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Helleborus fœtidus, Arctotis repens, Colletia cruciata (or bictonensis), Scbizostylis coccinea, and White Camellia. The flowers of the Camellia and the Schizostylis were unstained by the excessive rains.
EVERGREENS FOR CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS AND BALCONIES.
EVERGREEN shrubs, except where exposed to inundations, have not suffered from the rains. The only drawback, not as respects luxuriance but fruitfulness, that has come prominently under my notice, has been in the case of the Holly. Holly berries have been scarce here, and there was a difficulty in getting bright red and yellow-berried twigs for Christmas and other adornments. Few things answer better, as these berried twigs and shoots retain the bright colour of the foliage even long after they are cut. Owing to the want of berried Holly, I found the Arbutus (Strawberry Tree), very useful. Some fine specimens are not only covered with their small greenish white flowers, but have thousands of their yellowtinted and bright coral scarlet fruit about the size of good alpine Strawberries. I have found that little twigs of these shoots, containing each a bunch of berries, would stand two or three weeks in a moderately-heated room. Many of the berries, especially those not ripe, would stand much longer if the trouble were taken to remove those that exhibit the least signs of decay. From the neat bunches of small bell-flowers appearing at the same time with the fruit, it will be seen that a twelvemonth is necessary to ripen the fruit. There are worse things in the way of fruit than a well-ripened berry; but in this country it is seldom considered except in the way of adornment. In the west of Ireland, and in warm places on the Continent, the fruit is eaten, and preserves and wine made from it.
From its compact habit, pretty stiff foliage, reddish wood, and the bunches of flowers and pretty fruit coming at such a dull season of the year, the Arbutus Unedo, and the more rare species and varieties deserve more prominent places in our shrubberies. Twice, I think, I saw pretty little round-headed trees with clean stems 8 feet in height. It is generally grown, however, as a compact bush. A lady poet, more than one hundred years ago, thus describes it
"While growing bright, Beneath the various foliage, wildly spreads The Arbutus, and rears his scarlet fruit, Luxuriant mantling o'er the craggy steeps."
It grows freely in sandy loam, but is more compact in growth in rather stiff loam; yet it is not at all particular as to soil, as it grows in the moist atmosphere of the west of Ireland, in elevated, rocky, and craggy places.
For outside appearance at this season, a fine neighbour to the Arbutus is the Laurustinus, blooming from November to April. There is something wax-like and beautiful in its large corymbs of small whitish flowers. Like the Laurel, the Box, the Sweet Bay, and the Holly, it comes in request for the adornments of Christmas-tide, in the lowly cottage as well as in the lordly hall. With all its beauty there is one little drawback to its more general use-as soon as a leaf begins to decay it gives out an unpleasant odour.
Let me mention in addition, as interesting for these purposes, Gaultheria procumbens, blooming from July to September, and producing abundance of its coral berries on slender shoots all the winter.
For fine foliage we must not omit the Aucuba, as single leaves stand a long time. Of course, everybody thinks of the Mistletoe for foliage and fruit alike, and though rather scarce in berries this season, the white berries of the Snowberry shrub (Symphoricarpus racemosus), on the small deciduous twigs, make a fine contrast with the scarlet berries of the Arbutus. The Snowberry is almost too apt to intrude on its neighbours, but its masses of bright white berries, when the foliage is gone, are very pretty and useful for ornamentation. I will at present mention two more shrubs as exceedingly useful-Erica carnea, various tints, blooming from November to May, rarely growing above a foot in height, and flourishing in almost any kind of soil; and the yellow-flowering Jasminum nudiflorum, that produces abundance of bloom on its green-barked twigs from December to spring. This is a plant that makes itself at home in almost any soil, but exposed out of doors the flowers are apt to be tarnished by a long frost or continued drenching rains, and therefore it is worthy of a little protection in winter. Every pliant twig that grows and is moderately indurated in summer, will be covered with bright yellow flowers in winter. Even such hardy things, with Violets, will enable the out-door gardener to make a room cheerful
with leaf, and flower, and fruit adornments in the depth of winter.
