Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the Provence rose, the tuberose, and countless other flowers, blend their sweets with that of the orange; and amidst all the richness of these perfumes, the pestilent airs of the tropics, and even the sirocco of southern Italy and Sicily, are altogether unknown.

In Italy, the orange groves accompany the chain of the Apennines round the whole gulf of Genoa, and until, upon the confines of the plain of Tuscany, they subside in elevation, and bend more toward the Adriatic; although, further to the south, the climate and vegetation of Tuscany cannot be compared to those of the little valleys of Provence and Liguria, especially the latter. About Florence, there are still orange-trees in the gardens; but there are none of those aromatic groves and plantations which are found further to the west. Mr. Spence, who passed some winters in Florence, states that the cold is so great there, that skating is sometimes practised occasionally four months of the year, and the thermometer repeatedly stands at 24° to 26° F., at 8 A. M. Eastward of Tuscany, though further south, the country is even less adapted to the production of the orange; the sea-coast is barren, the interior is dreary, and over the whole, the “pestilent malaria” creeps, forbidding man to approach, even for the cultivation of the fields. In the gardens at Rome, however, notwithstanding the thermometer ranges from 2° to 4° F., lower, during the winter, than at Nice, the orange-tree flourishes, and attains its usual size. At the convent of Santa Sabina, in Rome, there is a tree of this species thirtyone feet high, which is reputed to be upwards of six hundred years of age. After the gulf of Gaeta is passed, and the shelter of the more elevated mountains in the kingdom of Naples is obtained, the orange groves again make their appearance, and particularly abound along the western shore of Calabria, and in the vicinity of Messina and Palermo, in the island of Sicily.

The precise period at which the orange was introduced into Britain, is not with certainty known; but it is supposed that it was brought from Portugal, by Sir Walter Raleigh, towards the end of the XVIth century. The trees were planted near a wall in the open air, at Beddington, in Surry, with a movable cover, to protect them from the inclemency of winter. They flowered, and bore fruit, and, at the beginning of the XVIIIth century, they had attained the height of eighteen feet, with a diameter of nine inches, and the spread of the branches of the largest one, was twelve feet in one direction, and nine feet in the other. In 1738, they were surrounded by a permanent enclosure, like a greenhouse, and were destroyed by a great frost in the winter following.

Parkinson, in his “Practise of Plants,” published in 1629, gives some curious directions for the preservation of orange-trees, from which, one would be led to infer that the trees at Beddington, with their ample protection of a movable covering in winter, had not been in existence at that time. " The orange-tree," says he, “hath abiden, with some extraordinary branching and budding of it, when as neither citron nor lemon-trees would, by any means, be preserved for any long time. Some keepe them in square boxes, and lift them to and fro by iron hooks on the sides, or cause them to be rolled on trundles or small wheels under them, to place them in an house, or close galerie, for the winter time; others plant them against a bricke wall in the ground, and defend them by a shed of boardes, covered with seare-cloth, in the winter; and by the warmth of a stove, or such other thing, give them some comfort in the colder times; but no tent or mean provision will preserve them.”

Towards the end of the XVIIth and in the early part of the XVIIIth centuries, the orange-tree was a very fashionable article of growth, in conservatories, in France, as well as in Britain. The plants were mostly procured from Genoa, with stems generally from four to six feet in height; they were planted in large boxes, and were set out during summer, to decorate the walks near the

*

*

houses, in the manner still practised at Versailles, the Tuileries, and some other collections in Europe, and in America.

The largest trees in Britain are said to be those at Smorgony, in Glamorganshire; they are planted in the floor of an immense conservatory, and produce fruit in abundance. It is said that these plants were procured from a wreck on the coast in that quarter, in the time of Henry VII.

In the south of Devonshire, and particularly at Saltcombe, one of the warmest spots in England, it is said there are gardens containing orange-trees, which have withstood upwards of one hundred winters in the open air. The fruit is represented as being as large and fine as any from Portugal.

