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planted can scarcely, indeed be too moist,—not to say, wet. It is almost invariably trained as a standard tree.
Subject 4. Medlar :—Mespihu germanica. Class xii. Order ii. Icosandria Pentagynia.
48. The medlar is a small branching tree, with ash-coloured bark, oral, lanceolate, serrated leaves, on short footstalks. The flowers are produced on small spurs, at the ends and sides of the branches. Bractes (or floral leaves) as long as the corolla; calyces terminating, fleshy; petals white: fruit, a turbinated berry, crowned with the five permanent segments of the calyx; pulp thick, mixed with hard granules; and containing five gibbous, wrinkled stones. It is a native of the south of Europe, but appears to be naturalized in some parts of England. The sorts or varieties cultivated, are,
1. The Dutch medlar,—flowers and fruit large, the latter approaching to the shape of an apple.
2. The Nottingham medlar,—the fruit of a more poignant taste.
3. The wild medlar,—with smaller leaves, flowers and fruit.
It is propagated by seeds sown with the pulp, layers, cuttings, or by grafting on seedlings of its own species, or on the other species of mespilus. The tree prefers a loamy, rich earth, rather moist than dry.
In pruning, Forsyth directs the same sort of treatment for the medlar as for the quince—namely, to "cut out all the dead or cankery wood, and to keep the trees thin of branches, where it is desired to have large fruit." (Ency. Gard.—Medlar, No. 4465.)
Gather the fruit in October or November, when full grown; lay it on shelves, or on a dry floor, so that the medlars do not touch each other. When matured, they will be soft, the pulp brown, and resembling that of a decayed apple. Light appears to be influential in hastening this maturing process; hence it may be considered one of electro-chemical agency.
49. Prune—Apple, pear, peach, nectarine, and apricot trees; examine the espaliers, and wall fruit-trees, and remove all decayed shreds or tyers. In pruning gooseberry and currant-bushes, clear them of all superfluous shoots, and of those which cross each other.
Plant, in open weather, fruit-trees of almost every kind. Dig and stir the earth after the trees have been pruned and nailed. Destroy vermin either by pouring boiling water about the stems and roots of trees, or by washing the stems and main branches with a liquor composed of about four pounds of quick lime, and four ounces of flowers of sulphur, first carefully mixing them with a little water, and then adding more till it becomes of the consistence of cream;—lay it on with a stiff painter's brush. If the sediment be suffered to subside, the yellow supernatant fluid will be found an excellent wash, which may supersede almost every other application for the destruction of moss or lichens, as well as of insects. This preparation has recently been paraded in the newspapers as a new discovery. I myself employed it in the year 1801, for the pine-apple when attacked by the coccus, or turtle-insect; and I never subsequently saw it mentioned in print, till after the publication of this work: so much for pretended discoveries.
50. Flowering Shrubs may now be planted: they may also be pruned,—carefully removing irregular and cross branches. Remark, that shrubs which produce their flowers at the extremities of the branches, as the lilac, must not now be shortened; for by so doing, the blossoms of the ensuing spring would be cut off. Others that blow from buds formed on the stems, such as laburnum, may be pruned to any desirable height. When the shrubs are pruned, dig the departments all over, and make them neat and regular.
Box edgings may now be planted, if this work have not been performed in October, which month is to be preferred.
Flower borders, if they have not been hitherto dressed, should now be stirred up (in mild, open weather,) with the hand-fork. Work in some light compost manure, which is blended with some rotted cow-dung. Care should be taken to avoid injuring bulbous roots and herbaceous plants not yet appearing above ground; and during this operation of dressing the borders, other roots may be planted to fill up vacant spaces; but it is quite early enough for planting, and the better sort of roots should not be planted till February or March.
THE NATURALISTS' CALENDAR.
"january is usually found to be the month in which the cold is most intense; there being little or no frost in this country before the shortest day, conformably to the old saying,—' as the days begin to lengthen, the frost begins to strengthen.,"
"The weather is commonly either bright, dry frost, or fog and snow; with cold, dark showers, about the close of the month."— Aikin's Calend. of the Year. There are, however, decided exceptions to the rule; for, after a very wet autumn, the weather may settle at the turn of days, and become dry without frost; such was the case, to a remarkable extent, after the very wet autumn of 1821; for the early weeks of January furnished several beautiful days with a temperature of from 40° to 45°. When such mild, open weather does occur, the succeeding mouth too often furnishes a sad reverse, evincing a tendency to make good another old saying, "If the grass do grow in Janevere, 'twill grow the worse for't all the yere.''
It will become a fact of chronology that, the three last weeks of January, 1838, after a Christmas of peculiar splendour and high temperature (from 45° to nearly 60°), we were visited with frost of unusual severity, accompanied with extremely little snow. On the morning of the twentieth day, about sun-rise, the mercury of my instrument receded to 2 degrees below zero: in parts of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire 6 degrees minus were observed: and the snow did not once cover the young wheat, which lost plant in some places in consequence of the subsequent power of a scorching, brilliant sun. Situations not four miles apart experienced a difference of several degrees.