With regard to Evergreens, &c., for balconies and unheated houses, at present I will not enter on the question how, with all the evergreens, &c., alluded to, with the exception of the Mistletoe and the deciduous Snowberry plant, flower beds might be made very interesting in winter by neat plants plunged in the beds, and taken to a reserve garden in summer, pruned, and repotted to keep them of the requisite size; but the whole of these with Cypresses and the like, in small pots make a pleasant display in winter in balcony gardens, and they thrive well if the pots are plunged in boxes that are used for summer plants, as then the frost has little influence on the roots. In many cases where a greenhouse is attached to the dwelling-house, and heating in winter could not be accomplished without a great deal of trouble, nice plants in pots of winter-flowering and winter-fruiting evergreens, along with trim little specimens of the Pinus and Thuja families, would give a cheerfulness and interest all their own. They would set-off the first bulbs of spring to advantage, and would require little trouble or labour all the winter. I know of several cases in which this plan has been adopted, and with the most satisfying results. The place, instead of being empty, or filled with starved decaying plants, furnished all the winter a scene of interest, and after getting the plants causing but little more trouble than taking them to a place in the kitchen garden in April or May. In our case a pretty group of them was made in a bed in summer.-R. FISH.
The Six of Spades. Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh and London. WE have great pleasure in introducing to our readers' notice a new book written by that most genial author, the Rev. S. Reynolds Hole, of Caunton, and written in his most genial style. There are few writers in the horticultural world who have such a happy knack of giving information in an interesting and amusing way. Those who have read his "Little Tour in Ireland," which he took in company with the lamented John Leech, whose facile pencil added much to the interest of the book, and his better-known work, "A Book about Roses," will not need much inducement to make themselves acquainted with this more recent production, "The Six of Spades," which has come out as a finished volume almost before the last chapters have appeared in the pages of the periodical from which it is a rescript.
While recommending the book to those who are fond of a garden, we do not wish to raise the hopes of the practical horticulturist that he will find much information of a deep and recondite nature, or that he will gain many hints as to the management of gardens or plants to enable him to add to his cultural skill or gardening lore. No: the book is one essentially intended to amuse; and perhaps the fault we should find with it is that it travels occasionally too far from the horticultural world into the land of romance, and that many of its chapters would be as suitable for the pages of a popular magazine of light literature as for a gardening periodical. It reads, however, much better as a connected whole in the book (which by parenthesis we may say is exceedingly well got up by the Messrs. Blackwood), than it did in periodical numbers. For instance, Chapter xxiii., Mr. Grundy's song, when it appeared by itself in the pages of a journal devoted to gardening lore, was, to say the least, not of a very instructive character. The work is called The Six of Spades," because it is supposed to represent the winter sittings of a club of six gardeners meeting together in the evenings to discuss some of the topics which all gardeners love to talk about and dwell on. The club-room is thus described by our author
"That club-room on this occasion (for we vary our place of meeting), is my garden house-a warm and cosy chamber, I can tell you; or what would happen to those seed-bags hanging around, or to those tubers of the Dahlia piled dry and dormant in the background? The adjuncts of the apartment might not, perhaps, impress any but a floral mind with the idea of beauty. There is a potting-bench beneath the closely-shuttered window, with a trowel protruding from such well-matured and mellow soil, that I have heard my gardener declare it to be as rich as a plum pudding.' Hard by, two bulky bags of sand from Rei gate lean lazily against each other, like two aldermen of extra corpulence going home after a lord mayor's feast. Beyond is a pyramid of boxes, with many a railway label on their green exteriors to tell of the anxious miles they have travelled with Auriculas, Pansies, Carnations, Verbenas, Roses, Hollyhocks,
and Dahlias in the sunny days that are past. Then comes a solid quadrupedal desk, full of catalogues and secretaries' letters, and floral publications good store. Next to it the painter's studio, with pots of green and white paint, and neat tallies, and slim training-sticks, and circular wirework, balloons, and baskets pair of bellows appears to be discoursing with a Brown's fumiof a dozen fanciful designs. Upon the whitewashed walls a gator on the best method of getting rid of aphides. A wrathful canary roused from its slumbers twitters expostulation from its cage, and wishes "The Six of Spades" at Jericho. Above the fireplace is a piece of broken looking-glass, before which I once saw an under gardener attempting to shave himself with a new budding knife, and making such grimaces of direful but unconscious ugliness as would have established the reputation of a clown for life. On either side of this mirror, but deserving a better place, are some of Mr. Andrews's charming delineations of flowers and fruit; among the latter a bunch of Grapes, once so lifelike and luscious to look upon that they might have been mother with such extraordinary power that the old lady was the identical bunch which the American artist painted for his enabled to manufacture from it three bottles and a half of delicious wine, but now sadly disfigured by dust and smoke, and now rapidly changing their complexion from pale Muscadines to Black Hamburghs.'
