil be poor, it should be as well dressed with dung as if it were intended for a crop of wheat or barley. The manure most proper for willows is stable dung.” (Plant. Kal., p. 526.) Sang " tried lime as a manure for willows, but found the twigs much fired, or spotted, with a sort of canker ; and, in attempting to bend them, they readily broke over at the cankered place. Indeed, if a plantation of osiers be formed previously to a thorough preparation of the soil for the reception of the plants, the saving of the first expense will be found a most severe loss in the end, by the diminution of the crop in the succeeding seasons. In no case should a plantation of willows be attempted, but in prepared ground; except, perhaps, where a few rows may be introduced upon the very brink of a river, or on the top of the banks of ditches, which form, in many instances, the barrier of the waters, where the soil can scarcely be dug or otherwise ameliorated. Nothing can be farther from being good management than planting the truncheons in grass land, and allowing the sward to remain green under, or among the crop. Having fixed upon the spot, and having also carefully prepared the ground, the next step is to procure plants. These should be of the last year's wood, or of shoots of one year old, taken from the under end of well-ripened shoots of good size, and cut in a slanting direction, with a sharp knife; and they should be in lengths of ift. or ift. 4 in. Every vigorous shoot will afford two or three plants. The upper end, as far as it appears soft, being unripe, should be discarded ; because such wood will only produce weak plants, and will not make such good roots the first season, as the firmer parts of the shoots will do. Pieces of two-years-old shoots of the same length, and cut in the same manner, may also be used; but these are more expensive, and not better for the purpose, than the former. The distances at which osiers for baskets or wickerwork ought to be planted are 18 in. between the rows, and 12 in. apart in the rows. This distance will not be too thick for at least five or six years ; but, after that period, every alternate plant should be stubbed up; which will leave those remaining at 2 ft. apart in the rows.” (Ibid., p. 529.) “ Osier plantations," Sang continues, “must be carefully hoed and cleaned every year. Nothing contributes more to the raising of a good crop of twigs, after due preparation of the soil, than keeping it and the plants clean. The stools should be carefully attended to amually, from the first year of producing a crop of twigs, in order to keep them clear of rotten stumps, and not to allow them to be overcrowded at the bottoms of the shoots. When these have become too numerous, they should be carefully thinned out, and also cut down, leaving only an eye or two at the bottom of each, until they be diminished to such a number as the stool is capable of supporting with vigour throughout the season. A basket-maker finds more service from one shoot of 6 ft. or 8 ft. in length, than from four of 3 ft. in length; and one of the first dimensions will not exhaust the stool or the land so much as four of the others. The proper season for cleaning and thinning the stocks is from the Ist of March to the middle of April.” (Ibid., p. 530.) The rationale of choosing this season for the operation of cleaning the plants is, that, if it were performed in the autumn, the germs of the buds existing at the base of the small shoots cleaned off would swell in the course of the winter, and be liable to throw out shoots in the following spring; whereas, by delaying the cutting off of these till the sap is in motion, the germs remain dormant, the whole current of the sap being taken up by the buds already fully formed. “The cleaning of the plants," Sang continues, “is done with a sharp knife; and, if it has been regularly attended to from the establishment of the plantation, it is neither troublesome nor expensive : indeed, this care is necessary, were it only for keeping the plants free from destructive insects. The shoots should not be cut till the second autumn after planting; for, by being allowed to remain uncut for such a length of time, the stools become stronger and more able to produce a good crop, than if cut at an earlier period. Indeed, by the third autumn after planting, under the above management, the crop will be of very considerable value.” (Ibid., p. 332.)
Cutting. The proper season for cutting basket willows is the autumn, immediately after the fall of the leaf. The advantage of cutting at this season is, that the buds which are left to produce the shoots for the succeeding crop immediately begin to swell, and grow in strength during the winter ; and, consequently, they make much earlier and stronger shoots in the following spring. Immediately after cutting the rods, they are tied up in bundles, cach generally about 3ft. 9 in. in girt, and if they are not intended to be used green, that is with the bark on, they are set on their thick ends in standing water, to the depth of 3 in, or 4 in. Here they remain during winter and spring, till the shoots begin to sprout, which generally happens, in the neighbourhood of London, about the end of February, when they are ready to be peeled. Sometimes it happens that osiers are cut with the leaves on, in which case they should never be tied up in bundles, on account of the fermentation that would be produced by binding them closely together in that state; but the rods should be set up thinly and loosely on end, their tops leaning against a rod supported on two props,
In Cambridgeshire, when a basket-maker purchases green rods, he measures the bundles, or bolts, as they are termed, by a band an ell long (14 yard, or 3 ft. 9 in.); which band, previously to tying it round the rods, he marks at the point to which the given length extends : with this he binds the bundle as soon as it appears large enough to fill the band, and afterwards completes the bundle by pushing under the band as many rods as he can. For this purpose, the large rods are laid aside, from their filling up the given space more quickly than the smaller ones; and all the rods must be laid parallel to one another in the bundle. Three bands are bound round each bundle ; viz, one towards each extremity, and the third in the middle. The one nearest the lower end, which should be at the distance of 1 ft. 6 in. from the bottom, is the measuring band. In forming their bundles, basket-makers tie up a small armful (which they call a calf ), and place it in the middle of the bottom of the bundle, so that the ends extend about ift. beyond the bottom, and tie it up in this state. By lifting up the bundle a few times, and letting it fall on its base to the ground, the calf is driven up, and, acting as a wedge, tightens the bundle. A machine called a dumb-boy, made of wood and rope, is used by some purchasers for compressing the greatest possible number of rods into a bundle. Another machine, called a cow, which is made of iron, has a still greater power of compression than the dumb-boy. The usual price for common green osiers, in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, is Is. 6d. per bundle. About London, the bundles are of the same size, and the price varies from 28. to 38. per bundle.