Average height of the Barometer, in inches and hundredths parts, 29 5
About the first week;—shell-less snails or slugs, (Helix) and earth worms (Lumbricus terrestris) appear.
Second week;—red-breast, (Motacilla rubicola) sings; nut-hatch, (Sitta europwa) heard; hedge-sparrow, (Motacilla nodularis) gray, and white wagtail, (Motacilla coerulea et alba) appear.
Third Keek;—larks, (Alauda pratensis) congregate; missel, or mistletoe-thrush, expressively styled, in some counties, "the stormcock," (Turdus viscivorus) sings" green woodpecker, (Picus viridis) utters its laughing notes; blackbird, (Turdus merula) if the weather be fine and open, is frequently heard; wren, (Motacilla troglodytes) sings; its note is most vivid, rapid, and joyous.
Fourth week, and to the end of the month;—sky-lark, (Alatida artensis); wood-lark, (Alauda arborea); chaffinch, (Fringilla cwlebs); and one or two species of titmouse, (Parus) sing.
SCIENCE OF GARDENING.
51. After what has been said in the first section of January, on the agency of earths and soils, in the preparation of nourishment, and its distribution to the fibres and roots of plants, it would appear most natural to enter at once into an investigation of the nature and offices of water; the importance of which fluid to the life and growth of plants, is familiarly known to every one. In fact, it would probably suggest itself on reflection, even to superficial observers, that as plants could not be supported without a medium in which to establish their roots, neither could they grow or thrive, without a due supply of sap; a fluid that is chiefly derived from water, the proximate element of the nutritive matters contained in the soil. Although it is acknowledged that water stands next in order to the earths, as an operative agent in the process of vegetable growth; still, however, consistency requires that the investigation of causes, or first principles, should precede the recital of effects. To excite the inquiring mind to such investigation, has been my avowed object; and as I am fully persuaded that electricity,—I mean electricity in the most comprehensive meaning of the term,—is the actuating cause of all the phenomena, not only of vegetable life, but also of those attendant on the formation and decomposition of water itself, I could not, consistently with this persuasion, enter upon the consideration of any other of the natural agents, (most of which appear to me to be effects, produced by the operation of some mighty cause) until I had endeavoured to trace that cause to its source, with a view to discover its nature and operations; and especially, since with this investigation is connected the inquiry into the existence of the "one general principle," which was alluded to by Professor Playfair in one of his last lectures, an extract from which is given in the preface.
52. The electricity of nature, though probably the most influential of her agents, has been but little known, and still less understood. It should be observed that I do not intend to confine myself to an inquiry into the phenomena of electricity, in the usual acceptation of the term; nor do I mean to make this section a treatise on that science: they who desire to become acquainted with common or artificial electricity, will find ample means of instruction in the treatises of Priestley, Franklin, and Eeles: they may also derive much information from the perusal of the many lectures delivered at the London Mechanics' Institution, as they are reported in the Mechanics' Register; and also from a Treatise on Electricity, published in two parts, under the superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. That impartial little work (a work which, when I have occasion to quote, I shall, for the sake of conciseness, simply style the Treatise,) commences by stating, that "The science of electricity, which now ranks as one of the most important branches of natural philosophy, is wholly one of modern creation. The observations of Boyle, Otto Guericke, Newton, and a few other philosophers of the same period, contributed somewhat to the extension of our knowledge on this curious subject; but the information collected during the whole of that period amounted to nothing that could be entitled to the name of science."
This is doubtless true to a great extent; though it must be admitted, that the ancients possessed some sublime ideas on the subject of elementary fire, which they considered as the grand agent in animal life and vegetable growth. There cannot, however, be a doubt, that during the nineteenth century, the experiments of Davy and other philosophical chemists on that i mportant modification of electricity termed galvanism, (or, as it might with much greater propriety be styled, chemical electricity,) by demonstrating the intimate connexion which exists between electricity, chemistry, and magnetism, have done more towards the extension of the light and dominion of science, than was effected by the labours and treatises of any, or of all who laid claim to the title of philosopher, since the discovery of the art of printing. "So rapid," says the Treatise, "has been the march of science and improvement, that it is difficult for those whose attention has not been steadily and exclusively devoted to these particular objects, to keep pace with the progress of discovery."
53. Agency of Electricity in Vegetation.—Notwithstanding the surprising advance of the science of electro-chemistry, it is certain that there has been no corresponding advance towards a clear insight into the nature and extent of the energy which electricity exerts in the developement and growth of vegetable organized beings. In fact, till very lately, the subject appears to have excited scarcely any