Having thus introduced his readers to the club house pro tem., which seems to have been a very cosy garden house belonging to the President, we are next introduced to the club-Mr. Oldacre, Mr. Chiswick, Mr. Evans, Mr. Grundy, the Curate, and the President. Mr. Oldacre is the gardener at the Castle to his Grace the Duke, a hale and hearty man of some seventy summers, a model of manly beauty, 6 feet high, and as straight as a guardsman, with a bright and genial face of perpetual sunshine. His lot has fallen to him apparently in pleasant quarters, and having begun life as one of the garden boys, he has gradually risen step by step till he can look round the well-filled vineries and hothouses, the gardens, walks, and terraces, and feel that he is master of all he surveys, owning no allegiance save to the Duke, who seems to deny him nothing that he sets his fancy on. We certainly have a picture given to us in Mr. Oldacre which may well make the mouths of many an under gardener water, but which gives us a pleasant idea of the stamp of man to be found in many a lordly domain, who has passed all his life in the study of some of the beautiful forms of God's own handiwork, and has felt the impress of the Maker reflected on him.
We will not dwell long on the other persons who make up the number of the club. The next is Mr. Chiswick, whose chief characteristic apparently is his abundant crop of beard and whiskers, which seem to have been too much for the feminine heart of Mary Oldacre; so that with the assistance of a moonlight skating scene on the ducal lake, and the necessary shawling and attendance home, it came to pass that the great Oldacre had to overcome the first prejudices which he felt against the whiskered Chiswick, and agree to transplant the blooming Mary to be cared for under another roof.
In Mr. Evans, the next of the quartette of gardeners (for the President and the Curate are not strictly gardeners, but amateurs), we recognise a sketch of a class of gardeners often to be found, rough-and-ready forsooth, but with a great deal of real knowledge of their profession. We fancy almost that the sketch is a portrait from life, and that many of the reminiscences of childhood with which our author very freely illustrates Mr. Evans's portrait were actual occurrences. He has given us, we think, a trifle too much of these freaks of youth, which would be more suitable in those Christmas numbers of Boys' own Books and other tales which the present season produces as plentiful as Blackberries. The story of the prodigious peach is, however, very amusing.
In Mr. Grundy, who is the next character, we have the gardener who is at times redolent of the stable, who has to turn his hand to the cows and pigs, and who thinks the summum bonum of gardening is being able to furnish a fine dish of greens at Christmas, and to be early with his Peas and Potatoes. He is a most useful class of men (all honour to them!), a race, we fear, fast dying-out; a man who does not mind turning his hand to anything really practically useful, but is still able to do justice to those old-fashioned stamps of flowers, which only require occasional supervision-as the Sweet William, Polyanthus, &c.
phases delineated to us of one and the same person—no less In the President and the Curate we have, we think, two a person than our author; we use the words advisedly, for he is six-fect-three in his stockings, and with a back proportionably broad (May his shadow never be less !), and he is well able
to fill two niches in "The Six of Spades "-as the Curate in his budding love for flowers, we might almost transpose the words, "in his love for budding flowers," and as "the President" when, in the maturity of his Rose love and the experience of many an exhibition, he is well able to preside over a gardening club. Nay, more, we might say of our author that we know of no one who so well fills the office of chairman at those social meetings (we wish they could take place oftener), when gardeners dine together, and with the post-prandial repast discuss in speech and toast those subjects which all gardeners have at heart.
The character of the Curate and the President will be well known to most of our readers, and we will, therefore, conclude this portion of our notice of "The Six of Spades," and will in our next notice make a few remarks on the different subjects which the club debate about.
THE SEAT OF EARL DUDLEY.