In East Florida, the orange grows spontaneously in the neighbourhood of New Smyrna. In noticing that town, in 1791, Bartram observes, I was there about ten years ago, when the surveyor run the lines of the colony, where there was neither habitation nor cleared field. It was then a famous orange grove, the upper or south promontory of a ridge nearly half a mile wide, and stretching north about forty miles. *

All this was one entire orange grove, with live oaks, magnolias, palms, red bays, and others.” He also makes frequent mention of extensive groves of wild oranges, in Florida, as far north as latitude twenty-eight degrees. Dr. Baldwin, in 1817, in speaking of Fish's Island, says, "Here are the remains of perhaps the most celebrated Orange Grove in the world. Some trees still remain that are thirty feet in height, and still retain a portion of their golden fruit.” In the same year, in describing the beauties of the St. John's he says, “You may eat oranges from morning till night, at every plantation along the shores, while the wild trees, bending with their golden fruit over the water, present an enchanting appearance.” These trees are not regarded as originally natives of the new world, but were introduced by the Spaniards, at the time they settled Florida, or by a colony of Greeks and Minorcans, who founded New Smyrna, in 1769, while that country was in the possession of the English. Audubon, as late as 1832, observes, "Whatever its original country may be supposed to be, the wild orange is, to all appearances, indigenous in many parts of Florida, not only in the neighbourhood of plantations, but in the wildest portions of that wild country, where there exist groves fully a mile in extent.” This wild fruit is known in Florida by the name of the bitter-sweet orange, which does not differ materially from the Seville orange, and probably originated from that variety. The occurrence of these trees, wherever they grow, is a sure indication of good land.

For many years past, no small degree of attention has been paid to the culture of the common edible orange, at St. Augustine, and on the river St. John's. The number of trees owned by different individuals, prior to 1835, varied from ten to fifteen hundred. Perhaps no person in Florida had more than the latter number in full bearing condition, at the time of the great frost, which occurred on the 9th of February, of that year. There were many trees then to be found in St. Augustine, which exceeded forty feet in height, with trunks from twenty to twenty-seven inches in diameter, and which, probably, were more than a century old. But there are many persons in that vicinity, at the present time, who are extensively engaged in the business. The late Mr. Kingsley left upwards of six thousand bearing trees, in 1843, all of which are on the St. John's. In addition to these, there are also on the same river, more than one hundred orange groves, which, it is estimated, contain twenty thousand trees. Augustine, it is said, there are, at least, thirty thousand standard trees, four thousand of which are owned by Mr. J. Douglass, about the same number by Mr. V. Sanchez; and by Mr. J. Drisdale, and the lady of the late Dr. Anderson, fifteen hundred each. Notwithstanding the injuries which the trees have suffered by the depredations of insects, for a few years, as well as by the discouragement

caused by frost, it may be observed, that there are more standard trees planted in Florida, at the present time, than there ever were at any former period. Previous to 1835, St. Augustine produced annually from two million to two million five hundred thousand oranges, which were equal in bulk to about fifteen thousand barrels. They were shipped to Charleston, Baltimore, New York, Boston, &c., and usually brought from one dollar to three dollars per hundred, or about three dollars per barrel, producing in the aggregate, a little short of fifty thousand dollars per annum. During the orange season, the port of St. Augustine formerly presented quite a commercial aspect, there being frequently from fifteen to twenty vessels in it at a time, loading with fruit. A person who was the owner of one hundred standard trees, could safely rely on a yearly income arising therefrom of two thousand dollars, sometimes three thousand, and even four thousand dollars! In 1829, Mr. A. Alvarez gathered from a single tree, six thousand five hundred oranges; and it is said that there was a tree on the St. John's, which bore ten thousand fruits in one year! But ordinarily each tree produces about two thousand fruits.

The orange has also been an object of culture for a long time in Carolina and Georgia; and in 1762, it will be seen by the London “ Annual Register” for that year, that there were four barrels of this fruit shipped from Charleston to England.

