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Gray, in his Shepherd's Week, alludes to the magic powers supposed to be possessed by the hazel nuts :
“ Two hazel nuts I threw into the flame,
And to each nut I gave a sweetheart's name.
For 't was thy nut that did so brightly glow." From the custom of burning nuts in this manner on All-Hallows Eve, that day (the 31st of October) has received, in some parts of the country, the vulgar appellation of Nutcrack Night.' Burns alludes to this custom in his Halloween:
“ Amang the bonny winding banks
Where Doon rins wimpling, clear,
An' shook the Carrick spear,
Together did convene,
Fu' blythe that night."
“ These glowing nuts are emblems true
of what in human life we view :
fierce ordeal being past,
Their mingled ashes rest at last." Many other quotations might be given, but we shall content ourselves with only one more, from Wordsworth:
“ Among the woods
The silent trees, and the intruding sky." Properties and Uses. The hazel, in a wild state, affords, by its numerous branches, protection to various small birds : its nuts afford food to the squirrels, and some other quadrupeds; to some of the larger birds; and to man in a wandering and half-civilised state; but there are a few insects that live on its leaves, Considered as a timber tree, the wood is never of a sufficient size for building purposes ; but it is used in cabinet-making, and for various smaller and more delicate productions. It weighs, dry, 49 lb. per cubic foot. It is tender, pliant, of whitish red colour, and of a close, even, and full grain ; but it does not take a very bright polish. The roots, when they are of sufficient size, afford curiously veined pieces, which are used in veneering
cabinets, tea-chests, &c. The great use of the hazel, however, is for under. growth. Being extremely tough and flexible, the root shoots are used for making crates, hurdles, hoops, wattles, walkingsticks, fishing-rods, whip handles, ties for faggots, springes to catch birds, and for fastening down the thatch, and for withs and bands for general purposes. A strong fence is made by driving stakes into the ground, and wattling the space between them with hazel rods. Evelyn tells us that out-houses, and even cottages, were sometimes made in this manner. In the county of Durham, particularly in the Vale of Derwent, hazel coppices are grown extensively for what are called corf rods, and hoops for coopers. The corf rods are from 4 in. to in. in diameter, and are used for making the baskets called corves, employed for drawing coals out of the pits. (Bailey's Survey of Durham, p. 187.). It is much grown, in Staffordshire, for crates for the potters; but, generally speaking, (though, if left a sufficient time, it will afford poles 20 ft. in length), it is found so inferior to other undergrowths, that Farey, in his excellent
Derbyshire Report, advises the grubbing of it up, and replacing it with ash and oak. He also objects to it for hedgerows, on account of the temptation it offers to boys to break the hedges, in order to get at the nuts; and because the leaves and young shoots are said to be injurious to cattle if eaten by them, and to produce the disease called the red water. (Gen. View, &c., vol. ii. p. 91.) Hazel rods, cut as nearly as possible of the same size, and varnished, form an admirable material for constructing rustic garden seats, like that shown in fig. 1944.,
and flower-baskets (fig. 1945.). An agreeable variety may be produced by using the rods alternately peeled, and with their bark on; or by mixing them with rods of some other kind of wood. Unpeeled hazel rods are, however, both handsomer and more durable than similar rods of any other kind of tree; and a variety may be produced in them by choosing them with bark of different shades ; or even staining them with a decoction of logwood, or other dye, and then arranging them in a pattern, as shown in the arbour fig. 1946. Mr. Matthews, a carpenter residing at Frimley in Berkshire, has carried this idea still further, and, by an ingenious arrangement of different-coloured hazel rods, he produces a complete landscape, which, seen at a little distance, has a very striking effect. (See Gard. Mag., vol. ix. p. 678.) Faggots of hazel are in great demand for heatitig ovens; and the charcoal, which is very light, is
considered excellent for gunpowder ;
we import nuts from different parts of France, Portugal, and Spain, but principally from the latter. The Spanish nuts in the highest estimation, though sold under the name of Barcelona nuts, are not really shipped at that city, but at Tarragona, a little more to the south. Mr. Inglis says that the annual average export of nuts from Tarragona is from 25,000 to 30,000 bags, of four bags to the ton. The cost was, free on board, in autumn, 1830, 17s. 6d. a bag. (Spain in 1830, vol. ii
. p. 362.) The entries of nuts for home consumption amount to from 100,000 to 125,000 bushels a year; the duty of
1945 28. a bushel producing from 10,0001. to 12,5501. clear.” (Dict. of Com., p. 853.) Mr. M'Culloch adds, “ The kernels have a mild, farinaceous, oily taste, agreeable to most palates. A kind of chocolate has been prepared from them; and they have been sometimes made into bread. The expressed oil of hazel nuts is little inferior to that of almonds.” Evelyn tells us that hazel nuts, though considered unwholesome to those who were asthmatic, were, in his time, thought to be fattening; and, when full ripe, the filberts especially, if peeled in warm water, as they blanch almonds, make a pudding very little, if at all, inferior to what our ladies make of almonds.” (vol. i. p. 217.) The oil made from hazel nuts, which is usually called nut oil, is best made in the middle of winter ; as, if made sooner, the nut yields less oil; and, if later, it is apt to become rancid. It is extracted in the same manner as the walnut oil. (See p. 1429.). It is never made in England, and but rarely in France.