WITLEY, or Whitley as it is now often written, is the Witlege of Domesday Book, and from the parish's Norman tenants it descended to the Cookseys, then by marriage to the Russells of Strensham, and from them, by purchase, to the Foleys. "Foley won and Folly lost Witley Court," and the narrative is such a tale of cheer and warning as to deserve a portion of these columns.
Richard Foley was a nailer, or maker of nails, at Stourbridge in the time of Charles I. Observing that Sweden was undermining the trade of the town by the aid of machinery, and chiefly supported by his violin, on which he played well, he walked to Hull, and worked his passage from thence on board a ship bound for Sweden. Arrived there, he fiddled his way to the ironworks near Upsala, became popular with the workmen, remained several years, and then returned to England, fully conversant, as he believed, with the Swedish nailmaking machinery. The Stourbridge manufacturers aided him to erect the desired machinery, but he had overlooked something, and it would not work. Again he left Stourbridge, and so secretly that he was thought to have fled from the ridicule he had incurred; but Foley was made of better stuff. Fiddle-sustained, for that placed him below suspicion, he again reached the Upsala works, was again welcomed by the workmen, remained long enough to detect what he had before overlooked, and again, as before, returned to Stourbridge. Such skilled perseverance deserved and obtained an ample reward-a reward not merely of wealth to himself, but to the entire of his native district, for the Stourbridge nail trade was restored and extended. Yet he remained wisely unchanged. He pursued trade, for he knew suitable employment is a parent of happiness; yet his purse and time were ever available for benevolent objects, and he had taken special care that his son should be well qualified to fill a position to which his wealth would entitle him. That son, Thomas Foley, High Sheriff of Worcestershire, was the first of his race to own Witley Court. He merely repaired and slightly added to the old residence, which probably had been erected by one of the Russells; but the first Lord Foley and his widow erected the church with which it communicates, in 1760. It had remained in the family for more than two centuries, when in the first half of the present century circumstances obliged the then Lord Foley to sell the estate, but not until after he had cut down much of its ornamental timber. Thus "Folly lost what Foley won."
The trustees under the will of Earl Dudley, dated 1831, had the accumulation of the interest arising from his estates for twelve years to invest at the end of that period in landed property to be entailed on his heirs. That interest was £80,000 a-year, so that at the end of the twelve the trustees must have had more than a million sterling to invest. Part of the landed property they purchased was Witley Court and all the other Worcestershire estates of Lord Foley.
In most districts there are some outward features that indicate to the passing observer the character of the soil. Tree, herbage-nay, even the very weeds tell their tale. The pollardheaded Willows lining the sides of the watercourses in flat fenny land proclaim by their being in straight lines, often of great length, that they are of more recent origin than the crooked and irregular hedges which constitute the fences of lanes in a highly-cultivated district. Climatic influences, not less than the character of the soil, tell their tale on the vegeation. A district remarkable for its dry atmosphere, or, in
other words, for the small amount of its rainfall, will generally present fewer grass and more corn fields than a wet one: hence the prevalence of rich meadows and their corresponding produce in butter and cheese in the western counties of England, where the rainfall is more copious than farther to the east. There are few districts that have been without their full share in 1872, but I believe the west midland districts suffered more in August and September last than they usually do: hence the swollen rivers and consequent disasters.
The district of which it is my intention to write contains, perhaps, a greater diversity of produce than any other in the kingdom, except perhaps the counties immediately surrounding London; and I was agreeably surprised both with the variety and healthiness of the crops, as well as the excellent roads, fences, and buildings in a neighbourhood which a cockney might say was so far from home. Still it must be remembered that Worcestershire had a reputation for fertility when the home counties were comparatively neglected; and though it did not escape during the wars of the Roses, it suffered less than most other districts from the disasters that befel the adherents of royalty in the time of the first and second Charles; for the city of Worcester suffered more seriously than the county, and the high state of cultivation which the latter exhibited many years ago was no doubt owing to that immunity.