Soil and Situation. The orange is found to flourish best in a warm, fertile soil, composed of sand and loam, or sand and clay, not too dry, and sheltered from chilly and parching winds. But it is cultivated in varied soils, and will thrive in any country, with a mean annual temperature of 62° to 84° F. Hence the locality favourable to the growth of this species depends fully as much upon soil and situation as upon latitude; and we are induced to infer, that, if the temperature be sufficiently high for maturing the flavour, the fruit is delicious in proportion to the uniform salubrity of the air; and that those high temperatures which often force a very large expansion of fruit are against the fineness of its quality. For instance, we will contrast the fruit of St. Michael's, in the Azores, of Bahia, in Brazil, or of some of the West India Islands, with that of Malta. The former is always exposed to the equalizing breezes wafted across the Atlantic, while that of the latter, lying near the arid and sultry coast of Africa, is subject to more changes of season, and a greater and higher range of temperature. There is also some difference in the soil of these places. The artificial earth, which forms the soil of Malta, was originally brought from Sicily; and by the decomposition of the rock, or of the saline particles brought by the same pestilent sirocco” that blasts the fruit of the south of Italy and Sicily, a crust is formed, which, if not removed by trenching, at the end of a certain number of years, ceases to be productive, or the oranges become so bitter, that they are neither palatable nor healthful. But St. Michael's, Bahia, and the other places referred to, have no such disadvantage; the soils in those places are native, and deposite nothing calculated to injure their fertility or impair the qualities of their fruit. The same fact may be corroborated in comparing the climate of the slopes and valleys of the Estrella, near the lower Tagus, and that of the maritime Alps, and the Apennines, in Provence and Liguria, with that of Andalusia. At St. Augustine, in Florida, the fruit is generally of a superior quality, owing to some peculiar influence of the soil and climate. The mean annual temperature of that place in 1842, was 73° F., and in 1843, 72o. The extreme heats from June to September are usually as high as 92° ; but they have been known to reach 970. The extremes of cold generally range from 38 to 40°; but sometimes the mercury has fallen as low as 30o. On the 9th of February, 1835, the time that nearly all the orangetrees of Florida were cut off by frost, it is said that the thermometer indicated a

temperature of 10 to 15o. In February, 1823, as well as in the same month in 1639, the trees also suffered in their extreme branches, from the effect of frost. On the morning of the 9th of January, 1765, the thermometer stood at 269, at St. Augustine, and the ground was frozen to the depth of an inch, on the banks of the St. John's. . This extreme cold proved fatal to the orange, and many other trees.

Propagation and Management. The orange may be propagated by seeds, Puttings, layers, and grafting, or inoculation. The object of raising plants from seeds, is either to obtain new varieties, or stocks for grafting. They do not readily bear fruit, and often arrive at an age of twenty or twenty-five years without flowering. Mr. Henderson, of Woodhall, in England, well skilled in the culture of the citrus tribe, considers cuttings as the quickest mode of obtaining plants in that country, and gives the following directions :-"Take the strongest young shoots, and also a quantity of the two-year old shoots; these may be cut into lengths of from nine to eighteen inches. Take the leaves off the lower part of each cutting to the extent of about five inches, allowing the leaves above, that remain, untouched; then cut right across, under an eye, and make a small incision in an angular direction on the bottom of the cutting. When the cuttings are thus prepared, take a pot, and fill it with sand; size the cuttings, so that the short ones may be all together, and those that are taller in a different pot. Then, with a small dibble, plant them about five inches deep in the sand, and give them a good watering over head, to settle the sand about them. Let them stand a day or two in a shady place, and if a frame be ready with bottom-heat, plunge the pots to the brim. Shade them well with a double mat, which may remain till they have struck root; when rooted, take the sand and cuttings out of the pot, and plant them into single pots, in the proper compost. Plunge the pots with the young plants again into a frame, and shade them for four or five weeks, or till they are taken with the pots; when they may be gradually exposed to the light. From various experiments, I found that pieces of two-year old wood struck quite well; and in place, therefore, of putting in cuttings six or eight inches long, I have taken off cuttings from ten inches to two feet long, and struck them with equal success. Although I at first began to put in cuttings only in the month of August, I now put them in at any time of the year, except when the plants are making young wood. By giving them a gentle bottom-heat, and covering them with a hand-glass, they will generally strike root in seven weeks or two months.” When the wood of the orangetree is fully ripened, and the sap is at rest, grafts and cuttings may be kept in the dark for two or three months together, provided the air be kept dry.