As an ornamental tree, the hazel, when trained to a single stem, forms a very handsome object for a lawn, near a winter's residence; because it not only retains its leaves a long time in autumn, after they have assumed a rich yellow colour, but, as soon as they drop, they discover the nearly full-grown male catkins, which often come into full flower at the end of October, and remain on the tree in that state throughout the winter; and, in days of bright sunshine in February and March, when slightly moved by the wind, they have a gay and most enlivening appearance. The length of time the leaves remain on the tree, and their rich yellow, render the hazel, as we have already observed (p. 2019.), one of the most ornamental of all deciduous shrubs as undergrowth; it ranking, in this respect, with the oak and the beech. The foliage of the birch and the willow, two of the commonest undergrowths in indigenous woods, is meagre, and drops off suddenly; while the leaves of the ash and the chestnut drop off early, when they have scarcely changed colour; and, hence, these trees, as undergrowths, are far inferior to the hazel in woods which form conspicuous features in the view from a mansion, or where orna
ment is at all taken into consideration. The purple-leaved hazel is a very handsome tree, and, with the common, may be very fitly associated in a group with the cut-leaved hazel ; and, as an evergreen to contrast with them, may be added Gárrya elliptica, the male catkins of which are often nearly 1 ft. in length, and appear at the same time, and continue as long, as those of the hazel. In many parts of France, bosquets, or small groves, and also arbours and covered walks, of the hazel are often found near old châteaux ; and the same practice appears to have been followed in this country, if we may judge from the remains of covered nut walks yet existing in some old gardens. In shrubberies, the hazel gives rise to many interesting associations in the minds of those who have been brought up in nut countries. The writer of the article on Córylus, in the Nouveau Du Hamel, is eloquent in praise of the hazel on this account; and Sir Thomas Dick Lauder says: “ The hazel, besides making up a prominent part of many a grove in the happiest manner, and tufting and fringing the sides of many a ravine, often presents us with very picturesque stems and ramifications. Then, when we think of the lovely scenes into which the careless steps of our youth have been led in search of its nuts, when autumn had begun to brown the points of their clusters, we are bound to it by threads of the most delightful associations, with those beloved ones, who were the companions of such idle, but happy days." (For. Scen., i. p. 197.)
Soil and Situation. The hazel, according to Cobbett, “grows best upon what is called a hazel mould ; that is to say, mould of a reddish brown : but it will grow almost any where, from a chalk or gravel, to a cold and wet clay; but the rods are durable in proportion to the dryness of the ground on which the hazel grows, and they are particularly good where the bottom is chalk.” (Woodlands, 283.) The situation most favourable is on the sides of hills, for it will not thrive in a soil where water is stagnant; though, like all trees and shrubs that grow in dense masses, it requires a great deal of moisture; and, indeed, it will always keep the ground moist under it by the denseness of its shade.