To pass from general to more particular description, I may say that early last September circumstances placed me in the suburbs of Worcester, and having a desire to visit Witley Court, my route thither was past the pretty and interesting village of Ombersley, to which ornamental-timber-framed dwellings, both of the past and present age, gave a feature of quiet repose which it is vain to look for in brickwork. Ombersley Court, the mansion of Lord Sandys, is seen peeping from amidst the trees which grace the park surrounding it. The situation can hardly be called the best that could have been selected, being low and flat; it is on the left bank of the Severn, which at that distance from Ombersley is crossed by an elegant iron bridge of considerable elevation; the river here being hemmed-in by high banks, revealing the red sandstone alternately with the red marl which form the substrata of the district. The river at this place appears to have a larger volume of water than the Thames at Richmond, and is duly made use of for navigation. After passing Holt, the traveller sees Mistletoe growing profusely on many of the Poplar and other trees in the hedgerows.
After proceeding by an excellent road through a district sufficiently undulating to be pretty, without being inconveniently hilly for cultivation, and which was abundantly timbered, I found myself at the lodge gate that leads to Witley Court on my way to one of the finest gardens in the west midland counties-one that has been formed in a great measure by its present proprietor, into whose hands it came some years ago by purchase. For some time it was the residence of the Dowager Queen Adelaide. The purchase-money of the estate amounted to little less than a million sterling, and since then immense sums have been expended upon it. The mansion, I believe, has been entirely rebuilt, and the gardens, or rather the pleasure ground portion of them, have been laid-out in a style of princely magnificence.
The mansion is seated on a slight eminence; a gentle incline in the carriage road carries the visitor to the principal entrance, which is on the north side, where a spacious lawn terminates in a rather abrupt ravine, adding with its broad sheets of water considerable interest to the scene, the banks being well clothed with healthy timber. The offices are at the west side, while to the south is a magnificent terrace garden laid-out in the best style of the master spirit of the day, Mr. Nesfield, and in this case his design contains less of the fancy work, in which coloured gravels, &c., form so important a part, than many other of his works. In this case it is well that it is so, for embroidered gardens have of late become less fashionable than they used to be; but here fancy work of this description is so well blended with masses of Rhododendrons and other shrubs, which in their turn are enlivened with sculptural objects judiciously placed, that the whole can hardly fail to please the most fastidious.
I have said the mansion at Witley Court occupies a rather elevated position in a park well furnished with timber. The geometric garden is on the south side; and it may give the general reader some idea of the vastness of the place when he is told that the extent of this garden alone is about ten acres, while the other dressed grounds and shrubberies make up one
hundred acres more. At the time of my visit all seemed in
But before we leave this fine garden we must take a peep into the large conservatory adjoining the mansion, and amidst the groves of Camellia trees we might almost fancy ourselves transported into the flowery land of the far East. So healthy, vigorous, and broad-leaved did they appear, and so well set, too, with forward bloom-buds, that I anticipated that long before the dark dull days which precede Christmas the conservatory would have the gay appearance which this plant, in addition to choice Rhododendrons and other plants of a similar character, alone can give. Certainly nothing could look finer, and the whole reflected great credit on Mr. Westland.
A short distance from the conservatory and geometric garden alluded to, and through premises necessary as offices to the mansion, but which are completely shut out by a series of evergreen hedges, we pass from the ornamental to the usefulin other words, from the flower garden to that which furnishes the requirements of the inner man. Here I must quote Mr. Westland's letter, and say the whole is expected to be removed elsewhere, and I have no doubt but a magnificent garden will be made; but, even as it is, the space enclosed is large, well cultivated, and the walls well covered with fruit trees. The Pines in particular struck me as being remarkably well grown, and Mr. Westland has in the most courteous manner furnished the following account of the mode of culture adopted :
"You mention the Pines as having struck you as being well done, and certainly we do get fruit of a good size and excellent quality. I may mention that I do not consider the pits they are grown in anything but makeshifts, as I may term them. Three years ago, when there was a likelihood of our commencing the re-construction of the kitchen garden, so as to have the plants in an advanced state I purchased a stock, and converted two of the bedding-plant pits to their use, not expecting to fruit them there. The pits are 60 feet in height by 15 feet wide, with a narrow passage down the centre, and each pit is heated by eight lines of 4-inch pipe, four for top and four for bottom heat. The pipes supplying the bottom heat were covered over with brick rubble, finished-off with a layer of charcoal, and hitherto one-half of our stock has been grown in pots, the others planted out; but from this time, as the beds are cleared out, I intend to grow the whole in pots, finding them more manageable, and I believe that from a wellgrown plant in a pot quite as fine fruit may be obtained as when planted out. Before proceeding further allow me to indicate the faulty points, and my objections to these pits as regards Pine-growing. In the first place they are 2 feet too low; in the next place they are too flat in the roof, and thus subjected to sudden fluctuations of temperature from the sun's rays, otherwise they are very serviceable, and well adapted for the cultivation of the Pine. I look upon it as an important point
that the plants are near the glass and fully exposed to all the light possible, for by securing this, whatever the form of house, we are enabled to perfect a higher quality of fruit than possibly can be done in darker houses with the plants a distance from the glass.