The Operation of Peeling is very simple, and is commonly done by infirin or old men or women, at so much a bundle. The apparatus for peeling consists of two round rods of iron, nearly 4 in. thick, 1 ft
. 4 in. long, and tapering a little upwards, welded together, at the one end which is sharpened, so that the instrument may be easily thrust down into the ground. When the instrument is inserted in a piece of firm ground, the peeler sits down opposite to it, takes the willow rod or twig in his right hand by the small end, and puts a foot or more of the thick end into the instrument, the prongs of which he presses together with his left hand, while with his right he draws the willow towards him; by which operation the bark will at once be separated from the wood: the small end is then treated in the same manner, and the peeling is completed. (Sang ) Another mode is, to fix a plank on legs at a convenient height, so as to form a stool, or small bench, having holes bored in it with an inch auger: into these is put a stick, the upper end of which is cleft ; and through this cleft the willow twigs are drawn, to separate them from the bark, in the same manner as through the iron rods. (Mitch. Dend., p. 60.) After being peeled, the rods will keep in good condition for a long time, till a proper market is found for them. It may be useful here to remark, that osiers in the peeled state will keep better to wait a market, than if left with the hark on; and that they never fail to produce a greater return in the peeled state, after paying for the labour of peeling, than they do when sold immediately after they are cut from the stools. (Plant. Kal., p. 534.)
Whitened, or peeled, rods are tied up in bundles, the band of which is 3 ft. 6 in. long, and sold, about London, at from 58. to 78 per bolt, or bundle. The rods which have the best sale in the London market are those of S. triándra. Green rods are sold by the score bolts, and whitened rods are sold by the load of 80 bolts. In Covent Garden Market, in and around which there are several basket-makers, the rods of S. viminalis are by far the largest brought to market; and, whether with or without the bark o., to them is exclusively applied the term osiers. All the other kinds of willow rods are exclusively termed willows; and those most frequently exposed for sale, with the bark on, are S. decípiens and S. triandra. All the larger baskets, and all the hampers, are made of the rods of S. viminàlis. In Germany, and also frequently in Scotland, the willows, after being cut and tied up in bolts, are stacked, or kept in an airy shed; and, when the bark is to be removed, it is effected by boiling or steaming them. The rods, thus prepared, are considered to be rather more durable than when the bark is separated in consequence of the rising of the sap; and they may be used immediately after cutting, instead of remaining in a useless state for several months.
Basket-making, in the commonest form of the manufacture, is a very simple operation; and in most parts of Europe it was formerly understood by every country labourer, and practised by him for himself or his master, as it still is in Russia, Sweden, and other countries of the north. In Britain, and especially in Scotland, it was the custom, some years ago, for every gardener to understand basket-making, and it generally formed a part of his occupation in the winter evenings; but this is no longer the case : gardening is now become a more intellectual occupation, and the rising generation of gardeners are obliged to spend their evenings, and every spare moment, in reading. Still, we think that every gardener, forester, and woodman ought to know how to make a common garden basket, and more especially those wickerwork structures which are now in very general use for the protection of halfhardy trees and shrubs, when young, and planted out in the open garden. These wicker structures are formed on the familiar principle of wattling a hurdle or wickerwork fence, and, therefore, we shall not enter into details respecting them in this place, but refer our readers to the Gard. Mag., vol. xiii., in which they will find a copious article, illustrated by engravings, on the fabrication of wickerwork for garden purposes. We shall here confine ourselves to giving a slight outline of garden basket making, as practised in Scotland and Germany, by gardeners.
Every basket, according to the Scotch and German mode of construction, consists of two parts; the main ribs, or principal parts of the framework of the structure; and the filling in, or wattled part, or web. The principal ribs, in common baskets of a roundish form, are two: a vertical rib, or hoop, the upper part of which is destined to form the handle; and a horizontal hoop, or rim, which is destined to support all the subordinate ribs, on which the wands are wattled. The two main ribs are first bent to the required form, and made fast at their extremities by nails or wire. They are then joined together in their proper position, the one intersecting the other; and they are afterwards nailed together, or tied by wire, at the points of intersection. The operation of wattling is next commenced, by taking the