Propagation and Culture. The species is propagated by nuts, which, from the common wild
filbert, are, in plentiful years, from 20s. to 30s. a sack of three bushels. These may be dried in the sun, and preserved in a dry loft, covered with straw, or in sand, till the following February; when they may be sown, and treated in the same manner as mast or chestnuts. After remaining in the seed-bed two years, they may be transplanted into nursery lines; and in one or two years more they will be fit for removal to their final situation. Where a hazel copse is to be formed, the nuts may be sown in drills, on ploughed ground, early in spring, and a crop of oats taken the first year; but this method cannot be recommended, as the nut, when young, is, as Cobbett observes, as tender as a radish, and easily injured by weeds. Plantations, therefore, are best made by planting; and the plants may be set in rows at 5ft.
distance, and at 5 ft. apart in the row; the plants in one row alternating with openings in the other. When an oak wood with hazel coppice is to be formed, the mode of proceeding has been already given (p. 1802.). Hazel coppice, for the ordinary purposes of hurdle wood, hethers or wattles, crateware, hoops, &c., is generally cut every seven or eight years. The hurdles are sometimes manufactured on the spot; and, the other articles being selected, the remaining shoots and branches are made up
into faggots. The varieties, whether botanical, or valued for their fruits, are propagated by layers; though the purple hazel, being as yet rare, might be budded or grafted.
The hazel, as a fruit tree, is most commonly propagated by suckers, more especially in the neighbourhood of Maidstone, where the nuts are grown to greater perfection than any where else in England. Plantations are generally made in autumn, in soil which has been well trenched and manured. The plants are placed in rows, at from 10 ft. to 20 ft. distance from each other, and at 10 ft. apart in the row; while between the rows hops are frequently grown for a few years; but, after the filberts have attained a sufficient size to nearly cover the ground, the hops are destroyed. Filberts are also frequently planted in rows, in the intervals between larger fruit trees, such as apples, pears, cherries, &c.; but, though they grow very well in such situations, yet, from being shaded, and sometimes partially under the drip of the larger trees, they seldom, if ever, bear so well as in plantations by themselves. The principal art in the culture of the filbert, as a fruit tree, consists in training and pruning it properly, as the blossom is produced upon the sides and extremities of the upper young branches, and
from small young shoots which proceed from the bases of side branches, cut off the preceding year. The tree requires to be kept remarkably open, in order that the main branches may produce young wood throughout the whole of their length. In the filbert orchards about Maidstone, the trees are trained with short stems like gooseberry bushes, and are formed into the shape of a punch-bowl, exceedingly thin of wood. Williamson, who has written on the subject in the Horticultural Transactions, advises “ to plant the trees where they are to remain ; to suffer them to grow without restraint for three or four years; and then to cut them down within a few inches of the ground. They will push five or six strong shoots, which, the second year after cutting down, are to be shortened one third; then place a small hoop within the branches, and fasten the shoots to it at equal distances. In the third year, a shoot will spring from each bud. These must be suffered to grow till the following autuinn, or spring of the fourth year, when they are to be cut off nearly close to the original stem, and the leading shoot of the last year shortened two thirds. In the fifth year, several small shoots will arise from the bases of the side branches, which were cut off the preceding year : from these the fruit is to be expected; and the future object of the pruner must be directed to produce an annual supply of these, by cutting out all that have borne fruit. The leading shoot is to be shortened every year two thirds or more; and the whole height of the branches must not be suffered to exceed 6 ft. Every shoot that is left to produce fruit should also be tipped, which prevents the tree from being exhausted in making wood at the end of the branch. Observe, in pruning early in spring, to have a due supply of male blossoms, and to eradicate all suckers.” Such is the Maidstone practice, “which has been long celebrated, by which 30 cwt. of nuts per acre have been grown on particular grounds, in particular years: but 20 cwt, is considered a large crop, and rather more than half that quantity the usual one, with a total failure three years out of five; so that the average produce is not more than 5 cwt. per acre. Williainson thinks “the failure happening so often may be owing to the excessive productiveness of the successful years, owing to the mode of pruning, by which the whole nourishment of the tree is expended in the production of fruit;" and he recommends having the trees rather more in a state of nature. (Hort. Trans., vol. iv. p. 154.)
If, at any time, there should appear to be a deficiency of male catkins in a