Within the tropics, where the circulation of the sap is nearly uniform throughout the year, the orange may readily be propagated by the following method :Select a vigorous branch of any tree of the variety wished to be propagated, with flowers and fruit- upon it, if desirable, and bind round it, at its junction with the trunk, or limb from which it grows, a funnel-shaped mass of fine, rich mould, firmly kept in its place by pieces of tin, bark, cloth, or other substance. This mass should constantly be kept moist, and new mould or earth added, if necessary, until shoots protrude from the branch and take root. As soon as these roots are sufficiently developed, the branch surrounded by mould may be sawed off close to the trunk or limb from which it proceeds, and transplanted, without disturbing the mould, into a box of light, rich, natural soil, or to some other place congenial to its growth. We have obtained vigorous trees in this manner in Cuba and Brazil, in six or eight weeks' time, that would bear transportation.

If grafting or budding be adopted in the propagation of the orange, the proper period for performing these operations is, when the sap.is in brisk motion, which

с

usually occurs in the northern hemisphere in the month of March. For small grafts, less than half of an inch in diameter, the whip, or splice method should be adopted, and for larger ones, the saddle mode is preferable, as practised in the apple and pear. But the most sure and expeditious method is that of spring budding, by which the bark of the stock, as early in the season as it will separate from the wood, is cut like the letter T inverted, (thus, L) as shown by (a) in the adjoining figure; whereas, in summer budding, it forms a T in its erect position. The horizontal edges of this cut in the stock, and of the shield bark, containing the bud, should be brought into the most perfect contact, as denoted by (6;) because the union of the bark in spring takes place by means of the ascent of the sap, whereas, in summer budding, it is supposed to be caused by its descent. The parts should then be immediately bound with water-proof bass (c) without applying either grafting-clay or grafting-wax. The buds may be inserted either in a healthful branch, or in a stock near the ground. In general, two buds are sufficient for one stock; and these should be of the same variety; as two sorts seldom grow with equal vigour. The bass ligature, which confines the bud, may be removed, if the season be moist, in a month after budding; but if it be hot and dry, not for six weeks, at least. As soon as the inserted buds show signs of vegetation, the stock or branch, containing them, should be pruned down, so as to leave one or two buds or shoots above. If the stock is allowed to have a leading shoot above the inserted buds, and this shoot is not shortened, the buds inserted probably will not show many signs of vegetation for several weeks.

Though orange-trees will grow exceedingly well in large pots and boxes, yet to have them produce the finest crop of fruit, they should be planted in the ground like peach-trees, and trained like them, or as standard cherries in a conservatory. The latter mode has by far the best effect, especially when the stems of the trees are seven or eight feet high, and the head forms a handsome cone; but the largest fruit is produced when the trees are planted against the backwall trellis of a narrow house, and treated like peach-trees.

At Genoa and Florence, orange-trees are grown in a strong yellow clay, which is highly manured; and this soil is considered by the first Italian gardeners as best suited to their natures. In France, in preparing a compost for them, they endeavour to compensate for quantity by quality; because the pots or boxes, in which the plants are placed, ought always to be as small as possible, relatively to the size of the tree. The following is the composition recommended :—"To a fresh loam, which contains a third of clay, a third of sand, and a third of vegetable matter, and which has lain a long time in a heap, add an equal bulk

of half-rotten barnyard manure. The following year turn it over twice. The succeeding_year mix it with nearly one half its bulk of decomposed horse

Turn it over twice or three times, and the winter before using, add one twelfth part of sheep manure, a twentieth of pigeon dung, and a twentieth of dried ordure.” Mr. Henderson, already mentioned, takes one part of lightbrown mould from a piece of ground that has not been cropped, nor manured for many years; one part of peat earth, such as is used for growing heaths; two parts of river, or pit sand, if it be free from saline substances; and one part of rotted hot-bed dung, with one part of rotted leaves of trees, and mixes them all well together, so as to form a compost soil of uniform quality.

The usual mode of propagating the orange in Florida, is to plant the seeds and wait patiently for about twenty years, till the trees become of a sufficient

manure.

« AnteriorContinuar »