"We use a rich turfy soil, rather strong, cut from the deer park, about 3 inches in thickness. This is best cut when in a moderately dry state, and stacked under cover, and I prefer to use the soil when in a fresher state than is sometimes done. For this reason we cut twice yearly, and I believe that for fruit culture in general it is better used somewhat fresh, being more appropriate than it is when stacked for years, as is sometimes the case, and allowed to become thoroughly decomposed and inert previous to use. One thing must be borne in mind, that in using fresh soil extra pressure must be exercised in potting, so as to force the soil solidly into the pots. The turf soil is used simply of itself, the only addition needed being a dash of bonedust and soot.
"I look upon it as being of first importance to select strong firm suckers; such are necessary to facilitate early bearing, for unless Pines show within ten or twelve months after potting the sucker, they do not usually attain great size and quality. If the cuttings are strong, pot into 6 or 7-inch pots at once, and plunge into leaves or tan, covering slightly over the surface to afford moisture. With a strong bottom heat they will seldom require water further than that afforded in sprinkling the surface with the syringe until such time as they are rooted, when they should be transplanted into their fruitpots, or planted out, as the case may be. The size of pot must be determined according to the sorts. For Queens to fruit very early in the season, a 10-inch pot will be found most conducive, and for general stock 12 or 13-inch pots are best. No greater error can be committed in connection with Pine culture than the practice of frequent shifting. It is important that the bottom heat should be sufficiently high during winter to preserve the roots in good condition, as I believe that the ground temperature should never fall below 70° to 75°. If we take natural data as our guide, we find the difference of temperature throughout the year is not so great or fluctuating as that to which we may frequently find them subjected; and while submitting the correctness of a considerably lower temperature during the winter months, when the days are short and sunless, than that to which the Pine is subjected in those countries that are most congenial to its production, I am by no means satisfied that we do not very often commit one of the most palpable mistakes it is possible to do in connection with Pine cultivation-that of allowing the bottom heat to fall too low; for although the plants are brought to comparative rest, the roots must be kept healthy and active. If the roots are allowed to become inert, and are pushed forward early in the season, they will put forth weak, deformed, attenuated 'shows' that never attain anything like perfection.
"I never give manure water until such time as the roots have established themselves, being disposed to believe that such gross indulgence in youth is, upon the whole, inimical to a sound healthy development, but frequent application when the fruit is swelling will be beneficial. In watering it is necessary to be guided by the state of the plants. To those which are in a healthy growing state water may be given freely, and in all stages keep the plants in a healthy state of moisture at the roots, and the water should be heated to the same temperature as that of the house. Keep a healthy state of atmospheric moisture by syringing the beds and every available surface previous to shutting-up. I do not practise syringing overhead.
"The varieties we grow for winter are the Smooth-leaved Cayenne, one of the best, and it shows early, and will stand for weeks if removed to a dry room before it is thoroughly ripe. As regards the fruit, Charlotte Rothschild is somewhat similar to the above, and swells well in winter. have cut this at Christmas upwards of 9 lbs. weight. Black Jamaica, one of the very best, keeps well when ripe, and is highly flavoured. There are several varieties of this in cultivation. This Pine is not unfrequently confounded with the Montserrat, a variety that is largely grown for the Manchester market, but although a good-flavoured Pine it is in every respect inferior to the true Jamaica. The Queen is unquestionably the best summer Pine, and of this we have various forms besides those that are known as Moscow and Ripley Queen: in all probability the slight difference arises from growing imported crowns. White Providence is only worth growing for the sake of variety; so is the Enville, as